- 251 N. Chicago St.
- Joliet, IL 60432
- (815) 727-1100
- No Known Website
- No Online Menu
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.