Its not a Texas town.
Its not really a shack.
And its not just outside LaGrange...its in LaGrange...LaGrange IL that is.
Q BBQ is one of the latest additions to the BBQ scene in Chicagoland. Opening up last year, Mike and his guys have mangaged to generate a lot of buzz for a corner BBQ shop in the quaint downtown area of LaGrange.
Oddly enough, I heard about it from a good BBQ friend of mine, Mark Link from Uncle Bubs BBQ in Westmont, IL. He mentioned that it was worth a trip to go check out the new place so one Thursday afternoon, I took the 20 minute drive up to LaGrange for lunch.
I timed my visit so I was strolling in about 12:50 or so...past the main lunch crowd in hopes to meet Mike LaPidus. Facebook posts made it sound like it pretty easy to find him there and they held true. He was right at the front counter. I introduced myself and it didn't take long to be whisked to the back to check out the pit see what was loaded up. Mike takes genuine pride that his Old Hickory is going almost 24/7, making brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, chicken, and wings.
Mike wasn't always a BBQer, always had an interest, but ran a sandwich shop for years. One thing led to another, and Mike found himself stomping through Memphis and Texas, and all over the place learning more about BBQ. His homework paid off as he's making some pretty good BBQ.
I got to sample lots of the offerings at the shop and it was all good. Not being much of a critic when it comes to BBQ, I find something good in almost everything I eat, I enjoyed everything. The ribs however left a lasting impression. They were great and I'd say they nailed those loin backs for sure!!!
Q takes an intriguing approach to decor. The chalkboard menu and country store-like front is juxtaposed with the swanky chic of an urban dining destination. Mike's response to that observation was, he's a foodie, he likes to try to give the clientele from LaGrange a feeling of chic with the simplicity of comfort food that BBQ offers. Well it works, the dining area is small, quaint, but inviting for anyone. Might be a risky approach for some BBQ places, but for this location, it works.
We talked a little of the trials of getting staff to put out the food with the same level of passion that Mike has for it. This is not something that is a unique challenge for Mike and Q. Its a common theme among most BBQ entrepreneurs I speak with. These guys painstakingly develop processes and techniques to first emulate something they like but then modify to give their BBQ its unique character. All BBQers are then faced with the task of imparting that knowledge and passion onto someone else, who may or may not have the same deep rooted desire and understanding of what makes good BBQ. The BBQers who manage to develop this asset, and then exploit it are rewarded with turning out good food again and again.
Overall, I'm glad I stopped in. I'll be back, probably toting some business lunch companions with me. Q is certainly worth a stop on your tour of Chicagoland BBQ.