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Chicago French Market barbecue stand, now chef-owner Charlie McKenna's HQ after a fire in the Bucktown location.

Our Review

Charlie McKenna, the chef at Lillie's Q, certainly looks good on paper, with a pedigree in both fine dining (Tru, Avenues) and barbecue (his family owns the original Lillie's Q in Destin, Florida, and they’ve been successful on the competition circuit). But his meats seem to lack a proper smoke infusion. This is particularly true of the pulled chicken and pulled pork, respectively, the most unforgiving and forgiving of meats when it comes to barbecue—it's puzzling that here both are so overexhausted and in need of the lubricating effects of Grandma Lillie's sauces. Restraint actually works for the beef tri-tip, an unorthodox cut for barbecue, which is fantastic, lightly kissed with smoke and served in rosy pink slices. And baby back ribs are in the running for some sort of beauty contest, shellacked with an unnecessary but photogenic glaze of camouflaging sauce. It may not be authentic, but it's probably better than it needs to be.

Mike Sula

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