Explore the Windy City’s best BBQ spots, where savory smoke and expert cooking meet, as we take you on a flavor-filled adventure. From iconic smokehouses serving up timeless classics to innovative joints redefining the barbecue landscape, Chicago’s BBQ scene is a celebration of slow-cooked perfection. Each restaurant on our curated list represents a dedication to the art of grilling, delivering mouthwatering meats infused with smoky depth and flavor. Whether you’re a devoted barbecue enthusiast or a newcomer eager to explore, join us in savoring the diverse and delectable offerings that make Chicago a haven for lovers of smoky indulgence. Get ready to indulge in a carnivorous adventure, where every bite is a celebration of barbecue excellence in the heart of the Midwest.
The first entry on my list of the top BBQ restaurants in Chicago that I recommend to first-time visitors to the city is Green Street Smoked Meats, found in the West Loop neighborhood. It has a hip and rustic feel that resembles a rural Midwestern warehouse setting. If you love Central Texas-style BBQ, this is the best option to consider. I recommend sampling their Frito Pie, Pulled Pork Sandwich, Chopped Brisket, or Pork Belly with a side of Broccoli Salad, Banana Pudding, or Spicy Pickles. Don’t forget to try their Pink Vodka Lemonade, Tennessee Gold Rush, or Old Fashioned cocktail with a house-made Pickle Back whiskey shot.
Next up on my list of the best BBQ restaurants in Chicago is Smoque BBQ, located in the Old Irving Park neighborhood, a half a mile walk from Independence Park. This casual eatery prioritizes giving their meat the right blend of scratch-made sauces and rubs for an authentic BBQ flavor in every bite. If this is your first time at Smoque BBQ, consider ordering half a rack of Baby Back Ribs, Texas Sausage Platter, BBQ Gumbo, or a Sliced Brisket Sandwich. Additionally, they offer Brisket Taco Kits every Tuesday through Thursday. They taste best with a side of brisket chili or macaroni & cheese. My favorite after-dinner treat is their peach cobbler.
If you’re traversing Chicago’s River North neighborhood, the best BBQ restaurant you can find is Bub City, near the Chicago River and the historic Courthouse Place. It has a Western aesthetic, complete with a wood and brick interior that gives patrons a unique environment to immerse themselves in. I prefer booking a reservation on nights with live country music. I’m a fan of their Brisket Grilled Cheese, Five-Piece Chicken Tender Basket, Loaded Tater Tots, and Cali Burger. You can also get half off their Double-Barrel Burgers and draft beer during their weekday happy hour. My go-to dessert is their refreshing vanilla or chocolate milkshake.
Located within walking distance from Thalia Hall and Prospectus Art Gallery stands Honky Tonk BBQ, a casual and rustic Memphis-style Chicago BBQ restaurant in the heart of the Pilsen neighborhood. Their slow-roasted meats take 14 hours to exceed meat lovers’ flavor expectations when dining alone or with their friends and family. In my opinion, you should start with their garlic bread or cornbread muffins and order Smoked Chicken, Half-Rack St. Louis Ribs, or Hot Link Sandwich. All of their sides are vegan and vegetarian-friendly, so be sure to enjoy your meal with candied yams or garlic mashed potatoes. Also, enhance your dinner with a Moonshine or Ranch Water cocktail.
You can find Smoke Daddy BBQ in Chicago’s Wicker Park and Wrigleyville neighborhoods. This lively, casual BBQ joint has live music and outdoor seating for guests interested in sampling the neighborhood’s best ribs and pulled meats. Keep in mind that both locations have different hours of operation throughout the week. I recommend ordering their Chicken and Ribs Platter, Cajun Fish Sandwich, St. Louis-Style Spare Ribs, or Wood-Roasted Rotisserie Chicken with sweet potato fries or cornbread. Feel free to try their Smokin’ Rita or Pineapple Dream cocktail to enhance your meat’s subtle flavors. You can also stop by for brunch on the weekends.
Are you having trouble finding any upscale fare when narrowing down BBQ restaurants in Chicago? Then consider booking a dinner reservation at Lillie’s Q in the West Town neighborhood. Its rustic and wooden aesthetic gives it a cozier vibe as you enjoy Chef Charlie McKenna’s Southern BBQ dishes topped with signature sauces and rubs. They also have a dog-friendly outdoor patio. I like starting with their Fried Pickles and ordering their Pimento Cheese Sausage, Fried Chicken Sandwich, Brunswick Stew, or Tri-Tip Sandwich with kettle chips or potato salad. If you have room for dessert, try their banana pudding to give your taste buds a sweet sensation to contrast your meal’s smokiness.
Don’t have time to enjoy your favorite BBQ dishes in one place? Then, consider ordering something at Lem’s Bar-B-Q in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood, roughly four miles from the Museum of Science and Industry. This casual destination has counter service and limited seating but has offered its signature rib tips and hot links for late-night diners since 1954. In my opinion, they serve the best center-cut rib tips, fried chicken breast, and fried shrimp in the neighborhood. They taste great with a side order of fries or potato salad. My go-to swift dinner option is their bucket of rib tips. Be sure to take their half-gallon signature sauce for the road.
Nestled in the Old Town Triangle neighborhood, west of Lincoln Park, Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern is one of the best BBQ restaurants in Chicago for anyone who prefers dining in an old-school setting. Its quaint ambiance is an excellent place to unwind near the end of a busy week. One of its most notable visitors was Frank Sinatra. Twin Anchors offers tender pork ribs for locals and tourists to enjoy. Consider trying their Full Slab of Ribs, Cheese Anchor Burger, Zesty “Soy”natra Sandwich, or Chicken with a baked potato or onion rings. They also have a gluten-free menu for specific dietary preferences.
You can’t miss Chicago Q’s white picket fence while passing through the Near North Side district. It’s south of the Original Playboy Mansion and west of Oak Street Beach. It has an upscale atmosphere and serves quality Southern BBQ fare with flavorful bourbons in a Savannah-style dining room to replicate a charming Southern appeal. After starting with their hush puppies or Creole fried alligator, order their Pit Boss Platter, Prime Ribeye, Pulled Chicken Sandwich, or Buttermilk Fried Chicken with smoked brisket baked beans or seasonal veggies. If you’re in the mood for dessert, consider sampling their chocolate cake or cheesecake.
746 E 43rd St, Chicago, IL 60653
Located in the heart of the North Kenwood neighborhood by New Age Chicago Furniture, Honey 1 BBQ offers an authentic BYOB BBQ experience for anyone looking for classic dishes at reasonable prices. Its wooden tables give it a casual and rustic feel to enhance its coziness as you dine on hickory-smoked meats and other signature dishes. During my last visit to Chicago, I ordered their Pulled Pork Sandwich, Perch Dinner, Steakburger, and Jumbo Shrimp. I like adding a side of fries or fried okra to give it extra flavor. Don’t forget to quench your thirst with raspberry iced tea or pink lemonade.
You can find Babygold Barbecue found roughly 1.3 miles away from Columbus Park. As an extension to FitzGerald’s, a bustling nightclub, this smokehouse offers traditional BBQ favorites that you can enjoy while listening to lively Cajun music. It’s also a great backdrop for private parties. Order their pork rinds or char-grilled oysters as a starter if you’re dining with friends. Then, consider trying their Turkey Breast, Fried Shrimp Po’Boy, Pulled Pork, or Veggie Burger with onion rings or waffle fries. They also have an extensive cocktail, wine, beer, and whiskey list, so don’t miss out on their Tennessee Tea or Hurricane Babygold.
Don’t know where to take your favorite BBQ dishes to-go? Then, consider stopping by the Jefferson Park neighborhood and picking up something from Earl’s BBQ. I usually stop here for dinner after spending the day at Dunham Park. It’s family-owned and operated, incorporates a rustic design, and has a drive-through station for anyone who prefers eating at home. I typically order their Pork Nachos, Chicago-Style Hot Dog, Smoked Dark Chicken, or Brisket Sandwich with fries and an iced coffee. They also serve fresh, made-to-order donuts and shakes if you want to enhance your meal with something sweet. I recommend their cookie dough or caramel flavors.
You can find Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ in Chicago’s Streeterville, Lake View, and West Loop neighborhoods. I like its relaxing atmosphere, enhanced by its wood-accented interior. I consider it one of the best BBQ restaurants in Chicago for dining with others because of its Japanese-styled multi-course dinner options. Consider starting with their Takoyaki or Fried Bacon Chips and ordering their Harami Skirt Steak, Umakara Pork, or Spicy Shrimp. However, I like their premium roast beef Gyu-Sushi with a Mango Tango cocktail because of the meat’s experimental design. If you’re in the mood for dessert, try their seasonal mochi ice cream or s’mores.
With locations in the River North, Chicago Loop, and West Loop neighborhoods, Blackwood BBQ is your best option for enjoying savory, over-the-counter smoked meats in a modern setting. You can also request customizable catering services online or through the phone for your next private get-togethers. In my opinion, they serve the best Pulled Chicken Tacos, Brisket Burnt Ends, Smoked Mikeska Sausage Sandwich, and Vegetarian Smoked Jackfruit in the city. Be sure to try these dishes with homemade lemonade, apple coleslaw, or three-cheese mac & cheese. I also recommend trying these dishes with their signature Chicago-style, Memphis-style, or Alabama-style regional sauces to give them a unique flavor kick.
Don’t know where to find any Chicago BBQ restaurants in the Brighton Park neighborhood? Leon’s Barbecue, located near The Auto Warehouse, is a no-frills, casual eatery offering simple dishes, combo meals, and party platters to satisfy any BBQ-lover’s cravings during their stay in Chicago. I recommend trying their Chicken Leg Dinner, Catfish, Half-Slab Ribs, or Wings and Links Combo with a side of BBQ fries or coleslaw. You can also enjoy their BBQ buckets if you prefer enjoying your food at home or sharing with others for any kind of occasion. Although these buckets are a bit pricey, their bold flavors are worth it.
If you’re in the mood for something different, consider visiting Daebak Korean BBQ with your friends or family after a long week of sightseeing. You can find this industrial-chic destination in the heart of the Chinatown neighborhood, minutes from Ping Tom Memorial Park. Their Korean BBQ dishes are carefully prepared to exceed guests’ expectations during their first visit. In my opinion, they serve the best Prime Boneless Short Rib, Thinly-Sliced Brisket, Marinated Pork Collar, and Premium Seared Pork Belly in the Chinatown neighborhood. They also offer a wide selection of traditional Korean appetizers and entrees. Be sure to sample their a la carte soup, stew, and noodles if you’re extra hungry.
Last but not least on my list of the top BBQ restaurants in Chicago is The Slab Bar-B-Que, nestled in the scenic Jackson Parks Highlands community. This family-owned and operated BBQ joint has a casual vibe but serves premium-grade meat topped with a sensational spice blend and signature sweet and tangy sauce to enhance its flavor. My favorite dishes are their Turkey Cheeseburger, Smoked Turkey Leg, Ten-Piece Fried Wings, and Jumbo Turkey Tips. They also serve some of the best scratch-made sides daily. Be sure to try their shrimp pasta salad, candied yams, or hand-cut fries with your BBQ entree to guarantee a filling meal.
Why Trust Us?
When it comes to local restaurant recommendations, we pride ourselves on being a reliable and trustworthy resource. Our suggestions are not just based on our personal experiences, ensuring a more authentic and well-rounded perspective, but also on extensive online research. We diligently searched the internet and reviewed 5 credible sites and blogs, including Chicago.eater.com and Timeout.com.
We compiled all the findings in one location and sorted them by the frequency of mentions to ensure you receive top-notch recommendations. We strive to present you with a curated list of establishments that truly stand out, allowing you to enjoy the best dining experiences possible.
Interested in the sources we consulted? Check out the list of all 5 sites we referenced below this paragraph, offering transparency and an opportunity for our readers to explore further. Our commitment is to deliver trustworthy and unparalleled recommendations, helping you make informed decisions on your culinary journeys.