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The New Foxx’s Den Delivers

Before local MMA fighter Trevor Hinkle reinvented what is now the Foxx’s Den Smokehouse, the Effingham bar and grill (at the intersection of I-70 and US Highway 45, exit 161), was simply known as an adequate restaurant for over-the-road truckers and locals looking for a change of pace. Now, however, Hinkle’s place has quickly developed into one of the best bars and restaurants in Effingham–something I recently confirmed for myself during a recent visit.

 As you enter the new Foxx’s Den, the restaurant is divided into two primary dining rooms, as well as a spacious bar which is completely separate from the main dining areas, making it as family-friendly as it is fun-friendly for the bar set. When asked about these arrangements, Hinkle said that with the help of Neil Fearday (former Kitchen Manager at the renowned Firefly Grill), they were able to improve the quality and flow of the food and service, while turning what was once a bar that served food into a restaurant with a full bar. Better yet, according to Hinkle, is the fact that they “have been blessed with customers who have made this place their Cheers.”

 Having seen their beautiful, hand-crafted, 32-foot bar and numerous big-screen tv’s for myself, not to mention sampling some of their well-prepared dirinks and outstanding service, it’s easy to see why one would want to call this place their home away from home. After all, good service, good food and good drinks at a good price is a pretty tough combination to come by, and the Foxx’s Den has all of that and so much more.

During my recent visit, my date and I began with a Blue Moon Ale and a Long Island Iced Tea, both of which were crisp, generously proportioned, and a perfect compliment to the fresh seafood chowder and declicious, meaty wings we started with. From the Asian Zing to the Cajun Barbecue, the wings were skillfully excuted and caremelized, but nothing could beat the chef’s signature strawberry habenero–something you won’t find at Buffalo Wild Wings or any place else in town.

What was more surprising, however, was the fact that their chowder was every bit as good as their wings–not what I would have expected from a land-locked “smokehouse” in central Illinois. Well-seasoned with healthy chunks of crab and fresh fish, it was arguably the best chowder I have had since Iliving in Chicago or Cleveland.

For our next course, we decided to go with their soon-to-be-famous barbecue ribs and a heaping helping of the beef brisket. And while the brisket was generous and tender enough to feed a family of four, it was the only thing we sampled that diidn’t offer a bounty of flavor for the tastebuds. Fortunately, however, each butcher block table in the place features Matt Whitford’s award-winning barbecue sauce which will bring a little zing to just about any piece of beef, pork or chicken.

As for the ribs, it’s easy to see why this MMA fighter-turned-restauranteur will be fighting it out next in the Murphysboro and Memphis 7th street barbecue cook-offs. Their tangy, fall-off-the-bone ribs are easily the best I have had in the entire region, far surpassing any other Effingham offerings. In fact, one customer–Effingham native Christy Martin–said, “The ribs are absolutely excellent, the best I’ve tasted anywhere.”

Finally, we capped our meal off with another round of drinks and homemade cheesecake–an ideal ending to outstanding meal, And while they’re not known for having the fastest service in town, recent rennovations have improved the flow substantially, plus they treat their customers the way you want to be treated, and that goes a long way with this patron.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears–mostly tears–have gone into getting this place off the ground,” said Hinkle, who credits his head chef and kitchen manager Fearday with the remarkable turnaround they have seen in recent months. Indeed, word is  getting around that this isn’t the old Foxx’s Den anymore; this is the new and improved Foxx’s Den Smokehouse–one of the best family-friendly restaurants in Effingham, with one of the best bars this side of Cheers.

The Foxx’s Den is available for catering and is also the only restaurant in Effingham that offers free delivery on ribs, wings, burgers and more–aside from the usual Chinese and pizza. They’re open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 to 11. They also feature daily lunch specials for $5.50; daily drink specials, including dollar draws on Monday; and an $8.95 rib dinner with 25-cent wings on Sundays and Wednesdays.

For more information on their menu, which includes a wide variety of burgers and sandwiches, their outstanding ribs, steaks, chops, chicken and fish, go to their website at www.thefoxxsden.com; call 217-342-FOXX; or stop by and give them a try at the Foxx’s Den Smokehouse at 2402 North 3rd Street (US 45) in Effingham.

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