Where to find the best barbecue on Chicago’s South Side. What's Your Favorite BBQ Spot!

6. The Full Slab
Rib tips at The Full Slab.

Rib tips at The Full Slab. (Michelle Kanaar / Chicago Tribune)

Sam Gilbert may not use an aquarium pit, instead favoring a massive Ole Hickory smoker, but he knows how to cook rib tips ($13.50 for rib tip and link combo). The meat here has an almost crunchy exterior that surrounds meltingly tender meat kissed with smoke. The sausage has a crisp casing, along with a heavy dose of black pepper. The combo is also served with fresh-cut fries, instead of boring frozen ones. 8340 S. Stony Island Ave., 312-620-7522, thefullslabchicago.com

5. Nine One One BBQ Shack
Rib tips at Nine One One BBQ Shack.

Rib tips at Nine One One BBQ Shack. (Nick Kindelsperger / Chicago Tribune)

Cortez Trotter uses a small Southern Pride smoker to create some exceptionally tender rib tips ($5.99 for small). The dark red sauce nicely balances sweet and tangy. Instead of putting the fries under the meat, they are served on the side, so they stay extra crunchy. In fact, all of the sides are taken seriously here, especially the creamy mac and cheese. With actual seating, this Morgan Park shop offers a level of comfort few other barbecue places on the South Side can match. 2734 W. 111th St., 773-238-9111, nineoneonebbqshack.com

4. Honey 1 BBQ
Rib tip and hot link combo at Honey 1 BBQ.

Rib tip and hot link combo at Honey 1 BBQ. (Nick Kindelsperger / Chicago Tribune)

Robert Adams made the move from Bucktown to Bronzeville without missing a beat. The rib tips ($7.50 for mini rib tip and link combo) still come out of the aquarium pit completely saturated with smoke, with a supple tenderness. The sauce, which lends the restaurant its name, is definitely sweet, but also tangy, with a real heat to it. That’s also true about the hot link, which might be the spiciest of all that I tried. 746 E. 43rd St., 773-285-9455

3. Lem’s Bar-B-Q
Rib tip and hot link combo at Lem's Bar-B-Que.

Rib tip and hot link combo at Lem's Bar-B-Que. (Nick Kindelsperger / Chicago Tribune)

Even though co-founder James Lemons died in 2015, smoke still billows out of the stacks of Lem’s on 75th Street. The rib tips ($14.25 for small rib tip and link combo) still get covered with a rub heavy with nose-tingling black pepper, and each bite is tender and packed with smoke. The coarsely ground sausage is still made in house, and it packs a punch of heat. The vinegar-based sauce provides the right slap of acidity to the meat. 311 E. 75th St., 773-994-2428, lemsque.com

2. Uncle J’s BBQ
Rib tip and hot link combo at Uncle J's.

Rib tip and hot link combo at Uncle J's. (Nick Kindelsperger / Chicago Tribune)

Though it opened in 2014, Uncle J’s has some serious connections to Uncle John’s, the barbecue joint owned by the late Mack Sevier. Uncle J’s is owned by Sevier’s stepdaughter, Ella Hughes, and her husband, Jimmie. It even has Uncle John’s old smoker. The menu is not an exact copy, but there’s no doubting the tiny operation serves the biggest and juiciest rib tips around ($14 for a rib tip and link combo). They are served with my favorite sausage link on the South Side, which bursts with coarsely-ground meat packed with heaps of red and black pepper. The sauce is thick, sweet, tangy and moderately spicy. While the unseasoned fries (from frozen) aren’t worth discussing, everything else about this tiny Bronzeville stand is top-notch. 502 E. 47th St., 872-244-3852

1. Trice’s Original Slab Bar-B-Que
Rib tip and hot link combo at Trice's Original Slab Bar-B-Que.

Rib tip and hot link combo at Trice's Original Slab Bar-B-Que. (Nick Kindelsperger / Chicago Tribune)

When I took a bite of the rib tips shortly after this South Shore restaurant opened last year, I immediately knew that Chicago had a serious new barbecue contender. It’s only gotten better since then. James Trice owns the shop with his wife, Tonya, and he’s immensely proud of the rub he uses on the meat. He should be. The rib tips ($13.49 for tip and link combo) sport a complex spice profile, equal parts sweet and spicy, while the meat has the texture of absurdly juicy thick-cut pork chops, except these also have a smoke aroma that stays in your nose for minutes afterward. The aggressively seasoned sausage adds a kick of spice and salt. It’s tied together with a stunning sauce, which balances tangy with a fascinating fruity note that somehow doesn’t cover up the meat as much as pull it in new directions. Even the fries, an afterthought at so many South Side barbecue joints, are fresh cut and creamy inside. Right now, if you’re interested in experiencing Chicago-style barbecue, this is the place to visit. 1918 E. 71st St., 773-966-5018, slabbbq.com

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