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All 6 Cairo Restaurants

Shemwell's Barbecue Downtown

1102 Washington Ave, Cairo, IL 62914-2048
(618) 734-0165
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Ranked #1 of 6 Restaurants in Cairo
Cuisines: Barbecue
Good for: Families with children, Local cuisine
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Local cuisine

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24 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2014

I've been coming to Shemwell's my whole life an I'm 70+. You don't come here for the atmosphere or the location. Cairo is not where you wan to be. We all come for the sandwich which is comprised of several pieces of sliced hickory smoked pork covered in tangy, non-sweet sauce between two slices of white Bunny bread. It's succulent... More 

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Decatur, Illinois
15 reviews 15 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2014

I travelled to Cairo to try Shemwell's BBQ after reading about it here. I was apprehensive that I wouldn't like it based on a few of the reviews. However, I loved it! They make a smoked pork shoulder sandwich on white bread with homemade sauce, then they toast it to perfection in a sandwich press. It is delicious!! It's a... More 

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Willow Hill
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2014

When my family pulled into the parking lot we did not know wether to go in or not. We all got the BBQ sandwich that was amazing but got different sides to share. Everything was good and well worth going in.

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Someset, KY
Top Contributor
110 reviews 110 reviews
85 restaurant reviews
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2014

Stopped at Shemwell's BBQ in Cairo, Illinois. Like most BBQ joints, its a hole in the wall place. Looks like its been there for decades. I ordered a pork sandwich. The girl that took my order went to the back room and I could hear an electric knife cutting away. To a BBQ purist, that's not a good sound (nor... More 

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Brandon, Florida
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2014

Grew up in Cairo back in the 70's. Best BBQ I've ever had! I live in FL now ..still looking for a better BBQ sandwich. : )

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2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2014 via mobile

Excellent BBQ and great service. We kept adding folks to our party and the waitress was very accommodating - we sang Happy Birthday to my niece and no complaints.....other patrons even joined in. Truly a gem. Live in Florida, so won't get back there very soon, but will definitely be back for that awesome BBQ!!!

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1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2014 via mobile

I've been all around the country and tried BBQ at just about every town I've been to and this the best. BBQ pork sandwich is the best. The sauce is the orange-vinegar based and is unrivaled. The ribs don't even need sauce. They are that good. Cairo is indeed a dump and this place is not eye pleasing but the... More 

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Hobbs, NM
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2013

I really just wanted to send a short note to the owner's and their parents and grandparents of Shemwell's. I would like to know if any of the family remembers the Hub Lounge on the corner of 12th and Washington Ave? My parents, Charlie and Edna Thompson owned and operated the business and we lived in an apartment above it.... More 

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West Chicago
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2013

We had just finished driving from Dallas to Pensacola Beach sampling food along the way. While this is not Mother's in New Orleans this was just about the best Q we had the entire way. Remember you are well south of that great "Southern" city of Louisville Ky. One word of warning, if decor affects how your food tastes don't... More 

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Iowa City
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2012

Localist, the fact she didn't use gloves to make your sandwich is the least of your problems. Have you ever eaten out before? If you have, I guarantee based on my considerable knowledge of kitchen help, you have been subjected to much worse and you didn't realize it at the time. The fact that Shemwell's is able to carry on... More 

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Additional Information about Shemwell's Barbecue Downtown

Address: 1102 Washington Ave, Cairo, IL 62914-2048
Phone Number: (618) 734-0165
Location: United States  >  Illinois (IL)  >  Cairo
Cuisine: Barbecue

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Typical questions asked:
  • Do you have gluten-free options?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Do you allow dogs on the outdoor patio?