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Lillie's Q: reviewing Bucktown's home for Carolina-style BBQ

Lillie's full selection of all styles of sauces.
Lillie's full selection of all styles of sauces.by Costa Lapaseotes

Lillie's Q (1856 W. North Avenue) has become a staple of Bucktown's North Ave. corridor since it opened in 2010, but the meat is only part of the story. Inviting decor, craft beers, and a moonshine-stocked bar make Lillie's a fully-rounded hangout destination.

The atmosphere at Lillie's Q stands out immediately - its clean, precise, and carefully curated decorations and fixtures combine lo-fi trendiness and homey Southern-ness in a welcoming mis-en-scene of hardwood floors, Edison bulbs, and schoolhouse-metal chairs. Watching a game at the bar or spending a dinner with friends, it's easy and inviting, though more like a Southern bistro than a roadhouse barbecue joint.

The distinction between bistro and BBQ applies to the food as well. In true southern fashion, the ribs are pleasantly toothy and the pulled pork is moist, but the smoked meats as a whole are better as platforms for Lillie's excellent regionally inspired sauces than they are on left on their own.

Lillie's non-barbecue options are the real standouts. Fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and boiled peanuts lend a true lowlands texture to Lillie's menu, and their hot link (served on a lobster roll) is juicy, meaty, and easily among the city's best.

It's a treat to spend an afternoon sipping on Lillie's lemonade or a moonshine Bloody Lilly at this beautiful hardwood bar, drizzling Carolina Gold mustard sauce on pulled pork or smoky sausages. And at least once, a person should. Lillie's Q is more of a restaurant with barbecue options than it is a barbecue restaurant, but it is definitely a must-try for fans of inviting atmosphere, tangy Carolina pork and full flavored southern fare.