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What You’ll Pig Out on at Dinosaur BBQ in Chicago

The founder and pitmaster behind the chain—coming to Chicago in about a year—pulled bits and pieces from multiple ‘cue styles to create one all his own.

Pulled pork at Dinosaur BBQ   Photo: Daniel Krieger

Smelling the smoke on the long-cooking Chicago barbecue trend from across the country, the well-respected chain Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (923 W. Weed St., no phone yet) announced Chicago as its first location outside New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Dino soars into town about a year from now.

Originally a food truck, Dinosaur opened its first bricks-and-mortar location in Syracuse in 1988. Their barbecue doesn’t hew to any particular tradition. “Can’t say it’s a direct region of the country,” says John Stage, the founder and pitmaster. “Slow Southern smoke with our own stamp.” Dinosaur has a motorcycle theme, springing from its birth at the Harley Rendezvous, and Stage plans to bike to Chicago to barbecue at the Windy City Smokeout in July.

Stage says they smoke their brisket 14 hours. Pork shoulder, 12. The signature sauce, Sensuous Slathering Sauce, has a tomato-mustard sweet-and-sour profile. “It’s a red sauce,” he says. “Not like North Carolina or Memphis. It falls between in terms of viscosity.”

The Chicago location marks the fifth new restaurant in as many years for the chain, a rapid expansion considering the chain only had three locations prior to 2010. The only thing that can stop Dinosaur now is the sudden impact of a BBQ Comet.

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