This is bold statement but here it is: the best barbeque in Chicago isn’t even in Chicago.
I know, I know – barbeque is in the eye (and mouth) of the beholder like pizza, Italian beef and yes, even sushi. You really should sample some of the city’s renowned “Q” pits and then take your BBQ loving self to JD’s BBQ Pit in Arlington Heights.
The ambrosial scent of smoke and barbeque hits your nasal passages as soon as you walk into JD’s, a spacious and squeaky clean spot on busy Rand Road that opened in April, 2012. Be prepared for a dizzying dining dilemma: will it be the soon-to-be famous bbq ribs; a family bucket of jumbo wings; a piled high pulled pork sandwich; moist and meaty turkey tips; or a righteous platter of brisket bursting with flavor that could only come from the south.
Pitmaster, Tom Grigorio, honed his smoking chops from South Carolina to Louisiana, picking up not a drawl but degree in smoke-perfumed protein. Meat is massaged with JD’s own rub and smoked for up to 14 hours over cherry and hickory wood. Then, it’s your turn to choose among the house sauce, sweet and tangy; Carolina, a vinegar-based liquid accent that’s true to the region; or Chipotle, offering rich flavor with a spicy finish.
If you’re up for true southern barbeque, know if you read “falling off the bone” your meat has been over cooked into near mush. Unless you have a denture issue, choose ribs that are tender but take a bit of bite to retrieve and you’ll be rewarded with flavor. The smoker at JD’s provides dry heat and you’ll see a wonderful pink smoke rim, which indicates full flavor. The ribs turn out tight but oh-so-tender and JD’s uses a larger rib so they’re cheaper than the competition’s.
Opt for pulled pork and expect a sizeable portion of slow smoked, hand-pulled pork that dons a custom seasoning blend. The dash of red pepper adds a kick to the crusty pieces and all of it just melts in your mouth.
JD’s uses Angus brisket that’s slow smoked and hand sliced. Go for the chopped brisket in a sandwich to get more of the crispy bits dotting the meat. Not into pork or beef? Go for turkey tips – smoked boneless thighs that are chopped and full of rich, meaty flavor. JD’s also offers authentic broasted chicken, a delight that’s getting harder to find. Order chicken wings and know that you’re getting the whole wing (BBQ or Buffalo style), so an order of six is like getting an entire dozen. Pork chops, hot links, fish, salads and a wild “Mikeska” sausage from Texas round out the expansive menu.
House made sides are simply stellar. Smoky-sweet baked beans are studded with meat trimmings making it all the heartier and the velvety mac ‘n’ cheese is so comforting you‘ll want to curl up in a vat of it. Home made chili and soup will warm on a Midwestern winter day while corn bread sweetens the deal as does a sweet potato mash kissed with a cinnamon glaze.
Select from over 100 domestic, imported and craft beers that complement the smoky earthiness of the menu. Tom Henaghan, manager and house cicerone focuses on craft brews and tries to snag the rare crafts for the restaurant. Every month or so, JD’s offers brew master dinners when an expert describes the brewing process, tasting notes and characteristics that complement the menu – pure bliss for barbeque and brew aficionados.
JD’s BBQ Pit
286 West Rand Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.