Award-winning Q-BBQ comes to Lakeview

Authentic southern barbecue in the middle of Lakeview might seem out of place, but the newly-opened Q-BBQ is making a case for itself.

Q-BBQ opened in Lakeview Friday after signs on the window previously promised late December. The space was previously occupied by Bario, purveyors of overpriced, sub-par Mexican food.

The Lakeview location isn’t the first for the barbecue joint, with two suburban outposts in La Grange and Naperville. Based on the decals on the front window, Q has received its fair share of press from publications like the Chicago Tribune and ABC 7’s Hungry Hound, but deservedly so — the restaurant was included in the Michelin Guide to Chicago 2013.

The concept is simple — you walk in and a table number is giving to you. You then order at the counter and your food is brought out to you. The table number, however, is placed on the table so you have to remember what you were assigned. It’s not that difficult, but a long line mixed with a mind clouded by hunger, you might forget. So don’t.

The menu, as expected, is heavily meat-based. There are the meat plates, ranging from one to four meats for $12 — $22 as well as two sides. The standard meats: Texas chopped or sliced brisket, Carolina pulled pork, pulled chicken wings, Memphis chicken wings and Texas spicy sausage. The premium meats — spicy wings, sliced turkey and brisket burnt ends — will set you back an extra $1 for each.

The menu is rounded out with sandwiches with most of the same meats between a brioche bun, Memphis baby back ribs, and salads just in case a vegetarian roams into the restaurant.

While waiting in line, an employee was walking around with QPups, one of the eleven sides to choose from. It was a great plan, because the deep-fried hush puppies were delicious and I ended up ordering them alongside my three sliders.

The sliders — three mini-sandwiches with a side for $9 — is the way to go for a first-timer. You can sample up to three meats and not break the bank.

I sampled the pulled chicken, Carolina pulled pork and the chopped Texas brisket. While the full size sandwiches have toppings ranging from cole slaw (QSlaw as its called at Q), bacon, cheese and more, sliders are plain, which also makes for a perfect pallet to sample the four signature sauces.

The sauces — sweet, mustard, vinegar and spicy — sit on the center of each table to add to the meat. As a wimp to spicy food the spicy sauce had a bit too much of a kick in the aftertaste for me, but the sweet was just right for each meat, and even served as a great dipping sauce for the QPups. The mustard sauce might be good if you like mustard, but otherwise steer clear. Stick with the barbecue sauces. The vinegar has a tang to it not as intense as the spicy sauce, but the watery nature of the sauce makes it very difficult to add to a sandwich.

Q has a very relaxed atmosphere and is great to grab a quick dinner and a drink with some friends without completely breaking the bank, unless you want a lot of meat. Beer and wine are available, with choices like Blue Moon and Daisy Cutter up for grabs. What takes away from the mood, however, are the very over-eager new employees asking you at every chance how your meal was. Out table had no fewer than four employees approach our table and ask “what our favorite thing was,” a difficult question to answer when you only had one thing. I appreciate their attentiveness, but I also like to eat a meal in relative peace.

Overall the meal was satisfying and based on its proximity to my apartment I’ll certainly return. To be honest I couldn’t really discern the difference between the brisket and the pork, maybe my meat palette isn’t refined (I just started eating red meat again recently after going without it for three years), or maybe they really aren’t all that different. I’d certainly return just for the option to try more sides — the table next to mine had both the brussels sprouts and bacon mac and cheese (“MacQroni”).

Q-BBQ is located at 714 W. Diversey Pkwy. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit q-bbq.com for more information.