Since its inception three years ago, the annual Windy City Smokeout, bringing together the best in the nation’s barbeque and country music for three days of smokin’ hot revelry, has quickly become my favorite weekend of the year. Not only is it a perfect excuse to break out the ole’ cowboy boots, but it is also the time to taste some of the country’s best barbeque without leaving the City of Chicago. And this year, both the lineup of bands, as well as the barbeque, was better than ever before, with two stages and double the space for vendors, craft brewers, and drinking games.
The weekend kicked off with one of the best emerging acts in country music, A Thousand Horses, and their aptly named hit “Smoke.” Other musical highlights of the weekend included Jon Pardi, Kacey Musgraves closing out opening night, Dan + Shay and Chris Young bringing out record-breaking crowds on Saturday, and Lee Brice leading a “Parking Lot Party” on Sunday evening.
The food lineup included the ever popular The Salt Lick, out of Austin, Texas, St. Louis’ Pappy’s, and a new entrant this year, Ubon’s from Mississippi. Local favorites Bub City, Smoque and Lillie’s Q also served up some low and slow cooked meats. Gus’s, opening later this year in the Fulton Market District, gave us a taste of its World Famous Fried Chicken.
My favorites from the weekend included Pappy’s Cranberry Cayenne Smoked Chicken, Smoque’s Brisket, Ubon’s Delta Caviar – a vegetarian salad of black eyed peas, black beans, corn, and tomatoes – and The Salt Lick’s light and refreshing cole slaw.
For those looking for something from the sea, rather than the land, Supreme Lobster was serving up delectable lobster rolls and whole lobsters.
And, to satisfy the sweet tooths out there, Summer House Santa Monica was onsite with its famous cookies and rice crispy treats, and the Doughnut Vault truck was selling its delicious old fashioned doughnuts.
New this year were extra events, including Pitmaster Myron Mixon’s Whole Hog Dinner, and a Sunday Brunch, which were all hits with attendees, and are sure to return in future years.
The fest made the most of its additional space this year by decorating the highway underpass with rustic chandeliers and craft beer stands. The shade it provided also gave revelers a nice respite from the hot summer temps.
Overall, the weekend was a tasty, fun, and entertaining time, and I cannot wait to do it all again next year!
While I received a complimentary pass to the event, all opinions expressed herein are my own.