This month, WNIJ is visiting favorite summer food destinations in northern Illinois. Our first top is a drive-in well known for a menu item that serves as a meal and as a social connection.
Located along Route 72 in Hampshire, the Chick-N-Dip resembles the classic small town drive-in. The exterior is covered with a stylish brick pattern you might have seen during a recent episode of Mad Men. At night, yellow light bulbs shine over customers as they place their order. Near the corner, a tall red sign in the shape of an arrow that simply reads ‘FOOD’ informs drivers they can park their car, walk two feet and satisfy their appetite.
At the Chick-N-Dip, you can get all the drive-in standards. But at this eatery, the bird is the word. Manager Justin Fulbright says the broasted chicken is their most popular item.
“We’ve been making broasted chicken since 58’, when we opened” Fulbright said.
Out in the small dining area, the chicken is being devoured by Bob and Judy Fischer of Elgin. They’ve been coming to the Chick-N-Dip for 30 years. They say their order never changes.
Judy jokes “We feel like oink, oink when we’re here!”
It’s not just outsiders who love the chicken. For locals, you could almost say its part of their religion. Manager Justin Fulbright says they see a lot of demand once church lets out on Sundays.
On any given day, he says the scene outside the front window is a mix of people hanging out and enjoying their food, and those eager to get their tasty chicken and bring it home.
Justin says while many customers hurry to their vehicles once they have their bag of goodies in hand, waiting in line gives them a chance to catch up with someone they know. That’s because running into an acquaintance is unavoidable at the Chick-N-Dip.
“There’s a lot of people who will walk up and get their food and see someone else. They’ll start talking, and then they’ll be talking to someone inside” Fulbright said.
John Kleberg of Hampshire gets chicken here at least once a month. He says he usually brings it home, but that’s not before he engages in a little chit-chat.
“It’s a small town, so you do notice the people that are from around here. And always, someone comes to the Chick-N-Dip, especially on a Friday and Saturday evening” Kleburg said.
In the midst of a heat wave, people are also enjoying the dipped ice cream cones. First time customer Pat Jarmis gives the thumbs up.
“It’s cold and cool. Works for me” Jarmis said.
Maybe in the months ahead, Pat will become another devoted fan of the broasted chicken.