Skip breakfast and come hungry; the Windy City Smokeout returns to Chicago for the 4th time year this weekend. Born of the efforts of Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group and chef Doug Psaltis, the BBQ festival brings in the best of out-of-town pitmasters to mingle with Chicago favorites. The result is smokier, saucy goodness in one place than you could ever eat your way through.
It started out simply enough. Psaltis, the head chef at Bub City
, wanted to do more with BBQ in the city. “I wanted to introduce Chicago to some of the country’s best BBQ teams and introduce the teams to Chicago,” he said.
The inaugural festival in 2013 was held in a parking lot on Rush Street with a handful of vendors and a single stage for country music acts. The second year saw the festival moved to a bigger location on Grand Avenue and the Chicago River, making more room for even more BBQ. Last year the festival expanded across more of the Grand Ave parking space, adding a second stage, a dedicated craft beer bar, merchandise booths, and food trucks.
“We never really thought of how big it could or would get,” Psaltis said. “The biggest challenge has been to make sure that we can continue to provide the same great personal experience for each guest and team that made the Smokeout weekend so great when we first started four years ago.” Despite the growth, they aim to please with their increased offerings; 2016 will feature 22 eateries and 19 musical acts.
It’s the food that really drives the Windy City Smokeout, and Psaltis can’t be more thrilled. “I’m excited to get all of the big personalities together and watch them pour their heart and soul into cooking the best barbecue in the country,” he enthused. “Not too often do you get to taste all of these BBQ legends in one weekend.” Look for Mississippi favorite Ubon’s
, Nashville’s Peg Leg Porker
, legendary The Salt Lick BBQ
, as well as Chicago names like Smoque
, Lillie’s Q
, and Psaltis’s Bub City.
The Windy City Smokeout is likely to have their biggest year yet as the Chicago crowds get their annual taste of what pitmasters across the country have to offer. “BBQ is the epitome of comfort food,” said Psaltis. “People from all over the world come together for meals that are similar to great American barbecue.”
Get a sneak peek of the menu and grab tickets on the website
.For more Chicago dining and travel news, click here.