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Big Bricks - Good BBQ in Northcenter? Who Knew?

Big Bricks - Good BBQ in Northcenter? Who Knew?
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  • Big Bricks - Good BBQ in Northcenter? Who Knew?

    Post #1 - April 23rd, 2013, 3:26 pm
    Post #1 - April 23rd, 2013, 3:26 pm Post #1 - April 23rd, 2013, 3:26 pm
    The other day at the LTH GNR awards ceremony (which was magnificent by the way, will definitely try to make it annually from now on), I met fellow LTHer Tapler and his wife, who clued me into a new place in my neck of the woods that supposedly serves great bbq. He told me that it was comparable to Smoque BBQ (he also said he holds Smoque in high regard), at which point I immediately became simultaneously skeptical and intrigued.

    Fast forward to last Saturday night, a couple of our friends wanted to meet us out for dinner somewhere, they were craving ribs. Lightbulb over my head, suggested this place. We headed over there around 7:30, place was pretty full and we were told there would be a 30 minute wait for a table of four. Not a problem as they have a bar with a decent craft beer selection, so we sat / stood at the bar and started some drinks. Before we were done, we were told our table was ready. I estimate the real wait time was between 10 and 15 minutes.

    First of all, our server was quite charming and helpful. She cracked some solid jokes, answered questions about the menu, got everything right, and refilled drinks / checked in on us at the perfect frequency. Pretty good showing, especially since when we were sitting at the bar I became slightly worried when one of the patrons sitting there was waiting for part of his takeout order which was mistakenly not made for him (His entire order was comped when it arrived though).

    Now on to the food. I have to apologize to Tapler upfront - sorry I doubted you. This place serves legitimately great bbq. We ordered 2 apps, slutty ravioli and shrimp and fried grits. They were both really delicious - the fried grits were the right consistency, not overly greasy or dry, whatever the sauce used was complemented it quite well. The slutty ravioli was basically ravioli "inside out" where the inside was stuffed with bbq meat while covered in melted cheese. For my entree, I went with the combo platter since I wanted to try as many things as I possibly could. The combo platter is pulled pork, hot links, bbq chicken, and 1/3 slab of ribs with your choice of side. The pulled pork was fantastic, amazingly tender and flavorful, plus the portion is huge. I think this may be one of the best pulled porks I've had in this city, I really liked it, I think it was easily the best part of the combo platter. Hot links were very good, not as good as some others I've had, but definitely high quality. They were super juicy and spicy, again not overly oily as some bads ones tend to be. BBQ chicken was just OK, but maybe that's because it's kind of a boring item compared to most other BBQ options on the menu/platter. I would recommend them replacing this with brisket, which I unfortunately did not get to try (It's smoked for 18 hours). Finally, the ribs were really good. They were dry, and I mostly prefer wet (I think that was my fault for not specifying), but I put some sauce on em and they were pretty delicious. The sauce here is made in house and it's pretty good. I wish it was a bit spicier though, mostly sweet. Anyways, the amount of food in the platter is ridic, easily enough for 2 normal people but I was in beast mode and left nothing. This place has their own custom made smoke pit (a picture of it being crane lifted in is on the wall in the front) and that flavor really comes through in all their dishes I tried. I really liked this place, and I worry that its proximity to my home may be dangerous. Also I should mention there is an entire pizza menu thing going on, I was laser beam focused on the BBQ so I didn't pay it much attention, but my girl told me she thinks they have a BBQ pizza which I would definitely try. I will be back for the brisket.

    http://bigbrickschicago.com/menu
    3832 N. Lincoln ave 60613
    773.525.5022
  • Post #2 - April 24th, 2013, 5:58 am
    Post #2 - April 24th, 2013, 5:58 am Post #2 - April 24th, 2013, 5:58 am
    Finally, the ribs were really good.
    +1 on this...

    I visited Big Bricks about a month ago - with low expectations. I had heard mixed reviews from my friends in the BBQ community - but heard they have good pizza and are kid friendly.

    Took wife and kids, settled into the back room - full of other families - with a comfy vibe and friendly service. At first, I just ordered a pizza and some beers...then, I thought, I'd be doing myself a professional disservice if I didn't order ribs from a joint with a real wood burning J&R Oyler smoker. I figured, even when I eat (expected to be) less-than-great BBQ - I can learn from other's mistakes...happy to be proven wrong on this one!

    I ordered some baby backs half-way through the wait for our pizza. Due to the order staggering, our pizza came out first. Good pizza, not memorable - but good. After 2 slices, the ribs came out. No more pizza for me. The ribs were smokey, meaty, nice rub - great flavor profile. I was pleasantly surprised. (not to detract, but to inform - the sides we had were pretty bad - mac and cheese was very bland and the greens were VERY salty).

    I eat a lot of BBQ, so I won't be back often, but when I do make it back - I'll skip the pizza and order ribs...heard they have a nice patio in the summer too!

    Kid friendly, close to home, GREAT ribs...gets my vote of approval
    I love comfortable food, and comfortable restaurants.
    http://pitbarbq.com
    http://thebudlong.com
    http://denveraf.com
  • Post #3 - April 24th, 2013, 6:58 am
    Post #3 - April 24th, 2013, 6:58 am Post #3 - April 24th, 2013, 6:58 am
    Suiname wrote:I have to apologize to Tapler upfront - sorry I doubted you.

    Ha! No apology necessary. It seems patently unlikely that a place that looks and feels like Big Bricks does should be executing BBQ at such a high level. I mean this as a compliment--Big Bricks has all the features you'd ask for in a neighborhood burger joint: comfy booths, friendly servers, interesting beer list, etc. Even if they were just making serviceable bar food, the place would be a winner. But man, I've been there four times now and each time the BBQ keeps getting better. I don't think they have a single dish that measures up to my favorite item at Smoque (chopped brisket), but their sliced brisket, pulled pork, and ribs are outstanding. Smoky, moist, tender. They serve Uncle John's hot links, which they were using as a pizza topping at their other location. The links haven't translated as well for me at Big Bricks yet--Mack still corners the hot link market, no surprise.
    Suiname wrote:The sauce here is made in house and it's pretty good. I wish it was a bit spicier though, mostly sweet.
    I hear what you're saying, and I agree with the axiom that discussion of the sauce at a BBQ joint should always be secondary, but I do love the sauce at Big Bricks. Maybe it's a nostalgia thing for me because the sauce there reminds me of Leon's, which I grew up with as a kid. It is pretty sweet, but it's balanced out with a vinegary kick that I happen to find addictive. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea.

    Thanks to Suiname for getting this conversation started. I'm really falling in love with Big Bricks and I'm curious to hear more opinions about it.
  • Post #4 - April 24th, 2013, 8:08 am
    Post #4 - April 24th, 2013, 8:08 am Post #4 - April 24th, 2013, 8:08 am
    A few of us did....

    viewtopic.php?f=14&t=33696&p=405943#p405943
    viewtopic.php?p=430413#p430413
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #5 - April 24th, 2013, 8:58 am
    Post #5 - April 24th, 2013, 8:58 am Post #5 - April 24th, 2013, 8:58 am
    tapler wrote: I don't think they have a single dish that measures up to my favorite item at Smoque (chopped brisket), but their sliced brisket, pulled pork, and ribs are outstanding. Smoky, moist, tender.

    Man I really wish I could have tried some of that brisket, but I agree with the pork and ribs being better than the rest. The smoke really comes through in all their meat, it's really remarkable.
  • Post #6 - April 25th, 2013, 10:29 am
    Post #6 - April 25th, 2013, 10:29 am Post #6 - April 25th, 2013, 10:29 am
    To celebrate this new Big Bricks thread, my wife and I went last night and snapped a couple photos. This is the combo platter. We requested to substitute the brisket for the chicken and they cheerfully obliged.
    Image

    The links were the best I've had there yet. I might even have to amend what I said about them above. Last night's batch at least moved them into the team photo with Uncle John's. Don't have a close-up of those, but here's a pretty good one of the brisket:
    Image

    Service is unfailingly friendly too. Big Bricks is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants in town.
  • Post #7 - April 28th, 2013, 6:07 pm
    Post #7 - April 28th, 2013, 6:07 pm Post #7 - April 28th, 2013, 6:07 pm
    I've passed Big Bricks many times, but I honestly never considered going in until I read this thread. So I met a friend there rather late last night for some bbq. We started with the gumbo fries, a special on the menu. These consisted of their fries, topped with what I believe was a mild cheddar cheese, and a gumbo that seemed to use their pulled pork as a base, and also contained minuscule disks of sausage. The fries themselves were very well cooked and held up to the gumbo, and the gumbo itself was decent but nothing special (and needed a little salt). I wouldn't run out of my way for this dish.

    I then moved on to the pulled pork sandwich, which was served with your choice of fries or tater tots, and a small cup of coleslaw. Having already had the gumbo fries, I chose tater tots which were standard. The coleslaw was one of the best mayonnaise based slaws I've ever tried, thanks to the aggressive use of horseradish.

    As for the pulled pork sandwich, it was served on an excellent and not so buttery brioche bun that held up quite well. While I've often felt Lillie's Q's brioche buns are just a little too buttery, these were perfect. As for the pulled pork, I was rather surprised that it was so tender and so smoky at the late hour we visited (close to 11pm). My only complaint is that I've come to prefer a more subtler smoke flavor and this smoke flavor kind of hit you in the face pretty hard. But add a little of the coleslaw to the sandwich and a little of their sweet bbq sauce (which I really didn't like on its own - real sweet) and the smoke hits you a little less hard. And the rub was solid. I look forward to returning and trying out their ribs (baby back, although I prefer spare ribs).

    Beer list was indeed pretty nice and service excellent too. This is a nice little spot to have in the neighborhood, and you might like to know it's only a couple minute walk from the north exit of the Addison Brown Line station.
  • Post #8 - May 15th, 2013, 9:38 am
    Post #8 - May 15th, 2013, 9:38 am Post #8 - May 15th, 2013, 9:38 am
    Been going here since it opened. The BBQ was not great when they first dropped in the smoker, but I will agree that they really know what they are doing now. Tried the brisket yesterday and it was damn good, comparable to Smoque, making it one of a very small hand full of fine brisket options in town (haven't tried Gary's yet!).

    I will disagree with BR about the gumbo. I had it as a soup, not a fry topping, and thought it was outstanding. Up there with Toon's. The smoked chicken, good andouille, and fine dark roux all worked.

    Beer list is fine but generally a buck overpriced for the area, kind of restaurant, etc., in my opinion. For some reason the Lagunitas stuff is generally in line with the market at $5 while Bells, Half Acre and others are not at $6 and more. Small point, I know.

    Service is hit or miss but well-meaning. Outdoor space is very nice, particularly in this weather.

    I think the pizza, with its tough whole wheat crust, is bad. I don't want fiber in my pizza dough any more than I want it in my donuts. Just me. Others love it.

    The wing expert in my family really liked Brick's version. Another Toon's similarity here - a kiss of smoke before the fryer elevated them.
  • Post #9 - May 15th, 2013, 7:09 pm
    Post #9 - May 15th, 2013, 7:09 pm Post #9 - May 15th, 2013, 7:09 pm
    JeffB wrote:I will disagree with BR about the gumbo. I had it as a soup, not a fry topping, and thought it was outstanding. Up there with Toon's. The smoked chicken, good andouille, and fine dark roux all worked.

    I was really only criticizing (and mildly) the fries with gumbo dish (where the gumbo was more of a topping), so their gumbo on its own may be somewhat or quite different.
  • Post #10 - July 17th, 2013, 7:27 pm
    Post #10 - July 17th, 2013, 7:27 pm Post #10 - July 17th, 2013, 7:27 pm
    I am by no means a BBQ expert like many on LTH, but I thoroughly enjoyed my ribs here here the other night. Dry (in a good way), meaty, peppery, smoky. The sauce had a kick to it. An earlier report indicated a sweet sauce, so I don't know if they switched gears or are simply producing various sauces. The bar keep indicated they sell it by the bottle for $4 after he witnessed me take down a spoonful. Attentive, friendly service along with fresh lime margaritas..... why can't this be done everywhere?!?! I need to get back to this place and try more offerings.

    Edited to mention that they are going to add burnt ends to the menu, along with a burnt end mac n' cheese. I personally haven't seen burnt ends too much outside of KC.
  • Post #11 - July 18th, 2013, 10:13 pm
    Post #11 - July 18th, 2013, 10:13 pm Post #11 - July 18th, 2013, 10:13 pm
    Thanks LTH for this find. I had a great dinner after a long day today. I had the combo with ribs, pulled pork, links and brisket replacing the chicken. I got mac n cheese as my side. Everything was very good. I loved the ribs, I don't know who described them above as dry, but in a good way, was spot on. The brisket was delicious, and I also liked the pulled pork. The link was good, but a little "herb-y" - was it sage? But maybe the best thing was the mac n cheese w/ burnt ends. Excellent. Not runny, and the right amount of cheesiness, with the burnt ends providing the perfect contrast.

    I will definitely be back (esp. considering Dairy Queen is on the way home!). This isn't knock your socks off Q (I'd prefer a little more smoke profile), but it is damn solid Q all around with good service.
    www.justnoms.com
    Rate the Food, Not the Restaurant
    @justnoms_com
  • Post #12 - July 24th, 2013, 11:10 am
    Post #12 - July 24th, 2013, 11:10 am Post #12 - July 24th, 2013, 11:10 am
    I discovered Big Bricks back in April, when my husband was out of town and I had to fend for myself. When he got back, I introduced him to their pulled pork, which is now our favorite - better even than Fat Willy's, in our opinion. He recommends the BBQ chicken (I believe he ordered it "dry"), and I often get the rib sampler, which is just enough for me (4 meaty ribs). I don't often rave about salads, but the "Tout le Monde" is wonderful! All in all, Big Bricks is a delight, and I'm so glad to have discovered it.
    "Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks." - Lin Yutang
  • Post #13 - September 19th, 2013, 9:51 am
    Post #13 - September 19th, 2013, 9:51 am Post #13 - September 19th, 2013, 9:51 am
    You know, I've been pretty disappointed the last few times we've been to Big Bricks. The first two times the food was very good, and I was pretty excited to have good BBQ nearby. The last few times the BBQ has ranged from bad to decent. The worst offender has been the ribs, which have tasted off and like they had been leftovers from a previous day. The brisket is usually the best, but even that has been pretty inconsistent and last night my brisket (while still pretty good with some sauce on it) was gray and dry. My fiancee was unimpressed with her chicken. I didn't mind it, but it didn't have much smoke profile. I still love their mac n cheese w/ burnt ends though. I'd probably go just for that.

    Think I am going to make a little extra trek and give smoke shack another shot.
    www.justnoms.com
    Rate the Food, Not the Restaurant
    @justnoms_com
  • Post #14 - March 24th, 2020, 9:12 am
    Post #14 - March 24th, 2020, 9:12 am Post #14 - March 24th, 2020, 9:12 am
    Bricks Pizza in North Center has announced on their Facebook page they were closing for good, which is a shame as I really enjoyed their pizza, outdoor patio and staff overall.

    Big Bricks
    March 21 at 6:04 AM ·
    With a heavy heart we announce that we have shut the doors for the last time.
    Thank you all so much for your support over the years,

    The Big Bricks Family

    3832 North Lincoln Ave
    Chicago, IL 60613
  • Post #15 - March 24th, 2020, 9:27 am
    Post #15 - March 24th, 2020, 9:27 am Post #15 - March 24th, 2020, 9:27 am
    smokinjoe wrote:Bricks Pizza in North Center has announced on their Facebook page they were closing for good

    A shame, hate to see business closing. Though I wonder what they are going to do with their Oyler, a tip-top wood fired commercial BBQ pit.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #16 - March 24th, 2020, 10:10 am
    Post #16 - March 24th, 2020, 10:10 am Post #16 - March 24th, 2020, 10:10 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    smokinjoe wrote:Bricks Pizza in North Center has announced on their Facebook page they were closing for good

    A shame, hate to see business closing. Though I wonder what they are going to do with their Oyler, a tip-top wood fired commercial BBQ pit.


    I'm really going to miss them. They were a semi-regular neighborhood spot for us, and always excellent with families.

    That said, we ate there about three weeks ago (before the shit really hit the fan), and while the food good; I noticed they had removed all of the brisket from the menu (but oddly they were still serving burnt ends). I made a mental note that that couldn't be a good sign. Maybe this whole mess was just the straw that broke the camel's back (which, unfortunately, will probably be a common occurrence in the coming weeks).

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