Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket

Willowbrook, Illinois

IllinoisDining

Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket is an iconic Route 66 restaurant in Willowbrook, Illinois. Located just off of historic Route 66 (now Interstate 55 (I-55)), this chicken joint has been serving fried chicken to travelers and locals since the 1930s.

In the late 1930s/early 1940s Ervin ‘Irv’ Kolarik started selling chicken sandwiches at a gas station. One day he was complaining that he was tired of running the gas station and wished he could focus on just running the lunch counter. Two local farm women overheard his conversation and offered up their secret fried chicken recipe in exchange for the promise that he would buy his chicken from them.

An agreement was made and The Chicken Basket (at one time National Chicken Basket) was born! The chicken was so good that it became an instant success. Kolarik had to make more room for customers so he converted the gas station’s garage bays into dining rooms and, later, bought the adjacent property in order to build the full-service restaurant that stands today.

The present-day Chicken Basket was opened in 1946 and it saw continued success do to its proximity to Chicago, location on the famous Route 66, and designation as a bus stop on the Bluebird Coach Lines bus route. Travelers from across the country would stop at in to get their “chicks” on Route 66.

Unfortunately, business took a hit in the 1950s when the Interstate Highway System forced roads to reroute onto superhighways, like nearby I-55. With a loss of customers, Dell Rhea and his wife, Grace were able to scoop up the business for a bargain in 1963. Dell was a popular guy and was able to use his reputation to bring customers back to the Chicken Basket.

Nowadays, with a resurgence of love for the famous route, The Chicken Basket is doing better than ever, serving up 2,000 pounds of chicken every week. The restaurant was inducted in the Route 66 Hall of Fame in June of 1992 and was chosen as “The Best Fried Chicken in the Chicagoland Area” by the Chicago Sun Times in 1993, was placed on The National Register of Historic Places in May of 2006, and was featured Food Network’s on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in 2009.

Today, Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket is a popular spot for locals, travelers, and Route 66 fans. And their delicious chicken is still the main draw. With their tagline “get your chicks on Route 66,” it’s no wonder the specialty at Dell Rhea’s is their chicken. Yes, you can order a hamburger or fish, but the chicken is where it’s at. They serve chicken wings, chicken pot pie, chicken marsala, chicken tenders, chicken livers, chicken sandwiches, and roasted chicken. But, above all else, they are most known for their fried chicken.

You can order the Famous Fried Chicken in a Basket and get a half fried chicken, French fries, homemade cole slaw and freshly baked biscuits. Or you can order the Famous Fried Chicken Dinner and get mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade biscuits and a trip to the soup and salad bar.

Either way, you can’t go wrong. The plump chicken is juicy and succulent on the inside and has a crispy crunchy batter on the outside. It’s marinated in salt for 24 hours before cooking and then breaded in flour, milk, and a special breadcrumb mix.

And don’t skip dessert! With a wide selection of everything from key lime pie to a Dreamsicle Float to a Chocolate Brownie Sundae to a Fried Blueberry Pie, it’s a sweet way to end your trip to Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket and to start your journey on Route 66!

Last modified: April 21, 2024
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Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois Route 66 Restaurant

Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket

5 based on 1 reviews

Address:
645 Joliet Rd, Willowbrook, IL 60527

Hours:
11am-9pm, Daily

Cost:
$$

Phone Number:
(630) 325-0780

Official Website

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Photos of Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois

Neon sign at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois Route 66 Restaurant
Fried chicken dinner at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois Route 66 Restaurant
Fried chicken dinner at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois Route 66 Restaurant
Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois Route 66 Restaurant
Fried pie at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois Route 66 Restaurant
Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois Route 66 Restaurant

Know Before You Go

To make the most of your visit to Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, Illinois, here are some things to know before you go.

  • Stopping for lunch? In addition to their regular menu Dell Rhea’s also offers a lunch buffet offering soups, salads, fried chicken, pizza, rotating entrees, and desserts. Available Monday-Friday, 11:15am-2pm.
  • Look for specials and special events, like car shows and entertainers.
  • You can now find an Interactive Shield sign with a 66 out front, perfect for road trip selfies!

Where to Stay Near Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket

Complete your travel itinerary and get a good night’s rest after a good meal with a stay at one of these Illinois Route 66 hotels.

Cindy Lyn Motel

If you’re driving Route 66 in Illinois you’ll probably be spending your first (or last) night in Chicago. But if you’re looking for something outside of the city and a little closer to Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket, Cindy Lyn Motel is a solid choice. The Cindy Lyn Motel opened on Route 66 in 1960 and has been known as the “last motel before the city” for more than 50 years.

Congress Plaza Hotel

Located near the start of Route 66, the Congress Plaza Hotel has been in operation since 1893 and is a welcoming stay for the beginning of your journey on the Mother Road.

Palmer House Hilton

Located just steps from Route 66, Palmer House Hilton is a luxurious historic hotel with all the modern conveniences you could desire alongside award-winning services. Palmer House was built in 1925 and was the city’s first hotel with elevators, electric light bulbs, and telephones in the guest rooms. The French neo-classical influences of the design give this landmark its distinctive charm.

Enhance your visit to Chicago with a tour! Whether you love history, architecture, or family-friendly adventures, there are plenty of options for everyone.

Attractions Near Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket on Route 66

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