He says it's only open on the weekends, and they've become so popular, they close when they sell out.
Despite its name, the Chicago Culinary Kitchen is technically in Palatine. The brainchild of a former Marine-turned-barbecue hobbyist, it has become the go-to source for ribs, brisket and pulled pork in the region. How do I know? I visited on a recent Saturday when the wait can stretch 30 minutes. But if you live nearby, it's worth the wait.
The sights and smells will transport you to Texas Hill Country, but the reality is this is only a weekend endeavor. Chicago Culinary Kitchen is a catering commissary-turned-part-time restaurant in a non-descript Palatine strip mall. Just look for the old antique truck and smoker out front.
"We do both brisket and short rib, a lot of Texas-style there's no sauce on anything so everything is a dry rub," said co-owner Greg Gaardbo.
They're not kidding about the "no sauce" rule, even though they do offer a little bit if you like. The emphasis here is on the fantastic ribs, dry-rubbed with spices and coarse black pepper, smoked for a few hours until tender but forgiving. Brisket is slow-smoked much longer, it's sliced to-order with a fine black bark on the outside; and that pulled pork is a thing of beauty. The bones pull away easily, leaving a shoulder that pulls apart almost effortlessly. Gaardbo seasons it with its own juices for added flavor. He also smokes chickens and offers just a few sides, including outstanding bacon-studded baked beans and a Mexican street-style corn, off the cob. Loads of pickles, onions and bread are served alongside, just like in Texas, if you want to make your own sandwich.
There's also a serious beer program here.
"Huge beer program, we are working up to 100 craft beers. When I say craft beers, I mean we don't have anything corporate whatsoever."
Gaardbo offers occasional barbecue classes on Thursday nights; he's trying to offer a taste of Texas, previously impossible this far out in the suburbs.
"We're trying to do something different here. It's odd because we're in Palatine."
In this week's "Extra Course," Steve talks about the only dessert on the limited menu at Chicago Culinary Kitchen.
Chicago Culinary Kitchen
773 N Quentin Rd, Palatine, IL 60067