Who: South Moon BBQ
What: Restaurant/”Mullet Room” emporium
Where: 100 E. Lincoln Hwy. (Route 30), Hinckley, IL, (815) 286-9227
South Moon BBQ in Hinckley, Illinois was on my radar from my story on Star Worlds Arcade (they were a sponsor of Star Worlds’ 30th anniversary party and Star Worlds’ owner supplies their games). After flash mobbing and briefly attending the Star Worlds anniversary party (it got pretty crowded), my manfriend and I were hungry and wanted some air. We punched South Moon’s address into the GPS and headed about 20 minutes south to Hinckley.
South Moon is easy to spot on the corner of Sycamore Street and Lincoln Highway. I mean Lincoln Highway as in Route 30. Coming from DeKalb, I know Lincoln Highway as Route 38 that takes you to the NIU campus. Apparently it starts at U.S. 30 to the east and the route between DeKalb and Hinckley is smack dab where Lincoln Highway shifts to Route 38.
So—fun facts! You’re here to hear about the barbecue, though. You order at the counter and the food is brought out to you. We decided to split “The Chuck,” which is every meat they have on one bun. It was as ridiculously huge as it sounds, maybe seven inches high. Obviously not conducive to eating sandwich style, we picked and poked with forks and knives. The meats included a bratwurst, brisket, pulled pork, pork chop, and chicken.
We availed ourselves of the many different sauces available on the side, which were also for sale to take home—Sweet St. Louis, Sweet Heat, Carolina Thin, Bad-Ass Brat Sauce and “Nitro.” The last one we had to ask for and got an, “Okay, if you think you can take it” from the waitress. Their website calls it Nitro, but I remember asking for ghost pepper sauce and the waitress knowing what we were talking about. At over 1,000,000 Scoville heat units, the ghost pepper, also known as Bhut Jolokia, is the third hottest pepper in the world. It was only knocked to number two in 2012 and number three in 2013.
My guess is it’s called ghost pepper because it haunts you and stays with you. It took maybe five big gulps of ice water to calm my tongue down again. When I say gulps, I mean I let the ice water just hang out in my mouth for a good minute or so before swallowing.
As far as the taste, I liked the pulled pork the best; hard to mess with slow-cooked pork. The bratwurst was good, too. Hate to say it, but the chicken and pork chop were a bit dry, though there’s plenty of sauce to go around. Maybe “The Chuck” is a bit too ambitious and tries to be everything to everyone. I’d probably do the pulled pork sandwich on a return trip. On the side we tried the fried potato salad smothered in a vinegar-y mustard sauce, which was quite good; I’m a fan of an assertive vinegar taste. I’m curious to try their mac and cheese. They had a great selection of craft beers, though we didn’t try any.
The space was very large and inviting, with indoor picnic tables, kitschy memorabilia on the walls, ‘80s music playing (I remember Journey’s “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”). My manfriend geeked out about the pinball as soon as we walked in, although the two up front were vintage games either out of order or out of commission. As promised, there was a game room a.k.a. “The Mullet Room” in the back. I assumed “The Mullet Room” was an under the breath kind of in-joke, but there was a sign saying “Welcome to The Mullet Room” right there on the wall. We played “The Simpsons” game which involves endless punching and jumping to save something for Maggie. There was a good selection of roughly 15-20 games including two pool tables. It was a spacious room and you paid with quarters rather than tokens. We didn’t stay too long as my manfriend used his ghost pepper trauma as an excuse to get ice cream at Dairy Joy down the street.
It wasn’t the best barbecue I’ve had but decent and definitely an inviting and comfortable atmosphere. It’s a fun, spacious (yet not cavernous) place for a big group with lots of tasty beers to sample and games to play, only about 20 minutes south of DeKalb.