Responsible for both one of Thrillist's best burgers in Chicago and Thrillist's best donuts, the team behind Au Cheval and Doughnut Vault goes for the "best" triple crown with Green Street Smoked Meats: a clandestine Texas BBQ smokehouse down an alley off of Restaurant Row. From world class beers to brisket chili Frito pie, we found 13 reasons to hit up Chicago's about-to-be hottest restaurant.
1. The discreet, street art-alley entrance This place is legitimately hard to find if you don't know where to look. Luckily, you will: follow the mural (and smoked-meat aroma) pointing the way down the back alley of RM Champagne Salon, where you’ll open the second unmarked door on the left.
2. A smokehouse-meets-rustic warehouse aesthetic The minimalist interior -- which bench-seats 120 -- relies on distressed brick walls and string lights for ambience, and houses both an L-shaped food counter and (phew) a bar.
3. Frito pie with brisket chili At GSSM, you can forsake your apple pie allegiances in favor of Frito pie. This corn chip pie is served in its bag (who needs crust?), filled with brisket chili, jalapenos, beans, and melted cheese.
4. All the meat! There's marbled-everything on the chopping block, including Texas-style smoked brisket, pork ribs, pork belly, pulled pork sandwiches (topped w/ slaw), hot links, chicken legs, short ribs, tamales, salmon, and oysters. Sauces available include the coffee-infused Brown Thunder, the sweet vinegar of Leprechaun’s Tears, and a spicy Texa$$ Squeeze.
5. All the sides! Fill out your meat tray with spicy and sweet pickles, cole slaw, potato salad, broccoli salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, and a (few) slice(s) of Butternut Bread.
6. The mammoth oak wood-smoker Weighing in at 12,000lbs with enough room to smoke 72 pork bellies, the giant cast steel smoker is the centerpiece of the kitchen. Beside it: piles of chopped oak for smoking, and bags of mesquite charcoal for the coal bed.
7. Quick and easy counter service Queue up in front of THE GIANT "ORDER HERE" SIGN by the meat counter, where you’ll do things counter-service-style, picking proteins that they'll slice on the spot, while you nibble on samples of meat candy. Finish out by ordering your sides, paying, and walking your properly packed BBQ tray to your picnic table.
8. Badass draft beer from a group of gypsy brewers The bar has 16 beers on tap (plus a dozen more in cans), and half of 'em are from Local Option, the heavy metal, renegade beer-makers who develop recipes and brew at other Midwest breweries, then tap them at local bars like Green Street or their Cajun pub in Lincoln Park. LO offerings include the Morning Wood oak-aged coffee amber ale, Sweet Leif Belgian blond infused with Chinese sencha green tea, and an all-barley steam beer called Dampf Loc.
9. Vintage beer sinks Barside, they've got reclaimed sinks packed with ice, $3 beer cans, and $4 bottles of Lone Star.
10. A dozen whiskeys for pickleback shots Put back a shot of Whistle Pig or Ransom Whipper Snapper with house-made pickle juice, while telling everyone all the awesome facts you just learned about picklebacks. The solid liquor line-up extends out to tequila, mezcal, and nearly 30 bourbons.
11. The Chartreuse Mule This mule adds gin and Chartreuse to the classic Moscow formula (for cocktails, not human rights repression), and it’s available by the pitcher, along with margaritas, Mexican fernet, and bourbon or vodka sweet tea.
12. Soft-serve ice cream Cap-off your bovine eating spree with soft-serve, in flavors like vanilla or coffee served with a hardened sundae shell. Mmm... ice cream shell...
13. The soon-to-be-open ramen shop and juice bar The ultimate goal for the Green Street space is to host BBQ on the main floor, with two additional concepts to come: High Five Ramen, a 15-seat ramen bar tucked in the basement, as well as Jack and Juice, a cold-pressed juice bar.
Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor and he once drank 64 beers on a cross-country flight. Follow him @SeanCooley.