Posts Tagged ‘bbq’

July 2012 – A Wicked Week


2012
07.10

July in Chicago always counts as my favorite time of the year.  Friends return to back to Chicago like salmon to their spawning grounds.  How did I kick off my July?

Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam

Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam

Step 1: Head to the Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam.

Why go to the jam? It is a cultural and artistic experience worth checking out.  Everyone go to the Fire Jam!

BBQ

BBQ

Step 2: Grill some meat.

The annual summer cookouts in Chicago will always be beefy.

Winnemac Park

Winnemac Park

Step 3: Watch stuff blow up in Winnemac Park

I thought I had seen it all in Chicago, especially watching Fourth of July in Pilsen one year. This pyrotechnique display was easy on the eyes and exciting to see so many things blow up.  I feel sorry for whoever had to clean it up.

@CountingCrows at Navy Pier

@CountingCrows at Navy Pier

Step 4: Watch your favorite high school band live

Nothing like a Groupon-organized concert providing for tickets for $49 and all you can drink.  I ended up crashing the VIP section and helping myself to an extra bottle of whiskey.  Fun times.

West Fest 2012

West Fest 2012

Step 5: Get to West Fest

Legends like John Simmons, Jesse De La Pena, DIZ, Derrick Carter get thousands of people dancing in Chicago’s #1 street fest.

While I am sad the week went by, it was spectacular and there is no week in the year that will be its equal. Summer is here!

#36 Eat at Smoque, Fat Willy’s Rib Shack, Smoke Daddy


2012
03.04
Welcome to Smoke Daddy

Welcome to Smoke Daddy

Smoke Daddy serves up Wicked BBQ in Wicker Park and after seeing countless friends check in on foursquare, it was time for an investigation. On a Thursday night there was live Blues, a crowded but not stuffed dining area, and the opportunity to try some of Chicago’s best BBQ. I quickly ordered an Allagash White and counted my lucky stars that Smoke Daddy also serves up libations.

Inside, the red window neon light casts a reflection over the whole venue and you’ll find people chowing down on ribs, nachos, sandwiches, and all kinds of smoked goodness coming right out the kitchen. We decided to dive into the nachos with brisket.

Smoke Daddy Brisket Nachos

Smoke Daddy Brisket Nachos

As you can see, these nachos had nearly all real estate occupied by cheese, brisket, and BBQ sauce. There was a sweetness and smokiness to the meat and don’t dare bring these nachos to any party – they’ll be gone quicker than the time it takes to recite the alphabet backwards.

Smoke Daddy Platter

Smoke Daddy Platter

Food magically rained down on the table and I found myself staring at pulled pork, brisket served on white bread, corn bread, fries, and a side of cole slaw. Surprisingly I found the pulled pork better than the brisket but the platter was just too much to finish. The BBQ sauce tasted great and didn’t overwhelm and I had enough leftover for another day. With refreshing Allagash White, live music, and a tasty dosage of smoked BBQ, Smoke Daddy will be your new go to BBQ joint.


#74 – Ribs at Gale Street Inn


2012
03.03
Gale Street Inn

Gale Street Inn (Source: city-data.com)

Welcome to Gale Street Inn located across the street from the Jefferson Park bus terminal/CTA Blue Line/Metra stop. You’ll find this northwest side gem a convenient location whether you drive or take public transit. Gale Street has a parking lot in the back and we found it relatively packed for an idle Sunday post-Monster Truck JAM!

After walking in, we saw some Mardi Gras decorations and plastic beads being passed around and the Bulls game playing in the background. After checking out the menu we all decided on some ribs and the server came back several times to refill watch and made sure our glasses were never empty. Classic northwest side with no artifice, I felt right at home at Gale Street Inn

French Onion Soup at Gale Street Inn

French Onion Soup at Gale Street Inn

The soup was just the doctor ordered and I had been craving some oniony deliciousness. Savory with soaked bread and cheese I love French onion soup. We also destroyed a giant plate of calamari before I could snap a photo but it came with a giant hunk of lemon and some sauce to dip. Soon enough we were waiting on the ribs all delighting in the tastiness of our meal. At last the ribs came but first I needed a bite of the mash potatoes.

Gale Street Inn Mashed Potato

Gale Street Inn Mashed Potato

Garlicky, buttery, this rich mashed potato was whipped to perfection. You could probably live off a giant pot of these mashed potatoes for days if it came down to it and it was simple, down to earth yet otherworldly. YUM!

Gale Street Inn Ribs

Gale Street Inn Ribs

And there we have it at last: Gale Street Inn ribs!!! Just how tender were Gale Street Inn ribs?  When people say meat falls off the bone, sometimes you’ve got to just check for yourself. I did not use my knife at all and didn’t need to use my hands because your fork can take off all the meat off of the bones and clean your whole plate. If you ever find yourself by Jefferson Park Blue Line CTA, head on over to Gale Street Inn for the best ribs around town.

Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar


2012
01.14
Miso Soup

Miso Soup

Welcome to Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar, River North’s freshest sushi bar. Fresh doesn’t mean expensive, but fresh means hip from the brightly colored decor to Bonobo playing in the background, Union does its best to stimulate and impress.

I sat down with @FeliciaCago, who pointed out that Bill Kurtis was sitting two tables over. Bento box was the first thing on my mind and the server let me know duck soba was his favorite, so duck soba it was. Bento box for $12 in downtown Chicago? Friends, I think we have a winner here – bento box includes salad, entree and spicy tuna roll. I added a half order of Dragon Roll just to try out some more sushi.

Duck Soba at Union Sushi & Barbecue Chicago

Duck Soba at Union Sushi & Barbecue Chicago

The duck soba will knock your socks off with roasted red peppers, duck, and a slippery array of noodles ready to please your taste buds. The salad was crisp and the dressing wasn’t overwhelming which is an A+ in my book. @eatatunion came out to say hi to everyone and made sure everything was the way we wanted it. Chef Chao appeared from behind the sushi bar and offered up some more delicious treats!

Black Rice Dragon Roll @eatatunion

Black Rice Dragon Roll at Union Sushi & Barbeque

Looking to keep up your health kick for 2012? Look no further – Union Sushi & Barbeque serves up its wicked dragon rolls on black rice! I don’t know what they put in that eel sauce but I could stand dousing it on everything in sight and still ask for more.

The best lunch I’ve had so far in 2012, I think it will take awhile to knock Union Sushi & Barbeque Bar off the #1 spot!


#13 – Throw a Lakefront BBQ


2010
06.03

Staring at the doppler radar report all morning, Accuweather and Weather.com were no match for the almighty power of the National Weather Service. The thunder boomed and rain fell but I held firm in my resolve to throw a Memorial Day lakefront barbecue. Some friends tried to persuade me earlier in the weekend that the rain would be terrible on Monday but my main dilemma was which was worse: throwing a BBQ in the rain or changing plans at the last minute? Given that over two dozen  people had skin in the game with their Facebook RSVP, I decided that throwing a BBQ in the rain would be better than telling everyone to swap out plans.

The rain and thunder came down and I loaded up a cooler and cooler bag with beer and meat, a backpack full of utensils, and another bag full of blankets. One of my best friends was a bit hesitant to come help set up but he was a good sport and found my grill and we loaded up his car with all of the gear. On the drive to the lakefront there was the unceasing rain making me uneasy, but this is what we signed up for.

Seeing so many people already out at the lake made me feel better about dragging everything out in the rain for a good old American barbecue. Families pitched up tents and canopies while we started unloading all of our gear under an unclaimed tree. The rain was a light drizzle and the text message bombardment ensued. Some people let me know via text that there was too much rain to consider going out, others asked how many people would actually show up for a rain-filled barbecue. My response was always the same: these were the times that tried mens souls, a direct challenge on our personal resolve and we would triumph over the human condition!

Given our limited resources, we tied a tarp to a tree but didn’t have enough rope to tie all four corners. We MacGuyered a solution and used a public garbage can as a support structure for our ill-begotten tarp. While the tarp was limited in its effectiveness, it was way better than nothing. There was a comedy to it, especially while we were envying the other groups that had canopies, other tarps, and giant tents. Most other people were already grilling meat and we were a step behind but that didn’t pose too much of a problem given that the rain got worse and there weren’t that many people there.

A few more friends showed up and we huddled under umbrellas and the tarp. I started checking the doppler and the storm moved too slowly for anyone to be optimistic about the prospects of improved weather conditions. I’m sure my friends were hungry, but we didn’t want to do anything about it until the rain relented a bit. The police drove by more than several times looking for illegal activity and likely were also trying to slap on extra parking tickets in the parking lot. Our morale was low, but our resolve high as we were determined to ride out the storm.

The change in weather also brought in a change in luck. While the rain decided that it was tired of us, a kid from one of the families under the canopy came over suspiciously and told us that his family brought too much stuff and they wouldn’t be able to load the canopy back into their car. The deal seemed too good to be true, so I asked, “How much do you want for it?”

“$10,” he answered.

Faster than he could finish his sentence, I dug out ten singles from my wallet and gave it to him. Someone else offered to pay for the canopy and someone else gave him another $2, but I declared, “Deal!” and we got him his $10. The family packed up their gear and we kept an eye on the canopy to see if they would actually leave it. The tables, chairs, and grill were gone and we swooped in under our much bigger canopy providing maximum protection from the rain. While the canopy was slightly broken, it wasn’t anything some duct tape couldn’t fix up.

Ironically, after I bought the canopy the rain stopped and we were able to break open the grill. Some delicious steaks were popped onto the grill with some burgers and hot dogs and people emerged from the woodwork ready to eat, drink, and play. Some delicious mango salsa arrived while we munched on tortilla chips, buffalo kettle chips, and ate food off the grill. More families arrived to the lakefront and the sun finally broke through. We ate some marinated shrimp and jerk chicken while soaking in the rays and having a great time celebrating Memorial Day.

Was the juice worth the squeeze? While I sit here with a wicked cold probably gained from standing in the rain a bit too long, there are few things better than grilling delicious food on the lake with good friends. I will always remember that raggedy tarp we hung on the tree and the family that hijacked it after we abandoned it for a bit too long. Rain or shine, Chicago lakefront BBQs are where it’s at!