The new Lone Star BBQ Bar Brings Authentic Oak Wood-smoked Texas Barbecue to Chicago’s Northwest Side

Texas-born restaurant veteran Lou Wise is passionate about his Texas roots in San Antonio, and his love of true Texas-Style industrial, greasy-newspaper pit barbeque. “The flavor, the ambiance, the way the meat was handled. It was like magic,” Wise recalls. Although Wise’s family moved to Chicago when he was young, he spent his summers with his relatives in San Antonio who owned restaurants. That’s where he got his first restaurant experience and that’s how his love for Texas barbecue grew into a great passion. He came to realize that this fantastically messy, delicious experience needs to be shared with the locals of the Windy City, where real Texas barbecue is difficult, if not impossible, to find.  

Authentic Texas barbecue now has entered the Windy City, as Wise has launched Lone Star BBQ Bar (3350 N Harlem Ave.; 773-887-4002). Here, Texas authenticity rules. Lou and his team only smoke their meats over post oak wood, imported from Texas, without the use of gas or electricity. “We smoke meats the way they’re meant to be smoked so we can fulfill our promise to offer an authentic Texas experience,” he says.

Lone Star BBQ Bar is a comfortable full-service restaurant, eschewing the fast-casual style many barbecue joints have adopted. “Eating off of plastic doesn’t make you more authentic,” Wise says, “and having table service doesn’t make you less authentic.” In his opinion, a fast-food approach to his barbecue wouldn’t do justice to the high quality of his meats. “Food is meant to be enjoyed, not ‘worked on’,” he explains. “There is no need to rush through a meal here. And no one wants to, either.” With this philosophy, Lone Star recreates the finger licking flavors of classic Texas pit barbeque, but serves it with a casual yet upscale spin.

As soon as guests enter the restaurant, they are immersed in the aroma of the wood fired smoker. The succulent meats and Texas spirit are comforting and Wise makes sure guests never feel rushed. “Chicago foodies want to come in and relax,” Lou says. “People love that. Everyone’s comfortable here.”

Lone Star’s kitchen is focused on quality—to Lou, there’s no other way to do it—and they do an excellent job of recreating the authentic Texas pit barbeque experience. The meats are smoked in a real brick pit on Lou’s innovative racks where the mouthwatering juices drip down level by level for maximum flavor and tenderness. Pit master Patrick B. O'dea has been on the barbecue circuit for most of his career, and customers can trust they’re in good hands.

The menu includes a myriad of meats, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and desserts, all done with a hat tipping to Texas flare. From TexMex guacamole and tortillas to Texas rye bread—a staple of Texas barbecue—Lone Star covers all the bases without watering down the concepts.

To start, the Lone Star original BBQ Egg Rolls tackles brisket and pork from a whole new angle with Oriental veggies and sweet and sour dipping sauce at $6.95. Other appetizers include Corn Fritters ($4.95), Fried Pickles ($4.95), Frito Pie ($8.95) and Smoked Wings ($6.95).

The authenticity continues with entrées. The Texas Bar-B-Que Baby Back Ribs ($19.95 half slab, $27.95 full slab) are classic, dry rubbed with a simple, yet flavorful blend of ingredients, and smoked in the pit until tender and juicy. “We don’t smoke it until it falls off the bone, because that isn’t authentic and a touch of chewiness is part of the enjoyment; it’s the way Texas barbecue is supposed to be. The guests love it,” he says.

The dinner menu also includes the classic Chicken Fried Steak ($16.95), the Pork Chop Platter (24.95), and the pride of Texas, the Brisket Platter (24.95). Lone Star is the only place in the city where you can find a truly authentic King Ranch Chicken (15.95). This delectable dish is the Texas version of lasagna with tortillas, chilies and chicken in a spicy cream sauce, served with a small salad. All dinners are served with French fries or beans and coleslaw, a homemade biscuit, or pickled veggies. All together the meal is a great value for the high quality of the eats. Lone Star’s burgers and melts are all served with fries and any side for around $13.  

If you’re interested in a lighter fare, yummy sandwiches include Brisket, Katz-esque Corned Beef, Pit Beef, Pork n’Mac, Pulled Pork, and Charbroiled Chicken Breast, with fries, coleslaw & pickles ($12.95). A la carte sides include a refreshing apple-jicama slaw ($2.95), biscuits with cactus jelly ($3.95), and traditional Texas chili ($6.95). For the vegetarians and health nuts out there, have no fear! Lone Star has zucchini pie and a wonderful selection of salads including the Alamo Bowl ($15.95) with fresh spinach, bacon, eggs, croutons, cactus fruit, napales and assorted veggies, and the Trail Mix Salad ($15.95) full of nuts, seeds, quinoa balls, sesame sticks, and apples blended with mixed greens. It’s like taking a stroll through Texas’ mountainous backcountry. All meals can be modified to accommodate any dietary restrictions. “You tell me what you want and I’ll make it,” Lou says.

Lunch specials include the BBQ Soft Tacos with Sour Cream ($7.95), BBQ Nachos ($7.95), Quesadillas with your choice of brisket or pork ($7.95), ½ Salad ($7.95), and ½ Sandwich and a bowl of soup ($9.95). Of course Lone Star has a build your own burger starting at only $7.95 and 6 oz. of Pulled pork with one side for $8.95.

Fruits and veggies are locally sourced as much as possible and keeping it natural is a key part of Lone Star’s philosophy. Lemonade is fresh squeezed to ensure the highest quality. For those looking to hang their hat and kick back by the bar, Lone Star has created a number of Texas themed cocktails including the Austin Mule with Tito’s, fresh squeezed lime, and Barritts Ginger beer on the rocks and the Blue Mesa Margarita with Milagro Silver Tequila, Blue Curacao, fresh Pineapple and lime. Not to mention wines and beers including Ballast Point Sculpin, Ale Asylum Madtown Nubrown Ale, and none other than Lone Star.

When your southern sweet tooth is aching, check out Lone Star’s thick and rich Pecan Pie, Strawberry Pretzel Pie, Tres Leches Cake, or the popular Bread Pudding, all for $6.

Lone Star BBQ Bar isn’t just another barbeque shack. It’s a restaurant full of Texas hospitality and music where you can kick back, relax, and enjoy delicious pit barbecue the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.

About Lone Star BBQ Bar

Lone Star BBQ Bar, 773-887-4002, is an authentic, Texas style barbecue restaurant featuring a number of quality meats smoked in a real barbeque smoke pit. The restaurant is located at 3350 N. Harlem in Chicago and is open for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. There is a spacious outdoor patio. Ample street parking is available and all major cards are accepted.

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