Restaurants in Illinois

There’s Chicago – home of deep-dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, all-beef red hots dragged through the garden, world-class corned beef sandwiches, South-Side soul-food BBQ, and such vintage steak house meals as chicken Vesuvio and shrimp de Jonghe – and there’s the rest of the state, which is a whole other kind of eating bonanza. In the Illinois River Valley, taverns serve masterful fried chicken with ravioli on the side; Springfield is home to its own kill-or-cure four-alarm chilli (two L’s!) as well as to the megacaloric kitchen-sink meal known as a horseshoe. Along old Route 66, look for Cozy Dogs (the original corn dog) as well as well-dressed smashed crispyburgers with lace-thin edges.

Illinois’s Most Famous Dishes

Crisp-edge, creamy-center French fries sprinkled with salt

French Fries

Gravy-sopped Italian beef piled into a length of bread with spicy vegetable giardiniera

Italian Beef

Burger on a tender bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo ... car hop service

Grilled Hamburger

hot dog with hot mustard and relish

Classic Hot Dogs

Illinois’s Best Restaurants

Hackney’s on Harms - Hackneyburger
Hackney’s on Harms


Red Hen Bakery - Muffins
Red Hen Bakery


Mustard’s Last Stand - Loaded Up
Mustard’s Last Stand


Original Pancake House - Apple Pancake
Original Pancake House


Pizzeria Uno - Sausage Pizza
Pizzeria Uno


Billy Goat Tavern - Cheeseburger
Billy Goat Tavern


Lawry’s the Prime Rib


Al’s #1 Italian Beef


Maravillas Restaurant




Kevin’s Hamburger Heaven


Twin Anchors


Eggs and breakfast meats are buried under a mound of hash browns, cheese sauce, and gravy.


Old Fashioned Donuts


Gino’s East


Doughnut Vault


Glass soda fountain boat holds scoops strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream topped with sauce, nuts, and whipped cream, shored in by bananas sliced lengthwise
Torri’s Ice Cream Parlor


Frances’ Deli


Stanley’s Tavern


Calumet Fisheries


m. henry


Illinois Articles & Guides

View All Articles & Guides

A Really Big Shoe

Horseshoe sandwiches are ubiquitous in Springfield, Illinois, but no one eats them anywhere else. Like many folk foods, they’re hard to define, but all share a toasted bread base,...

Caramel corn and cheese corn mixed together


The best caramel corn comes from butterflies combined with mushrooms. Some people use only mushrooms—the kernels that pop into smooth, round balls—but Sharon Yoder of Yoder Popcornsays butterflies—the kernels that...

Street Food

CHICAGO Street food is often considered déclassé, but not in the Windy City. In fact, it is so cherished there that restaurants are designed for it. These brash canteens...

Drive Ins

For two-lane travelers, pulling into a parking lot perfumed by hamburgers and hot onion rings is as satisfying as any four-star dining experience. At a true classic drive-in, you...

Best Supporting City

From the shockingly priced cup of hot chocolate Tom Cruise drinks in the soigné Palm Court of The Drake Hotel in Risky Business ($4 in 1983) to the cheap eats Jim...

Billy Goat Tavern - Exterior

Live From Chicago

By the time John Belushi was elected Wheaton (Ill.) Central High homecoming king, Bill Charuchas had already made his reputation at Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern & Grill parroting owner Sam Sianis’s...

Top Dogs

No introduction is necessary. These are America's ten best hot dog joints By JANE and MICHAEL STERN  1 Walter's is a pagoda-shaped roadside stand that has been serving incomparable hot...

Harry Caray’s - Interior Dining

The Past on a Plate

By Jane and Micheal Stern CHICAGO'S LIVELIEST culinary sport is rating city specialties. Food journalists and freelance eaters are forever debating whose Red Hots, deep-dish pizzas, Italian beef, and rib...

Heartland Soda Fountain

If Dr. Seuss had been a restaurant reviewer, he would have liked soda fountains best, for they are where Pink Elephant punch and rootbeer Black Cows line up alongside...


Before you eat a hot beef sandwich in Chicago, you need to talk to Chris Pacelli, Jr., who owns Al's #1 Italian Beef with his brothers Chuck and Terry....

Curbside, America

Before Ralph Nader, cars were fun. For generations of joyriders, a purring V-8 was a vehicle for play and pleasure. "Companion of carefree days" is how Chevy advertised itself...

Healthful Detours U.S.A.

As a matter of principle, we are committed to finding food with ample fat, from marbled steaks to chocolate cakes, but even we sometimes yearn for light fare. On...


Monday is the slowest day of the week at Manny's cafeteria, because Monday is the day people diet, trying to make amends for weekend excess. At Manny's, on Jefferson...

A photo of the original Rainbow Cone, a Chicago-style ice cream shop's signature treat featuring five flavors of ice cream on a single cone.

The Essential Cheap Eats in Chicago

We have for you a list of some of the top eats on a budget when you are visiting Chicago, Il.  This enticing city has it all from architectural...

Roadfood Adventures: Route 66 Illinois

Road trip on Route 66 Illinois Route 66 is a highway rich with crazy attractions, unique museums, America's heartland history, and colorful odes to the joy of exploring the country...

Smashed crispyburger, fully dressed

Route 66 Classics: 21 Affordable Eateries from Chicago to Los Angeles

What a yummy trip it is to eat one's way from Chicago to L.A. along old Route 66! This tour of 21 excellent stops along the way includes some...

Joe Rogers Original Recipe Chili Parlor - Sign

Route 66: Illinois & Missouri Edition

In 1946, when Bobby and Cynthia Troup drove their Buick convertible from the East to the West coast in hopes of finding a future writing songs, Cynthia suggested to...

The front entrance of Walker Brothers Original Pancake House

Chicago to Milwaukee, Twixt 3 Corned Beef Sandwiches

A road trip along the the southwest shore of Lake Michigan offers a wild taste-buds adventure (assuming you can get out of Chicago with any appetite remaining ... but...

The One Must-Eat Food in Each State, and Where To Get It

Unique Regional Dishes After 40 years and 5 million miles spent on the road looking for America's best regional food, we've assembled a list of the quintessential, must-eat food in...

Carminuccio’s - Stern Special

The Best Pizza In America | Roadfood Bests

Is there another dish as diverse as pizza? It can be an utterly simple tomato pie – nothing but sauce on crust – or it can be a multi-meat...

Poppy seed bun holds hot dog with mustard, relish, and pickle spear

The Best Chicago Foods | Roadfood Bests

Whatever you like to eat, Chicago has it – humble and swanky, familiar and exotic, healthful and decadent, from anywhere on earth and in every imaginable setting. But what...

Manny’s Coffee Shop - Sign

Best Authentic Unique Chicago Restaurants | Roadfood Bests

Are you looking a flavor that is unique Chicago? Eating experiences that are found only in the city or at their very best here? If so, savor these memorable...

Harry Caray’s - Steak

Best Restaurants in Chicago, Plain & Fancy | Roadfood Bests

If you are looking for a true taste of Chicago -- eating experiences that are unique to the city or at their very best here -- savor these memorable...

Mustard's Last Stand - Exterior

8 Best Casual Outdoor Dining Spots in Chicago

Outdoor Dining in the Windy City Some of the best casual outdoor dining in Chicago include meals that are eaten standing up at a counter or at outdoor tables. Here...

Randy's donuts exterior view

First Stop: 25 Great Roadfood Eateries Near Airports

Airport Food Food in airports is better than it used to be, but when we arrive by plane, we can't get out of the terminal fast enough. By rental car,...

Chicken breast topped with peas and sided by potato logs

Chicago's Chicken Vesuvio | Roadfood Bests

Chicken Vesuvio is served nowhere outside of Chicago, and even many Chicagoans are unaware of it. A dish of sautéed and baked, bone-in, skin-on parts of chicken and wedges...

Pizzeria Uno - Sausage Pizza

Chicago's Many Pizzas

It is not quite right that deep-dish pie gets all the attention when it comes to Chicago pizza. Yes, the forkworthy casserole-style pizza was first created in Chicago, in...

Corned Beef Factory Sandwich Shop - Corned Beef Sandwich

Chicago Without Utensils

Long before the apotheosis of food trucks, Chicago was a city where a person could eat extremely well without picking up a knife and fork. Here is a day's...

Paper-thin crepes, dusted with powdered sugar, envelop bananas, walnuts, maple syrup and brown sugar


Why is brunch so wonderful? One, it almost always includes adult beverages. Two, it's far more bountiful than either breakfast or lunch. Three, there's no hurry to eat it:...

Beautiful Vintage Diners

The term diner has come to mean almost any inexpensive cafe that serves breakfast. But true diners are an elite class of eatery. They are mid 20th century design...

Chocolate layer cake frosted with caramel and pecans

Seductive Cafeterias

For some passionate eaters, a great cafeteria can be a source of tremendous anxiety. How on earth can a person choose from among dozens and dozens of good-looking desserts,...

Southern Kitchen - Pie

12 of the Best Pie Places in America

First, we apologize to the Stockholm Pie Company in Wisconsin, to Nick's Kitchen in Huntington, Indiana, to the Bang Bang Pie Shop in Chicago, and to Beardsley Cider Mill...

Laurel Diner - Corned Beef Hash

Heavenly Corned Beef Hash

The only possible happy exclamation incited by corned beef hash spooned from a can is "Arf!" But freshly chopped and sizzled to a crisp, crowned with poached eggs eager...

Roast Beef Sandwich

Every deli serves a roast beef sandwich, but a handful of U.S. restaurants make roast beef sandwiches that go beyond mere lunch meat on bread. The most memorable are...

Destination Donuts

Donut devotion as fervid as the commitment devotees have for barbecue. Everybody has a favorite kind. From robust cake sinkers to featherweight glazed, styles vary dramatically. In our experience,...

The Varsity - Exterior Night

America's Best Remaining True Drive-In Restaurants

"Drive-in" has come to mean just about any cheap-eats restaurant with car-friendly parking. A genuine drive-in is a place where customers park and are waited on and eat in...

Bowl of chili with onions, cheese & chips ... chili nation

Chili Nation | Where's The Best? | Roadfood Bests

Chili is like DNA: everybody's is different. Texans claim (rightfully) that history proves theirs to be the first. Or at least they were the first to make a big...

Blue Colony Diner - Club Deluxe

Hot Turkey Sandwich

Every diner, town cafe, and truck stop sells a hot turkey sandwich. A precious few are memorable and as delicious as the best Thanksgiving leftovers. They include plenty of...

America's Great Pancakes | Roadfood Bests

Pancakes are especially appreciated by travelers in search of significant breakfast. While fair to middling ones are on the menu virtually everywhere, restaurants that serve four-star flapjacks are rare....

Pastrami Sandwich Honor Roll

Steamy hot, soft and supple, perfumed by spice and smoke, infused with the dripping succulence of animal fat, pastrami is the most voluptuous of delicatessen meats. Great pastrami sandwiches...

Julian Pie Company - Apple Crumb Pie

13 of the Best Places to Get Apple Pie in America

Crumb-topped, lattice-topped, or layered with caramel and welcoming a scoop of ice cream on top, apple pie is everywhere from coast to coast. For your pleasure, a baker's dozen...

Steak Houses: Roadfood Favorites

Many restaurants serve steak, but some places are dedicated to it. Although no great steak house is cheap, some of the best are extremely informal (like Doe's Eat Place...

America's Best Hot Dogs

There's no point getting into a flame war over which American hot dog is best. It's impossible, because the nation's hot dogs are so diverse.  However, we will go...

Fried Chicken: The Delicious Double Dozen

Fried chicken is popular all across America and so different everywhere that it is not possible to say what city, state, or region does it best. While the process...

Midwest Urban Barbecue

When barbecue migrated up the Mississippi from its homes in the Deep South and in Texas, it took on a new personality -- similar to what happened to the...

Double decker Reuben sandwich

Midwest's Best Corned Beef Sandwiches | On 4-Star Rye

When people think of good corned beef sandwiches, they tend to envision New York, or maybe Miami or Los Angeles. But in fact, the Midwest's best corned beef sandwiches,...

Poppy seed bun holds hot dog with mustard, relish, and pickle spear

Chicago Red Hot | Hot Dog Street Food | Roadfood Bests

Chicago is a Hot Dog City Frankfurter historians believe the Chicago red hot (aka hot dog) was first configured in 1929. Abe "Fluky" Drexler first served it at the street...

Wedron Office - Fried Chicken

Illinois Valley Chicken Dinner

In this land of boundless cornfields, crunch-crusted fried chicken is a magnificent obsession in restaurants plain and fancy. Locals sometimes call it tavern fried chicken because nearly every restaurant...

Breakfast horseshoe is a mountain of hash browns

The Edible Horseshoe of Springfield, Illinois | Roadfood Bests

Technically, the horseshoe belongs to the open-face sandwich category. But its size and scope create a category all its own. Cooks pile lunch and supper shoes with hamburgers, pork...

Gravy-sopped Italian beef piled into a length of bread with spicy vegetable giardiniera

Chicago Italian Beef

More New-World than Old-Country, the Italian beef sandwich was invented on Chicago's near West Side and it has become a city signature dish as beloved as red hots. It...

Great Illinois Recipes

Chicken breast topped with peas and sided by potato logs

Chicken Vesuvio


Connect with us #Roadfood

Share to...