The basics: With a fine dining pedigree that’s seen him spend time in acclaimed kitchens like Moto, the bygone Willy Wonka factory of a tasting menu restaurant, D’Andre Carter brings a distinguished sensibility to his barbecue. Now at his home-y Evanston restaurant that he runs with his wife Heather Bublick, it’s out with the molecular gastronomy and in with the low-and-slow traditions he came to love while helping his grandmother cook barbecue on the southside. Nowadays, he keeps the familial comforts alive with a menu of slow-roasted, braised, and smoked meats aplenty, from brisket sandwiches and tender rib tips to smoked pastrami and even spicy ‘Nduja sausage. Along with sides like creamy apple slaw and roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon butter, every element of the menu is meticulously refined, from the specs of his seasoning blends to the hours spent cooking over low heat.
What the experts say: “I had some of the most delicious barbecue of my life from Soul & Smoke at a fundraising event recently. Like, mind-blowingly good,” proclaims Christine Cikowski, chef/partner of Honey Butter Fried Chicken. “The brisket was so tender, perfectly sauced and seasoned. They are crushin’ it!” According to Brian Bruns, chef/owner of Flat & Point, they’re part of the new guard of Chicago ‘cue, carving their own path. “They’re doing a nice job putting their own spin on things,” he says. “There’s no specific style to what we do here, so everyone has the opportunity to mix and match and do their own thing.” And Manion feels that Carter really puts the soul in Soul & Smoke: “It’s really super soulful, and as much as it can be, personal. Sometimes with barbecue you have the feeling that everyone’s doing the same thing. It’s f&cking terrific.”
How to book: Order online from the Evanston restaurant via Toast, and there’s also a delivery-only ghost kitchen in Avondale. Soul & Smoke has a location inside Time Out Market Chicago, for dine-in or delivery via Uber Eats.