Chicago is famous for three things - da'bulls, da'bears and da'ribs!
That is, according to the menu at Da'Pits Restaurant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Located in the former Pruss's Drugstore at the corner of North Second and Maclay streets, this 'Chicago Grill' eatery is the place for ribs and other meats cooked over an open flame in south-central Pennsylvania. Its postal address is 2101 North Second Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
It does not serve alcohol, apparently due to its close proximity to the residence of the governor. But don't let that detract from an otherwise great eating experience.
The restaurant does not take reservations and there is nearly always a queue waiting for one of the tables in the somewhat small dining area. One tip is to arrive at an odd time, like 5:50pm, to beat the rush that always appears at even times like 6pm.
The atmosphere is relaxed and the tables in the centre of the dining area are rather close together so that you can get a good look at what your fellow diners are eating before placing an order. The walls are lined with great black and white photos of famous Chicago landmarks (something one Researcher with roots in the Windy City really appreciated).
But the food. Oh, the food! The seafood bisque is almost required for an appetizer, but the chunky chicken chilli and grilled, marinated portobella mushroom are equally wonderful starters.
The ribs are excellent, baby-back style and the meat literally falls off the bone. They are served with the choice of four sauces - sweet and tangy (a good place to start for a first-timer) sweet-hot, hot and spicy or garlic herb. Grilled chicken comes with the same variety of sauces. Try the half-rack of ribs with chicken for a good sample of the variety of offerings.
All entrées come with two choices from the vast array of side dishes - salad, pasta, baked potato, grilled potato slices, grilled vegetables, baked lima beans, rice pilaf, potato salad, coleslaw or pasta salad1.
But Da'Pits is more than just a basic rib-joint. There are several seafood entrée choices and an equally fun variety of sauces like barbecue, basil cream with white wine, spicy diablo lemon-butter, pineapple-ginger and pistachio-butter. There are a good mix of pasta choices with another variety of sauces including tomato basil, fra diablo, garlic-herb olio and a light roasted garlic alfredo. There are wonderful steaks shipped from Chicago that practically melt in your mouth.
Da'Pits also has an outstanding lunch menu with great salads and sandwiches. It also does a booming take-away business.
And the prices? Not to worry. Da'Pits has been voted by the readers of a regional magazine as one of the best dining values in central Pennsylvania. Ribs range (at the time of writing) from $10-17, chicken from $7-14, pasta from $8-11, all seafood is $13 and steaks are $9 for an 8oz sirloin to $16 for an 8oz filet mignon.