Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
FLICKR/ELLIS CALVIN
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Mike Gebert/Thrillist
Sean Cooley/Thrillist
Sean Cooley/Thrillist
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1. Bro-N-Laws BBQ 3820 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60651 (Humboldt Park)

With Honey 1 BBQ now departed from the South Side, this is the closest example of South Side-style BBQ you can get north of the Eisenhower Expressway. It offers tasty, smoky rib tips and links and keeps a second, no-pork smoker for folks in the area who don’t eat pork (they get “west side steak”).

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2. Uncle J's Bar B Que 502 E 47th St, Chicago, IL 60615 (South Chicago)

The South Side’s beloved Uncle John’s is gone, but luckily it spawned heirs among different members of pitmaster Mack Sevier’s family, and this one -- run by his daughter and her family -- is, for one thing, the easiest to get to (right off the Dan Ryan). The rib tips and sage-tinged smoky hot links are awfully close to Dad’s, and so is the sweet-hot sauce.

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3. Crazy Bird Chicken 1138 S California Ave, Chicago, IL 60612 (Garfield Park)

As you might guess from the name, this is a fried chicken and soul food-sides place first and foremost, but owner Larry Tucker was one of Chicago’s great names in BBQ in the '90s, and he fires up a glass smoker on weekends to recall those glory days (call ahead to make sure -- or don't, the worst that can happen is you wind up with some tasty fried chicken).

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4. Barbara Ann's BBQ 7617 S Cottage Grove Ave, Chicago, IL 60619 (Near South Side)

Mack Sevier helped create the recipes that make this divey BBQ joint attached to a motel so mouth-wateringly great. Try the sage-dusted hot links, or the ribs and tips, for that authentic BBQ flavor with a creative edge.

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5. Lem's BBQ House 311 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60619 (South Chicago)

Lem's has racked up throngs of fans since it opened in 1954 thanks to its juicy BBQ ribs, which are served out of a retro roadside stand complete with a tall, neon-lit sign. This South Side institution still tops its meats -- from hot links and rib tips to chicken and shrimp -- with the original spicy BBQ sauce that late owner Myles Lemons created back in the 1940s. Prepare for large portions at small prices, and to take your order with you -- this tiny counter doesn't have seating.

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6. Blackwood BBQ 305 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60606 (Loop)

Blackwood BBQ is like a cross between Chipotle and a smoked-meat palace, offering you the chance to customize your barbecue experience in the form of sandwiches, platters, and salads, all dressed with a wide variety of regional sauces, from the Alabama-style white sauce and spicy Kansas City blend to the signature hot and sweet Chicago sauce simmered with Old Style lager.

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7. Chicago Q 1160 N Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60610 (Gold Coast)

A solid member of Chi's increasingly crowded smoked-meat scene, Chi Q gets fancy with spartan black leather furniture and white linen light fixtures. The gut-busting plates feature fare like bacon/cheddar hushpuppies, pork-infused "pig powder chips", and seriously good Brussels sprouts.

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8. Green Street Smoked Meats 112 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Down an alley off Restaurant Row, Green Street serves Texas-style smokehouse barbecue in a spacious, warehouse location. Like the smoked meats, the restaurant decor is reminiscent of the Lone Star State with exposed brick and iron pipe fixtures. The pulled pork and brisket are the way to go, especially with sides like spicy pickles and coleslaw. In a departure from the Texan recipes that rule the smoker, the beer selection is mostly made up of Midwestern craft brews, but there are Southern-inspired cocktails like bourbon sweet tea.

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9. Husky Hog BBQ 335 W 31st St, Chicago, IL 60616

What used to be only a food truck, this Bridgeport meatery dishes out the same splendid fare (and more) that originated from their truck, including their famous juicy ribs and pulled pork, as well as deep-fried Oreos and smoked corn on the cob so good, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered eating corn any other way.

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10. Smalls 4009 N Albany Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (Irving Park)

Smalls is a Filipino smoke shack that's got a tasty mix of American barbecue and Asian comfort food in a snug Irving Park space. If you are looking for a menu full of unique cuisine, a cozy atmosphere, and some of the best food in Chicago, look no further than Smalls.

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11. Smoque BBQ 3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641 (Irving Park)

This Texas-style barbecue joint in Irving Park kicked off the smoked meat movement on the North Side in the mid-aughts, and it's been delivering great brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, and Rudy Mikeska sausage ever since. Smoque still has lines out the door because it's a must-stop on any eating tour of Chicago. FYI: it's BYOB so bring a frosty six-pack to fend off the inevitable meat sweats.

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12. Pork Shoppe 5721 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60660 (Andersonville)

This 38-seat outlet of porcine goodness is decked out with mounted farm tools and pig diagrams in a barn-like space. Smoked baby back ribs, pulled pig & fowl, Texas-style brisket, and sliced steak dominate the menu alongside a choice of three different sauces: molasses-based Sweet & Sticky, vinegar-y Tart & Tangy, and Wicked Spicy. Atop a fluffy brioche bun, meaty, fatty bacon that's been cured for ten days a smoked for 12 hours meets pastrami on what is undoubtedly one of the best sandwiches in the city.

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