Located on the original Route 66, Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket probably hasn't changed much since the historic road bypassed the restaurant in the 1960s. From the large red sign with neon lights to the highway-themed decor, this place couldn't get much more retro.
Walking through the doors is like taking a trip back in time. The wide-open rectangular dining room has carpeted floors and large windows with ceramic chicken knick-knacks covering the mantles. Though another door you'll find the no-frills Blue Rooster Lounge, serving booze and the same fried delights to a set of regulars. But there are fewer of them than there were before; since Route 66 changed, the restaurant finds itself in a much less accessible place, situated on a dead-end stretch of Joilet Road just north of Interstate 55.
The Chicken Basket is a good family place and a frequent stop for seniors who have been enjoying its fried foods for decades. But this isn't the kind of place you go if you're watching your weight. The deep fryer is definitely the tool of choice in the kitchen, churning out unhealthy doses of fried chicken and corn fritters. For $10, the chicken basket comes with four pieces, fries and homemade cole slaw. On weekdays, a $9 lunch buffet allows diners to try other goodies like chicken dumpling soup and fried catfish. There's also pizza and pasta, but why try that when you're at a place called the Chicken Basket?
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Jim Collins