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...
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.
post edited by BuddyRoadhouse - 2012/03/24 14:27:41