For fans of the great American tradition that is barbeque, the 3rd-Annual Windy City Smokeout was the perfect way to spend a July weekend. Vendors, both local and from out of town, served up the best pork, brisket, and chicken that they had to offer, as attendees chowed down to a twangy soundtrack of great country bands and singers.
Though amazing dishes were available across the fest, a few were impressive enough to make our list of bests. These are the ones that made our Windy City Smokeout weekend a summer standout:
Best Newcomer: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
While not barbeque, fried chicken is another beloved summer favorite, and Gus’ killed it with their version. Already well-known in their home of Memphis, Tennessee (and beyond, as their name suggests), Gus' participated in the Windy City Smokeout ahead of the opening of their new Chicago location. We are more than happy to welcome them, as their chicken was impossibly juicy with just the right hit of heat.
Best Returning Dish: Chicago Q’s Pulled Pork Bar-B-Que Sundae
Chicago Q’s clever combo of baked beans, slaw, pulled pork, and a pickle, all served in one handy cup, was a favorite last year. Happily it was just as good this time around. There’s nothing much better than getting all the best barbeque dishes in one bite.
Best Sauce: Ubon’s BBQ
Choosing a sauce to accompany your barbeque is one of life’s toughest decisions. Go with a sweet, molasses-y Memphis style or the vinegar tang of North Carolina’s signature? Ubon’s of Yazoo City, Mississippi solved this problem with an addictive sauce that had the best of both worlds. We definitely went back for seconds.
Best Ribs: Hogapalooza
Huge. Meaty. Fall-off-the-bone tender. These are the attributes you look for in a great rack of ribs, and Hogapalooza from Wynne, Arkansas delivered on every point. Add in a deliciously sweet, thick sauce, and these ribs were clear frontrunners.
Best Local Dish – Smoque’s Smoked Beef Brisket
While the South might be where the mind immediately goes when you think of barbecue, Chicago is no slouch. The local restaurants served up some winners, but the dish that really lit our fires was the brisket from Smoque BBQ. Tender, juicy, with just the right amount of char… Glad we don’t have to wait until next year’s Windy City Smokeout to get this one!