Monday, July 18, 2011

Smoque BBQ (9/10) - 3800 North Pulaski Road # 2, Chicago, IL 60641

M: Closed
F-Sa: 11a-10p
Su: 11a-9p

The team that runs Smoque BBQ in northern Chicago has basically accomplished all the goals that I'd have set out for myself if I ever had the courage and / or was completely burned out on working in finance. After years of slugging it out in the corporate world, I believe the Smoque team's specialty was in the IT arena, the two owners methodically approached the idea of opening a unique restaurant in Chicago. The idea: a delicious barbecue joint (note: I'm not from Chicago nor do I care for the sake of this post if there are existing great barbecue joints in the city). The owners traveled the country trying the various regions approach to barbecuing (would love to cross notes and observations with these two) so they could combine and provide all their favorite attributes to the hometown locals.

To rehash, the owners:
1. Love food, want to bring the goods to the people.
2. Traveled the country eating barbecue.
3. Wrote out a sound business model. As an indication of how sound they believe their approach was, they are shared their manifesto online for all their potential customers. (Anyone with an Manifesto is either ground-breaking, passionate or any other combination of other various descriptions to fit the bill). I'm a 0 or 100mph kind of guy so I applaud their passion towards this venture.
4. Introduced a very solid barbecue restaurant to a city less known for its smoked meat than the other epicenters of barbecue.

A buddy from college got married in Chi-city in May 2010 so I pulled together some troops to venture up to Smoque the early afternoon of the festivities. I had heard enough buzz about this place from other barbecue enthusiasts (not to mention the endless segments on Food Network that tour the Smoque facilities and try to decipher the secret barbecue rub concoction) to know deep down that getting to Smoque and hopefully meeting one of the entrepreneurs that got this place up and running in solid form was objective #1 when I initially booked the trip.

Traffic was brutal on the 90 so we hit up the surface streets in the cab until we finally arrived at our spot. If you're nearby the "L", would definitely recommend taking that up to avoid traffic. While I'd love to dive in and explain why everything was ridiculously delicious, I'd feel unethical about rehashing descriptions that would most likely be best guesses from false memories from over a year past. The brisket was as well executed as any I'd have tried in Texas (still need to get to Franklin but will do in September) and the pulled pork was moist and chalk-full of incredible flavor. Both styles of ribs we tried had an incredible crust and smoke flavor. The entire crowd was very well impressed with all the main cuts of meat (we had a fair amount of midwest and southeast representation in the crew) and I'd really be sadly surprised if any of them didn't make the effort to recreate this trip on any subsequent visits to Chicago.

Barry, one of the owners and regular on-site manager, was an incredibly friendly host who voluntarily sat and talked general barbecue with our table during our entire visit. The only downside to the trip was when he said that while he loved his restaurant and entire experience opening up a restaurant from the ground-up, he at times gets repulsed from the thought of eating barbecue. The the fear of ever over-indulging on barbecue makes me too sad to stomach. It's a good thing I'm moving to Dallas in early August as I'm going to try to dominate that state's barbecue scene in grand fashion just like the Texans would love. Steph, my fiance, on the other hand is probably a little nervous considering that we're basically staring down a one year window until our wedding date. I hope my little heart and body can make it.

Smoque BBQ


  1. Terrific! It's a shame that you're not in the south any longer, but I'm sure your reports from Texas will be mouth-watering.

  2. Friends of mine here in Florida who cook on the Pro BBQ Circuit also say they can't eat BBQ much at all anymore!

  3. There are so many inaccuracies in here I don't even know where to start:

    (1) my little heart and body can make it
    (2) I'd feel unethical
    (3) I'm moving to Dallas


Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.