Hours: Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday
Pilsen barbecue joint from a veteran of the festival round.
For more than 20 years pit master Willie Wagner has been serving ribs, pulled pork, and other cue at neighborhood fairs and music fests; now hes taken his show indoors at Honky Tonk Barbeque, a Pilsen space decked out in a Wild West motif. Texas-style beef brisket is killer, moist and rippled with savory fat. Memphis-style baby backs and Saint Louis-style spare ribs are sprinkled with a mildly piquant dry rub, then cooked low and slow to render fat while leaving loads of flavor on the bone. The "roto-chix" is very good, its flesh moist and skin deliciously crisp from hours of smoking over Wagners signature apple-oak blend. The short menu is designed for carnivores, though tangy, slightly sour coleslaw is an excellent counterpoint to the meat; theres also a lightly dressed salad of greens, jicama, goat cheese, and seasonal berries billed as "What Your Girlfriend Wants." "Light" isnt a designation that usually comes within light years of barbecue, but at Honky Tonk all dishes show a hand sensitive with the seasonings, and leisurely cooking leaves meat surprisingly grease free. Wagner, serious about his craft, doesnt serve anything slathered in goo, though two saucesone sweet, one tangyare available on the table, if you must.
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