The exterior of Smylie Brothers Brewing Company. The Evanston restaurant offers craft brews and Texas-style barbecue to a Midwestern crowd.

Jane Recker/Daily Senior Staffer

Smylie Brothers Brewing Company brings the taste of Texas to Chicago

May 9, 2018

I’ll never forget the first time my freshman roommate encountered a Midwestern barbecue. Slightly homesick for her native Texas, she rushed down to the courtyard of Willard Hall where the barbecue was being held, anxious to to get a well-missed taste of her home state’s delicacy.

Her excited anticipation quickly turned into confused disbelief as she scanned the courtyard and saw only overcooked processed meats and some sad looking bags of chips. “Where’s the brisket, where are the ribs?” she lamented. “This isn’t a barbecue!”

I, then an ignoramus in the ways of the barbecue, was slightly offended at her derision toward what I considered a perfectly lovely cookout. But after eating at Smylie Brothers Brewing Company, I’m beginning to see what she meant. While we pride ourself on our meats here in Chicago, nothing quite compares to the carnivorous delight of a Texas-style smoked barbecue.

All of Smylie Brothers’ meats are smoked in house, giving them that deliciously dark, woody and smoky aftertaste that you just can’t get from pre-packaged meat. It’s not an overpowering flavor, though. Smylie finds the perfect balance between a charred finish and an otherwise sweet and surprisingly juicy meat, hard to accomplish with the smoking process.

While the pulled pork was sweet and the ribs peppery enough to enjoy without any additional seasoning, I opted to smother my grub in Smylie’s Kansas City-style barbecue sauce: a sticky, viscous delight with the right ratio of sweetness and tanginess.

If you didn’t catch on from the name, Smylie also makes their own in-house brews. I wanted to try a little bit of everything, so I went with the surprisingly affordable beer flight: just $12 for six 5-ounce craft pours. I was partial to the Farmhouse — a light, dry beer with flavors of fruit and honey — and the Kuh KOW!, a stout brewed with Belgian milk chocolate with a surprising hint of cherry.

The restaurant offered the perfect venue to enjoy barbecue and brews with buds. The interior was light and airy, with an open plan that allowed resounding chatter to peal across the room, creating an excited, genial feel. The patio had a little slower pace; still open and sunny, the chatting was more intimate between tables. Either choice made for great dinner ambience.

The bar has been set; after eating at Smylie’s, never again will I be able to fully enjoy a Chicago-style summer barbecue. While the hot dogs might be passable and the hamburgers satisfying, I know that I, like my roommate, will be left wondering, “Where’s the brisket?”

Email: janerecker2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @janerecker

Read more from May’s edition of The Monthly here.

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