Dining Away from the Desk – Lillie’s Q

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I really meant to post my take on Lillie’s Q a lot earlier – as in May, after we ate there for my birthday. But, naturally I didn’t – partly because I’m lazy, and partly because I was really trying to forget my friend quite literally drinking the extra ranch dressing that came with the fried pickles. Trying to forget not because I was disgusted; no, trying to forget because I was mad I didn’t think of it first.

That’s right, kids. Lillie’s Q is so delicious it will having you contemplating drinking the extra ranch and slurping up their delicious variety of sauces on the meat of your choice…especially after you’ve had a few of their moonshine cocktails, and have an innate problem with self restraint around bbq (or food in general, booze, etc…)

This particular trip to Lillie’s Q occurred yesterday (I know, I’m as shocked as you are with the timely follow-through) after a particularly grueling 7 mile run. As I told you last time, in between finding new roommates, perfecting my tan and stuffing my face with bbq, I’m training for a 7 mile race. So, on Saturday morning I was up early, trotting down the mean streets of the city, getting passed by everyone, including the very young and the elderly, panting, sweating, praying for an early death, etc…but the important part is that I finished it. And as we all know, there is no better reward for the slowest endurance run ever than a gigantic plate of pulled meat. So I met my friend Trevor at Lillie’s Q to collect my prize.

We started off the meal with a frosty beer. Now, one of the best parts of Lillie’s Q is the feeling of being transported to a quaint southern kitchen (the chef was inspired by old family recipes), with Mason jars as the choice of glass, and flour sack dishtowels for napkins.

Lillie's Q, Chicago, IL

The quaint southern theme is perfectly executed in the small touches and, of course, in the menu choices. Diners can pick their choice of many southern-style appetizers to start, including the fried pickles (drink try the ranch!), hush puppies, boiled peanuts and even the staple of the south: pimento cheese. We didn’t have an appetizer this time, opting to go right for the meat and delicious sides.

Making a decision in the main course is tough – pulled pork, pulled chicken, hot links, ribs, bbq chicken and tri-tip all grace the menu. But if you know nothing else about me, know this – I’m a sucker for pulled pork. I opted for the 1/2 pound of pork, and Trevor chose the southern style pulled pork sandwich (coleslaw on top is what makes it southern). We went back and forth debating which sides to get (no sides are included), but we finally settled on the baked beans and cornbread.

As the lunch hour went on, the busier it got. While we were able to have our pick of tables when we got there, be advised that this place fills up, especially on weekend nights, so be prepared for a wait. They will take your number and call you when your table’s ready, so continue on with your tour of the south and pop on over to The Southern for a drink while you wait.

Besides the Mason jars and napkins, the main courses are served on metal trays covered with brown paper and the sides are served in miniature cast irons. Adorable!

Lillie's Q Pulled Pork

And the very best part:

Lillie's Q BBQ sauces

The sauces! Ivory, Carolina, Carolina Gold, Smoky and Hot Smoky – there’s a sauce for everyone. The first time we ate there, the general consensus was that everyone really was digging the Carolina Gold, which is more of a mustard-based sauce. I think it’s ok, but prefer the mustard-based sauce at Honky Tonk to Lillie’s. I really like the Smoky – it’s a little bit sweet, and despite its name, isn’t overwhelming with smoke flavor.

The sauces really complemented my giant tray of meat (awesome!!):

Lillie's Q Pulled Pork

Trevor’s sandwich looked pretty great, too:

Lillie's Q Pulled Pork Sandwich

And let’s talk about the sides:

Lillie's Q baked beans

That white stuff in the jar – it’s butter. Delicious, delicious honey butter for the cornbread. The cornbread was good – nothing too special, but the giant jar of butter more than made up for it. At one point, I was buttering my meat (which is so good it doesn’t need anything, but try the sauces – not the butter – first). That might be as bad, if not worse, than drinking the ranch dressing…I’m not sure. The baked beans are a must try – trust me.

If you haven’t been to Lillie’s Q yet, put it on your list of restaurants to try soon. The bbq is truly delicious and the ambiance is unique. They have a full bar with many craft beers, but if you’re looking for a mixed drink, try one of the moonshine cocktails.

Lillie’s Q is located in Bucktown/Wicker Park at 1856 W. North Avenue in Chicago, IL.

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