Smalls Smoke Shack & More | Irving Park | Barbecue/Ribs, Global/Fusion/Eclectic | Restaurant
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Mike Sula

Barbecue with Asian accents, fried chicken, and mashups like elotes with spicy Japanese mayo. Counter service only.

Our Review

This tiny, bright aqua-blue Filipino-Korean barbecue and fried chicken joint from the folks behind the Brown Sack Lunch Truck is one of those road-to-brick-and-mortar feel-good stories. Smalls's Joaquin Soler has installed a Southern Pride smoker and is smoldering brisket, pulled pork, and Saint Louis spares over hickory and cherrywood. There are only a few stools, and this stuff doesn't travel well, so your best bet is to eat al trunko or retire next door to Lizard's Liquid Lounge, where they'll deliver your order as soon as it's done. Brisket on my second visit was moist and smoky, and an order of brisket bibimbap even better, the fried egg adding a much needed fatty slickness to the vegetables and chopped meat. The thing that brought me back, however, and will again and again, was the fried chicken, buttermilk brined and lightly battered but fried hard, so that it maintains a moist interior. Smalls's sides are simple and hard to screw up, but far off the standard southern template: charred shishito peppers and Texas toast, grilled elotes, and buttery Filipino-style garlic rice. Only the limp hand-cut fries are a bummer. They need an extra bath in the oil to stand up to the chicken.

Mike Sula

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Price: $$
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