Gallery: The Best Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwich in Chicago

#1: Lillie's Q
#1: Lillie's Q

Meat: (10/10) At first, it's hard to pin down why the pulled pork here is so startlingly great. Sure, it's tender and smoky, but so are other versions. Finally, I realized that each bite had an intense meatiness. Some might call that fat, but instead of greasy, the meat just seems more flavorful. Without equal in Chicago.

Toppings: (4/5) The crunchy and vinegary coleslaw is good on its own, but seems specially designed to top this sandwich.

Sauce: (5/5) Make your pick, each and every one of these are awesome.

Bun: (4.5/5) The brioche bun is flavorful and soft, though it does start to break apart towards the end.

Total Score: (23.5/25)

Lillie's Q, 1856 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-772-5500;‎

#2: Smoque BBQ
#2: Smoque BBQ

Meat: (9/10) The rub really shines here, so that each bite is well seasoned. The meat itself is very juicy and adequately smoky.

Toppings: (4.5/5) The coleslaw almost seems overly acidic when you taste it alone, but that's because it was meant to be thrown on top the barbecue. Fantastic stuff.

Sauce: (4/5) Like the coleslaw, the very vinegary sauce isn't very good on its own, but it does an excellent job of complimenting the meat.

Bun: (5/5) Basically perfect. Soft and squishy, but strong enough to hold up to all the meat and sauce.

Total Score: (22.5/25)

Smoque BBQ, 3800 North Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60641 (map); 773-545-7427;‎

#3: Honey 1 BBQ
#3: Honey 1 BBQ

Meat: (8/10) Not as fantastically smoky as Honey 1's rib tips, but there is a healthy smoke ring. Could be juicier, but overall very good.

Toppings: (2/5) The basic chopped coleslaw is indistinct.

Sauce: (5/5) I already knew this, but the sauce here is incredible: tangy, with a faint hint of sweetness.

Bun: (4/5) Not exactly thrilling, but soft white bun did its job without getting in the way.

Total Score: (19/25)

Honey 1 BBQ, 2241 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-227-5130;‎

#4: Barn & Company
#4: Barn & Company

Meat: (7/10) The texture is right, but I wish there was a bit more smoke.

Toppings: (3/5) Very good, thick pickles come with each order, but you have to buy coleslaw.

Sauce: (4/5) Two very unique sauces.

Bun: (4/5) The soft white bun did the job admirably.

Total Score: (18/25)

Barn & Company, 950 West Wrightwood Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map); 773-832-4000;‎

#5, tied: Chicago Q
#5, tied: Chicago Q

Meat: (6.5/10) Very tender and flavorful, but nearing the dreaded mushy territory. Plus, I couldn't pick up much smokiness.

Toppings: (4/5) Chicago Q excels here. Sandwiches come with tart pickled red onion and thick-cut pickles. Coleslaw adds crunch and acid.

Sauce: (3.5/5) Sauce works with the barbecue, but doesn't add much.

Bun: (3/5) Bun is soft, but slightly too big, adding too much bread to each bite.

Total Score: (17/25)

Chicago Q, 1160 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60610 (map); 312-642-1160;

#5, tied: Bub City
#5, tied: Bub City

Meat: (7/10) Even though there are some nice crispy bits of bark mixed in, the meat is texturally too soft. It does have a decent amount of smoke.

Toppings: (3.5/5) Coleslaw is so finely chopped it doesn't add much crunch, but it is very tart and also great on its own.

Sauce: (2/5) The Kansas City sauce is terribly sweet, so stay away. The Memphis is better, but still kind of tame.

Bun: (4.5/5) I fell for the extra-squishy bun.

Total Score: (17/25)

Bub City, 435 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60654 (map); 312-610-4200;‎

#7: The Pork Shoppe
#7: The Pork Shoppe

Meat: (8.5/10) It's immediately clear that this is very good stuff. Smoky, fatty, and flavorful.

Toppings: (2.5/5) The mayo-heavy coleslaw doesn't add much to the sandwich.

Sauce: (3.5/5) Decent, if not very distinctive.

Bun: (2/5) The bun isn't terrible, but was definitely subject to some poor execution. The top was way to thick, which lead the thin bottom to disintegrate.

Total Score: (16.5/25)

Pork Shoppe, 2755 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618 (map); 773-961-7654;

#8: Fat Willy's Rib Shack
#8: Fat Willy's Rib Shack

Meat: (8/10) This was the most untraditional of the bunch. You can tell the meat is brined, which leads to a very juicy bite. Still, I wish there was more smoke.

Toppings: (2/5) If the cabbage in the coleslaw was chopped any finer, it'd disintegrate into nothingness.

Sauce: (3/5) Decent stuff.

Bun: (3/5) I was worried about the ciabatta, but is nice and crisp on the outside, which lends a good crunch to each bite.

Total Score: (16/25)

Fat Willy's Rib Shack, 2416 West Schubert Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map); 773-782-1800;

#9: Honky Tonk BBQ
#9: Honky Tonk BBQ

Meat: (7/10) The meat has an obvious smoke ring and a good texture, but it's lean and under seasoned. I really wanted to like this more, but it just tasted a little bland.

Toppings: (3/5) The coleslaw is crisp but lacks acid or vinegar.

Sauce: (3.5/5) The tangy sauce is good, but I actually preferred the garlic mustard one.

Bun: (2/5) The ciabatta roll is unruly and oversized, leading to a dry sandwich.

Total Score: (15.5/25)

Honky Tonk BBQ, 1800 South Racine Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608 (map); 312-226-7427;‎

#10: Smoke Daddy
#10: Smoke Daddy

Meat: (6/10) It's very tender, but almost to the mushy point. Plus, it's really hard to distinguish due to the sauce.

Toppings: (3/5) The pickles are too thin, but the coleslaw is nice and crunchy.

Sauce: (1/5) It took a while to figure out why I disliked this so much, but then I realized that the sauce has liquid smoke in it. Sure, it bumps up the smoke flavor, but it also tastes artificial and chemically.

Bun: (4/5) Soft and sturdy.

Total Score: (14/25)

Smoke Daddy, 1804 West Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-772-6656;‎