Best Free Cheese

Pimiento cheese spread at Barnaby's of Northbrook

Critics' Picks

Every day at 4 PM this independent outpost of the once-mighty pizza chain puts out a deep, complimentary bowl of pimiento cheese. Owner Frank Zielinski got the recipe, like many others he uses, from The Antoinette Pope School Cook Book, penned by the legendary Chicago cooking teacher and host of the 50s-era Creative Cookery Television Show. It's a pretty hazy recipe, calling, unhelpfully, for pimiento cheese—so the creamy, almost fluid, peach-colored mixture Zielinski makes each morning is still a bit of a mystery. But slathered on a few buttery Ritz crackers, it helps ease the pangs of the hordes waiting for their pizzas, which sometimes seem like they take longer than the average 25 minutes. Manager Michael Green says many can't get enough for nothing—so Barnaby's also sells its pimiento for takeout, in soup-bowl-size portions for $3.75 and giant tubs for $18.