Chicken-N-Spice – Joliet, IL

18 12 2008
  • 251 N. Chicago St.
  • Joliet, IL 60432
  • (815) 727-1100
  • No Known Website
  • No Online Menu
Chicken-N-Spice in downtown Joliet, IL

Chicken-N-Spice in downtown Joliet, IL

The biggest chicken breasts you’ll ever see.  That’s how I used to describe the chicken from my favorite chicken joint.  I went to school at the University of St. Francis in Joliet.  I wasn’t quite the foodie then that I am now.  When I ordered out, it was usually to Papa Johns or one of the other national chains.  I wish I knew then what I know now about food in the Chicago area.  I’m sure there are hundreds of places I missed out on.

Fortunately, one of the places I didn’t miss out on was a little chicken joint in downtown Joliet.  Chicken-N-Spice sits on Chicago Street near the ballpark, theater, and casino.  There’s not a lot of food options in downtown Joliet but as far as I’m concerned, there only needs to be one.

I was on my way to my parents how from DeKalb when I got the idea to detour to Joliet.  I was tired of paying tolls anyway and I was running out of cash.  I now owe the Illinois Toll Authority some money since they still have the change baskets on I-88.  Seriously, who carries $1.10 in change?   I thought they were doing away with all of those and didn’t bring enough home with me.  Instead of dealing with that, I got off  I-88 and made my way to Route 30 which would eventually take me into Joliet.

Chicken-N-Spice is the kind of place you look at and think twice about before going in.  It’s not a very inviting building.  It’s a small store that needs some work down to it.  The thing I always notice is that it’s constantly surrounded by Joliet PD, Will County Sheriff and a number of prisoner transport vehicles from surrounding counties.  For once, that’s not a bad thing.  Chicken-N-Spice is a gathering spot and if the cops eat there, it must be a good place.

There’s a small parking lot that runs from the side to the back of the building and it’s usually full.  I found a spot along the side and headed in.  The inside is about as unimpressive as the outside.  There’s a counter in the front and a number of booths and tables that look like they were salvaged from a 1970’s restaurant surplus auction. 

Chicken-N-Spice does a number of things.  Of course, you can get chicken in both mild and spicy.  They do beef and hot dogs.  They have a chicken creation they call “chunks” and potato wedges they call “jo-jo’s.”  When I was in college, I would alternate between chicken and Italian beef.  Since I haven’t been back in Joliet in a number of years, I wanted chicken. 

There was a sign for a 10 piece chicken for eight bucks, so that’s what I got.  I always choose the spicy.  Other places try to do spicy chicken, but no one does it like Chicken-N=Spice.  Like most chicken places, the chicken is already cooked and waiting to go, so it only took a couple minutes from the time I crawled out of my truck until the time I crawled back in.  The unfortunate thing was I was going to be teased by the smell of the chicken for another hour as I continued the drive back to my parents house in Iroquois County.

Once I got home, I had to fend off my parents.  Everyone I’ve taken there loves their chicken. I did end up giving my mom and wing and I offered a piece to my dad, but he turned it down…..for now.  My brother actually called me as I was coming into Joliet to see if I wanted to meet him in Kankakee for dinner later.  I told him I was going through Joliet and he knew exactly why I took a little bit of a detour.  The chicken is amazing. 

The breasts weren’t quite as big as I remember, but they still tasted the same.  The spice really comes through and punches you in the nose.  When you get the skin off, you can actually see a red tint in the meat from the chili pepper that they use.  The breading is some of the best I’ve ever had. 

If there’s anything at all I miss about my days in college, it’s Chicken-N-Spice.  I don’t remember why I went there for the first time, but whoever told me about it deserves a big hug.  Chicken-N-Spice is quite simply, the best chicken I’ve ever had.  The Colonel has nothing on this little joint in downtown Joliet.

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