Chow Town

Chicago’s Smoque does barbecue that rivals Kansas City’s best

Before I met Barry Sorkin, I had an axe to grind with him.

Thanks to Sorkin and many other Chicago restaurant owners, Rudy Mikeska shut down his barbecue joint in Taylor, Texas, in order to keep up with demand for his sausages in Chicago.

After meeting Sorkin and eating his first class barbecue, I buried the hatchet. Smoque does Rudy’s sausage proud! And you can still get excellent barbecue in Taylor at Louie Mueller’s and the Taylor Café.

Smoque is a small Chicago barbecue joint that is huge on flavor. The joint has attracted a loyal customer base since opening day. Smoque turns out quality barbecue that’s as good as Chow Town’s best joints and better than some of our lesser joints. Take a bite of Smoque brisket or sausage or baby backs or spareribs or pulled pork or pulled chicken and see if you agree.

Sorkin applies himself 100 percent to whatever he does. The problem was that, although the pay was good at his previous job, he just wasn’t into it.

“You’d give it all up to run a barbecue joint?” his wife questioned. He said yes. He partnered with four other “regular guys” who know barbecue, and Smoque was born.

Smoque goes beyond the same-old-same-old and raises the bar on barbecue excellence. Their pork spareribs, for example, were so meaty and dark that I first thought they were beef short ribs. Got me on appearance and even on first bite, since my eyes thought they were seeing beef ribs.

Smoque sides are also top notch. The beans, fresh cut fries, coleslaw and cornbread were delicious, and their mac and cheese is absolutely some of the best I’ve ever eaten. We saved room for a peach crumble dessert that would rival any cobbler in any barbecue joint in the south.

Next time and every time I go to Chicago, I’ll get Smoqued. It is located at 3800 N. Pulaski Road in Chicago. It’s telephone number is 773-545-7427 its website is


Thanks and a tip of the hat to Jeff Sanders for telling Chef Paul Kirk and me about Smoque, plus Kingsford staffers Shannon McGovern and Katie Ahern for feasting with us at Smoque, and to Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn, our amazing friend, for an unforgettable Chicago barbecue experience that was second to none.

Ardie Davis is an iconic figure in the barbecue community. He founded a sauce contest on his backyard patio in 1984 that became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub Baste contest. He is a charter member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and an inductee into the KCBS’s Hall of Flame. He has been interviewed on numerous food shows and writes for a variety of barbecue-related publications. He is also the author of a number of barbecue books, His most recent release book is “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle: What Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”

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