Lillie’s Q owner Charlie McKenna may be the only American barbecue chef in the city that smokes whole hogs—and, as the Chicago Tribune writes, “he might be the only pitmaster with the credentials to pull it off.” Along with graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, McKenna has won numerous awards in competition barbecue, including the top prize at Memphis in May. His slow-smoking roots go back to his grandmother Lillie, who first taught him the art of southern cooking at her home in Greenville, South Carolina when he was a kid. Now, at his Bucktown spot fittingly named for her, he slow-smokes pork shoulder, baby back ribs, and chicken in custom-built smokers over peach wood and charcoal. Family recipes also go to work for sides such as fried pickles, shrimp and grits, baked beans, and low-country boils. Even the restaurant itself blends southern traditions with its Bucktown setting in its meat-hook light fixtures with Edison bulbs, reclaimed wooden tables, and a copper moonshine still.
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