The Windy City Smokeout Brings the Best in BBQ to Chicago

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Chicago's newest barbecue festival offers great music and the country's best pitmasters from July 12th to 14th

The Fourth of July is behind us (and may our livers rest in peace), but summer is just getting underway. The best way to make the most of the season involves festivals, good music, and good food, and you can have it all at the inaugural Windy City Smokeout this coming weekend.

Hosted by Lettuce Entertain You’s Bub City, the Windy City Smokeout adds a new perspective to the barbeque festivities in Chicago. It celebrates the best pitmasters in the city, including the crews from Smoque and Lillie’s Q, as well as Bub City’s own Chef Doug Psaltis. Worthy out-of towners add a little spice to the mouth-watering line-up: Salt Lick, serving up their legendary Texas barbeque, and Myron Mixon, the three-time BBQ World Champion. He'll be roasting up a whole hog for the crowds on Saturday and Sunday.

Adding to the celebration of Southern style, the Windy City Smokeout will deliver performances from some of the best acts in country music. Look forward to a good time led by Jerrod Niemann, David Nail, Pat Green, and many more. R.J. and Jerrod Melman of Lettuce Entertain You are excited to bring Chicago a festival combining local favorites with the best the country has to offer. Citing childhood memories of messy ribs with their grandfather and a passion for down-home country tunes as their inspiration, the restaurateurs hope to present an event that showcases a genuine barbeque experience.

Tickets are available through the Windy City Smokeout website. $30 gets you a day pass, and $60 will cover you all weekend.

5 Top BBQ Events to Attend This Year

This past weekend, a sense of normalcy returned to the barbecue community with the Memphis in May World Championship Cooking Contest happening once again after being canceled last year. Many of the top names in barbecue convened for the event, with Myron Mixon and his Jack’s Old South BBQ team taking the top prize. (More on that in our Hot Links section.)

With barbecue events entirely in swing again in part to COVID-19 vaccinations on the rise and cases on the decline , we thought it made sense to highlight some of the must-attend barbecue celebrations and competitions happening around the country later this year.

Here are five top-notch barbecue events happening in 2021 that are worth attending.

The Jones Sisters of famed Jones Bar-B-Q in Kansas City will be one of the headliners at the new Kansas City BBQ Festival.

Kansas City BBQ Festival
Kansas City is about to get a big new barbecue festival on July 9-11, 2021. The “KCQ” is a non-competition barbecue event that celebrates barbecue from Kansas City and many other barbecue towns. It will take place in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs play. KC-based mainstays Joe’s Kansas City, Jones Bar-B-Q, and Plowboys BBQ will be the headliners, but out-of-towners will also be there, including 2M Smokehouse, Black’s BBQ, Central City BBQ, and Sugarfire Smokehouse. The event is notable for Kansas City, as it is a “barbecue capital” but does not have an established large-scale non-competition event like this. (The KCQ also has sister events that will take place in Denver in September, St. Louis in October, and Jacksonville in December, so keep an eye out for those as well.) Learn more about the event here .

The massive Windy City Smokeout in Chicago will be back this year with big food and music acts.

Windy City Smokeout
The annual Windy City Smokeout BBQ and Country Music Festival is back this year in Chicago. From July 8-11, 2021, some of the biggest names in barbecue along with both renowned and up-and-coming country music artists will be at the United Center. We loved every minute of our experience at the festival in 2019 and this year looks to be even more fun. Learn more about the event here .

Pitmaster Ed Mitchell will be part of the new Pinehurst Barbecue Festival in North Carolina.

Pinehurst Barbecue Festival
Debuting Labor Day Weekend 2021, the Pinehurst Barbecue Festival celebrates “all things barbecue” in Pinehurst, North Carolina. From Eastern North Carolina vinegar to Western North Carolina tomato, the event will feature all of your favorite sauces and styles. The Pinehurst Barbecue Festival is a “celebration of taste and tradition” featuring award-winning pitmasters in one of the most picturesque settings in all of North Carolina. Attendees can get the full experience of the three-day festival or attend just one event. One of the most exciting events will be Sunday’s “The Ed Mitchell Pitmaster Invitational,” where folks will be able to try whole hog, ribs, brisket, and more from legendary BBQ cook Ed Mitchell. Learn more about the event here .

Pig Island NYC features whole hog, pulled pork, and every other type of smoked pork you can imagine.

Pig Island NYC
Pig Island NYC will celebrate its twelfth year on September 11, 2021. It will return to Snug Harbor on Staten Island, which has 84 acres to spread out. Attendees can join in for all-inclusive food and drinks from all-star pitmasters and chefs. As the name implies, the food is typically centered around pork with pork shoulder, pulled pork, pork belly burnt ends, and, of course, pork ribs. Local breweries, distilleries, and cideries will also be around to pour you samples. Chefs and pitmasters also compete to win the best dishes, so there’s an extra element of fun too. (Notably, Pig Island’s sister event 5 Boro PicNYC takes place on May 29 , so be sure to mark that on your calendar as well.) Learn more about the event here .

Many of the biggest names in barbecue often travel to compete at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue.

American Royal World Series of Barbecue
The world’s largest barbecue competition, the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, will return to the Kansas Speedway this September 16-19, 2021. The event will bring together legends, champions, elite competitors, and even casual enthusiasts to compete in the American Royal Invitational and Open contests. The ability for overseas teams to participate this year is still uncertain, and public attendance at the event may look somewhat different. However, the location at the Kansas Speedway allows for plenty of room for social distancing. Learn more about the event here .

Keep an eye on our Events section down below for more fun gatherings and competitions taking place in 2021 and beyond. We also do our best to keep our online calendar up to date as well. If you want your event listed, please let us know here .

Sean Ludwig ( NYC BBQ ) & Ryan Cooper ( BBQ Tourist )
Co-Founders, The Smoke Sheet

Windy City Smokeout 2018: 15 of The Country's Master Pitmasters on the Best Barbecue and Beer Pairings

Even a whiskey drinker like me appreciates that nothing goes better with barbecue than a cold beer. And for every variation of barbecue that’s out there—Texas, Kansas City, North Carolina, you name it—there are countless styles of beer from which to choose. To learn which brew to pair with my ’cue, I tapped into the collective wisdom of 15 pitmasters from Chicago’s Windy City Smokeout—arguably the country’s leading barbecue and country music festival, which also happens to be an annual ACM-nominated event, now in its sixth year.

Chicago's Windy City Smokeout is the kind of festival that celebrates everything spectacular about . [+] summer: BBQ, beers, and bands.

Photo: Windy City Smokeout

Hosted by Chicago’s Bub City and the award-winning Joe’s Bar, the three-day extravaganza (happening from July 13 to 15) will be the bringing barbecue masters together for one of the most memorable events of the summer.

“Since we started the festival in 2013, Windy City Smokeout has continued to introduce Chicago to the best BBQ, rising music talent, and top craft breweries from around the country,” Doug Psaltis of Bub City said in a release. “After traveling nationwide to find the best BBQ, we are thrilled to add some new and exciting talent to this year’s roster. We are also proud to continue showcasing the best in country music, with the likes of Brett Eldredge and Brothers Osborne, plus rising stars such as Walker Hayes, who is sure to be the next big thing in country music.”

Here, 15 quality BBQ and beer pairings from the pitmasters who know best. (And yes, they were gracious enough to recommend local and national brews.)

FOX BROS BAR-B-Q (ATLANTA, GA) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: St. Louis-style barbecue with Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale

“Beer and Barbecue…what better reason to make barbecue than to enjoy a great beer with it? Making barbecue takes time, so what fills that time better than enjoying a cold beer? Well, perhaps enjoying a crisp cold beer while eating that barbecue! When I get the chance to sit back and enjoy what I've made, and I am looking for a great craft beer to enjoy with it, I usually go with a Cold Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale Draft - it goes great with our Fox Bros Ribs! When I want to chow down on a rack of our St. Louis ribs a Sweetwater 420 works best because it is crisp and light pale ale, with a touch of hop. It finishes smooth and clean, and pairs well with the sweet smokey succulent pork rib. And just like Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, SweetWater 420 is an Atlanta favorite - we consider it the perfect pairing.” —Jonathan Fox, pitmaster

SALT LICK BBQ (DRIFTWOOD, TX) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Smoked brisket and burnt ends with Kölsch from Twisted X Brewing (local pairing) and Ballast Point California Kölsch (national pairing)

“This Kölsch from Twisted X Brewing pairs perfectly with the Salt Lick’s smoked brisket burnt ends and boneless, moist turkey breast. The floral aroma that this beer carries helps bring out the smokiness of the Salt Lick barbecue. This precise balance of bitterness and sweetness compliments the white and dark meat. Add to that a bit of our spicy BBQ sauce and enjoy! We finish our BBQ over an open fire with soaked pecan shells to enhance the smoky flavor. When the drippings fall off the meat and hit the embers below, the flames flare into a smoke that drifts up past the meats to give” —Miriam Wilson, pitmaster

LEROY & LEWIS (AUSTIN, TX) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Texas style beef cheeks with Pearl Snap by Austin Beerworks (local pairing) and Kellerweis by Sierra Nevada (national pairing)

“We like to recommend anything refreshing to balance out the fatty barbecue. Kellerwies by Sierra Nevada or if you’re an Austin local, Pearl Snap by Austin Beerworks both compliment our smoky meat with light, crisp flavors.. The beer is meant to be paired with the beef cheeks which have become one of Evan’s signature dishes. They’re similar to brisket but more unctuous. With LeRoy and Lewis, his goal is to focus on more alternative cuts instead of the traditional brisket, ribs and sausage, which is where the “New School Barbecue” comes in. It’s pushing the boundaries of the cuisine and also putting an emphasis on sustainability.” —Evan Leroy, pitmaster

MARTIN’S BBQ JOINT (NASHVILLE, TN) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: West Tennessee whole-hog barbecue (one of only three pitmasters still serving this style) with Yazoo Dos Perros and Black Abbey Rose

“Both Yazoo Dos Perros and Black Abbey Rose pair extremely well with every meat that comes off our pits. They pair well obviously because of the flavor, but also the reason for me is that I can continue drinking them while I’m eating. The styles of these beers lend themselves well with pork and brisket, and I can enjoy them like I’m having a glass of coke or sweet tea.” —Patrick Martin, pitmaster

17TH STREET BARBECUE (MURPHYSBORO, IL) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Applewood Smoked barbecue baby back ribs with hickory and Chambourcin and Freestone by Scratch Brewing

“At 17th Street Barbecue, we’re known for our baby back ribs, sprinkled with our trademark Magic Dust dry rub and smoked over apple wood from surrounding orchards. We’re all about local and we like our craft beer that way, too. Scratch Brewing, in nearby Ava, Illinois, brews its beers from ingredients grown on or foraged from their property. The fresh, earthy flavors change each month and perfectly complement our barbecue. These three brews in particular, Chambourcin, with a nod to the grapes grown in local vineyards, Hickory, whose flavor plays off the wood used in barbecue, and Freestone, made from the juiciest, sweetest peaches you ever tasted, are particular favorites when they’re in season.” —Amy Mills, pitmaster

AGAINST THE GRAIN (LOUISVILLE, KY) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Louisville style brisket (a twist on Texas and Carolina barbecue) with Citra Ass Down IPA (local pairing) and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (national pairing)

“Being that we are from Louisville we are not bound by any sort of tradition or style of BBQ. I have the freedom to do whatever I want however I want. With that said I do get a lot of inspiration from the Carolinas and Texas, but I always use wood from this area which I suppose gives nuances of Louisville BBQ. Our brisket is prime grade beef, which is synonymous with that of Texas BBQ in regions of central Texas. We use nothing more than salt and pepper as our rub, however, we do not use post oak, which is found in the central Texas region. We use hickory which is found in the Kentuckiana region here. Citra Ass Down IPA is one of our beers that pairs really well with our brisket. The sweet, malt backbone complements the smoke and any time you have something fruity it’s going to go together with the fatty parts and be delicious. Similarly, we would recommend Bells Two Hearted Ale as this American standard IPA shares the same characteristics.” Jordan Delewis, pitmaster

UBON’S (YAZOO CITY, MO) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Mississippi Style Baby Back Ribs with Southern Pecan Ale by Lazy Magnolia

“Our favorite craft beer is home grown! Mississippi's own Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Ale pairs beautifully with our Mississippi style ribs. Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Ale is sweet with a soft maltiness that's brewed with roasted pecans. Our ribs are seasoned with our spicy dry rub and brown sugar then slow smoked with pecan wood, pecan hulls and a little pecan nut. After six hours of waiting on those slow cooked ribs you'll be more than ready to sit down with a cold beer and attack that rack! The Hospitality State is always open and ready to make you feel right at home and if you stick around long enough, we'll have some pecan pie to finish off your meal. You should know. here in Mississippi we pronounce it "Puh-kahn." We're saving you a place at our table in Yazoo City!” —Leslie Roark Scott, pitmaster

HOMETEAM BBQ (CHARLESTON, SC) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Smoked dry rub wings with Alabama white sauce and Gullah Cream Ale by Revelry Brewing Company

“We take a stylistically eclectic approach to our 'cue by highlighting techniques from different parts of the country and leaving the saucing to the guest with a full array of options. As such, it's the norm for us to have lots of different flavors and textures on the table at once, driving home the communal aspect that is such a fundamental part of dining at Home Team BBQ. In light of this, we love lower gravity "sessionable" beers that aren't hop-forward and play well with others beers that you can really get the hang of and have a few. One of our favorite examples is Revelry Brewing Company's Gullah Cream Ale with our Smoked Dry Rub Wings served with Alabama White Sauce. It's a pairing of local favorites, and the tang of the white sauce plays incredibly well with the creamier texture of the beer, as they both lay down an awesome contrast to the smoke and crunch of the wings. Aaron Siegal, pitmaster

SMOQUE BBQ (CHICAGO, IL) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: St. Louis Style Ribs with Scentinal IPA from Old Irving Brewing Co.

“Well, I always say that if you eat what you love and drink what you love, your brain will find a way to make them go together. And frankly, if you’re sticking with beer and barbecue, it’s gonna end pretty well for you. That said, some pairings can elevate both. For me our St. Louis ribs with Scentinal IPA from Old Irving Brewing Co. is as good a match as there is. The ribs have a subtle sweetness, but are mostly a savory tangy style, which balances perfectly with Scentinal’s soft fruitiness and big hoppy flavor.” —Barry Sorkin, pitmaster

BUB CITY (CHICAGO, IL) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: The dish is Bub City’s Carolina-style Berkshire Pork Shoulder. As for style of barbecue, Bub City "borrows the best from the rest," meaning it takes the best of America's BBQ and puts its own touch on it. They make brisket like they do in Texas, pulled pork like in the Carolinas, whole hog as done in the Midwest, and so on. Pair with Local Option Mourning Wood

“This Carolina-style Berkshire pork shoulder is very lightly smoked, chopped and seasoned with apple cider vinegar to add a little sweetness. At Bub City, you can order this pork shoulder by itself or in our pulled pork sandwich. Pair it with Local Option Mourning Wood, which uses fresh American oak during the aging process and Dark Matter’s El Salvador San Jose pulp-natural coffee, which impart aromatic yet enough subtle components to the beer, which perfectly plays off the pork shoulder.” —Doug Psaltis, pitmaster

LITTLE MISS BBQ (PHOENIX, AZ) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Central Texas Style Barbecue with Valley Beer by Wren House Brewing Co. (local pairing) and Coors Banquet (national pairing)

“Ever since we made our first trip to The Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX, Little Miss BBQ is all about Central Texas style barbecue. There is nothing like it in the world. We use the best prime briskets and meats that we can buy and smoke them on our custom Camelback 1000 gallon offset smokers with Arizona oak and pecan. We keep the seasonings simple and let the perfectly tender meat do the talking.We’re firm believers that just like the seasonings on our amazing brisket, the beer you drink with it needs to compliment the food and not take away or overpower the flavors you are trying to create. We have an exceptional local brewery in Phoenix called Wren House Brewing Co.. Preston has been working on an American lager named Valley Beer and it is to the point where it is crisp and light, refreshing but still full of flavor. It’s my go to when hanging outside with family and friends while cooking up some ribs on the smoker. Nationally, the American lager champion is Coors Banquet.” —Scott Holmes, pitmaster

HOMETOWN BAR-B-QUE (BROOKLYN, NY) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Beef Rib with Folksbier Raspberry Glow Up Berliner Weisse

“The Raspberry Glow up is the best pairing of beer and barbecue I have ever had. The sour, but crisp and acidity of the Berliner Weisse style beer cuts through the peppery but sweet bark and smoky melt in your mouth fattiness of the beef rib.” —Billy Durney, pitmaster

PEG LEG PORKER (NASHVILLE, TN) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Peg Leg Porker Dry Ribs with Oskar Blues Pinner

“Pinner is a Throwback IPA that pairs great with our dry ribs by enhancing the flavor of our dry seasoning while still being crushable at 4.9% ABV” —Carey Bringle, pitmaster

SAM JONES BBQ (WINTERVILLE, NC) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: Eastern NC whole hog with Carver by Fullsteam Brewing

“Of all the barbecue traditions, Eastern North Carolina whole hog is arguably the most subtle. It's also the most delicious. Beers that are too hoppy, sour, or smoky would just overwhelm that balance of smoke, fat, meat, and salt. That's one reason we love Carver, a sweet potato lager brewed by Fullsteam in Durham. It's a smooth, slightly earthy lager that's super easy to drink on its own. but the beer's slight sweetness is a perfect pairing with smoked whole hog. It's the modern equivalent of sweet tea. We also love that the brewery sources its sweet potatoes from here in Eastern North Carolina, giving the pairing a true sense of place.” —Sam Jones, pitmaster

LILLIE’S Q (CHICAGO, IL) | BBQ and Beer Pairing: “I am originally from South Carolina and we only know BBQ as coming from pigs. So, the shoulder fits my Carolina style very well. Best paired with Founder All Day IPA.”

“Lillie’s Q is a two- time Memphis in May world Champion in Pork Shoulder/Pulled Pork. Founders All Day IPA Goes really well with Lillie’s Q Pork Shoulder. Pale ales are hoppy and can cut through the spices of our Carolina Dirt rub that is used on the Shoulder. They also contain sweet notes which plays well with the Sweet Natural flavor of the special pigs that we cook at LQ.” —Charlie Mckenna, pitmaster

Windy City Smokeout brings nationally acclaimed barbecue restaurants to Chicago

Windy City Smokeout, Chicago’s annual festival of smoked meat, beer and country music, has announced its lineup for 2017.

The festival, which will run July 14-16, is located in a massive parking lot off of Grand Avenue near the Chicago River.

On hand to feed the expected 45,000 guests? A few acclaimed local barbecue joints, including Lillie’s Q, Smoque and Bub City, have signed up. But the real draw is the barbecue you can’t normally get here: A collection of respected restaurants from all over the country will have booths selling ribs, pulled pork and much more.

That includes 17th Street BBQ from Murphysboro, Ill., The Salt Lick BBQ from Driftwood, Texas, and Skylight Inn from Nashville, Tenn. New to the festival are Fox Bros Bar-B-Q from Atlanta, Ga. and Little Miss BBQ from Phoenix, Ariz.

Events scattered throughout the weekend include an all-night class from Myron Mixon Cooking School, where you can “learn how to become a true pitmaster” for $400. You can also attend a pork, whiskey and Champagne brunch for $60. Check out the full list of special events here.

A three-day general admission pass is $110 a single-day general admission pass is $40 for Friday or Saturday, and $45 for Sunday. Or you could spring for VIP tickets, which offer a host of creature comforts like an “on-site concierge” and full access to the best shade. A three-day VIP pass goes for $500, while a single-day VIP pass costs $175.

All tickets include performances by dozens of country music artists, including Jake Owen, Kip Moore and Lee Brice. Click here for the rundown of all the musical acts.

Below is the full list of barbecue restaurants attending Windy City Smokeout:

Windy City Smokeout

Country music, barbecue, and craft beer — it’s hard to think of a better way to spend a summer weekend in Chicago. Windy City Smokeout combines all those things into one legendary Chicago weekend. The outdoor fest takes place in the shadow of the iconic United Center, with an impressive musical lineup featuring country superstars and up-and-coming talent.

The 2021 festival lineup includes some of the biggest names in the industry, including Brett Eldredge, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, and Jon Pardi.

2021 lineup

Check out this year’s all-star lineup, extended to four days this year:

  • Thursday: Brett Eldredge, Larry Fleet, Walker County
  • Friday: Darius Rucker, Morgan Evans, Ryan Hurd, Lainey Wilson, Tyler Booth
  • Saturday: Dierks Bentley, Riley Green, Cody Canada & The Departed, Ross Ellis, Angie K
  • Sunday: Jon Pardi, Cody Johnson, Randy Rogers Band, Hailey Whitters, Kolby Cooper, Jillian Jacqueline

Beer & barbecue

Along with today’s hottest country acts, the lineup also includes some of the world’s best pitmasters. Barbecue pros from all over the country will be serving up ribs, brisket, smoked meats and more, highlighting styles from Kentucky, Nashville, Missouri, and Chicago. Local barbecue vendors include Bub City, Lillie’s Q, and Pearl’s Southern Comfort.

There will also be a variety of food available from local favorites like Federales, Sushi-san, Tallboy Taco, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, Happy Camper, Three Dots and a Dash, and more.

Pair your choice of meat and sides with a cold glass of beer from top American breweries, including Chicago’s own Goose Island.

Health & safety measures

This year, the festival is working in coordination with the city and local/CDC guidance to ensure the health and safety of all guests. The comprehensive safety plan includes:

Windy City Smokeout brings nationally acclaimed barbecue restaurants to Chicago

Windy City Smokeout, Chicago's annual festival of smoked meat, beer and country music, has announced its lineup for 2017.

The festival, which will run July 14-16, is located in a massive parking lot off of Grand Avenue near the Chicago River.

On hand to feed the expected 45,000 guests? A few acclaimed local barbecue joints, including Lillie's Q, Smoque and Bub City, have signed up. But the real draw is the barbecue you can't normally get here: A collection of respected restaurants from all over the country will have booths selling ribs, pulled pork and much more.

That includes 17th Street BBQ from Murphysboro, Ill., The Salt Lick BBQ from Driftwood, Texas, and Skylight Inn from Ayden, NC. New to the festival are Fox Bros Bar-B-Q from Atlanta, and Little Miss BBQ from Phoenix.

Events scattered throughout the weekend include an all-night class from Myron Mixon Cooking School, where you can "learn how to become a true pitmaster" for $400. You can also attend a pork, whiskey and Champagne brunch for $60. Check out the full list of special events here.

A three-day general admission pass is $110 a single-day general admission pass is $40 for Friday or Saturday, and $45 for Sunday. Or you could spring for VIP tickets, which offer a host of creature comforts like an "on-site concierge" and full access to the best shade. A three-day VIP pass goes for $500, while a single-day VIP pass costs $175.

Elliott Moss – Buxton Hall

For his first trip to Chicago since 2001, Moss is most excited about experiencing Chicago’s barbecue scene and (of course) attending Windy City Smokeout. Another Chicago event he’s pretty excited about is Windy City Riot. “It’s going to be about 150 rollerbladers having a street contest all in the middle of the city, so I hope I can sneak away with a pair of rollerblades in hand.”

Tip for aspiring pitmasters: “Come prepared. Get some sleep. Something is always going to happen to interrupt your cooking time so always be prepared and allow some extra time.”
Favorite beer to pair with barbecue: Hoppin’ John (Lager Beer) from Fonta Flora in collaboration with Buxton Hall

Windy City Smokeout

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that events are still happening.

Spend enough time basking in the smell of barbecued meat, the twangy strains of country music and the sweltering heat at Windy City Smokeout and you might feel like you've been transported to Texas. Taking place in a parking lot outside of the United Center, this annual festival brings together some of the nation's most talented pitmasters and a stacked lineup of Nashville-approved musicians. This year, Texas's Salt Lick BBQ, Pappy's Smokehouse from St. Louis and Little Miss BBQ from Phoenix will be serving smoked meats (alongside locals like Bub City and Lilie's Q). Plus, you'll be able to catch headlining sets from Brett Eldredge, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley and Jon Pardi.

Windy City Smokeout will be using the Health Pass by CLEAR app to confirm COVID-19 vaccination status. All attendees must be fully vaccinated or present a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of entry.

Smoque among BBQ favorites at Windy City Smokeout

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Windy City Smokeout opens at 2 p.m. Friday in River West and that means a weekend full of bourbon, barbecue and country music.

There are more participants than ever this year, including a favorite from Old Irving Park. Steve went back in their kitchen recently, to see how they prepare for it.

What started as a casual gathering of like-minded barbecue fanatics in a River North parking lot, has morphed into a big-time event with music stages, bourbon barrels and a lot of barbecue. Some 15 restaurants and competition barbecuers have gathered in River West this weekend, and one of them, now considered a veteran in town, makes some of the best brisket in Chicago. They're ready to smoke, slice and serve, starting right now.

Pretty much every day at Smoque Barbecue is a busy one. Now a nine-year veteran of the local slow-smoked scene, they treat every weekend like a big one. But when it comes to the Windy City Smokeout, it's a different ballgame.

"It's a great venue for people to get out and sample a lot of different types of barbecue from some leading Chicago places as well as some of the great places and legendary places from around the country," said co-owner Mike McDermott.

McDermott and his partners know that regular customers demand one thing when they see them at an event.

"Smoked beef brisket, which is kind of what put us on the map here in Chicago, and we're also doing a variation on the Texas sausage we make here which is seasoned with cheddar cheese and jalapeno," he said.

The brisket gets a simple dry rub, containing chili and black pepper, among several other spices they slowly smoke for about 13 hours until the outside is as black as tar. But slice into it, and you instantly see why there is such high demand: each slice is juicy, tender, meaty, smoky and moist, suffused with the flavor of the smoke that's penetrated the outer "bark" for hours, rendering all of that tough, intramuscular tissue as soft as jello.

The Texas hot links are nothing to scoff at, offering a kick along with the fatty-rich mouthfuls of pork and cheddar, but it's the brisket they're coming for, and after several years of experimenting, they've learned their lessons.

"We have two, 500-pound capacity smokers that we have on site at the event, and we're basically just filling them with brisket, and expect to sell out each day," he said.

And in his Extra Course, Steve shows some of the notable side dishes from Smoque, just in case you decide to head up to their restaurant in Old Irving Park.

Directions & Parking

1901 W. Madison Street


From the

Take I-90 East to the Madison Street exit and make a right onto Madison Street. The building will be on your left.

Take I-55 North to the Damen exit and make a left, going northbound for approximately 7 minutes. The building will be on your right.

Take Madison Street west from the Loop.

Take I-290 East to exit 28A (Damen Avenue). Take Damen Avenue north to Madison Street. Make a right onto Madison Street and the building will be on your right.

Public Transportation

Public Transportation

Take the Orange, Green, Purple, or Brown lines to Madison. Take #20 Madison buses west.

To the United Center: The #19 United Center Express Bus runs on game days. Service begins 90 minutes prior to game time, runs every 10 minutes until 30 minutes until start of game. Board at stops starting southbound on Michigan and Randolph. Connections are made with Metra trains at Millennium Station, Ogilvie Center and Union Station. The #20 Madison Bus travels west on Madison Street, starting downtown at Wabash Street and runs every few minutes, making all stops to the United Center.

From the United Center: The #19 United Center Express and the #20 Madison buses run every few minutes, departing from the eastbound side of Madison Street. Buses make all stops.

General Parking

General Parking

All prices are subject to change without advance notice.

Cash and all major credit cards accepted.
The United Center offers free parking for select family shows in all official United Center parking lots. All Parking Policies outlined below remain in effect.

Purchase parking via Ticketmaster in advance HERE.

For details on handicap parking, please see the United Center Accessibility Guide.

EV Charging Stations
EV Charging Stations are available in Lot H and Lot K. Charging is free. Please be courteous and maintain parking/charging for the posted time limits.

Parking Policies
No in/out privileges.
No overnight parking unless related to event activites and approved in advance.
No solicitation allowed.
No consumption of alcoholic beverages on lot or in parked vehicles.
No tailgating or similar activities.


Suites Parking

Suites Parking

Two reserved parking passes will be valid in lots C and K. The other two reserved parking passes will be for parking in lots A, B, D, E or L. Holders of these passes will be directed to A, B, D, E or L lots by traffic police and parking attendants based on traffic conditions. Parking passes are good for one space each. Please attach parking pass to the rear view mirror of your car to allow traffic police and the parking attendant(s) to recognize you as an Executive Suite Holder.

For all special events, each Executive Suite Holder will receive two complimentary parking passes per event ordered. These two passes will be for reserved parking located in lots C and K. In addition, Executive Suite Holders will also receive the option to purchase four additional parking passes in lots C and K for special events.

Suite Holder parking passes are also valid for buses or limousines under specific guidelines.

Lexus Club Parking

Lexus Club Parking

Lexus Club Seat members have reserved parking in fenced, well-lit and clearly marked parking lots adjacent to the United Center for all Blackhawks or Bulls preseason, regular season and playoff games. All Lexus Club members who purchase tickets to other events may also purchase one preferred parking pass (in lot C or K) for such events. Details on how to obtain parking for other events are included with the fax transmission announcing each event.

Lexus Club Seat members with two to four tickets receive a complimentary, reserved parking space in a closed-in, paved lot for all Blackhawks or Bulls preseason, regular season and playoff games. Lexus Club Seat members with five seats or more will be provided with two parking passes.

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