Rip's Tavern in Illinois for fried chicken-review
I think someone here mentioned this place previously. Here's a review of it by Pat Bruno in the Chicago Sun-Times from last week. I definitely have to try it! It's just a matter of convincing the wife and kids to join me for several hours of driving and 15 minutes of eating!
Destination: Starved Rock State Park. Food quest: Fried chicken.
Ladd, Ill. (population, 1,313), is not even on the road atlas I keep in my car. Take exit 70 (Spring Valley/Ladd) off Interstate 80, and drive a few miles north on Ill. Hwy. 89 until you come to a brick building with a line out the door and a big neon chicken in the window. The structure housing Rip's Chicken has recently been rebuilt, but Rip's goes back to 1936 (Rip's grandson runs the place).
Though some might call Rip's a chicken shack, there is a certain charm about this 100-plus-seat restaurant/tavern. Atmosphere aside, the deal here is the fried chicken, and if you can find any better fried chicken than this, let me know. I do know this: There's a good reason for that line out the door just about every weekend. This is fried chicken -- crunchy and crispy on the outside, moist and flavorful clear to the bone -- that you will drool over.
Have your mind made up when you get asked "Light or dark?" That's it, and "it" is delicious. The quarter chicken gets plopped atop and alongside a haystack of decent fries and a slice of Italian bread. Even though you get a fork, you will be licking your fingers. This is the best paper-plate eating you will find outside a church bake sale. It's three bucks for the dark chicken and $3.50 for the light. Sliced pickles, coleslaw and, when appropriate, "crumbs," which is the batter droppings from the chicken as it is being fried. Tip: If you want to avoid the weekend lines, try to get to Rip's before 7 p.m.
Rip's Tavern, 311 North Main, Ladd, Ill.; (815) 894-3051. Hours: Wednesday 4:40-10 p.m.; Thursday 5-9:30 p.m.; Friday 4:40-10 p.m. Saturday 4:40-11 p.m.; Sunday 2:40-10:30 p.m.