But we need to talk barbecue.
Yes, the geopolitics of it can be daunting. Carolina. St. Louis. Texas. The strident factionalism between dry rub and wet marinade contingents.
Here to provide a détente of sorts: The Original Five, a multilateral approach to smoked meat relations, opening today in neutral territory: Little Italy.
Since you’ll want a fair broker for this rapprochement, the owner is a culinary-trained Polish native who came to Chicago, saved his money and lived the American Dream... namely touring the country eating barbecue.
Located in a former West Taylor Street house, the space is trimmed in picnic table red and decorated with glamour shots of baked beans and pulled pork. It’s designed as a mainly takeout and delivery joint, but you may just be charmed into staying.
Order at the counter: first choose your meat, then choose whatever barbecue style the spinning, sauce-craving wheel in your brain happens to land on: St. Louis, Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City or Texas.
And since you’ll probably be in a reconciliatory mood, you may vary from your usual barbecue shack staples—ribs/chicken/pork sausage—into the direction of applewood-smoked tilapia, tender lamb ribs or even pasta swimming in smoked brisket marinara.
It’s what they served at Malta.