Questing through the southwest suburbs yesterday, I stumbled on Cole’s Choice, a bulletproof barbecue shack utilizing an aquarium-style smoker–always a good sign. Like many south-side and south-suburban joints (Lem’s, Barbara Ann’s), Cole’s decor is minimalist–two tables, a small fish tank inhabited by a single guppy, and a dry erase board scribbled with the ever popular John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . .) 

I ordered a link and mini tip combo, sauce on the side, for $9.75, which seemed steep until I opened it in the parking lot across the street–a huge boat of nicely charred (if a bit too cartilaginous) rib tips atop thick cut fries, next to an amazing sausage.

Though I tend to favor the coarse-ground variety of hot link you find at places like Uncle John’s and Lem’s I was impressed with this long, deep fried tube steak. The interior was finely ground, and though it was probably emulsified with more non-meat extenders than I’d like, it also had a powerful sagey note and a peppery bite. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it, but if anybody out there has, I’d be interested to hear about it.

Cole’s Choice Barbecue, 1746 W. 127th, Calumet Park IL, 708-597-2653