Smile Politely

My go-to orders at six barbecue places around town

A pulled pork sandwich with sauce in a paper basket.
Pulled pork sandwich at Wood N’ Hog; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Huzzah, National Barbecue Day is tomorrow, May 16th. Thankfully, we have a lot of barbecue options in Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, and beyond. Our local barbecue joints offer different takes on American barbecue, each with special barbecue sauces and unique barbecue sides. I have two favorite spots in town for burnt ends, two favorites for a saucy barbecue pork sandwich, and two spots that pair yummy pie with barbecue.

For some inspo on what to eat this blessed National Barbecue Day, here are my go-to orders at six local barbecue restaurants.

Black Dog barbecue burnt ends
Burnt ends at Black Dog; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Burnt ends, twice-baked potato casserole, and extra sauces ︱  Black Dog

This whole town loves the burnt ends at Black Dog, and I do, too. The burnt ends come from the point side of Black Dog’s 12-hour, slow-smoked brisket, and the thick slices are so tender with a fatty ribbon and delicious, smoky flavor. Here, I always add a side of twice-baked potato casserole and extra sauce. All ten house-made barbecue sauces are good, but I’m partial to the Lexington, Georgia peach, and Alabama white. Black Dog has a flawless takeout game, but dining in at the Champaign location is great. They have booths, tables, bar seating, and a covered porch. See the full menu and online ordering here.

On a metal tray lined with red paper, chopped brisket is uneaten.
Burnt ends at Smoky’s House BBQ; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Burnt ends, cornbread, and beans ︱  Smoky’s House BBQ

In the same plaza as Schnucks of Savoy, Smoky’s House BBQ also offers delicious burnt ends. These bite-sized chops of house-smoked brisket are so good that I basically can’t order anything else here. And if my husband wants burnt ends, too? Oh, we have to order two because I’m not sharing these burnt ends. Smoky’s cornbread is a must, and the beans, too. Which ones? Both. The pit beans are great, but the fresh beans side is outstanding: charred green beans tossed in barbecue sauce with bits of brisket. Smoky’s House has a big dining room with booths and tables that can accomodate large parties. See the restaurant’s website and online ordering here.

In two paper baskets, there is a side of fried chicken wings over fries and in the other, a pulled pork sandwich with a side of fries. On the side of each, there are two styrofoam cups, one with coleslaw and the other with a brown sauce.
Pulled pork sandwich + My Girlfriend’s Not Hungry side at Wood N’ Hog; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Pulled pork sandwich, saucy fries, and My Girlfriend Isn’t Hungry ︱  Wood N’ Hog

Wood N’ Hog’s pulled pork sandwich is everything I want in a pulled pork sandwich: a messy pile of pulled pork tossed in a yummy barbecue sauce. Though there’s a mild version, Wood N’ Hog‘s mix sauce adds a punch of spiciness, and I’m in heaven every time I eat it on the pulled pork sandwich. Fries come included in the $8.99 price and straight up covered in barbecue sauce. Picky people can ask for sauce on the side, but I am in love with Wood N’ Hog’s saucy fries. They remind me of cheese fries but instead of cheese, it’s hot, zingy-sweet barbecue sauce. If I’m not alone, I add the side of My Girlfriend Isn’t Hungry (two wings and a side of fries) to satisfy any fry-snatchers nearby. See Wood N’ Hog’s full menu online.

Two barbecue sandwiches unwrapped in tin foil beside fries.
Pork sandwich and beef brisket sandwich at Li’l Porgy’s; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Pork and brisket sandwiches and a pickle ︱  Li’l Porgy’s

The small barbecue joint on Springfield Avenue in Champaign L’il Porgy’s has served hickory-smoked barbecue in C-U for 45 years. A favorite since 1979, Li’l Porgy’s originally opened in Urbana (where Wood N’ Hog is) before closing in 2019 to move to Champaign. The place is still worth the hype. I love Li’l Porgy’s sliced pork sandwich so much and the fact that it (and every sandwich here) comes with fries and costs only $7.75 — except the Whoa Nelly sando, $8.75. Served on long, seeded buns, the pork and beef brisket sandwiches are tasty bites of Kansas-City barbecue, but it really is their special, secret sauce that makes Li’l Porgy’s barbecue so amazing. Pair the hot food with a cold, 15 cent pickle spear. L’il Porgy’s has no online ordering; it’s a first-come, first-served, wait-in-line situation. But the food comes out quick and delicious. Check out their website here.

On a metal tray lined with brown parchment paper, there are saucy ribs witha side of fries and two styrofoam coffee cups of beans and coleslaw.
Ribs at Sooie Bros Bar-B-Q; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Ribs and Pie ︱  Sooie Bros Bar-B-Que

The newest barbecue restaurant in Champaign-Urbana is Sooie Bros Bar B Que, which opened first in 2022 in North Champaign before moving to their current location at the corner of Neil and Kirby. If I’m at Sooie Bros, I’m getting the smoked ribs. They’re huge and so meaty! These delicious ribs come sauced in Sooie’s sweet, peppery, sticky glaze, and I love how well it balances the meat’s barbecued smoky flavor. Save room for the bourbon butter pecan cheesecake because it’s so freaking good. The vanilla cheesecake has a silky smooth texture with a hint of bourbon, a buttery graham cracker crust, a garnish of crushed pecans, and a drizzle of caramel syrup. Order in person and dine in here at one of tables in the center of or a barstool along the windows with a cool, elevated view of Neil Street. For more about the restaurant, check out Sooie Bros Bar-B-Que on Facebook.

An order of wings from Po' Boys restaurant in Urbana, Illinois. Photo by Alyssa Buckley
Smoked chicken wings at Po’ Boys; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Wings and Pie ︱  Po’ Boys

Last but not least is Po’ Boys restaurant. Another place that’s been around for a long time, Po’ Boys first opened in Champaign in 1953, closed in 2006, reopened in 2009 in a new space, and is now celebrating 15 years at that Urbana location. When I want barbecue at Po’ Boys, I’m getting the smoked chicken wings. I love everything about these wings: the seasoning, the char, the smokiness, and that fantastically tangy barbecue sauce. Because of the slow-smoke on the wings, the chicken has a delicious smoky, barbecue flavor, and the meat falls right off the bone. It is an actual crime to eat at Po’ Boys without getting the pie, so be sure to add a slice (or a whole pie). Po’ Boys has an in-house pie-maker who whips up fresh pies in several flavors. All are good, but I’m utterly obsessed with the double chocolate pie (ahem). Po’ Boys has indoor and outdoor dining in addition to takeout. Order online or visit the restaurant’s website here.

Now, I need to know: What’s your go-to barbecue order in Champaign County? Share in the comments on our socials or send us an email.

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