Tucked away behind a gas station, off Harrison in Lakeview, Dixie Chicken & Ribs is a welcoming neighborhood spot with daily specials and heart-warming homemade meals. It’s the type of place that’s closed on Sundays, but you can still play your numbers on the Saints pool; the kind of place where most people don’t need a menu, and most people know somebody.
Breaking the rules
As a rule, if there is a food item in the name of the restaurant, you should order it. However, the menu at Dixie Chicken & Ribs is not nearly as simple as the sign would suggest. Its list of poboys is complete with classics like roast beef and unique offerings like veal cutlet.
The menu notes in more than one place that onion rings are not included as a side item pairing. Readers of this space should know messages like this are important. They’re communicating that the proper order is a full side for the table. This way, everyone can enjoy Dixie’s version of a classic—onion rings wonderfully fried, with a light, crunchy coating that also makes an appearance on the fried chicken.
Yes, they did put the paint on the sign for a reason. The ribs are slow-cooked before being finished on the grill and covered in a light and tangy BBQ sauce. The inside is juicy once you get through the crispy, caramelized exterior. The chicken comes in several different ways — all diligently prepared and often displayed at tables of large lunch groups that fill the dining area. You can get a half BBQ chicken finished on the grill and covered in the restaurant’s sauce, a manicured set of glazed baby back ribs accompanied by a quarter rotisserie with crisp skin, or a fried leg and thigh — all accompanied by two sides and a roll.
Dixie Chicken & Ribs rotates specials and vegetables of the day. I was lucky enough to go on dirty rice and creamed spinach day (I looked at their online menu). They were the perfect pair to go with my fried chicken and ribs. The dirty rice was seasoned well and not too heavy. The spinach was tender, not overcooked. This is what the restaurant can offer by not making everything every day. The simple menu and reliable rotation keep everything fresh and available. The specials are ‘specials’ for a reason, and they certainly are special at Dixie.
My Thursday lunch of tender veal Parmesan and a side salad is available the same day every week. However, specials often go unplanned. The first time I went in, the kitchen staff was cooking up some seafood gumbo for a customer (it’s unknown whether this person later attempted to pass it off as their own). When I returned on a rainy, into-your-bones-cold kinda day, our waitress let us know the kitchen made chicken noodle soup that morning.
The staff cares about their customers. You can feel it in the thick broth of the soup and see it on the faces of everyone eating. If you come to Dixie Chicken & Ribs looking for a home-cooked meal, there’s a chance you might receive even more than that. The soup was a surprise. I’ve never had better. It was so good, I called a to-go order later that night. My wife had been feeling sick, and I knew I couldn’t tell her that story truthfully and then ask her, empty-handed, what she wanted to eat for dinner.
Dixie Chicken & Ribs is like a holiday gift that is best shared, a place where the food and experience always provide the opportunity to enjoy yourself — whether it’s a quick bite during the workday or a meal with an old friend you might not see for a while, you’re covered.