Barbecue In Chicago

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scrumptiouschef
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2012/03/24 13:08:27 (permalink)

Barbecue In Chicago

Continuing the quest. Just got off a 13k mile trip through Turkey, The Balkans and Northern Europe on a barbecue quest.
 
Ate like a king with De Klos in Amsterdam serving up some of the finest ribs I've ever wedged into my gullet http://chowpapi.com/wordp....8.6/wordpress/?p=2235
 
Now I'm back in the states [Austin,Texas]where I can eat world class barbecue at any number of world class joints all within a 45 minute drive of my home.
 
But I'm preparing to hit the road once more.
 
This barbecue trip will carry me to Chicago, one of the great American barbecue towns.
 
I've culled a preliminary list off http://kevinsbbqjoints.co...-pang-chicago-tribune/
 
Here it is: -Beef brisket at Smoque BBQ
-Rib tips at Barbara Ann’s BBQ
-Hot link at Uncle John BBQ
-Burnt-ends sandwich at Real Urban BBQ
-Pork belly pastrami at Pork Shoppe
-Q puppies at Q BBQ
-Pulled pork shoulder at Lillie’s Q
-Jalapeno-cheddar Kreuz Market sausage at Austin BBQ
-Candied pecans at Brand BBQ Market
-Spare ribs at Big Ed’s BBQ
 
Sounds like a good starter but I'm wondering if any roadfood chowhounds can help fill it out a bit?
 
Also, got 30 minutes? Want to watch an incredible video on Chicago barbecue? Here's a hot link http://vimeo.com/29203337
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/24 14:18:11 (permalink)
    First off, calling Chicago "one of the great American barbecue towns" is a generous statement.  My home town is rightfully famous for many culinary items, but until recently (all of the places you've mentioned, with the exception of Uncle John's and Barbara Ann's opened within the last five years), 'Que wasn't on the list.
     
    Secondly, I think you've got a pretty good list.  Kevin Pang eats for a living and writes about it in the Chicago Tribune.  He is the man behind "The Cheeseburger Show", links to which have been posted here on Roadfood.  He's a bit of a goofball, but he knows his food, and I respect his opinions.
     
    The greasehouses he's chosen and the specific menu items attached to each are pretty accurate.  While everything at Smoque is pretty darned tasty, the brisket is the best thing they do.  Likewise at The Pork Shoppe, that pork belly pastrami is a killer.  Word of caution though; it is incredibly rich, so make sure you give yourself sufficient time in between your last meal and your next one before wedging in Pork Shoppe's offerings.
     
    Be prepared to eat Ala Trunk at Uncle John's.  Also, be aware that they (and Barbara Ann's) are located in one of Chicago's "urban" neighborhoods.  Not that it should matter, but some folks from out of town (and I'm making no assumptions here) are squeamish about such things and deserve to be told before they enter said area.  Thanks to lots of love from Chicago-centric food site LTHForum.com, both those places are starting to get a little bit of a mixed clientele.
     
    Three other Chicago BBQ icons, Lem's, Honey One, and Leon's, may also be worth your time and belly space.  I gotta say though, I was less than impressed with the burnt ends at Real Urban BBQ--which, by the way, is located in far north, very suburban Highland Park, about as far away from the "urban" experience as you're going to get.
     
    Also, the rib tips at Barbara Ann's may be the best in the city, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're worth stopping for.  That statement stems from my own personal aversion to rib tips and has absolutely nothing to do with Barbara Ann's.  I just think tips require too much work and offer too little reward for the effort.  On the other hand, if you're driving up from Texas, be sure to stop in Springfield, Illinois and try the rib tips at The Dr. of BBQ's stand.  If all tips were like his, I would be a fan.  Perfect little knuckles of brilliantly smoked pork, surrounding a single bone which acts like a handle--hold the bone between thumb and forefinger and nibble on that lovely porky goodness.  The meat pulls easily from the bone, but still has a good chew--no "meat jello" served by The Dr.!  Paired up with his excellent sauce and you've got a great meal on the run.
     
    Finally, Mike Gebert, the guy behind Sky Full of Bacon, source of that video you've attached, is a founding member of LTHForum and is nominated for a James Beard Culinary Award in the media category.  Just thought you'd like to know.
     
    Have a great trip to our city.  Post your itinerary if you've got one.  You might just pick up some local Roadfood friends along the way...
     
    Buddy
     
    P.S. A quick addendum: I noticed while I was working on this reply, both JRPfeff and ChiTownDiner were also looking you over (good 'Que attracts quality people).  It reminded me that one of CTD's favorite BBQ joints is Uncle Bub's in suburban Westmont.  Maybe he'll weigh in with a thought or two.  Also, as long as you've come this far, Milwaukee, one of JRPfeff's hometown's, is also home to Speed Queen BBQ.  That, and the recent openings of a couple other greasehouses up that way, might make it worth your while to drive another 60 miles north one day.
     
    B.
    post edited by BuddyRoadhouse - 2012/03/24 14:27:41
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    scrumptiouschef
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/24 15:26:04 (permalink)
    Thanks for the useful information. I'm in the run up as far as research goes and Chicago looks really promising. What are the oldest Chicago barbecue houses?
     
    I'm a mark for old restaurants and love nothing more than sitting in an ancient dining room.
     
    As far as "urban" goes, that's not a problem. I matriculated in Birmingham and documented all of the soul food and barbecue I could get my hands on while there.
     
    I imagine some of the neighborhoods in Chicago where the good barbecue is are roughly similar to the western section of Bham where it's wise to keep your wits about you.
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 02:17:43 (permalink)
    scrumptiouschef

    Thanks for the useful information. I'm in the run up as far as research goes and Chicago looks really promising. What are the oldest Chicago barbecue houses?

    I'm a mark for old restaurants and love nothing more than sitting in an ancient dining room.
    Unfortunately, I can't think of any Chicago 'Que houses that fit that mold.  The smoked meat culture 'round here is not even close to what you get in Texas or Kansas City.  Until Smoque hit the market and introduced Chicagoans to the wide world of Regional Barbecue, the only things you got were ribs, rib tips, chicken, and hot links.  No brisket, no pulled pork.  There's plenty of good Barbecue to be had these days, but the atmosphere you're looking for is going to be simulated at best; non-existent at worst.
    scrumptiouschef
    As far as "urban" goes, that's not a problem. I matriculated in Birmingham and documented all of the soul food and barbecue I could get my hands on while there.

    I imagine some of the neighborhoods in Chicago where the good barbecue is are roughly similar to the western section of Bham where it's wise to keep your wits about you.
    Sounds like you'll do fine in the 'hood.
     
    Like I say, when you get a timetable, let us know.  I'll bet any Contingent members who are available will join you for some part of your Barbecue journey.
     
    Buddy
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    RodBangkok
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 08:37:33 (permalink)
    Well being as far away as I am from Chicago, I cannot vouch for this place by having tried it, but the fellow that opened it seems to have his ducks in a row when it comes to making good q.  Its fairly new, you might give it a try.
     
    http://www.rubbbqcompany.com
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    scrumptiouschef
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 12:31:25 (permalink)
    Debate rages over whether the pork ribs at Twin Anchors in Chicago [est 1932] are fully barbecue or not http://leisureblogs.chica...f-meat-jello.html#more
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 14:37:12 (permalink)
    Not.  Period.
     
    Buddy
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 14:50:32 (permalink)
    RodBangkok,
    When I saw the link you provided, I assumed it was for Real Urban BBQ, already discussed above.  But in actually using the link, I discovered it to be yet another 'Que house, this one located in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood.  They've received mixed reaction around here.  I haven't personally visited, so can't comment.  Do a search over at LTHForum and I think you'll get a better idea of the good and the bad at Rub BBQ Co.
     
    Just make sure you're looking at the right listing.  As I indicate above, Real Urban BBQ also goes by their acronym; RUB.  The place on Lunt (which brings to mind a famous Chicago-based dirty joke) is actually called Rub BBQ.
     
    Buddy
    post edited by BuddyRoadhouse - 2012/03/25 22:28:41
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    MilwFoodlovers
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 16:05:24 (permalink)
    Carson's, The Place For Ribs-not!
    I had a co-worker that would drive down to Chitown several times a year and come back  raving about the ribs. Of course I had to try them one day and bingo, visions of Cincinnati's, Montgomery Inn popped back into my taste buds. I call these 1950's Italian restaurant ribs.
    They are what they are but BBQ ribs they are not. We have a wonderful place just like this in Milwaukee called Pitch's. It remains cooly retro. http://www.pitchsribs.com/

     
     
    #9
    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 17:02:01 (permalink)
    Buddy - was it on Lunt or Paulina?
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 22:27:48 (permalink)
    Melvina.
     
    Buddy
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 22:36:50 (permalink)
    scrumptiouschef,
    I don't know why your earlier post didn't ring any bells for me until just now, but it finally occurred to me that Gary Wiviott, the guy in your link blasting Twin Anchors ribs and another founding member of LTHForum, is now the pitmaster at a new greasehouse here in Chicago called Barn & Company.  They're getting mostly good reviews from other folks at LTH, but I haven't been yet, so no comment from me.  I would say though, Barn & Company is probably worth adding to your list.
     
    Buddy
     
    Barn & Company
    950 W. Wrightwood
    Chicago  IL
    (773) 832-4000
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    Twinwillow
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/25 23:11:12 (permalink)
    With all due respect, all I can say is, thank God I live in Texas!
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    scrumptiouschef
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/26 00:31:35 (permalink)
    Nice discussion on the history of the Aquarium smoker here http://www.lthforum.com/b...c.php?f=18&t=21540
     
    Also, since visits to Chicago are few and far between I'll be limiting my barbecue joint eating to only places that do not use gas powered "smokers". I have no problem with Southern Pride or Ol Hickory but I only want the real McCoy/old school barbecue while in town.
     
    Some places that are eliminated due to this fact:
     
    1] Smoque
    2]Smoke Daddy Rhythm and Barbecue
    3] Chicago Q

    Please help fill out this list. Thanks y'all
     
    and another top 5 rib joints list, from Steve Dolinsky http://www.wbez.org/blog/...p-5-rib-joints-chicago
    post edited by scrumptiouschef - 2012/03/26 01:38:07
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/26 03:00:59 (permalink)
    If the old "aquarium style" smokers are all you're interested in, Lem's and Honey One both come to mind immediately.  I'm pretty sure Uncle John's and Barbara Ann's will also fit the requirement.  Leon's used to use an aquarium smoker, but I'm not sure if success has forced them to use a bigger, more modern model.
     
    There are lots of other, far less known places that use the aquarium smoker.  Most of them on the south side, and most of them less known for good reason.  I know there are multiple threads on LTHForum discussing neighborhood BBQ shacks on the south side.  I would recommend doing a search there.  I'll do the same as time permits and see what turns up.
     
    Like I said though, if you skip Smoque, you'll miss out on the best (and maybe the only) Barbecue Brisket in town.  Everything else here is ribs, tips, chicken, hot links, and fried catfish.
     
    Buddy
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    scrumptiouschef
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/26 11:55:28 (permalink)
    BuddyRoadhouse

    If the old "aquarium style" smokers are all you're interested in, Lem's and Honey One both come to mind immediately.  I'm pretty sure Uncle John's and Barbara Ann's will also fit the requirement.  Leon's used to use an aquarium smoker, but I'm not sure if success has forced them to use a bigger, more modern model.

    There are lots of other, far less known places that use the aquarium smoker.  Most of them on the south side, and most of them less known for good reason.  I know there are multiple threads on LTHForum discussing neighborhood BBQ shacks on the south side.  I would recommend doing a search there.  I'll do the same as time permits and see what turns up.

    Like I said though, if you skip Smoque, you'll miss out on the best (and maybe the only) Barbecue Brisket in town.  Everything else here is ribs, tips, chicken, hot links, and fried catfish.

    Buddy

    Buddy, Thanks for the response. I'm not dead set on the Aquarium but I am fascinated by it. Probably due to never having seen one in action. My initial Chicago bbq list is unfathomably long so I reckon as good a way as any to limit it is to eliminate the joints that use gas powered "smokers". Only going old school on this trip. No problem not getting any brisket on the run cause I get the best brisket on earth from John Mueller Barbecue right here in Austin http://www.scrumptiousche...rday-October-29th-2011 otherwise, managed to dig up another list off the internet for rib tips, something that doesn't exist out here in Central Texas http://timeoutchicago.com...83794/chicago-rib-tips also, can't wait to get at a plate of some homemade Chicago style sausage.
     
    and another link to Chicago ribs, the full ones http://timeoutchicago.com...ago-ribs?package=96254
    post edited by scrumptiouschef - 2012/03/26 12:01:17
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    ALLGOOD
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/26 13:07:49 (permalink)
    Been to Russell's.  Not bad.
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/26 15:44:13 (permalink)
    Russell's may have a long history around here, and they may have a loyal following.  At one point in time, judging from the very tall smokestack protruding from their original location at North and Thacker, they may have actually smoked their meats.  But unless they are using some kind of magical "smoke free" wood, they haven't actually Barbecued anything there in decades.  Their menu consists of roasted pork and beef, and oven baked ribs finished on a gas grill.   Now, I'm not knocking any of that--it's perfectly good food for what it is.  But none of it is Barbecue, which is narrowly and precisely defined as meat cooked at low temperature on a wood fire for a very long time.
     
    Buddy
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    scrumptiouschef
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/27 12:28:28 (permalink)
    "Milwaukee, one of JRPfeff's hometown's, is also home to Speed Queen BBQ.  That, and the recent openings of a couple other greasehouses up that way, might make it worth your while to drive another 60 miles north one day."
     
    There was a band of x-Milwaukee girls out here in Austin that called themselves the Speed Queens, always wondered where they got the name, figured it had something to do with washers or dryers or something.
     
    A quick sprint up to Milwaukee is not out of the question but I reckon Chicago will have enough meat to hold my attention-unless some joint in Milwaukee is
    otherworldly.
     
    I know Milwaukee food lover enjoys Pitch's 
    "They are what they are but BBQ ribs they are not. We have a wonderful place just like this in Milwaukee called Pitch's. It remains cooly retro. http://www.pitchsribs.com/
     
    Also, the top barbecue blogger in Texas Daniel Vaughn over at Full Custom Gospel hit Chicago and documented it here http://fcg-bbq.blogspot.com/search/label/Chicago
     
     
    post edited by scrumptiouschef - 2012/03/27 12:34:32
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    ALLGOOD
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/27 13:08:46 (permalink)
    Pitch's is great.  I live here and I wouldn't waste gas to drive a few miles to Speed Queen.  I have yet to meet anyone who liked it there, and I've lived here all my life.
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/27 14:28:25 (permalink)
    Count me as a fan of Speed Queen.  They're one of the few places that sells sliced pork sandwiches.  It's a nice change from pulled pork.  Good sides, good sauce, good urban greasehouse ambiance, and of course, excellent 'Que!
     
    Barbecue joints have come and gone in Milwaukee, but Speed Queen has outlasted them all.
     
    Buddy
     
    Speed Queen Bar-B-Q
    1130 W Walnut St.
    Milwaukee WI 53205
    (414) 265-2900
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    kevincad
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/27 14:36:01 (permalink)
    ALLGOOD

    Pitch's is great.  I live here and I wouldn't waste gas to drive a few miles to Speed Queen.  I have yet to meet anyone who liked it there, and I've lived here all my life.

     
    I wonder how they stay in business if no one likes it!
     
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/27 21:14:49 (permalink)
    BuddyRoadhouse

    Count me as a fan of Speed Queen.  They're one of the few places that sells sliced pork sandwiches.  It's a nice change from pulled pork.  Good sides, good sauce, good urban greasehouse ambiance, and of course, excellent 'Que!

    Barbecue joints have come and gone in Milwaukee, but Speed Queen has outlasted them all.

    Buddy

    Speed Queen Bar-B-Q
    1130 W Walnut St.
    Milwaukee WI 53205
    (414) 265-2900

    I've been eating at Speed Queen for almost 50 years and to my tastes it remains my favorite Q from anywhere.
    It used to be in the now long gone Hay Market Square near 5th & Cherry. A few doors away was Jimmy's Rib Crib which is probably the second best barbecue I've ever had. Speed Queen back in those days was called The Speed Queen. I realize all tastes are subjective but you need some new friends.
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/28 01:51:41 (permalink)
    MilwFoodlovers
    I realize all tastes are subjective but you need some new friends.

    But you're my friend.  Wait, I'm confused...you mean the other guy up there in post #20, right?
     
    Buddy
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/28 09:21:35 (permalink)
    Right 
     
    I must travel in a different crowd. All of my friends think Speed Queen is the top choice for shoulder.
    Ashley's BBQ has some great hot links, plus BBQ goat which is not all that common.
     
    http://speedqueenbbq.com/

     
    http://www.ashleysbarbque.webs.com/

    BBQ Goat Ribs
     
     
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/28 10:14:07 (permalink)
    We may have to spin off a "Barbecue in Milwaukee" thread.
     
    Ashley's looks interesting, with a more diverse menu than one might expect from a traditional barbecue joint.  And $20 gets you a "pan of snouts"...perhaps that'll tempt Scrumptiouschef northward?
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/28 10:54:52 (permalink)
    What wood(s) do you guys use up in the Great White North?
    Hickory trees grow that far North?
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/28 11:36:16 (permalink)
    ALLGOOD

    Been to Russell's.  Not bad.


    IMO, Russell's is bloody awful. I'd heard about it for years, have family members who grew up going there. Finally decided to use one of their frequent Trib coupons. I'd have gladly paid double for less food at Smoque. Russell's sauce has some kind of spice or seasoning in it that makes it taste just plain weird, and just not right for barbecue.
    post edited by Jim2903 - 2012/03/30 11:26:01
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/28 12:10:15 (permalink)
    1bbqboy

    What wood(s) do you guys use up in the Great White North?
    Hickory trees grow that far North?

     
    Yes, they do.  Along with hickory I use oak, maple, black walnut, and fruitwoods like apple, pear, and cherry.
     
    There's a woodworking store just down the road from my office and every so often I stop in and pick up untreated hardwood scraps to use for smoking.
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    scrumptiouschef
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    Re:Barbecue In Chicago 2012/03/29 15:07:16 (permalink)
    Jim2903

    ALLGOOD

    Been to Russell's.  Not bad.


    IMO, Russell's is bloody awful. I'd heard about it for years, have family members who grew up doing there. Finally decided to use one of their frequent Trib coupons. I'd have gladly paid double for less food at Smoque. Russell's sauce has some kind of spice or seasoning in it that makes it taste just plain weird, and just not right for barbecue.

     
    I gave serious thought to Russell's barbecue due to its age but after watching this video http://190north.com/episo...st-Restaurants/8521687 where the lady host brags on them saucing the hell out of everything and "roasting" their ribs I decided against a visit. Oh yeah, it comes to pass that their secret weapon in the sauce is cinnamon! Pass.
    #30
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