Sky Full of Bacon

Airwaves Full of Bacon 2: Texas BBQ Meets Filipino Food • Julia Kramer on Life as an Anonymous Food Critic • Foodie Parents and Kids: My Story

Texas BBQ Meets Filipino Food • Julia Kramer on Life as an Anonymous Food Critic • Foodie Parents and Kids: My Story



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It’s back: the Chicago podcast about food and food media. Here’s what I talk about (and with who) in episode 2:


First up, I talk to Joaquin Soler, chef and co-owner of Smalls Smoke Shack & More, a tiny BBQ place which I predict is going to be huge any second now— in attention and lines out the door, if not physical space. Soler and his partner Dan Scesnewitz had the Brown Bag Lunch Truck and refined their BBQ there, so this is the rare BBQ opening with no learning curve. The other cool thing about it is that Soler, who’s Filipino-American, makes Asian-tinged sides which are a great alternative to the usual fries-and-cole-slaw BBQ model. Here’s pulled pork (which is fantastic) with elotes and sugar snap peas:


and they also do great fried chicken, not as armor-plated as many deep-fried chicken offerings because of the two-step method they use to keep it crispy, which Soler learned from his mom:


The barbecue comes out of this tiny Southern Pride smoker, but they’re already looking at where to stick a bigger one in their tiny location at 4009 N. Albany:




How much do I love this place? Well, I ate lunch with my kids there one day, and went back the next to interview them— and at the end of it, bought $45 worth of smoked meat from them to bring home for the 4th of July. The only thing I think some people are going to hold against it is that the sauces that come with the meat don’t match the usual BBQ profile; the brisket comes with a “tiger cry” sauce, a spicy-sweet vinegar dip, while the pulled pork comes with a mustard-bacon sauce. Both sauces have some precedent in the BBQ world (mainly in places like North Carolina) but I have to admit I broke out the Famous Dave’s sauce, my standard supermarket-available BBQ sauce, when it came to eating the stuff at home.

At the end, we talk a little about other Filipino restaurants so here are some links to help you find them; here’s Merla’s Kitchen, Michael Nagrant did a nice review for Isla Pilipina here, and I wrote about Pecking Order at Grub Street here.

Next I talk with Julia Kramer, Time Out Chicago food critic who has since moved on to Bon Appetit, about life as an anonymous reviewer. We met for lunch at Chill Cafe— which I wrote more extensively about here:


Chill Cafe is at 2949 N. Belmont, but as noted in that thread, it’s not necessarily easy to spot, so look for the storefront shown in my earlier post.

Finally, a couple of months back I read a story at a storytelling event put on by 2nd Story and Fete Chicago at Ina’s Restaurant. You’ll hear that, about my adventures in food with my kids in tow, too.


2nd Story posted Ina’s story from the same event as a podcast; listen to it here. And after you’ve listened to mine, you can compare how I shaped the stories dramatically in 2013 to how I recorded them way back when they happened at various food sites; here’s The Pharaoh’s, here’s Himalayan (though I think the “red chicken” story came from a later visit), and here’s Brothers Coffee.

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