Ben's Bar-Be-Cue: On the (very) short list of the city's greatest barbecue
5931 W. North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60639
Hours: Lunch: Friday-Sunday;
Open late: Friday & Saturday till 4, other nights till 11
Austin takeout-only joint that will restore your faith in barbecue.
Tags: Barbecue/Ribs, Recommended
It's difficult to achieve the magical alchemy of smoke, fat, meat, and bone that is true low-and-slow barbecue—a fact that doesn't stop way too many people from trying. But every once in a while a real artist emerges who reminds you that it's possible. And so it was at Ben's Bar-Be-Cue, a small takeout-only place that belongs on the very short list of excellent barbecue joints in the city. New Orleans native Linda Leslie rubs ribs and rib tips with Creole seasoning and lets them sit overnight before smoking them in a classic Chicago aquarium pit over oak, hickory, and cherrywood. She makes her mild sauce from apricots and peaches, and the hot sauce is appropriately vinegary, but as with all proper barbecue you don't need them. These are eminently gnawable ribs and tips, saturated with smoky flavor, and they retain just enough fat to keep them moist well into leftover time. Her beef ribs—smoked, then braised in a slow cooker with brandy—aren't nearly as smoky as the pork ribs, but they are incredibly tender and delicious. Ben's also offers barbecued turkey tips, fried chicken and fish, and burgers, and Leslie makes her own deeply creamy and rich banana pudding and a buttery peach cobbler, neither of which should be missed any more than the faith-restoring barbecue.
— Mike Sula
Features: Carryout, Lunch, Dinner, Open Late, Open Sunday, Open Monday, Reservations Not Accepted
Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, Discover
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Ben's Bar Be Que