Barbecue is the new black. Pork Shoppe, The Piggery, Smokey Bears BBQ House, Chicago Q, Q BBQ, Brand BBQ Market, and Rub BBQ Company have all either opened in the last year or plan to open soon. Here’s another one to add to the list: Lillie’s Q (1856 W. North Ave.; 773-772-5500).
“What is going to distinguish us is that we are bringing competition barbecue to a restaurant setting,” says Charlie McKenna, the chef/partner. McKenna and his barbecue team started competing in 2006, and their pork shoulder has finished in the top ten for five years running at the Memphis in May barbecue competition, including taking the big prize in 2007. One of the team members—McKenna’s father, Quito—opened a Lillie’s Q storefront in the Florida panhandle in 2008.
McKenna, whose resumé includes Tru, Avenues, and Les Nomades, aims to fill out the menu with traditional southern dishes such as barbecued shrimp and grits, and also with house-made desserts and high-quality sides. For example, “We use our house-made bacon in our beans, and we smoke the beans underneath as we smoke the pork shoulder so they get the drippings and the smoke for four hours,” he says.
Drinkswise, Lillie’s Q is jumping on the custom craft-beer bandwagon, with a draft from Metropolitan called Lillie’s Q to go alongside a list of more than 30 American craft beers. And a copper still behind the bar will hold but not distill corn whiskey, a.k.a. moonshine, for specialty cocktails. If all goes well with remodeling the space (it used to be Aberdeen), the restaurant will open in early August.