Smoque BBQ celebrates 15 years with a sandwich for special occasions

Smoque BBQ celebrates 15 years with a sandwich for special occasions

Smoque BBQ, the Eater 38-rated barbecue spot that opened in December 2006 in Old Irving Park, has never been very good at celebrating anniversaries. Years passed, the two smokers continued to churn out ribs, pulled pork and brisket, and Smoque’s reputation grew beyond Chicago: barbecue expert Steven Raichlen called its brisket “world class” at the New York Times — but it never occurred to anyone to celebrate the passage of time. Up to now.

This Saturday, January 15, Smoque will celebrate his 15th birthday with a special rib sandwich, smoked medium rare and served on a toasted French muffin with roasted shallots, red wine reduction and horseradish cream. “It felt like a special occasion,” says co-owner Barry Sorkin. “We’ve done smoked ribs for more upscale events before. I keep patting myself on the back, but it’s really good.”

A gloved hand holds a piece of rib eye while a knife cuts a piece.

Slice smoked ribs.

The sandwich costs $15 and will be available in limited quantities: 100 for lunch and 150 for dinner, with a maximum of two per person. Customers can only order at the restaurant or by phone, not online.

But Smoque won’t just celebrate his own continued survival, Sorkin says: He’ll also salute customers who have continued to support him through his various pivots during the pandemic, which included seizing a side street to serve as a curbside pickup lane. and convert a parking lot into a patio.

“We have seen the same faces,” he says. “Okay, we’re looking at them through car windows now. But we have had it better than many restaurants. Barbecue is not something you have to persuade people to order takeout.”

Will Smoque survive another 15 years? Sorkin doesn’t want to think about that right now. In an environment where everything changes from week to week, and even day to day, with new city mandates and workers who have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19, it is impossible to plan even 15 days in advance. “It’s an exercise in futility,” he says. “But we love what we do and we’re grateful that we get to get up every day and barbeque for a living.”

smoke barbecue, 3800 N. Pulaski Avenue, open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Clockwise from top: Smoque’s curbside pickup lane, the dining room, Sorkin in front of a wall full of awards.

3800 North Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60641

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