It was the summer of barbecue openings in Chicago. The smell of pork hung high in the air, as it seemed like all one needed as a smoker and a funny restaurant name to open a new joint. It was hard to keep them all straight, and we knew that we’d probably just have to wait a little bit to see how they all stacked up in the end. Luckily, Steve Dolinsky is taking one of the first stabs at defining exactly what happened and which places are worth the visit. He wrote about both Lillie’s Q and Chicago Q this week on Vocalo and if he has a thesis it seems to be that this was the summer of “urban barbecue” in Chicago.
Dolinsky seemed to be disappointed with most of the openings this summer, includingRub BBQ Company, Brand BBQ Market, The Pork Shoppe, and Smokey Bears. And though he “didn’t really want to love a fancy, clean-scrubbed, modern barbecue joint,” found that the best product was coming out of the two fanciest places, Lillie’s Q and Chicago Q.
Both have defined themselves as urban barbecue, and Dolinsky explains that the term means the place features “nice booze, good music, comfortable chairs and a dining room that could only have been pulled off by a serious interior decorator.” This initially made him nervous, because both seemed like the antithesis of the “great places in North Carolina and Kansas City and Texas, where I’ve had world-class ‘que served in plastic baskets and eaten on wooden benches.”
But the barbecue at both places convinced him: “As long as they know what the hell they’re doing back in the kitchen (and more specifically, in and around the smoker), who cares how nice the dining room is? It only makes the overall experience that much more enjoyable.”