While Chicago is mainly known for deep dish pizza, skyscrapers, and the Magnificent Mile, Pitmasters in the area are here to ensure the “Windy City” is also known for – you guessed it – BBQ.
The name “Windy City” has been shown to date as far back as the late 1800s. No one really knows exactly why Chicago earned the nickname, but there are a few folklores that seem sound. Most believe “Windy City” has a double meaning, the first being the way the chilly and powerful breeze from Lake Michigan tunnels through the city streets. The second reason is attributed to politicians and residents being “full of hot air,” or rather a jab at the boastful attitudes of the Chicagoans.
If the legend is accurate, then in true Windy City style, Pitmasters across Chicago and its suburbs gather each year to establish their legendary status, on par with other signature BBQ areas like Texas, North Carolina, Memphis, and Kansas City. This collection of Pitmasters doubles as the city’s largest country music festival: Windy City Smokeout.
Verano at Windy City Smokeout
BBQ and music collide at Windy City Smokeout, a four-day festival offering an unparalleled way to view the city and explore local eats. As lovers of all things local, and all things BBQ, we Verano had to sink our teeth into this event.
We came to the event for the first time as WCS’s first-ever cannabis sponsor, and your support and engagement blew us away. From relaxing and vibing, snapping pictures, entering giveaways, and – the highlight – smoking out at WCS, you transformed CAMP VERANO into a cannabis community and the place to be throughout the event.
Take a look at our favorite highlights from the 4-day festival:
What is Windy City Smokeout?
The Windy City Smokeout is an annual celebration that started in 2013 with humble beginnings under an overpass in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. The festivities include BBQ, country music, and good brews. Expect to see quite a few fellow country music fans, being that this festival is host to some of the biggest in the industry and has been attended by as many as 13,000+.
“Smokeout” with an elevated experience that includes events like:
- Concerts throughout the day from big names like Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Turnpike Troubadours, Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore, and Sam Hunt.
- The Biggest Happy Hours of the Summer, hosted Thursday and Friday from 2PM – 5PM by Mamitas, featuring $6 domestic beers and $7 craft beers. Access to the event is included with your Thursday, Friday or 4-day pass.
- All-You-Can-Eat BBQ Brunch leaves nothing to imagination – all you can eat BBQ with mimosas, bloody marys, and a special bacon bar on Sunday from 11:30AM – 1PM. This is a ticketed event, so be sure to snag one!
The event is completely cashless, so be sure to register your debit or credit card with your commemorative Windy City Smokeout bracelet.
Meet the Windy City Smokeout 2022 musician lineup
What would BBQ be without country music playing in the background? From legends like Willie Nelson to R&B-infused country beats by up-and-coming artist Tiera Kennedy, there is a little something for everyone at Windy City Smokeout.
Willie Nelson and Family
The legend himself is the backbone of the creative and classic band Willie Nelson and Family anticipated by many in the Windy City. With a career that spans seven decades, there will be no shortage of tunes to sing along to. Get ready for a once in a lifetime show along with some once in a lifetime BBQ with Willie Nelson and Family.
Hear the legend Thursday, August 4th at 9:00 PM – but Willie and Family are not the day’s sole performer:
- Morgan Wade – 4:00 PM
- Zach Bryan – 5:15 PM
- Turnpike Troubadours – 7:00 PM
As one of the biggest touring artists in the history of country music, Tim McGraw puts on a show like no other. He has a unique array of achievements and accolades that span 43 number one hit singles and 16 number one albums. Whether you’re there to hear him croon “Just to See You Smile” or rock out to “I Like It, I Love it,” Tim McGraw is not a show you’ll want to miss.
Sing along with Tim McGraw Friday, August 5th at 8:30 PM. Be sure to also catch:
- Shelby Darrall – 3:10 PM
- Tiera Kennedy – 4:10 PM
- Niko Moon – 5:20 PM
- Russell Dickerson – 6:45 PM
Making his debut in 2014 with Montevallo, Sam Hunt is an artist with diverse influences in his music that include soulful country, R&B and hip-hop. This culmination has led to top hits like “House Party,” “Take Your Time,” and his most recent drop, “Water Under The Bridge.” This millennial musical innovator has feel-good favorites perfect for a concert at any time, but especially summer in the Windy City.
You can catch him at 8:30 PM on Saturday, August 6th with daytime performers including:
- Lily Rose – 4:20 PM
- Mackenzie Porter – 5:35 PM
- Jordan Davis – 6:45 PM
Texan native Miranda Lambert is a country music superstar with seven consecutive number one albums and over 70 awards. Her thrilling music, a marriage of rock and country, catapulted her to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, as well as the honor of being Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Artist in Residence, the youngest person ever to do so.
Jam with Miranda Sunday, August 7th at 8:00 PM, but be sure to also catch:
- Mike and the Moonpies – 3:00 PM
- Flatland Cavalry – 4:30 PM
- Kip Moore – 6:15 PM
Meet the Chicago Pitmasters
From Plainfield to Evanston there is no shortage of barbecue in the Windy City. We rounded up the local Pitmasters that hope to further solidify their name in BBQ history by showcasing the best of their menus in the top BBQ showcase in the Midwest. Each of the restaurants and dishes below are available for purchase at Windy City Smokeout 2022 – get your cashless bracelet loaded and ready:
Located on the corner of N Clark and W Hubbard in the River North area of Chicago, Bub City is known for its weekend brunch menu, whiskey selection, country music shows, and their house-smoked barbeque. Whether it’s 11 AM or 11 PM, Bub City has the smoked meat needed to beat your BBQ craving. Bub City will be showcasing their fan-favorite BBQ Pork Nachos, Prime Brisket, Mac n’ Cheesy, and Dirty Mac n’ Cheesy.
Green Street Smoked Meat
Green Street Smoked Meat is a warehouse-style restaurant tucked down a paved alley in the Chicago West Loop area on N Green. Aiming to bring Texas-style BBQ to the Chicago area, Green Street has a backyard barbeque menu true to the Lone Star State of ordering your meat by the ½ lb., your buns by the package. Smoked meats are nothing without the fixings, of course, which include spicy pickles, coleslaw and potato salad. Green Street Smoked Meat will be showcasing their Smoked Pastrami, Giardiniera Smoked Sausage, and Elote-style Corn.
Named “Best New BBQ Restaurant in the Country” by Food and Wine magazine, Lillie Q’s is no stranger to competition or the accolades that come with it. Located on N Ashland Ave, Lillie’s Q features southern-style BBQ brought to the north by Chef Charlie McKenna. Grandma Lillie’s recipes are the foundation of Lillie Q’s, crafted to elevate classic southern fares, like Grandma Lillie’s famous bread pudding. Lillie’s Q will be competing with Walkin’ Pulled Pork Taco with Pimento Cheese, Brisket Chili, Potato Salad, and Hot Pepper Vinegar Kettle Chips.
Pearl’s Southern Comfort
Named after owner Danny Beck’s grandmother, Pearl’s Southern Comfort is a bit of New Orleans in Chicago, specifically Edgewater on N Broadway. The Cajun and Creole-inspired BBQ of Pearl’s has the ability to transport your mouth miles and miles away with a single bite of dishes like Creole Cornbread, smoked chicken gumbo, and New Orleans BBQ shrimp. Wings, too, are a staple item, and perhaps their speciality – Pearl’s Southern Comfort is featuring their top-rated dishes: Parmesan Garlic Wings, Dry Nashville Wings, and Spicy Ranch Wings.
Cooked up by 5 guys passionate about barbeque, Smoque BBQ has garnered many followers not only from Chicago and across the country. Located in the Old Irving Park neighborhood right off N Pulaski, Smoque has crafted scratch rubs, sauces, and sides to enhance their delicious smoked meats. You can bet there is a lot of work and love that goes into creating dishes like their southern style smoked brisket, ribs, and pulled pork. Smoque BBQ is tantalizing tummies with dishes like their Texas-style Spareribs, Smoked Chili Dog with Pimento Cheese and Candied Jalapeños, and Cheddar Scallion Biscuits.
Soul & Smoke
With a gourmet approach to BBQ, legendary Chef D’Andre Carter turned his obsession with smoked meats into Soul and Smoke, a restaurant that spans three locations across Chicago and its suburbs. This Windy City native has created a menu of comfort food from the heart that has soul food favorites like gumbo, and smoked options that you can get in the form of a dinner, sandwich, or for the extra hungry, by the pound. Chef D’Andre Carter is showcasing their most popular dishes: Smoked Rib Tips with Original BBQ Sauce, Smoked ‘Nduja Hot Link with Carolina Gold Sauce, and Cajun Grilled Elote with Pimento Cheese and Fresh Herbs.
Station One Smokehouse
When you come from a family of butchers, you could almost say good meat runs through your blood. Owner and Chef of Station One Smokehouse Brad has been part of the barbeque community since discovering his love for Texas-style meats. Located in Plainfield on S Des Plaines St, Station One offers meats by the ½ pound – including chopped brisket and pastrami – in addition to delicious sides like loaded baked potatoes, elote corn, and collard greens. Chef Brad is offering delectable dishes Lemongrass-glazed Pork Belly, Beef Short Rib Bahn Xoe, and Fried Brussels Sprouts.
Frequently asked questions about Windy City Smokeout 2022
Now that you know what kind of BBQ you can expect from the local Pitmasters, let’s dive into all the questions you may have about this premier “Smokeout” in the Windy City.
How do I find Windy City Smokeout 2022 tickets?
Tickets can be purchased on the Windy City Smokeout website. The ticket options can be purchased for an individual day of the festival or as a four-day pass, at levels:
- General Admission, which includes in-and-out of the festival privileges as well as a commemorative bracelet that allows you to roam the event cash-free
- VIP (Thursday and 4-day passes sold out), an elevated experience with an elevated view, air-conditioned bathrooms, a private cash bar, and a Windy City gift.
- SUPER VIP (4-day passes sold out), a deluxe experience with an upper deck, private view of the show, charging stations for your cell phone, VIP parking with golf cart shuttle service, air-conditioned restrooms, and more.
You can also win tickets, complements of Verano and Zen Leaf Dispensaries. Be sure you’re following on social for your chance!
What’s the cost to attend Windy City Smokeout?
Tickets range in price by day and by tier (note, prices are before applicable fees and taxes) –
4-day Pass: $184.95
Friday, Saturday: $350
4-day Passes: $1,100
Friday, 4-day Passes: SOLD OUT
What is the Windy City Smokeout 2022 lineup?
The Windy City Smokeout 2022 is chopped-full, much like your bowl of smoked meats, of delicious eats and fantastic shows, including:
Thursday, August 4th
Headliner Willie Nelson, in addition to artists Turnpike Troubadours, Zach Bryan, Morgan Wade
Friday, August 5th
Headliner Tim McGraw, as well as artists Russell Dickerson, Niko Moon, Tiera Kennedy, Shelby Darrall
Saturday, August 6th
Headliner Sam Hunt, in addition to artists Jordan Davis, Mackenzie Porter, Lily Rose
Sunday, August 7th
Headliner Miranda Lambert, with additional artists including Kip Moore, Flatland Cavalry, Mike and the Moonpies
Do I need to have the COVID-19 vaccine for Windy City Smokeout 2002?
No, proof of vaccination, negative tests, and masks are not required to attend Windy City Smokeout. Enjoy the music, BBQ, and outdoors safely!
Are there any local Chicago eats other than BBQ?
There are! Get your taco fix with Federales or Tall Boy Taco; wet your palette at Three Dots and a Dash cocktails or cool down with Pretty Cool Ice Cream gourmet pops. Other eats include Shappy Pretzel Co., Summer House Santa Monica desserts and treats as well as their popular Summer House Rosé, Café Ba-Ba-Reeba Sangria, and The Duck Inn Gourmet Hot Dogs.
See you at Windy City Smokeout
Getting “smoked out” this August is as easy as heading to the Windy City Smokeout. From country music’s most influential artists to Chicago’s best smoked barbeque, there is something to taste for everyone.
We’re incredibly excited to be a sponsor of Windy City Smokeout 2022, so much so that we’re giving away THREE sets of 4-day General Admission passes. Be sure to follow Zen Leaf and Verano for details, and visit AND visit Zen Leaf stores across Illinois for your shot at a pair. We can’t wait to see all your smiling faces covered in BBQ sauce at CAMP VERANO!
*This post was originally published July 27, 2022. It was updated August 9, 2022 to include images from the event.