Windy City Smokeout

From BBQ-aficionados to country music enthusiasts, festival fanatics to summer lovers, many flocked to the inaugural  Windy City Smokeout. This summer festival brought together the best of live country music, beer and BBQ to the city’s popular River North neighborhood. Throughout the weekend, guests enjoyed southern-inspired fare from premiere Chicago BBQ restaurants Smoque, Lillie’s Q and Bub City, as well as nationally-acclaimed Myron Mixon, star judge of Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters,” and The Salt Lick, hailing from Driftwood, Texas, and ice cold Coors Light to wash it all down. Festivalgoers also had the opportunity to interact with chefs and their culinary teams. 

At Windy City Smokeout, fans of country music and those that enjoy a good concert took in performances by three of country music’s biggest stars. Festival headliners include Jerrod Niemann, followed by Grammy-nominated artists David Nail, and Pat Green. Well-known and emerging talent also took to the stage throughout the weekend.

But for me and the Baron, we were focused on sampling the tasty BBQ from the five places featured. Although there weren't very many establishments, those that  represented were definitely pros on the BBQ circuit. Here's a rundown of what we thought were finger-lickin' good...

We were especially excited about Salt Lick BBQ. Hailing from Austin, Texas, these folks brought it. Back in June, our trip to Austin was cancelled due to schedule conflicts and one of the places we were anticipating on checking out was Salt Lick. When I found out they were coming to participate in the Windy City Smokeout, I knew I couldn't miss the opportunity. We had their beef brisket which was amazing. Tender, juicy, and so flavorful - even without their sauce! I actually have a bottle of their BBQ sauce in my pantry and I'm anxiously planning a BBQ dinner soon just to use it...

Next up was Smoque from Chicago. This is a great BBQ spot in the north side of the city and when visiting, you really need to plan to wait in line. There's a reason why there's always a line out of the door and for good reason. Smoque knows BBQ and does it well. We enjoyed their baby back ribs, which has a perfect smoke ring while still being tender and fall off the bone. 

Since we were craving for more baby back ribs, we compared what we had at Smoque with those offered by Lillie's Q. Something that I liked about Lillie's Q is their variety of different BBQ sauces. They covered smoky, hot smoky, sweet, white, vinegary, etc. I opted for the smoky and it was good... but the ribs themselves were heavy on the mustard wet rub. 

With all the meat we had, we needed a break and Bub City delivered. They had some BBQ pork rinds available which were a nice, crunch break from all the pork and beef. The rinds were light, crispy and had a perfect dusting of BBQ spice on it...

Lastly, we hit up Myron Mixon's booth. This was quite the sight to see because they featured some of the most delicious pulled pork I've ever had. With a full, smoked pig cracked open, folks were practically elbows deep hand pulling the succulent and juicy pork for sandwiches. Every now and then,  they would pour their liquid gold of seasoned vinegar over the pork for an extra punch of flavor. 

It was surprising the Windy City Smokeout took place the same weekend as the Taste of Chicago... but if given the option, I'd definitely go to the Windy City Smokeout again and bypass the Taste of Chicago tourist trap. I hope that in the subsequent years, more BBQ pit masters in the area participate to share their skills. It was an awesome event and many thanks go to the folks who coordinated such a delicious event for Chicago!

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