Waterfront Cajun and Creole fare in Riverdale

May 26, 2012 (RIVERDALE, Ill.)

For a moment, somewhere between bites of jambalaya and spoonfuls of gumbo, you just might think you have stumbled into some hazy dream from beyond the Bayou. The waterfront property makes it even more confusing. But this is Riverdale, just south of the city limits, where Dixie Star has established an enormous footprint along the Cal-Sag Channel, adjacent to the local marina.

"We really identified this location, one, because it was sort of centralized; secondly, because it had a structure that we figured we could put a five-star dining facility there," said Sean Howard, the co-owner of Dixie Star.

I wouldn't say five-star, but definitely worth the trek, considering there isn't a lot of competition in this part of town.

"We know this a Cajun/Southern cuisine type of area, and it had really been lacking," said Howard. "So what we decided to do was bring a little bit of fried green tomatoes, gumbo, jambalaya, that style of food into this particular area and it's really been a high demand."

The sampler platter might be the best way to go: ample portions of red beans and rice, jambalaya and a cup of gumbo, along with coleslaw and cornbread. There are plenty of sides to choose from and desserts are a highlight - from a pastry-capped peach cobbler to a raisin-studded bread pudding. Either way, dining alfresco along the water is certainly a pleasant respite from the usual fast food options nearby.

"We don't think people need to travel a half-hour north to Lake Shore Drive to enjoy a waterfront/dining experience, when they could be right here, in the heart of the Cal-Sag, and we're central to the state of Indiana, to the Western suburbs - from cargo traffic to recreational traffic - it all stops right here," Howard said.

Dixie Star is open every day from 11 a.m. to midnight, and during Memorial Day, they're running a bit of a promotion to try to get people out here, because the marina is kind of hard to find: Everything 10 percent off, all day long.

Dixie Star
13100 S. Halsted St.
(708) 849-6000

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