I never would have guessed that you can get a taste of Louisiana while sitting under the shadow of the Sears Tower, but one trip to Hecky's turned my whole concept of Chicago barbecue upside down. Hecky's has been dishing out ribs, pork, chicken and the like, all slathered in Hecky's special sauce, since 1983. And Hecky, the Chicago-bred son of a Creole mother, is good enough to hand all this stuff out at a price that's more than fair.
Real barbecue fans will head straight to the section of the menu titled slow-cooked fast food. Here, you can find barbecue done 10 different ways, with the time-tested champ of this portion being the barbecue ribs, priced at $17.99 for a full slab. Most of the larger meals, from the jumbo shrimp to the heaping plate of rib tips, range from $10-$20. You needn't look far to find quality meals for less, most notably the classic pulled pork sandwich and somewhat surprising tavern codfish plate, all which all register at less than $10. The hush puppies, fries and onion rings may disappoint your scale the next morning, but they taste darn good.
After the wait, ordinarily not more than a couple of minutes, a sparsely decorated dining room offers a nice backdrop for a lip-smacking bucket of fried chicken or a dripping pulled pork sandwich. The message from Hecky on the wall gives you a sense of comfort about where the money is going. But don't spend too much time browsing; the food awaits. You can order online via the website.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Patrick Corcoran