Five Places To Get Solid Southern Food In Chicago

By Molly Durham in Food on Jan 30, 2012 4:45PM

Chicago may be known more for pizza and hot dogs than grits and gumbo, but authentic Southern cooking does in fact exist here. This type of regional cuisine hasn't always been a focus of the food scene, but we think that's changed. You can find BBQ done every which way, beignets for breakfast in multiple neighborhoods and eat like you never left the sweet comfort of your mama's home cookin'.

Big Jones - You know a place is doing it right when they have shrimp and grits, gumbo-ya-ya and fried chicken on the dinner menu, as well as beignets as their standard bread service at brunch. If this wasn't enough to prove their southern authenticity, they hold bourbon dinners. Become part of their bourbon society and you get a passport with 40 different whiskeys on it as well as a free "Whiskey of The Month." Yet another bonus is that this place has popovers for brunch. Where else in Chicago can you get that? (If you know, please tell us!)

Wishbone - Claiming to be full of "Southern Reconstruction Cooking," you can get jambalaya, crawfish cakes, a blackened catfish po' boy and multiple forms of brisket. 2 locations make it easy to get to one of these: one's in the West Loop and one on the north side in Roscoe Village.

Chicago Q - This was one of our picks for Restaurant Week, so a great chance to taste their barbecue is coming up quick. Chicago Q has so many kinds of barbecue, you can get a "BBQ flight" full of Kobe brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken if you have trouble deciding between all 14 varieties on the menu. We'd be surprised if any meat lover could walk away from here unsatisfied.

The Southern - With a name like this, they must be under a lot of pressure to get the whole Southern thing right. And they execute it nicely. Along with the burgoo, we're big fans of the Johnny Cakes: applewood smoked pork with cornmeal pancakes and chowchow. Super tender meat that melts in your mouth proves why this is one of the few items that has lasted through their menu changes. They also have eggs benedict made with crab cakes. Brunch, anyone?

Lillie's Q - Pulled meats with 5 different sauce options on every table. Need we say more? You can slather or dip with Carolina, Carolina Gold, Smoky, Hot Smoky or Ivory sauce. Add an appetizer of fried pickles or boiled peanuts and you've got yourself a southern barbecue meal that you'll want to come back for. Or at the very least, find their food truck.