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Hecky's - it's NOT just the sauce [GNR nomination]

Hecky's - it's NOT just the sauce [GNR nomination]
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  • Hecky's - it's NOT just the sauce [GNR nomination]

    Post #1 - November 30th, 2005, 12:56 pm
    Post #1 - November 30th, 2005, 12:56 pm Post #1 - November 30th, 2005, 12:56 pm
    After thinking about it for a while, I think LTH needs to recognize the finest BBQ north of Howard Street.

    Hecky's food has been discussed here frequently; Hecky has his supporters and less-enthusiastic patrons, but I don't think I 've ever seen anyone totally trash what he's doing (note that this nomination refers only to the real Hecky's, not the pretend gas station Hecky's on Halsted). Here's a brief sampling of comments (there are many others):
    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=1865

    But also worth noting is Hecky's commitment to the community. His slightly self-serving details can be found here:
    http://www.heckys.com/html/about/

    I think particularly interesting is the firestorm that evolved when, as a member of the local board of education, he used the word "mutt" to describe people of mixed-race parentage (and he included himself in that group). The politically-correct police wanted to run him out of town. He quit the school board, and now features several "Mutt" specials on his menu. LTH'ers sampled it here:
    http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=3739

    Some might argue that it's not a true restaurant ... I'd argue that the "secret dining room" a couple of doors down says it's a restaurant.

    Hecky's Barbecue
    1902 Green Bay Rd., Evanston
    (847) 492-1182
    Last edited by nr706 on December 16th, 2005, 8:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #2 - November 30th, 2005, 1:09 pm
    Post #2 - November 30th, 2005, 1:09 pm Post #2 - November 30th, 2005, 1:09 pm
    If, fo no other reason than I like his fried chicken, I'm happy to see Hecky's nominated.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - December 14th, 2005, 9:44 pm
    Post #3 - December 14th, 2005, 9:44 pm Post #3 - December 14th, 2005, 9:44 pm
    I have to say I'm a little bemused by the diplomatic description of Hecky's BBQ. Finest BBQ north of Howard Street... I guess that's a little better than best Jewish deli in Wichita... it's not bad but it doesn't beckon to me across the miles, either.

    On the other hand, there's this.

    Image

    Hecky's Barbecue is, as far as I'm concerned, a misnamed restaurant. What stands out is the fried chicken. Is it the best fried chicken in the Chicagoland area? YourPalWill, who for some reason posted a lovely post about his favorite fried chicken on a board that is not this one, does not put it in his top five. But it's the best that I've had in the area.

    So I support Hecky's Chicken, inexplicably misnamed Hecky's Barbecue.
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  • Post #4 - December 14th, 2005, 10:21 pm
    Post #4 - December 14th, 2005, 10:21 pm Post #4 - December 14th, 2005, 10:21 pm
    Mike G wrote:I have to say I'm a little bemused by the diplomatic description of Hecky's BBQ. Finest BBQ north of Howard Street....

    Mike,
    Bemused, maybe, but that description is pretty damn accurate. Hecky's has not bad BBQ. Nothing I'd suggest to a visiting BBQ guy looking for a rib fix, but well within the edible range.

    Hecky's fried chicken, on the other hand, is terrific! Crisp, juicy, well seasoned, large pieces of on-the-spot hand-breaded fried chicken goodness.

    Not bad BBQ, excellent fried chicken, sounds like a good GNR candidate to me.

    Hecky's Fried Chicken
    Image

    By the way, nice pic Mike. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - December 15th, 2005, 6:08 pm
    Post #5 - December 15th, 2005, 6:08 pm Post #5 - December 15th, 2005, 6:08 pm
    can you get the chicken spicy?
  • Post #6 - December 15th, 2005, 6:29 pm
    Post #6 - December 15th, 2005, 6:29 pm Post #6 - December 15th, 2005, 6:29 pm
    Snark wrote:can you get the chicken spicy?


    I don't know about ordering spicy as an option. However, Hecky's sprinkles their BBQ rub (which does have some kick) on their chicken and fries post frying. It's also in their potato salad. Wherever it fits, they throw in their rub thoug none was seen on their pie!

    The first time I had Hecky's chicken it was outstanding. My subsequent 2 or 3 visits it wasn't. As others have pointed out, they are not consistent in their product.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #7 - December 15th, 2005, 7:07 pm
    Post #7 - December 15th, 2005, 7:07 pm Post #7 - December 15th, 2005, 7:07 pm
    Mike G wrote:I have to say I'm a little bemused by the diplomatic description of Hecky's BBQ. Finest BBQ north of Howard Street... I guess that's a little better than best Jewish deli in Wichita... it's not bad but it doesn't beckon to me across the miles, either.

    On the other hand, there's this.

    Hecky's Barbecue is, as far as I'm concerned, a misnamed restaurant. What stands out is the fried chicken. Is it the best fried chicken in the Chicagoland area? YourPalWill, who for some reason posted a lovely post about his favorite fried chicken on a board that is not this one, does not put it in his top five. But it's the best that I've had in the area.

    So I support Hecky's Chicken, inexplicably misnamed Hecky's Barbecue.


    Mike makes a great point here. Unfortunately, if a place looks like a BBQ joint, smells like a BBQ joint and acts like a BBQ joint, it’s probably a good idea that its best offerings are BBQ-related, which they’re not.


    At the LTH Evanston chicken-off this past summer, I felt that Hecky’s fried chicken finished right smack in the middle of a field of 4 (Evanston Chicken Shack, Cajun Charlie’s, and Lagniappe). Although I’m quite sure they had a few fans that day, they clearly didn’t win anything close to a concensus vote for top honors on that lovely June afternoon in the rough and tumble back streets of unincorporated Evanston. (all kidding aside, the event was held at a pleasant Evanston Park!).

    Maybe my disdain for Hecky’s has something much more to do with his stated philosophy than just its mediocre fried chicken or inedible barbeque…

    "IT”S IN THE SAUCE"

    I’m sorry but any self-respecting barbeque place with this phrase plastered on their walls shouldn’t be considered seriously.

    “Tallest midget in the circus” is how I describe Hecky’s…..just in Evanston.

    I love its look and location, though. If community service and being just an overall great guy count for anything for GNR, then Hecky’s has to be considered. If not, Houston…..we have a problem…….
  • Post #8 - December 15th, 2005, 9:45 pm
    Post #8 - December 15th, 2005, 9:45 pm Post #8 - December 15th, 2005, 9:45 pm
    One thing about that slogan-- a lot of BBQ places stake their claim on a proprietary sauce, partly because it lends itself to the kind of tinkering you can get proprietary about, partly because people seem to think it's about the sauce because BBQ places stake their claims on sauce, partly because... "It's about buying better meat and using actual hickory wood and not parboiling ahead of time, then foil-wrapping until it steams itself into chipped beef on toast minus the toast" is too long for a sign.
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  • Post #9 - December 15th, 2005, 10:11 pm
    Post #9 - December 15th, 2005, 10:11 pm Post #9 - December 15th, 2005, 10:11 pm
    PIGMON wrote:Maybe my disdain for Hecky’s has something much more to do with his stated philosophy than just its mediocre fried chicken or inedible barbeque…

    "IT”S IN THE SAUCE"

    I’m sorry but any self-respecting barbeque place with this phrase plastered on their walls shouldn’t be considered seriously.


    Isn't Honey 1's official slogan "It's all about the sauce" or somesuch?

    Sure it might be a bad sign in general, but it doesn't mean they shouldn't be taken seriously.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #10 - December 16th, 2005, 12:07 am
    Post #10 - December 16th, 2005, 12:07 am Post #10 - December 16th, 2005, 12:07 am
    I'm confused a bit - the nomination for Hecky's has [BBQ] as the parenthetical classification yet every post universally says the [BBQ] is not very good. People agree that the chicken is good. If a restaurant describes itself as a [BBQ] joint, is nominated - at least parenthetically - as a [BBQ] joint - and is determined to be a bad [BBQ] joint, how is it still worthy of a GNR? Would not someone looking up in LTH a GNR nod for [BBQ] perhaps then head to Hecky's, based upon a LTH endorsement, and find themselves possibly disappointed were they to make the 'mistake' of ordering [BBQ]?
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #11 - December 16th, 2005, 3:24 am
    Post #11 - December 16th, 2005, 3:24 am Post #11 - December 16th, 2005, 3:24 am
    Kman wrote: Would not someone looking up in LTH a GNR nod for [BBQ] perhaps then head to Hecky's, based upon a LTH endorsement, and find themselves possibly disappointed were they to make the 'mistake' of ordering [BBQ]?


    Yes. IMO
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - December 16th, 2005, 8:29 am
    Post #12 - December 16th, 2005, 8:29 am Post #12 - December 16th, 2005, 8:29 am
    I don't think anyone's said Hecky's is bad BBQ - it's real barbeque, smoked over real wood. It's not parboiled or microwaved; it's not meat jello - those are some of the things that, to my mind, define bad BBQ. Is it the absolute best BBQ in the area? Probably not. But it''s good BBQ, and Hecky's been doing it longer than many, and the restaurant has a lot of other things going for it. So I heartily and humbly second my own nomination.
  • Post #13 - December 16th, 2005, 8:34 am
    Post #13 - December 16th, 2005, 8:34 am Post #13 - December 16th, 2005, 8:34 am
    I think the average (ie non BBQ fanatic) person, myself included, would find Hecky's BBQ quite good. Given the number of places in Evanston that serve ribs, I think it is better than the rest (Merle's, Chili's, etc)
    Leek

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  • Post #14 - December 16th, 2005, 8:43 am
    Post #14 - December 16th, 2005, 8:43 am Post #14 - December 16th, 2005, 8:43 am
    Kman wrote:I'm confused a bit - the nomination for Hecky's has [BBQ] as the parenthetical classification yet every post universally says the [BBQ] is not very good. People agree that the chicken is good. If a restaurant describes itself as a [BBQ] joint, is nominated - at least parenthetically - as a [BBQ] joint - and is determined to be a bad [BBQ] joint, how is it still worthy of a GNR? Would not someone looking up in LTH a GNR nod for [BBQ] perhaps then head to Hecky's, based upon a LTH endorsement, and find themselves possibly disappointed were they to make the 'mistake' of ordering [BBQ]?


    Kman, good questions. Look at the whole thread. People have various things to say about Hecky's at all levels, both good and bad. The question at the end of the day is, is it a "Great Neighborhood Restaurant".

    Of course, the only way we define GNR's is by example. There is no pre-set defination. No standards that have to be met per se. More important, and at least speaking for me alone, a GNR does not have to be what I would call a "great" restaurant. And by that I mean, it does not have to be perfect or best in class or 4 star or whatever.

    Take 3 of my favorites, 2 already GNR winners and one a current nominee: Gene and Judes, Klas, and Freddy's. Do all of these places have flaws? Damn yes. Can they all be inconsistent? Damn yes. Can someone expecting one kinda experience be dissapointed at these places. Fer sure.

    What's interesting about the GNR process is not how it captures the best restaurants or the greatest places, but how it is capturing the places that are special to the LTH community. Like Candlelite, I'm no fan of the food there, but I surely recognize it as special to the community, and as a moderator would vote it a GNR.

    Rob
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #15 - December 16th, 2005, 10:42 am
    Post #15 - December 16th, 2005, 10:42 am Post #15 - December 16th, 2005, 10:42 am
    I have pretty mixed feelings about commenting in this thread. 1) because I've already mentioned what I think about the process but more seriously 2) because I don't think the food at Hecky's warrants this sort of nomination.

    Hecky's bbq is fine, better than others in the neighborhood but probably below that of a number of average to above average places on the southside that don't get much talk around here (like the rib joynt, leon's, dd&s) because there is so much better in their general vicinity.

    Now if you apply that standard to Hecky's fried chicken (which is definitely a secondary offering) Hecky's nomination couldn't pass muster- more than one poster (not just me) have noted that Hecky's may have the third best fried chicken in a 5 block radius within its own neighborhood.

    this brings us back to what constitutes a great neighborhood restauarant - because Hecky is a great neighbor. I live in his community and know him personally and he is active, involved citizen (veteran of early civil rights issues, runs a foundation, and regardless of what you think of the mutt issue, how many restauranteurs being discussed are on their local school board/council?)
  • Post #16 - December 16th, 2005, 10:45 am
    Post #16 - December 16th, 2005, 10:45 am Post #16 - December 16th, 2005, 10:45 am
    nr706 wrote:I don't think anyone's said Hecky's is bad BBQ


    Nor did I, please re-read. What I said was 'not very good' BBQ which - in my opinion - could make for a 'bad [BBQ] joint'. Good [BBQ] joints serve, umm, good [BBQ]. I honestly don't care all that much; as I noted at the beginning of my post I'm just confused. I've never pretended that I understand the nuances of GNR but if LTH is to award recognition to a [BBQ] joint where many posters advise AGAINST ordering the [BBQ] then, well, like I said I'm confused.
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #17 - December 17th, 2005, 1:58 am
    Post #17 - December 17th, 2005, 1:58 am Post #17 - December 17th, 2005, 1:58 am
    So....what is up with the Halsted St. location? I admit that I have never tried the Evanston location, but I have had the Halsted place delivered twice. Didn't love or hate it, just ate it.... Reading the various posts I am aware that the Evanston location is better but the discrepancy between the two confuses me.

    I spent the day working on a take home final for an Intellectual Property in the Digital Realm class. A couple of pages that I frantically typed, were devoted to dilution and tarnishment. It seems to me that the Halsted location clearly dilutes and tarnishes the Evanston location.

    Why would you allow your successful name to be placed on a sub par location?

    Curious...
    Authorized time shifting let the genie out of the bottle....
  • Post #18 - December 17th, 2005, 2:48 pm
    Post #18 - December 17th, 2005, 2:48 pm Post #18 - December 17th, 2005, 2:48 pm
    delk wrote:A couple of pages that I frantically typed, were devoted to dilution and tarnishment.


    A day well spent. :D
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #19 - July 2nd, 2006, 5:01 pm
    Post #19 - July 2nd, 2006, 5:01 pm Post #19 - July 2nd, 2006, 5:01 pm
    Sorry to report but I just pushed away from a plate of half dark fried from Hecky's and I am severely disappointed. The chicken was fine, not overcooked, just...ok. Nothing I couldn't make at home or get at Browns.

    The crust was horrible, burnt, soggy, and inedible. I had better crust at Cajun Charlies. Granted I had a ten minute drive home but the container was cracked open to allow steam to escape. The frankly rancid fishy taste made for a crust I could not eat, and that's saying something.

    This is chicken touted as being good to chill overnight and serve, I don't see it. The place wasn't busy at all, I ordered at 5:05, was told 15 minutes and took the bag at 5:23.

    The only reason I tried this was that ECS was closed on Sunday, I'll wait next time.
  • Post #20 - July 2nd, 2006, 6:17 pm
    Post #20 - July 2nd, 2006, 6:17 pm Post #20 - July 2nd, 2006, 6:17 pm
    As someone who has only eaten from the Evanston Hecky's on one or two occasions (good, not great was my impression), and who is a noob when it comes to both BBQ and fried chicken, a couple of things occurred to me while reading all of the comments above. First, I reread the GNR guidelines, and the leading sentence seemed relevant:

    "The Great Neighborhood Restaurants Program is designed to recognize local restaurants that the LTH community considers “great” – in other words, places that provide a food experience that is distinctly “better than the rest."

    Subsequently, there was one question that kept running through my mind:

    If this were not the venerated Evanston stalwart Hecky's, but rather an identical restaurant in an identical location with identical service and identical food but a different name, would it be under consideration?

    To be clear, I'm really not in a good position to be answering this question. And I may be completely misreading, but I get the feeling that for some, Hecky's is being discussed less because it's a Great Neighborhood Restaurant, and more because it's Hecky's. The consensus seems to be that there's better BBQ to be had... much better, in fact. Precedent seems to indicate that excellent food is not a GNR prerequisite, as long as the grub is great (or perhaps even above average). But in the latter cases it seems as though there's always something unique or special... unusual specialties, exceptional character, etc... that, in conjunction with the food, makes the place worthy. In the case of Hecky's, that something may very well be the fried chicken (which I've never had), but in the end, I get the feeling that the support for Hecky's seems more obligatory than enthusiastic.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #21 - July 2nd, 2006, 6:37 pm
    Post #21 - July 2nd, 2006, 6:37 pm Post #21 - July 2nd, 2006, 6:37 pm
    Dmnkly,

    Hecky's was a GNR nomination from last November/December, where Hecky's did not receive a GNR designation.

    There was a decision if a declined nomination had interesting follow up discussion, then the thread was eventually moved to Eating in Chicagoland board.

    If this were not the venerated Evanston stalwart Hecky's, but rather an identical restaurant in an identical location with identical service and identical food but a different name, would it be under consideration?


    People are free to nominate which ever entity they choose, then it is up to the community to support or deny this nomination with their experiences. Pretty much people felt there was better food and chicken to be had elsewhere. So venerated stalwart institutions will not succeed on their goodwill if the food isn't very good.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #22 - July 2nd, 2006, 6:47 pm
    Post #22 - July 2nd, 2006, 6:47 pm Post #22 - July 2nd, 2006, 6:47 pm
    Well, that was embarrassing :-)
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #23 - July 2nd, 2006, 8:22 pm
    Post #23 - July 2nd, 2006, 8:22 pm Post #23 - July 2nd, 2006, 8:22 pm
    I am new to town, but I just tried hecky's last night, after hearing a lot about it.

    no smoke ring..... which I thought was pretty elementary. Not to be mean, but I make much much better barbeque myself. there are two places in new york that make better barbque, and I didn't think that that would be possible.

    sauce was good, but there was absolutly no smole flavor on the meat.

    I'm going to give it another try in a few weeks, maybe I will be more impressed.
  • Post #24 - July 2nd, 2006, 9:19 pm
    Post #24 - July 2nd, 2006, 9:19 pm Post #24 - July 2nd, 2006, 9:19 pm
    Did you try the one in Evanston, or the far inferior place on Halsted?
  • Post #25 - July 2nd, 2006, 9:26 pm
    Post #25 - July 2nd, 2006, 9:26 pm Post #25 - July 2nd, 2006, 9:26 pm
    Everything I've read here about Hecky's certainly would sour someone on their Halsted location. Admittedly, it's pretty hard to get excited about barbecue in a place attached to a gas station (or maybe that's just me).

    However, I wonder if anyone has given their rotisserie chicken a chance? When my fiancee and I were on the hunt for a pulled pork sandwich, I chanced upon Hecky's and wandered on down there. I got their rotisserie half-chicken and absolutely devoured it.

    It may not be great, but it's tolerable and since I've been there I've learned more about the location (and its proximity to Cabrini Green) and for what it's worth, it might be worth giving a shot.
    Writing about craft beer at GuysDrinkingBeer.com
    "You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now." ~Ebert
  • Post #26 - July 2nd, 2006, 9:58 pm
    Post #26 - July 2nd, 2006, 9:58 pm Post #26 - July 2nd, 2006, 9:58 pm
    nr706 wrote:Did you try the one in Evanston, or the far inferior place on Halsted?


    Evanston - I might have been disappointed because I really was looking forward to it, and I will give it another try. but, no smoke.
  • Post #27 - July 2nd, 2006, 11:17 pm
    Post #27 - July 2nd, 2006, 11:17 pm Post #27 - July 2nd, 2006, 11:17 pm
    nr706 wrote:Did you try the one in Evanston, or the far inferior place on Halsted?

    Please tell me this applies to fried chicken too. I tried the fried chicken at the one on Halsted today and it was terrible. Although the chicken itself was moist, the crust lacked any flavor and was a bit burnt and it tasted as if it had been fried in old oil too. And $8.99 for 4 pieces -- are you kidding me???

    So, question one: is the Hecky's in Evanston different when it comes to fried chicken, and 2) Are the prices the same?
  • Post #28 - July 3rd, 2006, 7:51 am
    Post #28 - July 3rd, 2006, 7:51 am Post #28 - July 3rd, 2006, 7:51 am
    Cathy2 had a great post about the high-tech, low quality system Hecky's on Halsted uses ... unfortunately, I couldn't find it again to link to it. Maybe Cathy can? Or someone else?
  • Post #29 - July 3rd, 2006, 8:23 am
    Post #29 - July 3rd, 2006, 8:23 am Post #29 - July 3rd, 2006, 8:23 am
    HI,

    While I was the first to observe their new location, I have never personally gone. However, who needs to go when Gary and Three Amigos go there, then report back in several memorable threads:

    The Good, The Bad and The Hecky

    Texas BBQ, Pork vs Brisket (The Good, The Bad and The Hecky)

    Best regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #30 - July 3rd, 2006, 8:32 am
    Post #30 - July 3rd, 2006, 8:32 am Post #30 - July 3rd, 2006, 8:32 am
    Thanks much for the links -- now I know I can try the Evanston location without fear.

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