Restaurant Guide–Illinois

Restaurant Guide Main Index


Chicago | Saint Louis


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

 

Arthur

Yoder’s Kitchen–1195 E. Columbia St. (American) Open 7 am to 8 pm (closed Sun). Is an Amish restaurant that serves a variety of American food. The favorites with reviewers, though, are the fried chicken and the all you can eat lunch and dinner buffets (served every day they are open). Map (Dining room is open 10-27-21)

Bloomington

Anju Above–220 E. Front St. (Asian Fusion) Dinner only (closed Mon).  This is a dual restaurant with Epiphany Farms (a farm to table restaurant) downstairs and Anju upstairs. Anju has some Korean dishes but it really seems to be a fusion restaurant. I’m not sure what to expect but reviews are good (as they are for the downstairs restaurant). Anju is a small plates restaurant. Map (Dining room is open 10-27-21)

Brownstown

Waltrip’s Corner–2396 N 1825 St. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun & Mon).  This is one of those places in the country where you get food that reviewers say tastes like home cooking and is worth a trip off the main highway. Map (Dining room is open 10-28-21)

Carterville

Chanisa’s Thai Street Food–911 Rich St. (Thai) Open Sat 11 am to 3 pm only (according to Google Maps). Food truck that apparently has very limited hours, but some reviewers say it’s the best Thai food they have ever had (and just about everyone says it is excellent). Some say the pad woonsen is the best item. Map (Takeout only 10-28-21)

Champaign

C-U Original Pancake House–1909 W. Springfield Ave. (Breakfast) Open until 1 pm.  Serves breakfast until closing time. Seems to be the most popular breakfast place in Champaign-Urbana. Blueberry pancakes are popular, as well as the Dutch Baby (with strawberries & bananas). Map (Dining room is open 10-27-21)

Golden Harbor–505 S. Neil St. (Chinese) Closed Mon.  Authentic Chinese food (Cantonese style with a few spicy dishes available). Good reviews. Map (Dining room is open 10-27-21)

Sticky Rice–415 N. Neil St. (Lao) Closed Tue.  Has Lao style curry and other Lao dishes. Map (Dining room is open 10-27-21)

De Kalb

Sofia’s Kitchen–1503 E. Lincoln Hwy. (Mexican) Closed Sun.  The gorditas and birria tacos are said to be quite good. Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Thai Pavilion–251 E. Lincoln Hwy. (Thai) Open Daily.  Standard Thai menu but reviewers say it has flavors that match the Thai food in big cities. Pad thai and soups (such as tom yum) are popular, but really people like just about anything they try here. Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Goodfield

Busy Corner–302 Eureka St. (American) Open Daily.  Very highly rated food for all meals from breakfast to dinner. Pies, tenderloin, and casserole are popular items. Map (Dining room is open 10-27-21)

Hudson

Green Gables–17485 E. 2500 North Rd. (Hamburgers) Open daily (open late night).  Located on County Rd. B west of Lexington (on I-55 and Route 66), and is just south of the “other” El Paso (El Paso, Illinois). I found it on Roadfood, which recommends the “smashed crispyburger” (some reviewers say the edges of the burger patty are too crispy but I will take the Sterns’ word for it that this is some awesome roadfood). They recommend the cheeseburger. Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Marion

Baan Thai–2406 Williamson County Pkwy. (Thai) Closed Sun. Most reviewers say this is the best Thai food in the southern Illinois area (and one of the best restaurants in the area of any type). Curries look good but has a varied menu with apparently lots of good choices. Map (Dining room is open 10-28-21)

Moline

LemonGrass Cafe–1419 5th Ave. (Thai) Closed Sun.  Serves Isan style Thai food from northern Thailand, although I think some of the dishes here are less spicy. Has one item I have been really wanting to try, namely Isan style pad thai (which they say is the “Old School” version and is spicy with basil leaves). Map (Dining room is open 10-28-21)

Quad Cities USA Family Rest–4910 22nd Ave. (American) Open daily (breakfast & lunch only).  I’m putting it on the list largely because of the omelettes (including a Mexican version). Other breakfast items look good, Has Italian food (including Italian beef and sausage) that reviewers say is not Americanized. Map (Dining room is open 10-28-21)

Mounds

Huckleberry Pub–149 Glen Hall Dr. (American) Open Daily.  Serves fresh local catfish, and other than this the most popular item seems to be the pulled pork. Reviewers say that most catfish does not taste like the one here. Map (Dining room is open 10-28-21)

Normal

Jack’s–1600 Visa Dr. (Mediterranean) Closed Sun & Mon.  Has some of the best reviews in Normal. Mainly Mediterranean (I think it is mostly Lebanese with some Greek, Italian, Spanish, etc.). Also has some Midwest favorites such as cheese balls. Map (Dining room is open 10-27-21)

Quincy

Seoul 2 Soul–218 N. 6th St. (Korean) Dinner only (closed Tue & Wed).  Reviews say this is one of the most unique and best restaurants in Quincy. They change the menu weekly (I think there are some items that are constant and some that change). It is said to be Korean fusion, and the key to this is reading the reviews to see if it works (which it apparently does at this restaurant). Map (Dining room is open 10-20-21)

Peoria

One World–1245 W. Main St. (American) Open daily to 7 pm (8 pm on Fri & Sat).  Reviewers say all the food is good, and there is a wide variety (such as vegetable lasagna, quesadilla, falafel, fish tacos, etc.). Map (Dining room is open 10-27-21)

Thanh Linh–1209 W. Main St. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun.  Appears to have good choices including lemongrass chicken, pork chop, basil stir fry, and Vietnamese curry. Map (Dining room is open 10-27-21)

Rockford

Guzel–116 N. Madison St. (Middle Eastern) Open 9 am to 7 pm (closed Sat evening and Sun).  Food is from the Lebanon/ Jordan area and reviews are very good. It is located on the second floor of the Rockford City Market, so I don’t think you will be paying for the atmosphere–just good food. Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Sisters Thai Cafe–514 E. State St. (Thai & Lao) Open daily except Sat lunch & Sun (closed from 2:30 to 4:30 pm).  Menu indicates that they really do have both Thai food and Lao food (not just a Lao version of Thai food or vice versa). However, the menu does not differentiate which is which and I think you would need to ask. Reviews seem to indicate that the beef & chicken salads and the curries are Lao style, because statements are made such as these are the best they have ever had (which was my experience with these dishes in Amarillo at the Lao restaurants). Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Stockholm Inn–2420 Charles St. (Swedish) Open 7 am to 7 pm (open to 8 pm Fri & Sat; open to 2 pm Sun).  Has Swedish style ribs, fried chicken, fish fry, and pea soup (and probably other items but I can’t find a menu for them. The specialty here, though, is Swedish pancakes with ligonberry jam. There is a breakfast buffet Sat & Sun from 8 am to 2 pm. Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

The Norwegian–1402 N. Main St. (Norwegian) Open 7:30 am to 2 pm Tue-Sun; open 5-9 pm Thu-Sat (closed Mon).  From the photos the food really looks excellent and has a wide variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables, etc. (not everything is fish). The smorgasbords (meant for sharing) look excellent and give a good variety of food. Much of the food seems to be farm-to-table, yet it is really not expensive at all. Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Rock Island

El Patron–1829 2nd Ave. (Mexican) Closed Sun.  From the reviews and looking at the menu, I am pretty sure they have “real” Mexican food (such as carne asada). Some say the refried beans are good here while at other restaurants they are not. Map (Dining room is open 10-28-21)

Springfield

Charlie Parker’s Diner–700 W. North St. (American) Open daily 7 am to 2 pm.  There is a local dish in Springfield called the horseshoe, and this diner seems to have one of the best. The horseshoe originated in 1928 and was made with ham on top of thick toast and topped with french fries and a special cheese sauce that was made with beer, egg yolks, butter, and other ingredients (that varies with each person who makes it). Charlie Parker’s has several variations of this including a vegetarian “shoe” and a breakfast one served on a pancake. Toppings for any of these can be the cheese sauce, gravy, or both (and would still allow you to say you have officially tried “the shoe”). Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Cozy Dog Drive In–2935 S. 6th St. (Drive In) Open 8 am to 8 pm (closed Sun).  This is said to be where the corn dog originated, and this is the specialty of the restaurant. Dogs are also available with the restaurant’s original chili. This is one of the iconic stops along historic Route 66. Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Mekong Cafe–1308 S. 2nd St. (Lao) Closed Sat & Sun (and closed from 2:30 to 4 pm).  Reviewers say the food is delicious and that they especially like the curry (which is also my experience with Lao food). Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Urbana

A Taste of Both Worlds–401 N. Broadway Ave. (Filipino) Open 11 am to 7 pm (closed Sat evening; closed Sun & Mon).  Their Facebook page says it is Filipino-Cambodian fusion. They have Filipino dishes on the menu (chicken sisig is very popular). Also has Vietnamese Banh Xeo (Vietnamese “pancake”). I think the Cambodian food is a special on Friday. Restaurant gets very good reviews. Map (Dining room is open 10-23-21)

Vandalia

Blind Society–330 W. Gallatin St. (American) Dinner Tue-Sat; Lunch Fri & Sat.  Somewhat upscale and was notable to me because of the reviews of the food. Probably worth a stop because you get big city style food at small town prices (although it is more expensive than going to diners or regular restaurants). A big part of its popularity is the bar. Map (Dining room is open 10-28-21)

Waukegan

Papa Marcos–622 Grand Ave. (Lebanese) Closed Sun.  Serves Lebanese food that has excellent reviews as well as a “Chicago” menu (Italian beef, Polish sausage, cheeseburger, etc.). The Lebanese food includes the standard items you can get just about anywhere, but what sets this restaurant is the reviews and how good the customers say it tastes. Map (Dining room is open 10-28-21)

Taste of Belize–2207 Grand Ave. (Caribbean) Closed Mon & Tue.  Reviewers say the food tastes home made and they like the flavors. Jerk chicken, curry chicken, stewed chicken, and side dishes (such as plantains) are very popular. Map (Dining room is open 10-28-21)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Google Maps

Roadfood

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Illinois)

 

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