We weren't sure where to go at first, but both of them expressed an interest in BBQ. I boiled that down to two choices for them. The first was Smoque, an Irving Park hot spot that is soon to be featured at US Cellular Field. However, both Sam and I have been there multiple times and decided to go with the second choice, Smoke Daddy. My parents, sister, and Minnie went to this place a while ago and suggested it strongly. Also, Andrew Harris is a firm supporter, and Smoke Daddy was recently featured on Chicago's Best. So as you can see, there was a lot of buzz around this place, and we just had to check it out.
Smoke Daddy is on Division in Wicker Park. There's plenty of seating between the long room and patio. When my family went, they took our dog and sat outside. This place is so dog friendly that you can order your canine friend a smoked pigs ear if you'd like. Even though there's a bunch of space, this place supposedly gets pretty packed at busy hours. We went around 6 on a Wednesday, so we beat a lot of the crowd, but by the time we left it was getting pretty busy. The place really seems to fill up when the nightly live music comes on. This varies from a bluegrass group to a lone guy playing the banjo, but either way the music seems to be pretty popular.
We had great service throughout the meal with plenty of suggestions from our knowledgeable waitress. We never ran low on water, and the waitresses aren't bad to look at either. One thing that's better about Smoque is that the prices are cheaper. If you go to Smoke Daddy, you'll probably spend close to $20 with a meal and a beer. Speaking of which, the beer selection is great just like all the restaurants on that strip.
The three of us made it a point to diversify our orders to try a little of everything. I got the Smoked Chicken, Sam got the Pulled Meats (Chicken and Brisket), and Kelldawg got the Chicken and Ribs Combo. Each of our plates came with 2 sides, and between us we got the Sweet Potato Fries, Smoked Pit Beans, Coleslaw, Cornbread, Homemade BBQ Chips, and Mac and Cheese.
The Smoked Chicken with Sweet Potato Fries and Cilantro Coleslaw
First let's talk about the meats. Everyone seemed pretty impressed with their food. The ribs and chicken were tasty, and the brisket was gone before I could mooch a little. Everything had a really strong smokey flavor to it. The chicken could've been a little juicier, but I think that was a byproduct of the smoking (it wasn't too dry, just not perfect). Whether or not there were complaints, the food was wolfed down pretty quickly leaving little besides bones and sauce behind on the plate.
The Pulled Chicken and Brisket with Mac N Cheese and Smoked Pit Beans
Now let's talk sides. These were the best BBQ side dishes I've had so far. The coleslaw had the proper amount of dressing (coleslaw usually is doused in mayo), and it was loaded with cilantro. I was skeptical at first, but the flavors packed a real punch. The beans were sweet with hearty chunks of meat. This is much better than most baked bean dishes which border far too closely to chili. The sweet potato fries had a nice crisp which basically exploded with creamy sweet potato the second you pierced it. The Mac N Cheese was hot, gooey and creamy, which is usually not the case with baked mac n cheese. The homemade BBQ Chips were crispy, flavorful, and not too oily like homemade chips can often be. Last, the Cornbread. It was buttery and sweet. It came out warm and had chunks of real corn in it. I haven't had cornbread this good since I can remember.
The Chicken and Ribs Combo with Smoked Pit Beans and BBQ Chips
All of the food was pretty spot on except for one thing. On the table were three side sauces: a thin bbq, a thick bbq, and a mustard. They weren't bad, they just weren't anything special. You spices didn't blend well together, and there was a unanimous grainy quality. I love sauces. Whether it's ketchup, mustard, or anything for that matter, I usually use my food as a scoop for the dipping sauce, so you could imagine how disappointed I was in the sauce. Still, the rest of the food was really good, to the point where the sauce wasn't necessary.
The Cornbread (this is after a few bites, it was a big piece at first)
The atmosphere at Smoke Daddy was fantastic. The music, the service, and my good company made this a great dinner. The meats and the sides were off the charts. I remember how Boston Market had the option of making a meal out of side dishes. I'm not saying that the meats weren't good, but the sides were just so good I could totally eat a whole meal of them. Yeah the sauces were a little upsetting, but besides that there were few flaws to find. They may have gotten 4.5 with better sauces, but I'm going to give Smoke Daddy 4 out of 5 Pearls. Thanks again to Sam and Josh for joining me.
I've got quite the backlog of posts to write, so look forward to as many as I can make time for.