Five-dollar* lunches: Honey 1 Barbeque | Bleader

Five-dollar* lunches: Honey 1 Barbeque

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Pork galore.
Chicago newcomer and blogger Gwynedd Stuart loves to eat out, but she also happens to be a poor person because she's a Chicago newcomer and a blogger. In this weekly feature she seeks out affordable midday meals that don't exceed five bucks (*actually seven, with tax and tip).

There's a show on Food Network called $24 in 24. The premise, if you couldn't figure it out: a fella named Jeff Mauro—a Chicago native and winner of the seventh season of Next Food Network Star, a program that, for better or worse, begat Guy Fieri into the world—travels to a city and attempts to eat three meals for less than $24. Schticky? Sure (says the lady who writes about five-dollar lunches). Ambitious? Sure, that too.

When Mauro brought the show to Chicago, he spent the bulk of his meager $24 budget on lunch at Honey 1 Barbeque in Bucktown, which seemed imprudent because, c'mon, it's barbecue and you can for sure spend less than ten bucks. So I tested the premise! And I was right! Of course, this isn't to say that really good, wood-smoked ribs aren't worth lots of dollars. They are. But Honey 1 happens to have extraordinarily cheap lunch specials.

My dining companion and I tried their hot link sandwich and fries ($2.99), their small order of rib tips and fries ($4.99), and two drinks, and spent a grand total of $11.

Now, every region claims to have the best barbecue. The fun thing is, they're all basically right because smoked meats are delicious. But people will argue until the end of time about the best wood to smoke, the best combination of spices for a rub, and, mostly, the best style of sauce. I'm from a weird and wonderful part of the south where runny, mustard-based sauces are favored (if you're ever in Jacksonville, Florida, eat at Jenkins Quality Barbecue). Honey 1 borrows its style from Arkansas, where—like most of normal world outside Jacksonville—red sauces are preferred. The honey in Honey 1's name figures prominently in its homemade sauce.

Sauce aside, if you prefer barbecued beef, this is not a five-dollar lunch for you. They serve some chicken and some fish, but pork is king at Honey 1. So much so that they call it the "King of Meats" on their menu. I think a pretty good argument can be made that pork ribs are superior to beef ribs in taste and texture. I wouldn't kick either out of bed for eating crackers. I realize that doesn't make sense.

A hot link that is seriously very hot.
Our rib tips came slathered in sauce, with more on the side to squirt. The lunch order—what they call their "mini tips"—included about nine pieces, a handful of fries, and two slices of plain white bread for sopping. Rib tips don't have an enormous amount of meat on them, but the meat is nice and rich and filling. The hot link sandwich, half a smoked sausage on two slices of white bread, lived up to its name: they make genuinely, almost surprisingly spicy sausage flecked with bits of hot pepper. Hurtful in good way.

The lunch menu also features a pulled pork sandwich and fries ($5.99) and a mini tips combo that comes with rib tips, a hot link, and fries ($5.99), both of which fit snugly within the financial parameters we've agreed upon here. So, Jeff Mauro, I don't want to say you were doing it wrong, but you could've done it righter. Or at least cheaper.

2241 N. Western, 773-227-5130, honey1bbq.com

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