First let me start by expressing my total disappointment with the majority of BBQ available to the general public in Chicago. Hecky's on Halsted is simply another data point. Frankly, there is not one positive thing I can say about the BBQ at Hecky's Chicago.
I want to point out that Hecky's on Halsted (Chicago) is a franchise of Hecky's in Evanston. Halsted uses different cooking equipment, techniques, and pales in comparison to Hecky's in Evanston. This is not to say that Hecky's in Evanston has top tier Chicago style BBQ, but Hecky's is, at least, in the game, whereas Halsted street is simply oven cooked mushy, mealy, soft, no smoke flavor in the meat, not even evocative of BBQ, trough food for the masses.
Hecky's signage says "it's the sauce" and to a certain extent I'd agree, that is if the sauce didn't contain liq*id sm*ke, which, at least to my taste, taints everything it touches with an unsettling factory run-off flavor. Hecky's rub, which they use liberally on pretty much everything, is flavorful, though there is a little too much sugar for my taste and a hint of msg brightness lurking in the background.
We ordered our BBQ dry, almost unheard of at either Hecky's, though that's the best way to judge flavor of the meat, especially when the BBQ place is 'cheating' by adding li*uid sm*ke to the sauce.
Hecky's of Chicago Saint Louis Style (Half slab)
(Warning: Image may be less delicious than it appears.)
Hecky's of Chicago's hot link had surprisingly good flavor, but was not BBQ, more like a tasty oven baked hot link. The tips were (very) fatty, mushy with no smoke flavor. Fries are good, with a nice shake of dry rub.
What was pretty good was Hecky's of Chicago's fried chicken, a milder, slightly overcooked, less flavorful version of Hecky's in Evanston.
Hecky's of Chicago's Fried Chicken
Frankly, Hecky's of Chicago's fried chicken pales in comparison to Hecky's in Evanston. Evanston, which is the original, not a franchise, fried chicken is spicy, juicy, fresh and hot as sin from the fryer.
Hecky's in Evanston's Fried Chicken (for comparison)
My suggestion, you want BBQ go to Lem's, Barbara Ann's or Honey One. Better yet, buy a smoker, practice a bit and cook your own.
Hecky's of Chicago
1234 N Halsted
Hecky's in Evanston
1902 Green Bay Rd
Evanston, IL 60201