By Judson Corrie, Chef Concierge, Waldorf-Astoria
(1160 N Dearborn & Elm)
From the outside looks like a misplaced Georgian homestead in our Gold Coast neighborhood. Inside, the BBQ “joint” is actually a rather refined dining room…with a parade of regional favorites awaiting. Competition-style ribs, prime brisket burnt ends & fried alligator get you in the door, but I’ve found their complimentary bread & butter pickles and BBQ chips just to start, require you to bring friends – many, hungry friends.
(1655 N. Sedgwick)
This is a local favorite, but word has gotten out ever steadily, bringing some wait times along with it, but make no mistake – if you need ribs, you need these ribs. Accompany them with a one of their proprietary sauces (Mild, Zesty & Prohibition) and there’s little else in the world that matters. The space is authentically aged, speaking to its’ storied past and the bartenders come with the perfect amount of good-natured “ribbing.” A must, if you’re looking for true Chicago appeal.
(435 N. Clark)
The fried chicken sandwich is hotter than you think, the talent on stage is better than you imagined and you always stay longer than you planned. At lunch, the meat & three option…is always the right option, and the brunch is anchored by one of the more serious DIY bloody mary bars in the city. The scene here is alive and don’t be surprised to see some spontaneous dance breakouts.
Jerk Jamaican BBQ
(811 W. Chicago Ave)
Though maybe an unconventional choice for the purists among us, Jerk Jamaican BBQ stands firm on this list. An affinity for local craft beers, a supporting cast of sides you would want to order by themselves, and a blissfully gritty Jerk rub. Also, if they are reading this, the turkey leg they have only in November needs to be a permanent menu fixture!
Green Street Smoked Meats
(112 N. Green St.)
When GSSM came about, it was as if the whole city had forgotten about BBQ. This, now a staple of the West Loop, has cemented itself as a gathering place for all occasions. The premium meat waiting to land on your aluminum tray is a great start, but take a seat at their communal tables, blend into the beautiful crowd at the center bar with a bourbon sweet tea and revel in the night at the hippest spot in town slinging a mean pulled pork.