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#1
Posted April 23rd 2009, 9:46pm
*LONG POST ALERT*

Driving over to the Depot American Diner yesterday, I caught a heady whiff of smoke and barbecue. I looked about desperately for the source of this intoxicating aroma, but was in heavy traffic and couldn't locate it. On the drive back, however, I had the Picky Eater (Mr. Ursi) help me scout and we found it. It was hard to miss as there was a line down the street running from their window, always a promising sign. Too full to eat there after a full meal with dessert at DAD, we decided to go back and hit it up today.

Located at the corner of Pulaski and 5th, Mary's Bar BQ:

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I love their slogan, "Where the sauce is boss and every bone is well worth eating." I'd like to note that we proved the latter part of this true today. :wink:

It's a colorful little building, festooned with really terrific advertisements, housing a business that has been proudly serving their community since 1968.

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I have to admit, faced with these fantastic graphics, the Picky Eater and I were half in love with this place before even trying the food. As we pondered the menu, a steady flow of customers came by, they seem to do a very brisk business. Apologies for the photo quality, we were dodging patrons trying to get to the window and were snapping quickly as we were receiving some VERY odd looks for taking pictures. :)

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As you can see, they are very proud of their homemade chili, so we had to go with an order of that. We asked the extremely friendly gentlemen at the counter what they recommended and received a strong endorsement for the tips and links combo, so we got a large combo and a 5 piece wing as well. With two cokes, the total came to about $23.00. I managed to remember to ask for sauce on the side, which earned me a quizzical look. :) More on the sauce later...

They countermen were quite proud of the fact that they have been in operation since 1968 and were very amused at my questions and photo taking, so I'm guessing I'm the first person to show up on their doorstep with a camera. They asked why I was taking pics and I told them I was going to post the pictures on the internet and not to be too surprised if anyone else showed up with cameras. :) They asked which site and I let them know, lthforum.com. They were very pleased to know that there is a group of ravenous barbecue eaters out there that like to take pictures of food and talk about it on the net, although they couldn't understand why I wanted to get a picture of the smoker, which I managed to do by sticking my arm in the window:

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A large aquarium smoker proved to be the source of that lovely, traffic stopping aroma. I'll admit that I neglected to ask about the cooking methods, but they were very busy and I was VERY hungry. I don't think they'll be quite so surprised the next time I show up, so I'll try to remember to ask them then. In any case, a very tidy and homey operation with a great staff and a lot of regular customers! We had some very friendly conversations with the clientele as we waited for our food. Asked why we were there, we responded that the smell had pulled us in. They understood and smiled knowingly. I'd have come back here based on the friendliness of everyone we met alone, we got a number of waves as we left and one little girl with whom we had an interesting conversation (At all of 4 years old, she already disapproves of ketchup on hotdogs and demanded only mustard when her mother ordered for her. "No ketchup on hotdogs" she said firmly!) waved and shouted "bye bye" over and over as we pulled away. This place was ALL smiles!

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Heading North on Pulaski, we spotted this interesting spot serving "Boom" Fried Rice and a hardware store with their supply of smokers set out:
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We took our food over to Garfield Park and spread our feast out.

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The Picky Eater was very anxious to eat and ready for me to put the camera away. :lol:

The highly touted chili was quite good and prepared in the midwest manner. If not quite as thick or spicy as I typically like, chili changes from day to day and this one was good enough that I'd certainly try it again.

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The chicken wings were really fantastic, hot, crisp, moist, and not at all greasy, I would wholeheartedly recommend them. The only thing they needed was some hot sauce. You can't see it in the photo, but under the chicken is a mound of fries. The fries were nothing special, but I rarely expect them to be at a barbecue place:

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The main attraction, ribs and tips, proved to be an absolute treat. The photo does not do the helping justice, it was more than enough and then some. In fact, we wound up sharing with some ladies out for a stroll who admired our picnic and asked from whence it came. Upon learning it was from Mary's they extolled it's virtues. We offered to share, but they politely declined, only to come back 10 minutes later to take us up on it as they couldn't resist. We commented on the rather mild, sweet and tomatoey sauce we had received with the bbq and mentioned that hot sauce would have made the meal perfect. They told us that they have a killer hot sauce at Mary's, but you have to REQUEST it. Note to self - next time request the hot sauce. I need to know WHY the sauce is the boss!!! :P

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The tips were very smokey, meaty and had just the right amount of pull with the flavor of pork shining through. As I neglected to inquire about the cooking methods and I'm not a barbecue guru, I can't be sure, but they certainly tasted nicely of woodsmoke and had a good pink ring. On their own, without sauce, they were very, very good. So good, in fact, that the Picky Eater, for whom I had gotten the chicken wings as a safety, declared that I needed to step away from the rib tips and leave them to him. This is from a man who has steadfastly refused to eat rib tips since being imported to Chicago from Boston! :shock: I deferred to his new found enthusiasm for tips, and concentrated on the links:

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The links were my favorite. Although a tiny bit dry, they were very spicy, relentlessly studded with peppers, nicely fatty and had a dense smokey taste. Nice casing, lightly charred, great coarse ground texture, with a good snap and miles of flavor. These links will make you sweat!

Sorry for the length of the post, but I could not find anything at all about this spot on the internet and decided to be thorough. Overall, a very promising first visit, we were quite happy with everything. I won't compare it to other barbecue places in town based upon one visit, but I'll certainly be back to try it again and look forward to hearing the thoughts of the rest of the LTH community.

Mary's Bar BQ
606 S. Pulaski
Chicago, IL 60624
(773) 638-2233
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"Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." Leo Durocher
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#2
Posted April 23rd 2009, 10:10pm
Very nice discovery. Hope I can get over there sometime soon.

Thank you,

Buddy
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#3
Posted April 23rd 2009, 10:13pm
Thanks for the detailed post and photos! It's nice to hear about a new place that hasn't been discussed (to my knowledge) here yet.
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#4
Posted April 23rd 2009, 10:22pm
Great discovery, Ursiform. Hard to believe something unknown like this could be lurking so close, but there it was.
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#5
Posted April 23rd 2009, 10:35pm
I have to admit, I'm stunned that it hadn't already been discussed on here! It's a pretty unassuming building, perhaps I just got lucky that I had my windows rolled down and I caught the smell of barbecue wafting through the air.

Honestly, the nicest staff you can imagine. I'm really looking forward to going back!
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"Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." Leo Durocher
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#6
Posted April 23rd 2009, 11:22pm
Ursiform wrote:and look forward to hearing the thoughts of the rest of the LTH community.

My thoughts.........Wow!

I can hardly wait to check out Mary's Bar BQ.

I love the fact the smell of smoke brought you in, kudos to both you and the Picky Eater.

Enjoy,
Gary
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Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

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#7
Posted April 23rd 2009, 11:45pm
There's a drummer I work with over by Garfield Park, I get off the Eisenhower at Independence often, a trip down to Mary's sounds like a plan and not too far off the beaten path.
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#8
Posted April 24th 2009, 6:54am
I drove by this place about a month ago, and the entire block smelled like heaven. I'm definitely gonna get there sooner than later.
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#9
Posted April 24th 2009, 7:34am
unsauced tips and a camera? what are ya, a tourist or a purist? ;>

unless something's changed, Mary's is closed on Sundays, which I've forgotten and sadly had to rediscover far too many times . when they ask if you want hot or mild, try both together. it's good.
I had some kickin' tips from Fredine's a couple weeks ago. I'd suggest that if one is to come out this way to try both. Fredine's is on Chicago Ave. between Homan and Kedzie. Or go for the Trifecta and hit Ja's Jerk Chicken on Lake and Sacramento as well. Their hot jerk tips are revelatory.

oh, and those oil drum grills are a pretty good deal, I got 2 for $90, but that was maybe 8 years ago. There are rumors that someone over here makes smokers out of old heating oil tanks, but I've yet to chase that rumor down. maybe there's no old oil tanks left to convert?

edit to correct dyslexic spelling
Last edited by dk on April 24th 2009, 8:17am, edited 1 time in total.
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#10
Posted April 24th 2009, 7:56am
dk wrote:I had some kickin' tips from Fredine's a couple weeks ago. I'd suggest that if one is to come out this way to try both. Fredine's is on Chicago Ave. between Homan and Kedzie.

Isn't Ferdine's out of business?
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Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

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#11
Posted April 24th 2009, 8:16am
G Wiv wrote:Isn't Ferdine's out of business?

oh, say it ain't so! I was just there a couple weeks ago, maybe 6 at the most. I knew the building was up for sale, but I've been out of town and was hopeful there'd be no takers. Fredine was manning the counter the last time, which probably accounted for how good the tips were. I'll will definitely drive past to confirm, very shortly.
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#12
Posted April 24th 2009, 11:24am
unsauced tips and a camera? what are ya, a tourist or a purist? ;>


Ha ha, I'll admit, I felt a bit like both, but mostly the former. I'm rather embarrassed that this stretch of Pulaski has eluded me for so long. :oops:

when they ask if you want hot or mild, try both together. it's good.


Thank you for the ordering tip! Sadly, I was not offered a choice of sauces, but now I know to ask, I'll be sure to try this out next time!
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#13
Posted April 24th 2009, 1:58pm
dk wrote:
G Wiv wrote:Isn't Ferdine's out of business?

oh, say it ain't so!

It ain't so. Ferdine's is open for business, Ferdine herself perched regally behind smoke scented bullet proof glass.
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Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

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#14
Posted April 27th 2009, 10:02am
Ursiform wrote:They asked why I was taking pics and I told them I was going to post the pictures on the internet and not to be too surprised if anyone else showed up with cameras. :) They asked which site and I let them know, lthforum.com.

Ursiform,

Followed your footsteps to Mary's Bar BQ the very next day, and they seemed pleasantly surprised your prediction about internet people with cameras showing up was true. You must have left quite an impression as Chris Jones of Mary's Bar BQ, had a printout of your LTHforum post.

Chris Jones, Mary's Bar BQ

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Thanks for paving the way, Chris was happy to to let myself and Pigmon in the shop to snap a few pictures.

Chris Jones at Aquarium Smoker

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Chris said Mary's Bar BQ uses a mix of hickory and fruit wood, with lump charcoal to start the fire.

Mary's Bar BQ Aquarium Smoker Firebox

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Sea of Rib Tips

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We, I had lunch with Jazzfood, Pigmon and the infamous Mr. Tilapia, ordered tips, links, wings and chili to share which came to a reasonable $6 per person and repaired to the trunk of my car to dine.

Dining Al Trunko

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Wings were volcanically hot, tasty, crisp, meaty, juicy, but mouth searingly hot, chili Chicago style, thin, an abundance of cumin with a slightly gritty mouthfeel, the type one needs to grow up with to really appreciate.

Mary's Bar BQ Wings

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Mary's Bar BQ Chili

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Tips were solid, light smoke, highlights of caramelization, meaty, with scattered bits of flavorful fat. Links were a shade dry and fries, while standard thin cut food service, crisp and tasty.

Mary's Bar BQ Tips/links/fries

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It was a hell of a day for this BBQ guy three Westside wood burners in row, first Ferdine's where I'd been any number of times, but mistakenly thought had closed, Carter's Barbecue, a 2-month old wood burner and, hiding in plain sight, Mary's Bar BQ. Thanks for the heads up on Mary's Ursiform, I will be back soon.

Enjoy,
Gary
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Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

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#15
Posted April 27th 2009, 5:26pm
Gary, so glad to hear that you enjoyed it! The picky eater and I stopped by (again) today. Although we had just gorged at DAD, I rationalized it by declaring it to be our dinner for later. I conveniently forgot that we are going to the Sox game tonight, so I guess it is going to be a midnight snack. :oops: Truth be told, I just couldn't resist hitting it again!

Once again, the guys were amazingly friendly and greatly enjoyed their visit from Gary & Co. As we had just eaten, we "only" ordered a small tip/wing combo and a link sandwich as I wanted to see if the links were any juicier in "whole" form.

The link sandwich is HUGE and comes with fries and a soda for a mere $3.50. Of course, we couldn't resist having a nibble, and everything was just as enjoyable as our first trip. I got the "mixed" hot and sweet sauce today, quite good. The link, btw, is much juicier if ordered whole.

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The "small" tip/wing combo:

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The regulars customers asked us again what we were doing there and, again, appreciated the fact that the smell had pulled us in. No cute little kids this time, but two rabid Cubs fans that gave the Picky Eater hell over his Boston cap and carefully inspected his crummy tattoos while informing us that we had, indeed, found the "real" stuff at Mary's. I grow more fond of this place with each visit.
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#16
Posted July 2nd 2010, 10:22am
Mary's has been around since 1968, so if you ever wanted proof that there's always something new to be found in Chicago, this thread was it. Frankly I wondered how a place of any quality could have gone so unnoticed on a major street, but then I finally went there and realized why-- it looks like a hot dog stand, with lots of Vienna signage on the outside.

But though I'm always a bit skeptical of first reviews on a barbecue place (which tend even more than most things to be more optimistic than the food strictly warrants), Mary's is the real deal and deserves to be revived from this appreciative but short-lived thread, and take a place in the permanent rotation of LTHers' BBQ joints. Unless you actually want a hot dog, as an 8-year-old of my acquaintance did, there's only one thing to have: rib tips and links (that counts as one thing to me). The tips, if not as plump as Honey 1's, are plenty meaty, and the use of pure hickory smoke (okay, he occasionally throws in some charcoal when starting or to manage it) is unmistakable. The links are good, the sauce is in the sweet-hot south side style, the fries are there to soak it up. No surprises, just done very well. If you didn't go during its bloom of LTH love last year, now's the time.
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#17
Posted July 2nd 2010, 11:07am
Thanks Mike G for bump starting this post again. Looks and sounds good and Fri. and Sat. open till 3am, cool! That HUGH link sammy with fries and soda for $3.50 sounds great.
GNR

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