Low and Slow BBQ Turkey grills its turkey-based burgers, ribs, and sandwiches in an open fire tickling pieces of apple, cherry, and hickory wood. Load up on healthy protein with the turkey jerk burger with a small side of fries ($4.75, $0.35 extra with cheese), or sharpen fangs on a combo plate of barbecue ribs and tips ($10.95 for a small; $15.95 for a large). Unconventional turkey tacos ($2.25) or the turkey Polishes ($5.95) confuse taste buds without upsetting them, and sides such as the soy-oil-cooked french fries ($1.35 for a small; $2.35 for a large) complement any plate, including license plates. With the small catering tray, customers receive a choice of 18 turkey ribs, 12 turkey hot links, or a comparable amount of turkey tips heaped up with a sizable serving of fries and wheat bread.
“Barbecue meets beer garden” may sum up Sheffield’s, but it hardly does the bar—heralded by [Esquire] (http://www.esquire.com/bestbars/bb-sheffields) as one of the best in America—any justice. Standing at the corner of Sheffield and School and housed in the bottom floor of a three-story brownstone, Sheffield’s pulls all the stops when it comes to its two specialties. Barbecue sauce made from scratch smothers tender beef brisket, homemade sausage, and pork that chefs smoke for 14 hours and pull to order. Hand-cut fries and fresh baked cornbread complement the sandwiches and platters, as does any one of the bar’s microbrews, such as Allgash Blonde or Sawtooth English Ale. In the summer, bar-goers can enjoy their brew and food out back in the beer garden, which the Goodlife Report named as one of “America’s Best Beer Gardens”. As cold winds roll into town, patrons can escape to the cozy indoors, surrounded by brick walls and plenty of sports-casting TVs.
Brand BBQ Market serves slow-cooked, smoked meat made with love and a kick of homemade sauce. Kick off the meatstravaganza with a starter such as the Brandcheezie (venison sausage stuffed with gorgonzola, wrapped in bacon, and topped with over-fried onions, mixed greens, and an earthy brandy-cherry sauce, $8.95). Brand BBQ boasts a bevy of mouth-watering sandwiches, including the Newcity Resto–noted pork-belly confit, a culinary masterpiece that is crispy on the outside, buttery on the inside, and covered in a fried egg and drizzle of maple mayo on all other sides ($10.95). The hearty assortment of burgers and entrees features sinful selections such as the hypocrite burger, a half pound of ground beef layered with smoked portabella, bacon, and horseradish cheddar sauce. Meanwhile, a classic slab of smoked baby back ribs can cure any medium-to-large barbecue hankering (half slab $13.95, full slab $19.95). Folks raised by vegetables need not fear, as Brand offers several vegetarian entrees, such as a grilled portabella-mushroom sandwich with roasted red pepper, mixed greens, and goat cheese ($7.95).
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.
PitchFork's whiskey devotees pride themselves on a sweeping selection of grain mash beverages and a menu of rustic bar fare served in a Western-inspired setting. A pantheon of more than 100 different whiskeys stoically stands over the bar to silently challenge all passersby to test their fiery contents, including 4 Roses ($5), Old Weller ($7), and the voluminously bearded 12-year Pappy Van Winkle ($10) (prices based on shots and cocktails). The pulled-pork sandwich ($8.50) loads piles of smoked meat onto a toasted bun to create a cleaner, more efficient porcine consumption medium than tangy slabs of baby back ribs ($12 half; $19 full). Patrons can coax out reclusive appetites with a platter of buffalo-, barbecue-, or citrus-sauced wings ($8–$20) before designing their own mac 'n' cheese, accessorized with a variety of ingredients including prosciutto, asparagus, or mother-of-pearl brooches ($7+).