When it comes to summer food, there’s nothing better than barbecue. And while it’s always fun to fire up the grill and invite some friends over for a little backyard fun, sometimes a day just calls for heading out to a local restaurant and having the hard work done for you. Fortunately, these local establishments know just the right way to deliver delicious meats smothered in sweet and sticky sauces. Don’t forget to pack some wipes — you’ll need them!
Hecky's Barbecue, Evanston
1902 Green Bay Road, Evanston
It’s all about the sauce at this barbecue joint (and luckily, you can have it shipped to you even if you don’t live in the area). Whether you order ribs, rib tips, wings, a pulled pork sandwich, or one of the many other items on the menu, you’ll want to slather on this zesty, New Orleans-style sauce. Pair your order with fries, macaroni and cheese, greens, coleslaw, or a corn muffin, plus a Juneteenth Strawberry Soda and sweet potato pie for dessert and you’ll have a classic barbecue feast.
Johnny's Kitchen and Tap, Glenview
Johnny’s Kitchen and Tap
1740 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview
Everything at Johnny's is made with "hometown love," from The Cadillac Burger (Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, crispy onions, and barbecue sauce) and Pulled Wood-Roasted Chicken Sandwich (featuring the restaurant's special recipe barbecue sauce) to the baby back ribs. Visit on Fridays or Saturdays for live music in the bar area, and find specials and other upcoming events here.
Longhorn Steakhouse, Skokie
3300 W Touhy Ave., Skokie
While the filets, sirloins and ribeyes are certainly not to be missed at this Skokie steakhouse, it’s the baby back ribs that are the hidden gem. Slow-cooked until they reach fall-off-the-bone perfection, these babies are coated with Longhorn’s housemate sweet and smokey BBQ sauce. Complete your meal with a sweet treat like the Caramel Apple Goldrush made with Fuji apples, vanilla bean ice cream and housemade Jim Beam caramel sauce.
Smylie Brothers Brewing Co., Evanston
Smylie Brothers Brewing Co.
1615 Oak Ave., Evanston
This craft brewery and smokehouse is creating unique brews in addition to serving up delicious barbecue. Dine on everything from the Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich and Bacon Hot Link Sandwich to the Barbecue Flight (brisket, pulled pork, and baby back ribs, plus white bread and a side), all of which pair nicely with house-brewed beers. Warning: quantities of seasoned and slow smoked meats are limited, so get here as early as you possibly can.
Stormy's Tavern, Northfield
1735 Orchard Ln., Northfield
We highly recommend splitting a round of appetizers for dinner at Stormy’s Tavern in Northfield. Start with a round of the BBQ Chicken Wings (also available mild, hot, ghost, teriyaki, sweet chili, mango habanero or garlic parmesan). From their dive into the Mini Pulled Pork Sliders, these smoked BBQ sliders are topped with beer battered onion rings! Visit for Sunday BBQ for the BBQ Sampler (ribs, brisket and pulled pork), Burnt Ends, Baby Back Ribs and more. Not to mention lots of delicious smells.
Soul & Smoke, Evanston
Soul & Smoke
1601 Payne St., Evanston
Discover the magic that is Chef Carter’s signature sauce married with smokey barbecue flavors at this Evanston food truck turned brick and mortar restaurant (don’t worry, you can still find the food truck out and about serving up deliciousness). We recommend trying their Brisket Sandwich with a side of the Signature Mac & Cheese, Smoked Pork Shoulder with a side of Cornbread Muffins or their Chicken Gumbo. You really can’t go wrong no matter what you pick.
Grill House, Northbrook
3061 Dundee Rd., Northbrook
In the mood for wings and things? Head over to Grill House in Northbrook for their BBQ Wings (choice of ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping). Further your barbecue filled evening with their Pulled Pork Grinder, filled with slow roasted pulled pork, smothered in BBQ sauce and topped with sweet peppers, grilled onions and cheddar cheese. Yum! Add some greens to your meal with one of their many salad options like the Greek Village, Caprese or California Salad.
Ten Mile House
Ten Mile House, Evanston