Editor's note: Every Friday we'll be bringing you the best food in Chicago that has been battered and fried. As long as it has spent some time in hot, bubbling oil, we'll write about it for TGI Fry-Day. Got a nomination? Let us know.
One of the best things about deep frying something is that you can't always tell what's hidden underneath the crispy shell. Take this picture, for example. The trained eye might spot the hint of green and guess "pickles!"—but "chicken tenders" or "deep fried loaded potato skins" (someone get on this, please) would be equally respectable guesses. Sometimes you just don't know. But once you bite into the fried pickles ($5.00) at Lillie's Q, guess-time is over. These are some serious pickles, and that's a fact.
Most restaurants serve fried pickle chips (read: flavorless, translucent slices) in one of two varieties: barely covered in a breading that falls apart with nary a stern glance, or dipped in a batter that completely overpowers the sad little pickles. As they do with the rest of their menu, Lillie's Q takes a more thoughtful approach to the fried pickle. Whole kosher dills are cut lengthwise in-house to quarter-inch-thick slices. There's no lack of pickle flavor here. A well spiced (I'd posit with their house "Carolina Dust") beer batter made with whatever lager they currently have on tap hangs onto the pickles for dear life. Fresh from the fryer, the pickles are kosher salted (bonus points!) and come to the table on a brown paper lined mini sheet pan with a baby Mason jar full of house made ranch dressing. Briny, crispy, flaky, salty—can you guess how these pickles ended up?
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