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Cue the ‘Q

Chicago may be far from Kansas City or Memphis, but our fine city still boasts an impressive roster of restaurants serving up barbecue that can go head-to-head with anything you’ll find in the South. So make the most of National Barbecue Month (and the rising temps) with a visit to some of Chicago’s best BBQ joints.

Feast on first-rate barbecue at Old Crow Smokehouse

1. Old Crow Smokehouse
Got a taste for Southern comfort food? Old Crow Smokehouse is sure to please with housemade Old Crow sausage blended with beef and pork, build-your-own combo platters and beer can chicken. This month’s specials include a horseradish-crusted short rib ($39.95) that’s big enough for two, as well as an applewood-smoked pork chop ($14.95). Enjoy live music most nights of the week. Line dancing, anyone? 3506 N. Clark St., 773.537.4452

2. Chicago q
Don’t let Chicago q’s posh address fool you. With numerous accolades under her belt—including first place prizes in barbecue competitions and a win on Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay—chef Lee Ann Whippen is serious about her barbecue, and her restaurant pulls out all the stops, from blackened farm–raised alligator to Kobe beef ribs and smoked dry–rubbed wings. 1160 N. Dearborn St., 312.642.1160

3. Lillie’s Q
Contemporary-cool meets classic barbecue fare at this Wicker Park destination, which also has a smaller outpost at the Chicago French Market. Get your fix with traditional dishes, as well as more obscure options, such as Kool Aid–marinated pickles and housemade pork rinds. Like what you see? Now you can make it yourself—chef Charlie McKenna is making house calls to teach proper barbecue techniques. Don’t forget to visit the online store to purchase their housemade sauces and rubs for your own cookout. 1856 W. North Ave. and 131 N. Clinton St., 773.772.5500

4. Green Street Smoked Meats 
Down the alley behind RM Champagne Salon and through an unmarked door hides Green Street Smoked Meats, where diners enjoy BBQ at picnic benches under string lights. The a la carte menu features all the classics—brisket, hot links and pulled pork—as well as top-notch sides, including sweet and spicy pickles, macaroni salad and cole slaw. With vintage beer sinks, 16 beers on tap, delicious cocktails and an enormous 12,000-pound smoker, Green Street is the West Loop’s best kept secret—but not for long! 112 N. Green St., 312.754.0431

5. Smoque
The guys at Smoque stick to the classics and do them well. The Irving Park joint prides itself on its “slow and low” recipe: Each cut of meat is paired with homemade rubs and sauces and then smoked for hours, ensuring bold, harmonious flavor. Although the line can stretch out the door of this bright, laid–back space, trust us: The food is well worth the wait! 3800 N. Pulaski Road, 773.545.7427