Boxcar Betty's (which has two locationsat Ogilvie Transportation Center, 500 W. Madison St.; and in Bucktown, at 1856 W. North Ave.) is among many Chicago restaurants to bring a taste of the South to the city.
The fast-casual spotso-called because the original Charleston, South Carolina, location was supposed to be near a rail yard, according to owner Abbott Smithalso brings plaudits. Among other things, Boxcar Betty's has been named the best fried chicken in South Carolina by Southern Living, and USA Today has named it one of the top 20 best chicken-focused restaurants in the country.
The Bucktown spot, which formerly housed Lillie Q's, is bright and actually has a down-home, laid-back vibemuch like Smith. (Random fact: Smith is one of a set of identical triplets, but he's the only one involved in this aspect of the restaurant business.) There are various signs throughout the place that showcase Boxcar Betty's honors and qualities; there's one sign that reads "Eat food, not drugs"a nod to the antibiotic-free chicken the spot uses.
And as for the food itself? Well, there's a reason Boxcar Betty's has garnered all this praise. The Boxcarfried chicken with an unlikely combo of pimiento cheese, peach slaw, house pickles and spicy mayois an absolute dream, especially when coupled with crisp, hand-cut fries. (There are also grilled chicken and portobello options for those who are vegetarian or more health-conscious.)
However, the Boxcar certainly isn't the only sandwich style that's available. There are the Chicken "Not So Waffle" (with bacon jam, maple syrup, pimiento cheese and tomato); Buffalo (spicy, with blue-cheese sauce, tomato and bibb lettuce); and The Betty (the standard, with lettuce, tomato, mayo and pickles). All of these can also have fried chicken, grilled chicken or portobello as the protein.
Other sides include sweet-potato fries, fried pickles with ranch, fried pickled green tomatoes, chicken nuggets and peach slaw. And don't forget that Southern drink option: sweet teaalthough the unsweetened option is also there.
By the way, there's also a (Southern-themed) dessert that you must try: Pecan Pie in a Cup. A mix of ice cream and pecans with sweet caramel on the bottom, this item will have you forsaking diet for a least one meal.
Note: This visit was arranged.