// Written by Harrison Yu //
Barbecue always make for great meals. Something about the smoky, tangy flavors and the necessity of using your hands to eat lends itself to a rustic, instinctual experience. But, can a restaurant turn this homey (and somewhat barbaric) experience into something slightly more civilized? Chicago q has done just this.
Chicago q’s (CQ) castle-esque tower stands out prominently against the surrounding brick buildings. Inside, the restaurant is characterized by its charming southern hospitality. Both the flower-lined patio, fenced in with white pickets, and the dramatic, quaint indoor seating area are lovely. Upon entering the restaurant you encounter a dark bar leading to the atrium. Natural light and softly glowing cylindrical lamps illuminate the clean, but warm, dining area. CQ somehow manages a relaxed, yet formal mood. The only thing that detracted from this experience was that, because the place was so popular, the service was often slow and sometimes inattentive—apparently not uncommon, according to other frequent diners.
You immediately know the food has to be fantastic because, instead of serving bread, CQ sets out homemade barbeque chips and homemade pickles, both of which were absolutely delicious. The pickles had a perfect balance of acidity, spice, and crunch.
Shortly after came the highlight of the meal: baby back smoked ribs with a quartet of sauces (sweet, spicy, honey mustard, and vinegar) accompanied by rich and creamy mac and cheese. The ribs themselves were delicately smoky and exploded with a uniquely savory flavor. While authentic southern barbecue ribs do not fall off the bone but have a bit of resistance, CQ ribs (thankfully) do not follow this rule. The meat slid cleanly off the bones and dissolved in the mouth with little effort.
The accompanying sides only added excellence to these already delectable ribs. The side of mac and cheese was well salted and had a wonderfully crunchy crust on top. The portions were so generous that I had to skip dessert, although the pecan pie looked and smelled amazing. If this meal does not scream southern, I do not know what does.
Relaxed elegance and spot-on food makes this restaurant one that is certainly worth returning to. Chicago q is excellent for either a casual or a special night out, but it is especially perfect for a hungry night out.
|Address||1160 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL|
|Hours||Su-Th 11:00 am – 10:30 p.m.; F-Sa 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.|