Five best barbecue places and why we love them

There is no Peoria barbecue, at least not semi-officially. In contrast to Carolina, Kansas City or Memphis.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that there aren’t any good places to do something here.

Grill restaurants in the Tri-County area tend to be stylistically hip. Some specialize in simple but artisanal grilling – high quality sauce and meat, smoked and cooked over wood.

Others tend to be more exotic. They have basic grill elements, but they are also from foreign cultures including Asia and Latin America.

What are the major US grill styles?

One of the most important styles in the US is Carolina with pork. Pulled, crushed or chopped, smoked and wiped with a mixture of spices and vinegar.

(Nick in the Morning can vouch for Speedy’s BBQ in Lexington, NC Starve for a couple of days before you leave because you can get enough food to feed a battalion.)

The Kansas City style uses a variety of meats and emphasizes the sauce. French fries are also a must.

The Memphis style focuses on ribs, sauces, or dry grated ribs, as well as sandwiches. The Texan style is rich in brisket and sausage.

There are grill subregions, such as the St. Louis style, which is geared towards pork steaks. There are also different cooking methods – hickory wood for a strong smoky taste, wood from fruit trees for a sweeter and lighter taste.

Where can you have a good barbecue here?

We’re not experts in cooking, let alone grilling. But we’re an expert at food, and we can say so much about the different BBQ options around the country:

Everything is good.

Here are five great BBQ areas in Peoria and the neighboring communities. They are listed alphabetically and focus on out-of-chain restaurants. Your mileage can of course vary.

If your favorite smoked meat supplier isn’t on this list, or if there are good ones elsewhere in the Journal Star-Land, please send the details to [email protected] At some point we will likely have a second serving of this topic.

Classic Peoria cars will remember this place as the former home of River Station, a classic steak and seafood restaurant. Blue Duck is not typical as the name suggests.

Smoked meat poutine, a starter, should be the first clue. Other Blue Duck twists include Asian and Mexican tacos, Brunswick stew (brisket, pork, chicken, and vegetables in tomato broth), and smoked, then fried, chicken wings the size of a Buick.

Of course, grill standards are also offered – including brisket, chicken, pork and ribs. The craft beer selection isn’t shabby either.

More:Check out these 15+ locations in the Peoria region to find wings

Dacs Smokehouse, 1200 W. Main St., Peoria, and 1100 N. Main St., East Peoria; 643-1223 (Peoria) and 966-1191 (EP)

Dac’s follows the Blue Duck template for non-traditional barbecues. You are in the original Dac’s on the West Bluff and its second location, which recently opened near the Par-A-Dice casino and hotel in East Peoria.

Tandoori Chicken? Dac has it. Smoked Meatloaf? Yes. Turkey? Absolutely. Dac’s has all of them in plate form. Pulled pork egg rolls and Carolina coleslaw add another twist.

Sandwiches, tacos and wraps with different types of meat and fillings are also available. Dac’s also picks up a central Illinois favorite, the horseshoe sandwich. Potato medallions are a key component.

More:Dac’s Smokehouse adds a new site outside of Peoria. How will it be different

Dan Ruffin transfers turkey wings to Que For You, the Peoria grill restaurant he owns with his brother John.

Que for You, 301 N. MacArthur Highway, Peoria; 981-5105

No-nonsense barbecue is on the menu at Que for You. No wonder, as its owner wasn’t known for any nonsense in his previous job.

Former Peoria High School basketball coach Dan Ruffin opened Que for You after retiring from the sidelines and the classroom. The coach disciplinarian said he liked to smoke meat, which he observed his uncles at a young age.

Ruffin’s favorite menu item: Ribs falling off the bone. But turkey and pork also take up space on ruffins smokers.

More:Ruffin it: Retired Peoria High Hoops train a smoked meat master

Slow Hand Craft BBQ, 4550 N. Prospect Road, Peoria Heights; 670-0336

This newer spot along Restaurant Row in the Heights seems to appeal to barbecue enthusiasts of all styles, if the choice of sauces is a clue.

Offers include a Carolina-style mustard and honey sauce and an Alabama-style white sauce with a mayonnaise base. That is seldom seen here.

Slow Hand offers the usual staples in plate or sandwich form. But one of the plates is unique – smoked cauliflower. Too bad Lent is over for most Christians because that sounds like the perfect thing to eat on a meat fast Friday.

A pickup window installed at The Smo-King Pit grill restaurant in Northwoods Mall in Peoria in 2019 was a godsend when COVID-19 restrictions came in, according to the owner.

The Smo-King Pit, Northwoods Mall, 2200 W. War Memorial Drive, Peoria; 688-3606

Northwoods could be an unlikely location for any type of grill, let alone a good one. But away from the food court and between the shops is owner Micheal Citchens’ version of Cueens.

Nothing particularly special here either; just solid. Dinner is served with a lot of meat, as are the sandwiches. The sauce is a little lighter, but the meat can also be the star.

In 2019, Citchens installed a pickup window that opens onto the mall. Given the COVID-19 restaurant closure, it turned out to be a random decision. Kitchens called it a godsend.

Nick in the morning

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