Hours: Lunch: Monday-Saturday;
Dinner: seven days
Open Late: Friday & Saturday till 11
Evanston spot popular for barbecue takeout.
As the saying goes, Hecky Powell's forgotten more about barbecue than most people know. Unfortunately that seems to include knowing how to use the wood-fired Chicago-style "aquarium" smoker that dominates the cooking area visible to the customer. These days state-of-the-art equipment in a side room churns out uninspired BBQ for legions of loyal customers who embrace Heckys motto: "It's the sauce." The motto's catchy, but barbecue is about meat, smoke, and fire. And Hecky's ribs here, while among the best on the north side, ultimately dont hold up. Baby backs, colored a deep mahogany, appear promising at first blush but turn out to be dry and stringy, with pockets of unrendered fat and no detectable smoke flavor. While they carry a whiff of smoke, rib tips are likewise dry, chewy, and fatty. Hot links fare better, with an agreeable porky taste enhanced by assertive spicing, and the spareribs are edible. About that sauce: it's mild and veers in the direction of flavor before being undone by a sweet and syrupy overlay. Best in show is Hecky's greaseless and spicy fried chicken. With its crisp exterior and moist, flavorful flesh, it's the highlight of the menu.
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