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#1
Posted May 19th 2006, 1:06am
LTH,

Met Pigmon tonight at Barbara Ann's, quite good BBQ all around, though the links are now noticeably different, still good, but different. In chatting with Dolores, the very friendly night manager, we of course asked where Mack had gone and, surprise, she said he had opened up a new BBQ joint at 69th and Calumet.

Let's guess where Pigmon and my next stop was. :)

Uncle John's BBQ [Mack is Back]
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Uncle John's has an Aquarium style smoker, which Mack plays like a violin.
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Prices are reasonable.
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And, most importantly, the BBQ is terrific.
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And the links are the same, in other words terrific, as they were when Mack was the pitman at Barbara Ann's
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Spare ribs, which were sometimes a weak link at Barbara Ann's, were spot on.
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As were the Rib Tips.
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Another satisfied customer.
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It's great to have Mack back and cooking BBQ, there are only a few real Pitmasters left in Chicago.

Enjoy,
Gary (who has the feeling he just made c8w's day :) )

Uncle John's BBQ
337 E 69th Street
Chicago, IL 60619
773-892-1233
Mon - Thurs 11am - 11pm
Fri - Sat 11am - 1am
_______________________________________

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

Low & Slow
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#2
Posted May 19th 2006, 1:13am
oh man! you've just made my night. I had a horrible day at work, but am now at home reading that, indeed, Mack is Back.

I was thinking that the Barbara Ann's hot links that I've had recently weren't as good as before. So I'm so excited that Uncle John's has the real deal. Thanks for the info...

-cb
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#3
Posted May 19th 2006, 1:19am
Damn, look at those tips. They are beautious. Is an aquarium smoker one of those see-through glass-houses? Back in the 70s it seemed that all of the BBQ joints used those.
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#4
Posted May 19th 2006, 4:58pm
Just got back from Uncle Johns. I ordered a tip & link combo. It was, quite simply, awesome. The rib tips were moist & juicy, with an assertive smoke flavor, and a bit of a grill-like char to them. I don't think I've ever been to Barbara Ann's when Mack was the pit master, but BA's has been my favorite BBQ joint in Chicago so far, but quite inconsistent. If my meal today at Uncle John's is par for the course, I've got a new favorite in town.
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#5
Posted May 19th 2006, 5:09pm
Gary and PIGMON, thanks so much for the heads up. You're making me very strongly consider trekking down there to pick up dinner tonight.

Does Mack have the same hot and mild sauces BA's does? Should I ask for half hot/half mild on the side as I used to?

Mmm.
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Ed Fisher
my chicago food photos

RIP LTH.
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#6
Posted May 19th 2006, 6:48pm
I do love a good small store 'Q'.

I godda go soon!

Thanks!

(What! No pulled pork! :) )
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#7
Posted May 19th 2006, 7:15pm
Thank you! That looks amazing. My husband has his first bike race of the year tomorrow and since it's being held at UC we've decided to hit this place afterwards.
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#8
Posted May 20th 2006, 1:23am
Answering my own question: yes, you can ask for the hot and mild mixed and they'll happily oblige. That said, the mixture was much hotter than it ever was at BA's, so, obviously, taste it before slathering it over anything.

When I arrived at 11pm tonight they were out of slabs, so I ordered a combo and a small link. When I got home, I saw I'd gotten a combo and a small tip. Ah well, my fault for not checking first.

That said, the tips were very smoky (in the best way there is) and had good flavor and chew. The links had clearly been sitting in the smoker longer than usual, which was perfect for me.

Beth gives the edge to honey 1, largely because she likes the sauce more. Me, I love the links at Uncle John's, and the incredible smokiness of the tips.

I only wish Honey 1 and Uncle John's were next door to each other. Not for their sake, just for mine :)
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Ed Fisher
my chicago food photos

RIP LTH.
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#9
Posted May 21st 2006, 4:10pm
Is there any seating there?
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LAZ
Please see this thread on LTHForum's new Terms of Service
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#10
Posted May 21st 2006, 4:33pm
None whatsoever.
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Ed Fisher
my chicago food photos

RIP LTH.
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#11
Posted May 23rd 2006, 12:10pm
Paid Mr. Mack a visit last night with a friend from out of town - about 8 p.m. on a Monday evening. They were out of slabs, so we went with a large links, large tips, and 6 pc. dark meat chicken.

The tips were very good, but man, those links sure stole the show - I had tried the "BA" links before, so I knew exactly what I was in for (and, to be honest, it was the prospect of those delicious links that enticed me to drive all the way down to 69th street from Evanston). I also REALLY liked the sauce (on the side, as per usual).

I did get a bit confused when ordering the chicken (a last minute replacement for the full slab of ribs they were out of). Mack gave me the choice of fried or rotisserie - I chose rotisserie instead of fried for some unknown reason. The rotisserie chicken was quite good, but not up to the level of either the tips or the links. Next time (and there WILL be a next time very soon) I'll try the fried chicken. They also have "Bar-B-Q Chicken" on the menu, which seems like it should come out of the smoker, but I didn't see any chickens in there when I looked. IMHO the chicken offerings at Uncle John's merit further investigation.

Mack's a real nice guy - we chatted for a couple of minutes while my order was being assembled. Turns out he was in the commercial meat business before his pit master stint at BA's - and he was Hecky's original meat supplier when Hecky was just starting out. I'd bet those commercial meat connections had more than a little to do with his coming up with his signature links.

Uncle John's gets a thumbs up from me, and I will definitely be making a return trip soon to try the ribs & look into the chicken offerings a little deeper.
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I exist in Chicago, but I live in New Orleans.
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#12
Posted May 23rd 2006, 4:17pm
Oh man, the barbeque chicken at BA's during Mack's stint there was excellent. Moist and smoky. It was way too easy to eat a half chicken.
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#13
Posted May 23rd 2006, 5:11pm
ChiNOLA wrote:Turns out he was in the commercial meat business before his pit master stint at BA's

That’s what I thought but Mack disappeared before I had a chance to ask. Here’s a picture from last year of a building a couple blocks from his new place. Still haven’t had a chance to visit but I can hardly wait.

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#14
Posted May 24th 2006, 12:36am
G Wiv wrote:LTH,


Enjoy,
Gary (who has the feeling he just made c8w's day :) )

Uncle John's BBQ
337 E 69th Street
Chicago, IL 60619
773-892-1233
Mon - Thurs 11am - 11pm
Fri - Sat 11am - 1am


Indeed you did :-) Made it down there over the weekend, with
great anticipation.

The menu, I think, is basically exactly what BA's used to be when Mack
was in charge. The prices look to be exactly the same too - I think
even the actual paper menu might be identical :-) And the Chicago
Tribune article about BA's (with Mack's picture) is posted up - with
the BA's references blacked out :-)

Got my usual tip-link combo - almost exactly the same as BA's, I
think 50 cents more (BA's was always 9.52, I think this was
10.02 IIRC). Same stuff in the combo - tips, 2 links, fries, 2 pieces
of white bread, small container of slaw.

Stopped in Hyde Park to consume it. Bit into my first tip, and was
very disappointed - nicely smoky, but dried out, almost completely
dry (with sauce on the side, not used to that point). But there
was much better to come - as Cathy2 mentioned ni a different thread
in re a different BBQ joint, the tips seemed to have come from
2 different cuts. A couple of the pieces were dry and hard. But
the rest were just excellent - smoky, moist, perfectly cooked,
didnt even need dunking in the side-sauce as they were plenty
moist enough without it. Note, I went there at a bit after 5pm on
a Saturday - not exactly prime-time in terms of business, that
would probably be a few hours later, I was there between lunch
and dinner (and was one of only 2 customers there, the entire
time I was inside). Yet almost all the tips were beautifully cooked,
moist and flavourful. And frankly the amount of food for the price
is so reasonable, the couple of dried out pieces were almost
irrelevant - for 10 bucks in the tip-link combo you get about
twice as much meat as you get for the 10-buck tip-link combo
at Honey One, IMHO.

And the links were awesome - just like the old BA's links, and
excellently cooked (even at 5pm), not nearly like BA's have been
lately (the last time I went to BA's off-peak time, I saw links
sitting above the fries-fryer - just sitting in that thing, above
the oil, basically to keep warm I suppose. When I asked for
"well done pieces", they offered to dunk them in the fryer
for me - no other well-done pieces would be available for
a couple of hours, they said). Iam thrilled to have links of
old-time-BA-quality back in the city again - BA's were still good,
but nothing has approached the brilliance of the BA's links
of old in months. This one, even on first try at non-peak
time, already did!

Talked to Mack a bit (told him I used to come to BA's in the old
days, and their lnks werent the same anymore - and he said
he remembered me! That was very cool. Gods do not
Answer Leters, as Updike so astutely noted, but it was
flattering to know they sometimes remember faces :-)
Anyway. Mack seemed to indicate that he'd be open next
Sunday I think - basically might be open slightly different
hours on Memorial Day weekend - so if anyone wants
to check it out, call before going in this upcoming weekend.

And anyone who likes 'cue *should* check it out, at the
earliest opportunity :-) Ive been a loyal BA's guy for
a couple of years or more now, but I think Ive found a
new BBQ home. The *only* advantage BA's has on
this place, after only 1 visit, is their little parking lot - you have
to park on the street for Uncle John's. That was easy at 5pm
on a Saturday, but may not be quite as easy at busier times,
I suspect. But thats really a pretty minor quibble given the
quality of the 'cue :-) I plan on making several more trips
to this place over the summer - and am mucho grateful
to Gary and Pigmon for finding out about it and letting us
know so promptly (Mack said he'd been open about a
couple of months - but without LTH I can guarantee Id
never have found out about it, ever, I cant remember when
I was last near the Calumet intersection of 69th).

c8w

P.S. Now that BAs old-timey links have made a comeback, only
one more thing remains for the Snail to be on the Wing and
the Lark on the Thorn (or rather the other way around).
I need a return of Tacos del Pacifico's fish and shrimp
and scallop tacos. If anyone can find out if or when
thats likely to happen... can one even dare to dream
of two strokes of luck of that magnitude in one summer?
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#15
Posted May 26th 2006, 9:25am
Mack is The Man!

Stopped by last night with a friend and the wife and we had a good time.

We all ordered 'the combo'. Man! That is a lot of food. The cover on the clamshell did not have a chance of closing.

The tips was a mixture of mostly fresh meat and a little older meat, The fresh was nicely juicy with just the right amount of smokiness and the link was wonderful. It had a perfect 'snap' to the casing and once again not overwhelmingly flavored.

There was no seating so we stopped at a park to the west and ate there.
Even though it took us a good 15 to 20 minutes to find a place to chow down everything was piping hot and ready to be eaten.

The fries could of been cooked a tad longer and the mild sauce was mild. Perhaps I will get the hot next time and the wife stay with the mild and share to mix. I could of used another container of sauce.

I was amazed at all of the BBQ places that we passed on the way and it is great to be able to drive right up to the best.

Thanks for the tip(s)! We will be making a return visit next time we are 'in the hood' :) .
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#16
Posted May 26th 2006, 8:08pm
c8w wrote:I need a return of Tacos del Pacifico's fish and shrimp
and scallop tacos. If anyone can find out if or when
thats likely to happen... can one even dare to dream
of two strokes of luck of that magnitude in one summer?


I was on the east side this past Sunday and noticed a new place, El Patron had opened in the old Taco's Del Pacifico location. The menu at El Patron is standard Mexican fare along with a few sea food dishes and shrimp tacos, but alas no fish or scallop tacos.

I struck up a conversation with the couple that owns EP and asked if they could make fish tacos like the previous owners did. The womans face lit up and she told me absolutely ! and ran off to the kitchen. Five minutes later I was presented with somthing that more resembeled an empanada than a taco. Sealed inside the deep fried tortilla was a dollop of fish along with somthing that the proud woman explained was a "secret" and that soon her tacos would be on the internet! I couldn't really pick the taco apart as she was standing over me as I ate it, but from what I could see it looked like what I had was a broken up fish stick and maybe a chopped up hard boiled egg fused into a folded over tortilla, a nightmare of a reciepe straight from the back of a box of Mrs. Pauls finest.

More bad news on the TDP front, the new owners claim that the previous owners went back to Mexico :(

On the bright side Tuesday evening as I wound my way back from the east side to the north I stopped at Uncle John's was warmly greeted by Mack who asked me if I came from the internet and proceded to serve up some of the finest tips and links I've had in a long time.
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#17
Posted May 26th 2006, 10:14pm
Mack is The Man!

Stopped by last night with a friend and the wife and we had a good time.

We all ordered 'the combo'. Man! That is a lot of food. The cover on the clamshell did not have a chance of closing.

The tips was a mixture of mostly fresh meat and a little older meat, The fresh was nicely juicy with just the right amount of smokiness and the link was wonderful. It had a perfect 'snap' to the casing and once again not overwhelmingly flavored.


Made it back on Thursday evening. It *is* a lot of food - the box didnt
close for me either, not even close. OK, so there is a layer of fries
below everything - but even so, thats a ton of meat in the combo.
Ive seen Hecky's "Mutt" described as enough food for 2 people
in the past - if thats the case (which it isnt, IMHO, because I always
eat the Mutt by myself in one sitting :-), this is at least twice as much
food.

Tips are as youve described - sometimes a mixture of fresh and older
meat. However, this time I was there after 6pm on a weekday - and
it was almost entiirely "fresher" meat. Consequently the tips were
awesome - meaty, smoky, moist, perfectly cooked. The link was,
as per usual, the best link in Chicago by a country mile IMHO (however,
in the old Mack days, I had one or two *sublime* links - these have
been excellent, but not quite sublime both times. Probably has to
do with getting there at the perfect time.


The fries could of been cooked a tad longer and the mild sauce was mild. Perhaps I will get the hot next time and the wife stay with the mild and share to mix. I could of used another container of sauce.


My fries, by contrast, were among the best Ive ever had from
BA's/UJ's - mostly due to luck, got there just as they were coming
out of the fryer. But you dont go there for the fries, theyre
never anything special (just as the white bread isnt anything
special, its jjust white bread - its the meat thats special :-)

Iam still not set on the sauce yet, however - had the mild this
time, and it was good but not great. The "mix" last time didnt
suit me as well as it used to either. Clearly another few trips
are needed for me to work out my personal sauce preferences
at Uncle John's.

Both times Ive thought about th slab, but failed to get past
the tip-link combo. And second on my list might be the
"large link" anyway. Its great to have this terrific BBQ place
in business, IMHO maybe already the best around - but it
would be even better if they were nearer where Honey One
is, instead of way down on 69th :-)

c8w
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#18
Posted May 26th 2006, 10:24pm
c8w wrote:I need a return of Tacos del Pacifico's fish and shrimp
and scallop tacos. If anyone can find out if or when
thats likely to happen... can one even dare to dream
of two strokes of luck of that magnitude in one summer?


I was on the east side this past Sunday and noticed a new place, El Patron had opened in the old Taco's Del Pacifico location. The menu at El Patron is standard Mexican fare along with a few sea food dishes and shrimp tacos, but alas no fish or scallop tacos.

I struck up a conversation with the couple that owns EP and asked if they could make fish tacos like the previous owners did. The womans face lit up and she told me absolutely ! and ran off to the kitchen. Five minutes later I was presented with somthing that more resembeled an empanada than a taco. Sealed inside the deep fried tortilla was a dollop of fish along with somthing that the proud woman explained was a "secret" and that soon her tacos would be on the internet! I couldn't really pick the taco apart as she was standing over me as I ate it, but from what I could see it looked like what I had was a broken up fish stick and maybe a chopped up hard boiled egg fused into a folded over tortilla, a nightmare of a reciepe straight from the back of a box of Mrs. Pauls finest.

More bad news on the TDP front, the new owners claim that the previous owners went back to Mexico :(


Argh. Thats very sad news. You had me excited for a second there, when
i read that bit about EP having similar tacos... I have never been to EP, but
just for that I will never darken their door, ever :-)

Does anyone know of anyplace in Chicago that serves a fish taco, or
a shrimp taco, or a scallop taco that is in *any* way comparable to
TDPs used to be? That is, fried (not grilled), and tasting anywhere
near as good? If anyone knows of one, please write in - it will be
greatly appreciated. I have a real craving for them again - is Baja
the only place I can satisfy it?

c8w

P.S. I really hope the EP owners are wrong about the Mexico move.
They were very nice people in addition to serving wonderful tacos,
I really thought theyd open again in a couple of months (else maybe
Id have gone even oftener than I did).

c8w
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#19
Posted May 26th 2006, 11:21pm
Does anyone know of anyplace in Chicago that serves a fish taco, or
a shrimp taco, or a scallop taco that is in *any* way comparable to
TDPs used to be?


A partial answer here.
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#20
Posted July 13th 2006, 4:29pm
Paid Mr. Mack a return vitsit for lunch today & though he didn't have any slabs ready, we went with some fantastic BBQ chicken out of the smoker - moist, tender, smoky, spot on.

Links & Tips were every bit as good as last time - in a word, outstanding.

Also tried to pick up a box of uncooked links, but he didn't have any in the store & mentioned that he'd need one day advance notice for those, so call ahead if you want 'em, FYI.
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#21
Posted July 13th 2006, 6:28pm
ChiNOLA wrote:Paid Mr. Mack a return vitsit for lunch today & though he didn't have any slabs ready, we went with some fantastic BBQ chicken out of the smoker - moist, tender, smoky, spot on.

Links & Tips were every bit as good as last time - in a word, outstanding.
.


Ive been 5 or 6 times now this summer - almost always going with the tip-link combination. Looking back over my first report, I see I may not have left the impression that it was completely outstanding, so Id like to correct it... the last 3 or 4 times it *has* been awesome. That is, not a single piece of tip overcooked or hard... there is a *lot* of food, and pretty much every piece of meat has been almost perfectly cooked! The man is an artist. (Of course, Ive also had the sense to not go right between lunch and dinner time :-)

Also tried their slab, and it was excellent as well (it actually wasnt ready at about 6pm - he told me it would be in just under an hour. So I drove down to Thats-a-burger for a cheeseburger before returning - that really is a pretty decent burger). By 7pm the first slabs were ready, and were very good.

Thanks for the chicken tip - will try that the next time (I think they actually have a tip-link-chicken combo, which may well be the way to go).

I do think the sauce at Honey One is probably better than at Uncle John's... but overall, in my personal opinion, UJ's may be the best BBQ spot around already (though, about 3 weeks ago, I did get one slab from Honey One which was stunningly good).

c8w
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#22
Posted July 14th 2006, 9:25am
A couple of years ago, I sponsored a dinner at Inspiration Cafe that featured Barbara Ann's ribs and sausage during the days that Mack was still tending the pit there.

Our order included a couple of extra bottles of sauce.

I hate to be the one to report it. But, Mack has no special sauce concoction. It's pure bottled barbeque sauce in a plastic half gallon jug.

Just goes to show that good barbeque has little to do with sauce.
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#23
Posted October 11th 2006, 3:14am
I don't have much to add to this thread, but I figured it'd be OK to give it a bump. I tried Uncle John's for the first time yesterday and I loved it. I haven't particpated in any BBQ-athons, but I've been to most of the well-regarded spots in town, and the tips and links combo at Uncle John's was easily the best BBQ meal I've had in Chicago. Powerful flavors (and, paradoxically, nuanced flavors) remarkable cripsy, chewy textures. Even the fries stayed crispy and delicious underneath the bonanza of meat and sauce.

Every six months, I look at the list of GNR winners and think, "Well, they've made the exhaustive list now. No way the next crop will be as good." I predict Uncle John's will be the next slap-your-forehead, how-could-we-have-missed, no-brainer addition to the list.*

*Edit-- Looking at the top of the thread, I see that the first post on UJ's was in May. I thought it had been around longer. I think the GNR noms opened in June, so I understand why it hasn't been nominated yet. It will be nominated in the next round (I'll actually hold off on nominating it at first to defer to the real BBQ experts on the board; but if they've got other priorities, I'll certainly step up and deliver the nomination.)
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Pitmaster Emeritus
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#24
Posted October 11th 2006, 7:21am
tapler wrote:It will be nominated in the next round (I'll actually hold off on nominating it at first to defer to the real BBQ experts on the board; but if they've got other priorities, I'll certainly step up and deliver the nomination.)

Tapler,

No need to hold back, the LTHForum Great Neighborhood Awards are all about what moves you. If Uncle John's is it for you, and I agree Uncle John's is terrific and Mack is a hell of a pitmaster, when the GNR's reopen nominate away.

Enjoy,
Gary
_______________________________________

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

Low & Slow
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#25
Posted October 11th 2006, 6:19pm
Tapler,

You've got yourself another enthusiastic second w.r.t. UJ's (err... I guess it's actually a third at this point).... Have at it!
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I exist in Chicago, but I live in New Orleans.
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#26
Posted October 11th 2006, 9:34pm
G Wiv wrote:... Mack is a hell of a pitmaster...

Enjoy,
Gary


Maybe we could have a whole new award...

Great Neighborhood Chef

:)

As it is Mack that makes the restaurant.
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#27
Posted October 12th 2006, 9:36am
I treasure my memories of ditching afternoon class with a buddy and eating lunch at Barbara Ann's. I've visited UJ's three times since its opening, and the tips-n-links combo is just as delicious as it used to be at BA's. In Mack I trust.
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- Peter
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#28
Posted October 12th 2006, 9:42am
Picked up a large tray of tips and links with a couple of slabs on the side for an event the other day. Fantastic, as always.
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#29
Posted October 12th 2006, 11:44am
I will certainly have to try this out as my trip down to the American Royal Barbeque contest last weekend in Kansas City reminded me just how woeful Chicago's barbeque is. Seriously, the worst of what I had down there would be #1 in Chicago by far.

But looks like Mack knows his way around the smoker, so definitely worth a shot.
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#30
Posted October 12th 2006, 2:32pm
I'd go in not looking to compare apples and oranges. The South Side/West Side-by-way-of-the-Delta ribs-tips-links aquarium smoker form of BBQ (Chicago BBQ) is distinct. Some find the meat too chewey, smoky, rustic, whatever. Others complain about the sides (!). I don't share those views, but I can appreciate them.

However, unless there are people doing this style somewhere else, and doing it a lot better, I don't think the criticism by way of comparison makes a lot of sense. For example, the rib tips and brisket at Allen & Son suck compared to some I've had elsewhere. You can't even tell they are there.
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