Let’s stop for a moment and really think about… BBQ. Burning embers, fragrant smoke, saucey hands. Then there’s the meat. Do you envision fatty slices of smoked Texas beef brisket? Fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs popular in the Midwest or the zippy pulled pork of the Carolinas? Whatever it is, BBQ is as much an experience as it is a process, and these dishes are all part of America’s regional BBQ culture.

Make a reservation at Bub City – River North. Order carryout and delivery from Bub City – River North. 

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American BBQ is a craft that has evolved over generations and has migrated across state lines – from the Deep South over to Texas and up through the Midwest – as one of America’s most recognizable food styles. To better understand the role of Bub City in American BBQ culture, first we must take a look at its technique and its deep-rooted history.

The Technique
People often interchange the words “grill” and “barbecue”, but they are not one in the same. Grilling is cooking meat quickly over a direct heat source – charcoal, gas or propane – while barbecuing cooks it “low and slow” using low, indirect heat over an extended period of time. Depending on the region, anything from a re-purposed steel barrel to a state-of-the-art professional smoker is fair game for BBQ.

oven to cook meat from bub city

History, Part 1: The South
BBQ got its humble beginnings in the Postbellum South where pork was plentiful. Wild hogs roamed the Back Country and were also raised on farms because they needed little space. During times of celebration, communities would gather for a “pig pickin” – a tradition still practiced today in the Carolinas and New Orleans – where the whole animal is cooked overnight over slowly burning coals in a large outdoor oven built of steel and cinder block. Throughout the night, the hog is tended to by the pitmaster who “mops” (bastes) the meat with a vinegar au jus. As the it cooks, juices fall onto the coals to create flares that result in that signature smoke.

Whole Hog at Windy City Smokeout

History, Part 2: The Sauce
While the tradition of the pig pickin’ is still largely practiced today, BBQ’s most notable changes over the years has been the development of regional barbecue sauces. In the Carolinas, slow-cooked pork is dressed with a vinegar-based sauce that has a touch of heat and a slight sour bite which brings out the sweetness of the meat and rounds out the smoke. In parts of South Carolina, it’s a mustard- and vinegar-based sauce brought over by German immigrants. Venture into North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky, and BBQ sauce becomes thick and sweet thanks to a tomato base. (The exception is Memphis-style ribs, which can be prepared “wet or dry,” with either a tomato-based sauce or a dry heavy spice rub.)

Further north in Chicago are the famous, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs – Chicago’s response to BBQ which was influenced by the local stockyards. These Chicago-style ribs are traditionally prepared by baking or simmering the ribs and finishing them with a tomato-based sauce.

Saucing Bub City Ribs

History, Part 3: Texas
Move over pork. Beef reigns king in Texas! With wide open ranges and pastures, it was possible to raise and graze beef. The love of barbecue penetrated Texas and the Western Territories. As people from the South sought work out West, the practices of cheap cuts of beef and BBQ married perfectly. While there are variations of Lone Star BBQ, the most famous is the Central Texas-style barbecued beef brisket. Seasoned only with salt and pepper and slow-smoked with oak, hickory or pecan, this meat is sliced to order and served with white bread and pickles. Other notable Texas barbecue is slow-cooked beef short ribs, and in the far west of Texas, the “cowboy-style” goat and mutton BBQ.

brisket from bub city

Today: A Celebration of Regional ‘Cue
The team at Bub City has researched and perfected recipes and methods to bring the best of regional BBQ together under one roof.

To download Bub City’s recipe for Smoked Natural Brisket, click here. 


Bub City’s Smoked Natural Brisket Recipe
Serving size: 10

One 9 lb. whole prime brisket (point and flat with a ½-inch layer of fat)
8 oz. (about 1 cup) Morton’s kosher salt
12 oz. (about 3 cups) coarsely ground black pepper
Use green (fresh) hickory wood to smoke this brisket low and slow


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the kosher salt and black pepper. Spread the mixture evenly on a large sheet tray.
  2. Moisten the brisket all over with 1–2 Tbsp. water so that the salt and pepper mixture will adhere. Place the brisket meat side down into the mixture on the sheet tray. Flip, then cover the fat side and edges with more of the mixture.
  3.  Let the brisket rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
  4.  Meanwhile, preheat a smoker to 225°F, using green (fresh) hickory wood.
  5. Place the brisket fat side down on the rack over an indirect heat, being careful to maintain consistent temperature throughout the smoking period. (NOTE: Briskets will reach a stall period where they won’t increase in temperature for 2–3 hours. Don’t panic or increase the heat; this is normal. If the brisket looks like it’s taking on too much smoke or getting dark too quickly, wrap the brisket in butcher paper or aluminum foil so it continues to cook but won’t take on any more smoke.
  6. Smoke the brisket for 12–14 hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 195–200°F when tested with a meat thermometer at its thickest part. The brisket should be springy to the touch and flex when you pick it up.
  7. Remove brisket from the smoker and wrap in butcher paper; let rest in a warm
    spot for 2 hours.
  8.  After resting the brisket, it’s ready to slice. Cut the thinner, leaner side (known as the “flat”) against the grain into pencil-width slices, about ¼-inch thick. Cut the thicker, fattier side (known as the “point”) also against the grain into slices about the thickness of your thumb, about ½-inch thick. Cut the “point” section perpendicular to how you cut the “flat” portion.