True barbecue connoisseurs are already aware of what many say is indisputably the best in Chicago: Smoque BBQ, the brainchild of several guys who gave up working for The Man (in one case as an IT consultant) to try their hands as restaurateurs-and the first time was the charm.
The beauty of Smoque is that its menu is inspired by the best barbecue from all over the country-Kansas City, Memphis, Austin, St. Louis, North Carolina-and makes a unique style all its own. The centerpiece here is the meat-not the sauce. Smoque creators develop sauces that complement the specific meats, unlike many barbecue joints that create a sauce and use it on every dish they serve.
Smoque novices should order a platter of brisket. The platter includes the choice of tantalizing sides such as freshly baked cornbread, barbecue baked beans and coleslaw. Then, "add a taste," a small portion of another meat to sample, such as the divine pulled pork.
The kids' menu is tiny but crowd-pleasing: a mini pork or brisket sandwich served with fries and macaroni and cheese. Equally miniscule is the dessert menu: a peach cobbler so good it makes customers thrilled that there wasn't another option.
One word of caution: Smoque is not exactly a secret hidden gem, as evidenced by the consistently long lines. If your children are impatient, consider visiting at non-peak hours or ordering ahead for take-out.
Linda made it a goal to try out every kid-friendly venue in Chicago, which she chronicles in her Chicago Parent Good-to-Go column.
See more of Linda's stories here.