Dickey's Barbecue Pit may have expanded into hundreds of franchises throughout the country since first opening in Dallas in 1941, but each restaurant's dedication to creating the best Texas-style smoked meats remains the same as the original's. Every new franchise goes through a training process called Barbecue U, where owners learn the ins and outs of food preparation and customer service as founder Travis Dickey practiced more than 70 years ago. And considering two of Travis's primary tenets were authenticity and barbecue sauce, it's not surprising that both of those things rank high on Barbecue U's curriculum.
Yet despite all these other points of focus, pit-smoked meats—from beef brisket to fall-off-the-bone pork ribs—are still the core of what makes Dickey's great. Because these tried-and-true staples never fail to keep customers coming back for more, Dickey's changes very little about its menu. In fact, the first major change in 50 years happened just recently: a spicy cheddar sausage intended to be a limited-time offering was so popular that it was inducted onto the menu permanently. Aside from that, Roland Dickey, Jr. (Travis's grandson) stays true to his family's original vision, aiming for a friendly, down-home ambiance where guests can help themselves to free extras such as buttered rolls, soft-serve ice cream, and breathable oxygen.
Twisted Root Burger Co. will satisfy your craving for classic burgers topped with all your favorite fixin's.
Vegans, fear not. Twisted Root Burger Co. is serving up healthy savory dishes you won't want to miss.
Take a peek at the drink menu here, and make sure to sample something off the list.
Save money on a sitter — kids are welcome to join the table at this burger joint.
Whether you have a large or small group, Twisted Root Burger Co. can accommodate both.
Twisted Root Burger Co. offers patio seating in the warmer months.
A tad noisy, the burger joint is well-suited for those who don't mind a little extra hustle and bustle.
Folks tend to dress down at Twisted Root Burger Co., so keep comfort in mind when heading to the burger joint.
You can also grab your grub to go.
Parking is provided in a nearby lot, so diners can easily walk to and from their cars.
Twisted Root Burger Co. offers outdoor bike racks for cyclists.
If breakfast isn't your thing, Twisted Root Burger Co. also serves lunch and dinner, so you can be sure to swing by at some point during the day.
Juicy burgers await your palette at Twisted Root Burger Co.. Don't wait another minute to have this glorious experience.
So when you're in the mood for a casual dining adventure, head to Twisted Root Burger Co. and try one of the tasty burgers.
For some of the best burgers in town, make your way over to the highly-rated Twisted Root Burger Co.
Score your next slice at DoubleDave's Pizzaworks — this joint has pizza-lovers dishing out cream of the crop reviews.
The gluten-free and low-fat fare at DoubleDave's Pizzaworks will leave you happy and full.
Grab the kids when you head to this pizzeria — its family-oriented menu and ambience are perfect for the whole clan.
The sound levels at the pizzeria can reach ear-splitting levels.
If you need to feed a big crowd, DoubleDave's Pizzaworks also offers catering services for parties and get-togethers.
Need a night in? Don't miss out on this pizzeria's delicious food — you can carry it out to eat at home or have them deliver it straight to you.
Parking by the pizzeria is a breeze, so feel free to bring your own set of wheels.
If pizza is your all-time favorite, it's important to find a pie that's worth your while. With star-studded reviews and sky-high ratings, there's no better way to spend your time than eating some 'za at DoubleDave's Pizzaworks.
Find out how many slices you can eat! DoubleDave's Pizzaworks' pizza comes with high ratings and a low-key vibe, so take your time enjoying your pie.
DoubleDave's Pizzaworks serves up great pieces of pizza in an even better atmosphere for entertaining you and your gang.
So grab a slice of pizza or two from DoubleDave's Pizzaworks and enjoy a great lunch or dinner.
Fans of Big Joe's Pizza and Pasta make every night "pizza night" — reviews prove that this Haslet Park hub sells steaming slices of five-star bliss.
Parents appreciate this pizzeria's kid-friendly attitude, and little ones are often seen dining out with the adults.
Big Joe's Pizza and Pasta is a prime location to dine with a group.
Meeting the gang for a movie? Pick up some food from this pizzeria.
At Big Joe's Pizza and Pasta, you can find ample parking that is readily available any time of day.
Your tab at Big Joe's Pizza and Pasta will generally run you about $30 per person.
Breakfast bites, light lunches, and delicious dinners are all offered at Big Joe's Pizza and Pasta.
If pizza is your all-time favorite, it's important to find a pie that's worth your while. With star-studded reviews and sky-high ratings, there's no better way to spend your time than eating some 'za at Big Joe's Pizza and Pasta.
Pizza lovers can't get enough of Big Joe's Pizza and Pasta where the ratings are as hot as the pies, so come on down for a quick slice or two.
Come spend a casual night out over a delicious pizza at Big Joe's Pizza and Pasta.
No matter what type of pizza you are craving, Big Joe's Pizza and Pasta has you covered.
Pop over to Bosses Pizza in Keller for some hop (and highly-acclaimed) 'za, and find out what everyone's been raving about.
Both the young and the young-at-heart will dig the family-oriented menu and ambience at this pizzeria.
The large dining space at Bosses Pizza provides quick and easy seating options for large groups.
Casual dining at its best, Bosses Pizza customers are free to enjoy themselves in jeans and a T-shirt.
Come in or stay home. This pizzeria's pickup and delivery options have you covered.
The parking lot near Bosses Pizza will have you in and out in a jiffy.
There's no need to bust your budget at Bosses Pizza, with most meals costing under $15.
Conveniently charge by major credit card when cash isn't an option.
Smothered in piping hot cheese and toppings of your choice, the pies at Bosses Pizza come highly recommended by pizza connoisseurs.
Find out how many slices you can eat! Bosses Pizza's pizza comes with high ratings and a low-key vibe, so take your time enjoying your pie.
For mouthwatering pizza in a casual setting, look no further than the highly-rated Bosses Pizza.
So gather up your friends and family and head on over to Bosses Pizza for a night filled with pizza and fun.
Have a relaxed night out at Tres Casas Mexican Grill, a local restaurant with homemade Mexican fare.
Little guys and gals will also love dining at this restaurant, which offers a family-friendly environment (and menu).
Wanna soak up the sun? Come grab a bite at Tres Casas Mexican Grill and sit out on their gorgeous patio.
Tres Casas Mexican Grill is a local restaurant that accommodates both large and small groups.
Throw on your favorite T-shirt and head out the door — dining at Tres Casas Mexican Grill is all about comfort.
For the tastes of Tres Casas Mexican Grill from the comfort of your next party, the restaurant also offers catering services.
No delivery needed. In and out for carryout.
Drivers can make use of the parking lots near Tres Casas Mexican Grill.
Tres Casas Mexican Grill offers parking for all diners, including those who travel by bike.
Tres Casas Mexican Grill dishes up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so stop by for your favorite meal.
So amp up your lunch hour and head over to Tres Casas Mexican Grill for a casual Mexican meal.
When it comes to Mexican cuisine, Tres Casas Mexican Grill has you covered. Visit the restaurant today and enjoy a tasty meal.
Siu mai: small pork dumplings. Each has a thin wrapper that needs to be delicately pleated by hand. Easily, they’re one of the most labor-intensive items at Phoenix Restaurant in Chicago, where each weekend this Chinese restaurant serves 80 different varieties of classic dim sum snacks.
This little fact about the siu mai is one of many surprising stories I learn from Eddy, the chef at Phoenix, where he also handles a million other tasks to keep the restaurant running smoothly. When I first came in, he was waving at a group of regulars while on the phone haggling with a seafood vendor.
“What we are serving in this restaurant is what we are eating in Hong Kong. ... It’s very typical,” Eddy says.
In 1996, Phoenix was one of the first restaurants to introduce dim sum to Chicago. Its customer base has grown over the years, and today, even with other dim sum restaurants up and down the block, you’ll find long lines winding out the door on any given Sunday.
Sound intimidating? It doesn't have to be.
Here's our guide to dim-sum dining, with a few tips from Eddy.
On the weekend: order dim sum off a cart
On weekends and special holidays, the wait staff winds traditional dim sum carts around tables, lifting lids off stacked steamer baskets to reveal the enticing contents. Should you see something you like, they leave the basket on your table and put a checkmark on your bill (it’s tallied at the end).
Phoenix is one of the only dim-sum restaurants in Chicago that still uses these carts. When I ask Eddy why they keep them, he says “tradition.” Not only to impress the tourists who come in, but also to let Chinese-American customers share this bit of culture with their kids.
Hot tip: if you want to experience the pushcarts without the crowds, head over on a Saturday, which tends to be less busy than Sundays, Eddy says.
On a weekday: order dim sum off the menu
Cartless weekdays offer a quiet, more peaceful atmosphere for ordering off the paper menu, which you can find near the hostess stand. Don't be intimidated—the menu has pictures; it has numbers; it has names written in both Chinese and English. And best of all, you need only point to what you want to have it brought out from the kitchen.
So what should you get?
“Everyone has their favorites,” Eddy says. The most popular dishes with Westerners are ha gao (shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (pork dumplings mentioned above). Kids gravitate toward the crunchy, easy-to-grip shrimp rolls and sweeter fare, from mango pudding (pictured above) to custard rolls.
Foreign travelers, especially those from Latin America, and adventurous eaters alike seem to love the chicken feet (pictured at bottom-right of top photo), a more exotic dish consisting of skin and tendons. While all these dishes are traditional, the chefs can tweak the recipes to accommodate for special diets or food allergies.
When diners are new to dim sum, Eddy encourages them to experiment. He’ll point out a few of the more popular dishes; if there’s something they don’t end up liking, it can easily be swapped out for something else. This way, by the second or third visit, diners will have a better idea of what they like.
And don't forget the tea
At dim sum, the tea is equally important to the food. Phoenix serves three different types: green tea, white tea, and brown tea. “Each one has its own usage,” Eddy says. While we talk, we drink jasmine tea, which is good for getting rid of toxins.
You can show your dim sum know-how by obeying proper tea etiquette. When your teapot is out of water, prop the lid off to the side. This signals to the wait staff that you need more hot water.
Eddy pours more tea and tells me to tap my fingers lightly against the table when the cup is nearly full. “When your friend or host fills your tea, this means ‘thank you’,” he says. “It’s part of the custom.”
Photos by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon
I had no idea what to expect upon arriving at Elizabeth, the Michelin Star winner from Chef Iliana Regan. But an unmarked, unremarkable storefront between a tire shop and a sporting-goods store certainly wasn’t it. With few exceptions (Schwa, most notably), Chicago’s upper-echelon restaurants boast exteriors that match their illustrious River North and Restaurant Row addresses.
But as it turns out, Regan has no taste for that sort of superficial flash. She dons no chef’s whites. She displays no awards. She does not raise her voice to the Gordon Ramsay–level roar or even the Rachael Ray-ish rollick that TV cameras eat up.
Instead, this northwest Indiana native quietly built her reputation as someone who hunts for frogs and spears them herself. Someone who has suffered tick bites and poison-ivy rashes foraging for wild flora. Someone who has penned an essay on intensity for Lucky Peach and once themed an Elizabeth tasting menu after those violent and visceral A Song of Ice and Fire novels.
So yeah, I was kinda terrified to eat her food.
I’d never done a tasting menu before. And I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a picky eater, but I’m not a particularly adventurous one either, particularly when it comes to meat. (I can barely look at plated octopus without shivering.) I’d heard that Regan once served edible ants. Which are, like, bugs.
My nerves were calmed upon walking into Elizabeth, though. Austere yet charming, the whitewashed space was accented by light fixtures made from bare tree branches; dining chairs draped with faux-fur slipcovers; a chef’s counter armed with Elder Scrolls and Vikings Funko Pop! dolls. It was all in support of the season’s menu theme: vikings.
There were two options: land or sea. Or, as the first in a delightful succession of servers explained it, “Imagine a viking ship has reached the shore. One group goes on land to look for food, the other into the sea.” My friend Erin and I opted to order one of each to share and, despite my trepidation of certain meats, placed no restrictions on what we would eat. (You can arrange for some allergies and dietary needs in advance.) We wanted to go all in.
After the amuse-bouche—a surprisingly complex roasted whey carrot dressed with goat’s-milk cheese and edible flowers—came our first courses. The land dish was … a bowl of rocks. The server assured me the top “rock” was actually a baked potato coated in edible clay. But it was very convincing as a rock, so I bit in with trepidation. As Erin ate the rest, dipping it into the cheese and butter puddings it was served with, I forked into her langoustine with lingonberries. (Pro tip: don’t try to tear off the claw without looking. You will stab your finger on a spine.) So far, so very good.
As the servers continued to weave their culinary narrative, I realized there was an unmentioned character in their tale—Elizabeth itself. The restaurant is small, seating about 16 or so, and the kitchen is wide open. It was impossible not to get caught up in what was happening back there, particularly when sous chefs were wielding brûlée torches and “plating” on gorgeous pieces of handmade pottery. And the line between front and back of house was practically nonexistent. One moment, you’d see someone in the kitchen stirring and slicing; the next they’d be presenting your next course or clearing your table. (Chef Regan included.)
This created an unexpected intimacy, one that removed any hesitation when asking about a particular dish. It’s clear the teammates take a deep yet quiet pride in their collective work. They spoke warmly about where ingredients came from, excitedly about the preparation techniques used. They always used “we” or “our,” never “me” or “Chef Regan.” (Again, Chef Regan included.)
Over the next few courses, there were so many charms. An herb-rolled, soft-boiled quail egg served in an actual nest; impossibly chewy seaweed bread darkened by squid ink; a cauliflower-mushroom soup that Erin about died over. I was particularly fond of a course called Barnyard: headcheese dusted with beet powder, paired with a collage of root vegetables and flavored puddings reminiscent of something out of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing.
And that’s the thing. Never in my life would I have thought that I’d be fond of headcheese. I would have probably never eaten it if it weren’t for this meal. But it was fun to break out of my culinary comfort zone.
The other surprising thing? How full we were, considering it was a tasting menu. By the time we were served the entree courses—rare lamb medallions wrapped in swiss chard and pickled fish in a sauce of its own bones—we were taking deep breaths between bites. I’m pretty sure they were the only two plates we didn’t completely clean.
We managed to buck up for our “one-and-a-half” dessert courses, as the server put it. (The “half” was a palate-cleansing sorbet.) Our favorite was Under the Sea, a spongy coral-seaweed cake so realistic looking it prompted me to ask the server just how much of it we could eat. “All of it,” she said. We complied.
Maybe, as a writer, I’m just a sucker for a good story. But I was enchanted by Elizabeth, both in backstory and in not knowing what was coming next throughout the culinary adventure. And while I probably won’t be buying headcheese any time soon, I’m excited to see what Chef Regan has up her non-chef’s-whites sleeves next season.
Shop Chef Iliana Regan's tasting-menu experience at Elizabeth Restaurant:
Watch her explain her approach to fine dining:
As useful as WD40 and much more edible, coconut oil is a powerhouse. In fact, just one jar of the stuff can replace several household staples, from kitchen ingredients to baby wipes. Here’s how to substitute it for 16 total items in 3 rooms of the home:
1. Coffee: Coconut oil is a reputed energy booster. Swallowing a spoonful or two in the afternoon can be a healthful alternative to a cuppa.2. Coffee creamer: Emulsified and poured into coffee, it’s much tastier than (and probably just as nutritious as) that bulletproof stuff.3. Butter or oil (when sautéing): Coconut oil’s high smoke point makes it great for cooking on the stovetop, especially at high heat. Try swapping it in when making stir-fries, scrambled eggs, or pancakes, especially if you like a very mild coconut flavor.4. Oil (when baking): The oil imparts a delicious je ne sais quoi to baked goods—even boxed ones. Use it to give from-the-box brownies an upgrade, and you’ll dream about them for days.5. Condiments: Drop it into quinoa or oatmeal for added nutrients and healthy fats. You can also put it on top of sweet potatoes instead of butter!
6. Moisturizer: It works on your body and your face. It’s naturally SPF 4, so it offers a bit of protection from UV rays, too.7. Leave-in conditioner and anti-static agent: Rub a small amount between your hands and smooth them over your hair to control flyaways.8. Lip balm: It soothes sore, chapped lips, and other skin irritations.9. Eye-makeup remover: Rub it between your fingers until it liquefies, smear it on your lids, and wipe it off with a cotton pad.10. Face wash: Add a little water and rub it in your hands until it foams.11. Hand and foot cream: Massage it into cracked knuckles, or slather it onto your soles and stick them into socks for an overnight soak.12. Shaving cream: It’ll give you a smooth shave, plus additional moisture for your skin.
13. Ouchie ointment: Dab it on cuts and scrapes, which will benefit from its antimicrobial properties.14. Anti-itch cream: Coconut oil reduces itching from bug bites, and helps to calm sunburn, eczema, and cradle cap.15. Diaper cream: A layer on baby’s bottom guards against (and soothes) diaper rash flare-ups.16. Baby wipes: Simply mix it with hot water and pour it over a stack of paper towels that you’ve cut in half. Keep the towels in an airtight container so they stay moist.
Check out more coconut-oil coverage:
Oil Pulling Whitens Your Teeth and (Maybe) Makes You Invincible
The Five Best Uses for Coconut Oil You’ve Never Heard Of