Yesterday was no exception, when I was out in the NW Chicago burbs surveying changes that have occurred since we first moved to the idyllic town of Barrington in 1987. And the answer is LOTS. Like most everywhere in America these days, urban sprawl and strip malls have replaced farm fields.
But hey, that’s ok, one of those strip malls has given birth to “Ric’s Dog Gone Good Food.”
“Ric’s” is run by Howard, an outgoing, affable gent who greets customers the second they pull on the door handle. He’s as engaging as the lengthy menu. He did not explain who “Ric” is, but then I didn’t ask.
Menu selection ranges from Chicago style hot dogs via local legendary quality supplier Vienna Beef, to chopped steak burgers, deli sandwiches, wraps, salads, and plated entrees. Greek foods comes from another quality local supplier, Kronos.
Burgers start out with 1/3 pound hand-formed patty (diminutive size also available), and I went with one of Ric’s ‘specialty burgers’ – the Greek, where the beef patty is topped with feta and chopped Kalamata olives. Going all out into the Greek arena, I asked if I could please have some tzatziki on the side. Tzatziki is a Greek inspired sauce (or dip) made from yogurt, cucumbers, dill and garlic.
I had a mind to smear it on the burger, which I did, but discovered it’s an excellent alternative to Ranch as a fry dipping sauce.
On the subject of fries? Ric’s gives you five choices. Fresh cut, crinkles, seasoned curlys, cottage, and cheddar. Rings, battered ‘shrooms and cauliflower round the the fried sides menu. He also offers ‘skins and bakers.
I went with the fresh cut, which were an absolute joy, seriously, but I’ll have to go back to try the rings and cottage fries. Based on my first visit, well worth the trip. The fresh cut fries were piping hot, fried perfectly, lightly salted.
I have a habit of disassembling my burgers at the start, checking them out. It’s also important to me to taste the patty, unadulterated, as quality, flavorful beef has to be at the heart of every great burger.
I have to pause here, and say, in all seriousness, I’ve had burgers in probably 50 countries, for which I have spent anywhere from fifty cents to fifty dollars, and this is one of the finest patties I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Great beefy flavor. A great grind providing great texture in the bite experience. Lightly seasoned to complement the true beef taste.
(Don’t you hate biting into a fast food burger and realizing it could just as easily be called “fried protein puck”). Meats should taste like the animal they come from, and Ric’s fits the bill.
Toppings were top quality, both the creamy feta and the Greek olives. The bun was bakery soft, yet sturdy enough to hold any toppings you are to pile on your burger.
The restaurant and washrooms were sparkling. Beverage choices include fountain, cans, bottles, brewed ice tea and shakes.
The Google tells me the restaurant is 14.8 miles from my door, 27 minutes by car, an hour and a half by bike, or 5 hours walking.
I don’t have a bike. But I’d walk. You should to…or drive. Anyway, go there. Eat. Enjoy the food. Enjoy Howard.
In a city where there are a reported more than 1500 places selling hot dogs and Chicago fare, you sure have to admire the mom and pop outfits that slug it out every day in a crazy, competitive business segment.
They deserve our support. Here’s the whole menu.