Chicago, IL

The barbecue that put Chicago at the top

Brandon Wang by Scott Madore on Unsplash

Barbeque is a classic American tradition and a cuisine that is loved all across the United States. Despite being quite available anywhere around the country, there are only a few places where people think of when barbeque comes to mind.

In fact, most people only think of the Southern United States as barbeque states. While it is possible to find a barbeque restaurant in Chicago, most people would think that better barbeque could be found elsewhere. For example, Texas is famous for having the top smoked brisket in all of America. The same could be said for pulled pork in North Carolina or even burnt ends in Kansas City. Many of the most well known barbeque joints can be found in some of these well known barbeque hot spots in America.

Despite the competition, Chicago pulls far ahead of any of these other locations in one category. The rib tips.

Rib tips are a pretty uncommon barbeque item and is not something you would find on the menu in many barbeque restaurants outside of Chicago. Rib tips are from the spare ribs that comes from pork. Normally in the process of butchering pork, the butcher will want to make the meat look at presentable as possible in order to show off the cuts of meat.

In the case of spare ribs, most customers like seeing the squared off look of the cut. For many restaurants, they prefer to serve pork ribs without the spare ribs and other parts in order to create the ideal presentation of their plate. The rib tips are often seen as an undesireable part of the meat and is often fully discarded and neglected.

The very bottom part of the ribs that is cut off is actually what is called the rib tips and are actually totally different than spare ribs. The meat that is left in this part that is cut off can be anywhere between eight inches to a foot long and a few inches in width.

These pieces of meat do not have full bones in them but instead have quite a few pieces of cartilage. When rib tips are used, the cut is most traditionally cut into pieces that are a couple inches in length and used as an addition to many dishes like adobo.

In Chicago, the rib tips have been taken in their most purest form and an entire barbeque dish was created out of them. The rib tips have quickly risen up as one of the top barbeque choices in Chicago and can be found in many restaurants around the area such as Lem's Bar-B-Q, Fat Willy's Rib Shack, Leon's Barbeque, and Uncle John's BBQ. Despite being a cut of meat that is commonly discarded in many other restaurants, rib tips are a crowd favorite in the Midwest and an absolute top contender in Chicago.

The rib tips are a great dish that are often served in large quantities with the meat having a wonderfully crispy bite and juicy, tender insides. It is most often a very messy and saucy dish so do not expect to look graceful while eating them but they are quite flavorful and will definitely fill you up. Many times the rib tips are served with various sides that are common to the rest of barbeque such as fries, mac and cheese, or baked beans. The most popular side to go with rib tips is a hot link.

The locations of these restaurants are below:

Lem's Bar-B-Q: 311 E 75th St

Fat Willy's Rib Shack: 2416 W Schubert Ave

Leon's Barbeque: 4550 S Archer Ave

Uncle John's BBQ: 502 E 47th St

Uncle John's BBQ: 8249 S Cottage Grove Ave

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