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Bites Nearby: Dorothy and Leroy's, Windsor Locks

Authentic Southern and Cajun cuisine can be found in a quiet Windsor Locks strip mall.

If the mood strikes and you feel like eating rib-sticking comfort food, head to Windsor Locks. But skip the ticket counters at Bradley Airport. Real-deal southern cuisine is fried, stewed, slow-cooked and spiced right here in a quiet Main Street strip mall.

Dorothy and Leroy’s just marked their one-year anniversary in town, but the soul food restaurant has been around for more than a quarter-century. It first opened in Springfield, MA in the mid-1980s and held court at locations in Hadley, MA, Wilbraham, MA and Bloomfield before settling in its current spot.

Owner Dorothy Mock is the face of the restaurant and the creator of the menu, which is heavy on Southern classics like fried chicken, barbecued ribs, steak and gravy and pulled pork. A "Cajun specialties" section ($10.99 to $16.99) features jambalaya, red beans and rice, etouffee, spicy catfish and a gumbo of the day. (Also representing New Orleans: boiled crawfish and overstuffed po'boy sandwiches.)

Business partner Phyllis Perry says Mock, a native of Alabama, is a "pinch cook" – one that follows instinct and experience rather than a written recipe.

"The recipe’s in her head. She knows how to measure just based on feel and look," Perry said.

Among the more unusual dishes on the menu is the hog maw (pig stomach) entree ($10.99), which is slow-cooked and served over rice. It’s more of an acquired-taste kind of specialty, Perry said, but the restaurant does get calls inquiring about it.

Southern dinners ($9.99 to $13.99) come with diners’ choice of three sides, which include black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, fried okra, collard greens, cornbread dressing, green beans and potato salad. You can even make a meal out of four veggies or sides for just $8.99.

Several decadent desserts are made in-house: peach cobbler, banana pudding, strawberry shortcake, pound cake and bread pudding. The sweets vary daily. Dorothy and Leroy’s also makes its own fresh lemonade and authentic southern "sweet tea." There’s no liquor license, but customers are free to BYOB.

Stop by early (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday) for the early bird deal – $1 off any "southern specialty" entree. Senior citizens get a 10 percent discount on Wednesdays.

A private party room seats 30 for functions and celebrations and off-site catering is also available for special events.

Though the restaurant has undergone several incarnations through the years, one thing has remained consistent – its sassy motto. “If You Ain’t Ate At Dorothy And Leroy’s, You Just Ain’t Ate!”

"I love it," said Perry. "Sometimes I answer the phone saying that."

Dorothy and Leroy's is at 255 Main Street in Windsor Locks. Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Call 860-758-7705 or visit the restaurant's Web site.

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