Smokeout in the Windy City

Last weekend the best in BBQ and country music converged on the banks of Chicago river. Windy City Smokeout took over River West, bringing with it the smell of wood smoke, the sizzle of pig roast and the sound of the South. The Smokeout’s motto is “Believe in BBQ”, and hallelujah, I’m a believer!

Brisket Showdown: Smoque in the background, The Salt Lick in the front.

Sweet home Chicago was well represented by several capable pit masters, the venerable Smoque BBQ among them. In this town you’d be hard pressed to find Q better than Smoque’s, in my opinion. I was eager to see how my favorite stacked up against some of the nation’s best. I am happy to report that in the sliced brisket showdown Smoque beat out the infamous Salt Lick BBQ. Score one for the home team!

When it comes to pig, you can’t go wrong with whole hog BBQ. Taking one for the team, I sampled the goods from every booth. Oh, the things I do in the name of research… Winner, winner, whole hog dinner: Martin’s BBQ, where “To go whole hog means to hold nothing back”, and they certainly didn’t. Melt in your mouth tender pork doused in vinegary sauce and served with pickles may have been the best I have ever had. I didn’t even notice that they ran out of brisket.

When it comes to non-meaty offerings my heart belongs entirely to NOLA favorite, Drago’s charbroiled oysters. Bubbling hot, charred and rich, these babies will burn your lips and make your mouth water. The swoon worthy oysters are particularly delectable when paired with Three Dots and a Dash signature tiki drinks, while lounging in Adirondack chairs by the river side.

Some of the other highlights for me: Ubon’s Bloody Mary salad was a welcome cool & refreshing break from all things meaty. Dry ribs are great even without the rub on them, as I discovered at Peg Leg Porker. Art Smith makes a mean fried chicken. Shiner is still the best beer with BBQ in my opinion. Corn & watermelon stands? Pure genius.

All the while some of the best country music artists brought the party to the stages of Windy City Smokeout. Billy Currington, Big & Rich, Chase Rice, Old Dominion, just to name a few. Three days of foot stompin’, knee slappin’, boot kickin’ fun times! The cold beer was flowing freely, and the crowds kept rolling in. BBQ & country music, that’s a sure recipe for celebration. My inner country child came out to play full force!

BBQ coma is not a myth, and mine came on fast & furious. But I thoroughly enjoyed Windy City Smokeout’s festivities. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go eat carrot sticks for a week.

Believe in BBQ. I surely do.

Windy City Smokeout takes place annually on Grand Ave just west of the river.

All photos by Gourmet Rambler. 








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