Good Southern cooking gets ultra-urban twist


Anthony Soave

Green Street Smoked Meats, 112 N. Green St., brings a fresh take on casual barbecue to Chicago with its industrial decor and minimalist style. Guests can try fanciful cocktails, such as the Sweet Tea Bourbon.

By Contributing Writer

At the far end of a cobblestone alleyway surrounded by brick walls with chipping paint, the smell of Texas-style barbecue lingers in the West Loop. 

The source of the smell is Green Street Smoked Meats, 112 N. Green St., which is a fine addition to the alfoodie-friendly neighborhood. 

The restaurant is the creation of Brendan Sodikoff, founder and CEO of Hogsalt, the company behind Chicago restaurants like Au Cheval, 800 W. Randolph St., and Bavette’s, 218 W. Kinzie St. 

Green Street serves up delicious backyard-party-style barbecue accompanied by traditional sides including baked beans, sweet pickles and potato salad, each of which is $4. Brisket ($11), beef ribs ($8), pulled pork ($8), pork belly ($11) and pork ribs ($8) are served in half-pound portions. Other delicacies include salmon ($20), a frito pie ($6) and grilled oysters ($18). 

The meat is cut from the bone right in front of patrons when they order, and seasoned to perfection with a Memphis-style rub of chipotle, garlic and salt. 

Green Street’s signature cocktails include drinks like the Chartreuse Mule and Sweet Tea Bourbon, the perfect boozy companion to a slab of ribs and coleslaw. The pork ribs were perfectly seasoned— not overbearing in flavor but just enough to give the ribs zest and spice. On their own, the ribs have enough flavors to eat without any sauce, which is served on the side. Out of the vinegar, hot sauce and barbecue sauce, the hot sauce seems to best complement the meat, which was pink and tender with a delectably smoky flavor. The smoked chicken leg was the best item on the menu because the meat simply could not stay on the bone. While the macaroni salad was adequate, it was no better than the grocery store pre-made stuff. The broccoli salad was deliciously dressed with sunflower seeds for an added crunch, and dill was sprinkled in to boost the vinaigrette flavor. 

The restaurant was impressively full at 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. There were businessmen just getting off work, couples going out for a date night and large groups of friends chowing down and enjoying drinks within the modern confines. Large sinks near the ordering counter full of beer bottles on ice and friendly service give the grungy, dim space a friendly, southern atmosphere. 

Green Street’s interior is beautifully lit by overhanging exposed light bulbs strung across the ceiling and low-hanging industrial lamps above communal tables. The low lighting mixed with a warehouse aesthetic matches well with the wail of Jimi Hendrix and other classic rock sounds playing in the background. It is chic, but not too upscale to dim the authenticity of the barbecue fare, as evidenced by the paper towel rolls on each table. 

If you’re looking for moderately priced barbecue without too many added hijinks, Green Street Smoked Meats is a solid choice. The overall friendly environment and well-rounded barbecue options make it worthwhile for every Chicago meat lover.