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Going Gobbler in Bronzeville

By JoshMogerman in Food on Apr 11, 2010 6:00PM

Eastern wild turkey. Courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Walking into Just Turkey in Bronzeville, you are immediately reminded of that scene in “Forest Gump” when we first meet Gump’s army buddy Bubba. He has a serious shrimp fixation:

…Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That...that's about it.

As the restaurant name suggests, the folks who run Just Turkey are similarly focused on gobblers, with a menu that features turkey tacos, turkey tips, turkey lasagna, fried turkey wings, turkey ribs, turkey burgers, turkey hot links, smoked turkey legs, turkey chili…and you get the picture…

But in a dining landscape dominated by barbecue and Harold’s, that focus on healthier fare is indeed novel. And people in the neighborhood have clearly taken notice as the place has been packed by diners non-stop since opening earlier this month. The Cottage Grove storefront is the northernmost outpost of Just Turkey (formerly Jive Turkey) with others in Avalon Park and Calumet Park.

Overcome by curiosity over the fowl nature of the concept restaurant, we popped in to try a variety of dishes and were heartened by the results. Turkey tacos tasted…well…like tacos. Good ones. The butter crusted turkey burgers were solid but unspectacular and turkey lasagna was tasty. We had hoped that this “healthy concept” in eating would wean us from a serious rib tip addiction, but sadly, the real standout from our order was the fried turkey wing. Crispy, slightly coated on the outside, with lots of delectably moist meat inside, its not health food. But it is good enough to get us to investigate how the heck one makes “turkey ribs.”

Just Turkey Restaurant, 4353 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, (773) 924-0000