There, I said it. Send in the movers.
Oh, I'll give the Texans their brisket and peppered turkey breast, but when it comes to baby back ribs, it just doesn't get any better than Carson' or Hecky's. Texans will tell you it's slow-smoking that makes barbeque authentic and the sauce doesn't matter. Saying this to a Chicagoan is like telling a French chef not to use butter! To us, the sauce is everything.
Two places in Chicago stand out as serving up the best ribs, defined as, "falling off the bone tender smothered in perfectly seasoned sauce." The first, and best known, is Carson's Ribs . (Who else could have snagged the simple "ribs.com" URL but Carson's?) There are four restaurants in Chicago, and one in Boca Raton, where snowbird Chicagoans refused to shut up until the owners acquiesced and open there.
I'm not sure how Carson's does it, but every pork chop is huge, smoked and barbequed to perfection, with no hint of the dryness from which the "other white meat" sometimes suffers. It's likely the Florida contingent missed the side dishes as much as the main feast. The au gratin potatoes are the perfect compliment to the sweet, saucy ribs and chops. You'll wish you had taken home more of the thick, cheesy, creamy baked potato mixture as it's good enough to sneak for breakfast!
But of course, it's the baby back ribs that bring people back to Carson's. Every rib has more meat than a chicken drumstick and every bite is succulent and substantial. Ribs, chops, potatoes and slaw is all you get here. The limited menu and special preparation are the keys to Carson's highly successful kindgom.
Sharing honors for great ribs over in Evanston is Hecky's Ribs , a shack of a place on the corner of Greenbay and Golf that consistently infuses the city with the soulful scent of hickory smoke and warm molasses. Hecky's has a more expansive menu than Carson's including the Northwestern students favorite, rib tips, which are the less expensive, but no less delicious, end pieces from the baby backs. They satisfy a ribs hankering without the expensive tariff. Also on the menu at Hecky's are cornbread, red beans and rice, chicken, slaw and truly fantastic fried shrimp served in a sack like french fries.
Now that I've risked my livelihood in Texas, its comforting to know that I can order Carson's ribs online or through Lou Malnati's anytime I want. It only takes an extra day or two to ship them in Maui.
by smmmarti guide
May 18, 2002
From journal Chicago's Finest - Comfort Foods