Two of my favorite types of food are barbecue and Mexican cuisine. Put some low-and-slow and a plate of tacos in front of me and I'm a happy woman.
In Oscar Lee's Barbecue and Milwalky Taco, I have found my happy place.
These sibling restaurants are located next to each other in Libertyville. Chef Lee Kuebler dishes delicious barbecue at Oscar Lee's Barbecue (named for his son) right next door to his ode to that most perfect of foods, Milwalky Taco.
The former had previously been Milwalky Trace, but after Oscar Lee was born, Chef Kuebler converted the space into a family-friendly barbecue joint. This enables him to spend more time with the restaurant's namesake and Oscar's baby sister.
Our Chef's Table event focused on items from Milwalky Taco and finished with a tasting of some of Chef Lee's barbecue favorites. Course after course, our room full of diners praised the cuisine. Two attendees celebrated birthdays that evening, and multiple times I heard exclamations of "Best. Birthday. EVER!"
The evening began with, what else, margaritas! Their house margarita made with fresh lime juice, Lunazul tequila, agave and orange curacao was dangerous.
Then the food came in rapid succession. First was the warm, house-made chips with mild and hot salsas. The green looked mild, but looks can be deceiving...it was HOT!
Next came the guacamole. Guacamole is a standard at any Mexican restaurant, and you have to get it right.
Milwalky Taco does.
I'm not saying anyone came to blows, but this guac is fight-worthy.
Then came the queso fundido, a cheesy, gooey delight.
It's a good thing this was a happy, sharing crowd, because every course was capable of inspiring fisticuffs. The esquites, wood grilled corn with lime, butter, jalapeno mayonnaise, cotija, and tajin were a balanced mix of sweet and savory. The pastor and pescado (beer battered pollock) tacos were perfect representations of this perfect food. Paired with Only Child Brewing's "No Way Jose" Ale, brewed with agave and lime, we could have stopped right there.
Good thing we didn't, because our final course introduced us to the Chef Lee's barbecue expertise. Our tasting included house pickles, hog wings, and brisket.
The house pickles were thinly sliced cucumbers with just the right amount of sweet and sour. Hog wings are baby back ribs that have been breaded, fried, and tossed with in a honey-garlic buffalo sauce (get the recipe on WGN!).
But the brisket. Oh, that brisket. One bite, and fracas ensued. "Mine! Mine! Get your hands off my brisket!"
Yes, I'm making that up. We were completely polite and shared like the grown-ups we are.
That brisket was truly the best I've ever had, and I wasn't alone. Over and over, as the next person took a bite, I'd hear "Best. Brisket. Ever."
And no, Chef Lee won't give you that recipe. For that deliciousness, you'll have to get it from the source.
Milwalky Taco and Oscar Lee's Barbecue are sibling restaurants that are fun, dedicated, and delicious. You'll definitely want to add them to your dining itinerary.
Milwalky Taco is located at 605 N Milwaulkee Ave, Libertyville, IL 60048. They've got a great happy hour on Tuesday through Friday from 2:30-4:30 p.m. with half-price margs and free chips and salsa. Tuesdays are also half-off margaritas and $2 carnitas tacos. Wednesdays you get half-off whiskey pours and Thursdays you can get tequila half price.
Oscar Lee's Barbecue is next door at 603 N Milwaulkee Ave. Chef Lee Kuebler features a themed dinner item, Wednesday through Saturday nights: Wednesdays, Ramen Night; Thursdays, Fried Chicken Night; Fridays, Fish Fry; Saturdays, $12 Burger and Fries. These dishes are only available on their special night and the preparation changes weekly.
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