Where to go for barbecue: The Smoke House, Lord And Penix and Rib City Grill

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11745003742803.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.rothcpa.com‘, ‘Fortunately, there are still several family-run establishments that continue the barbecue tradition, with slow-smoked pork slathered in a sweet, sticky sauce that would be equally at home in southern Alabama or Mississippi. ‘);

Good news. Thanks to Bryan over at Brevetto Design, we now have a Best of Rockford Web site. You can find it at www.bestofrockford.info. I encourage you to check it out, and to contact us via the Web site’s e-mail address to participate in our endeavor.

This week’s columnist is Doug Halberstadt. Doug is 45 years old, is a lifelong resident of Rockford, a 1983 graduate of Bradley University in Peoria, owner of Quality Quick Printing and Copying and a sports columnist for The Rock River Times. He’s also a self-proclaimed barbecue expert: “I have eaten barbecue from as far away as Japan, Canada, Puerto Rico and in several other U.S. states, including Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa and in every place in Rockford that has ribs,” he said.

Doug’s article follows.

He has also written an article for us about Rockford sandwich shops that will appear in a future Best of Rockford column.

Local barbecue restaurants sure to please

By Doug Halberstadt

One of the great American culinary classics is barbecue. Rockford barbecue is predominantly the Southern, pork-centric variety of the Deep South, likely brought here by African-Americans who moved to this area in large numbers during the first half of the 20th century. We’ve lost a few barbecue joints in recent years with the closure of long-time favorite Box’s Barbecue and Carol’s Ribs and More. Fortunately, there are still several family-run establishments that continue the barbecue tradition, with slow-smoked pork slathered in a sweet, sticky sauce that would be equally at home in southern Alabama or Mississippi.

Almost hidden at the side of the gas station on South Main and Harrison is The Smoke House. The friendly folks there will serve a generous helping of tender pork shoulder or rib tips for a reasonable price. I especially liked the glazed outer edges of the shoulder pieces, where the flavors of hardwood smoke and sweet sauce blend together in a way you’ll fondly remember for a long time. If you’re lucky, you may show up on one of the days The Smoke House offers their soul food veggie dishes.

Farther east on South Alpine you’ll find Lord And Penix BBQ Restaurant. Try their rib tips, and bring the leftovers home. They seem to get better the longer they stay in the refrigerator. Lord And Penix has an impressive selection of side dishes, including lots of veggies (even yams!). If you’re not in a BBQ mood, Lord And Penix will serve up Polish sausage, catfish sandwiches and more.

You don’t have to be on the far south side of Rockford to enjoy some good barbecue. Check out the Rib City Grill & Deli on Forest Hills Road. I especially like their spare rib plate. Spare ribs may not be the prettiest cut of meat, or the easiest to eat, but who cares? If done properly, like they do it at Rib City, it’s definitely worth the mess and the effort! If you’re not in the mood for ribs, try their big, juicy burgers, hot dogs or pork sandwiches.

As with many small, family-run restaurants and sandwich shops, meals in these restaurants may take a little longer to make than they would at the nearby chain burger joint. That’s not a bad thing, however, since it ensures your meal will be fresh, and prepared just the way you want it. If you’re in a rush, you may want to phone in your order ahead of time.

Rockford is situated far from the heart of America’s “barbecue belt.” We may not have the quantity of restaurants you would find in a place like Kansas City, Mo., Memphis, Tenn., or Fort Worth, Texas. And if beef is your passion, you may be a little disappointed. But if you like sweet sauce drizzled over tender smoked pork, Rockford’s barbecue restaurants will not disappoint.

Where to go and more info

The Smoke House is at 432 Harrison Ave. Info: 815-965-7427.

Lord And Penix BBQ Restaurant is at 3204 S. Alpine Rd. Info: 815-874-7696.

Rib City Grill & Deli is at 5839 Forest Hills Rd. Info: 815-654-3445.

Mike Leifheit’s “Best of Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. The column will appear the third week of every month in the “Real Rockford” section of Vibe Entertainment. Anyone with suggestions for this column should send them to Leifheit at rosenorte@aol.com or The Rock River Times at rrtimes@rworld.com or 815-964-9767.

from the March 21-27, 2007, issue

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