Food + Wine

America's Best Barbecue

by Jane and Michael Stern


Some of the most soulful barbecue is found in the Midwest. Chicago's original Leon's has been around since 1941, and it still delivers brawny spareribs that drip juice as soon as you bite through the crust. Leon's also serves exemplary rib tips, a lower-cost option that, because of their small size, demand more tooth work—but are perhaps even more rewarding. The tips deliver meat that is tenderloin-tender, dizzyingly swirled with the potent flavors of hickory and oak smoke. Leon's is take-out only, and the meals come in cardboard boats, the entrée covered with a mess of french fries drenched with sauce, plus a couple of slices of clean, spongy white bread. You would not want this bread for any other meal, but as a sauce sop and salve between bouts with barbecue, it's the right stuff. And because it is awfully messy, we suggest you eat it outside of the car.

Tel: 773 778 7878

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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