Saturday, April 17, 2010

Del Rhea's Chicken Basket - Another Diners, Drive-In's, and Dives Restaurant Under My Belt!

I am currently in Chicago for my 30th class reunion.  Mom was going to cook dinner last night and I thought, lets find a restaurant that was on my favorite show Diner's, Drive-In's, and Dives.  I remembered seeing an episode about a diner that made some great fried chicken.  Del Rhea's Chicken Basket was the place and it turns out it was only 15 minutes from her house.

Del Rhea's Chicken Basket opened in 1946 out in the middle of nowhere.  It is located on the historic Route 66 in rural Hinsdale.  When the restaurant was constructed it was centrally located in the same area as a Greyhound bus hub and the old Hinsdale airport.  The restaurant has extra large windows on both side that allowed the patrons to watch the private planes take off and land.  With the construction of Interstate 55, the Chicken Basket's business suffered because no one could figure out how to get there.  Well, the patron's did finally find their way back and after 53 years they are still thriving.  Having Guy Fieri and the Diner's, Drive-In's and Dives show stop by for a visit certainly helped!
Their specialty is fried chicken.  This is no ordinary fried chicken though.  They sprinkle a heavy layer of salt over the chicken and let it rest .  Brining it so to speak.  After salting, the chicken is dipped in milk, then flour, and finally breadcrumbs.  The breadcrumbs are made especially for Del Rhea's since the 60's.  The breadcrumbs are extra fine so they do not make an overly breaded fried chicken.  Their other trick is that they deep-fry the chicken at 260 degrees for 20 minutes.  One would think that would make an extremely greasy final product but surprisingly, it is not.

The dinner also came with a soup and salad bar.  The house soup is chicken and dumpling and this could not taste more homemade.  It was delicious.  There were several salads on the bar that were in typical 50's/60's buffets.  They had a delicious creamy kidney bean salad and pickled beets that were very tasty as well.

So, if your in the Willowbrook/Hinsdale area, I would highly suggest a stop at Del Rhea's.  I have several Facebook friends from the area who have attested to the great food and service at Del Rhea's.  Thanks to Del Rhea's for some of the best fried chicken I have ever had!

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