Extensive menu of homemade items makes you want to come back and try more
A friend of a friend said Alexander Park Tavern serves the best fried chicken in the Bureau, LaSalle and Putnam counties area.
Being the local fried chicken hound I am, I had to put the claim to the test.
I don't like to crown one place or another the best, because I think it's all a matter of taste but after ordering the fried chicken family style at Park Tavern, I can see why anyone would rank it as their No. 1.
First of all, go family style. It's a lot of food, but they have to-go boxes.
The family style order at $13.95 includes three pieces of mixed chicken (you can request all white for $1.50 extra), a side of spaghetti and tortellini (ravs in the Illinois Valley), fries, salad or coleslaw, fritters and garlic toast.
The homemade fritters, which are lightly dusted with powdered sugar, are served hot before the meal and they are amazing. The tortellini are not the classic O-shaped, meat-filled pasta, but instead are a meat-filled button – and appear to be homemade.
And the generously salted thin crinkle-cut fries also were a highlight of the meal.
As if that weren't enough food, I ordered deep-fried tortellini ($6.65) as an appetizer, and my dinner companion chose the deep-fried mozzarella cheese sticks ($5.50). I've seen deep-fried ravioli on lots of menus, and it's always a favorite starter, but I've rarely seen deep-fried tortellini, so I had to give a try. It didn't disappoint. It's also served with a sizable helping of marinara sauce for dipping.
After trying the deep-fried tortellini, my dinner companion said: "I can tell this is going to be a good fried chicken place," because of how good the batter was.
I came for the fried chicken, but I'd like to come back and try some of the other items on the menu, including the burgers, homemade soup and chili, and steak. The kitchen is open seven days a week, and Wednesday is Mexican Night.
Park Tavern is pandemic friendly. They have carryouts and curbside pickup. They also have a shaded canopy with plenty of spaced out outdoor seating behind the restaurant, with hand sanitizer on the table. And anyone who wishes can eat indoors as well.
The restaurant is located right next to a park with tennis courts and basketball hoops, making it a nice destination for families who may want to make more than a meal out of the trip.
I'm excited to try more on my next trip.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff when ordering or picking up the food. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.