When I first moved to Alton, Illinois, I didn't know what to expect when it came to the local food scene.
But, as it turns out, this charming river town in the heart of the Midwest has some of the best restaurants I've ever had the pleasure of dining in.
From mouth-watering BBQ joints to cozy breakfast spots and from international cuisine to classic American diners, Alton truly has something for every palate.
So, if you're visiting or even if you're a fellow local, allow me to share my personal experiences and guide you through the 20 best restaurants that Alton, Illinois, has to offer.
Trust me; you won't be disappointed!
Spectators Bar & Grill
One evening, I decided to check out Spectators Bar & Grill, and let me tell you: it was quite an experience!
The Christmas lights on the outside of the building drew me in like a magnet, and once I stepped inside, I knew I was in for a treat.
I quickly found out that they have an extensive selection of local IPAs and traditional beers.
My beer was served in a frosted glass, which gave it an extra chill, perfect for a night out.
As for the food, I was pleasantly surprised by the savory bar menu.
I couldn't resist ordering the cheeseburger sandwich, which turned out to be super tasty.
To top it all off, my garnishes were fresh onion and lettuce, and the side of fries was served hot.
Once my belly was full, I couldn't resist the urge to try my hand at some bowling.
I'm happy to report that the lanes were well-maintained and provided an excellent experience.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting G-B Grill, a cash-only, mom-and-pop diner in Alton.
This cozy spot serves classic American and Greek plates for breakfast and lunch, and I've got to say, it was quite an experience!
As soon as I walked into the diner, I was transported back in time.
The vintage décor, complete with Formica tabletops and a countertop diner, reminded me of the good old days.
The kitchen is right there in front of you, allowing you to watch your food being prepared on the flat grill.
For breakfast, I ordered eggs cooked over hard with the yolk broken, just the way I like it.
Many places won't do that for me, but here, they took my request without hesitation.
I also appreciated that they asked if I wanted my bacon crispy or soft - a clear sign that the bacon was made to order.
The hash browns were freshly made and not frozen, which is a rare find these days.
I couldn't resist trying their hot cakes, and oh boy, they were thick, fluffy, and cooked to a perfect light golden color on both sides.
The service at G-B Grill was exceptional.
All in all, my experience at G-B Grill was nothing short of fantastic.
As a coffee lover living in the area, I'm always on the lookout for a new place to grab a delicious cup of joe.
I recently discovered Post Commons, and what a find it has been!
This coffee shop is unique among others in the area, as it's converted from an old post office.
The decor is beautifully rustic yet minimalist and modern, creating a welcoming atmosphere that I can't get enough of.
One of the best things about Post Commons is its inventive menu.
The dishes they offer for brunch are some of the most creative I've ever had, and I love that the menu rotates, giving me the opportunity to try new, scrumptious dishes each season.
On my last visit, I enjoyed the best breakfast I've had in a long while - the microgreens on perfectly seasoned gravy and biscuits were absolutely divine, and the eggs were cooked to perfection.
I also tried their breakfast french toast - the flavors were on point and perfectly sweet!
Of course, the coffee at Post Commons is fantastic as well.
The space itself is big and roomy, with plenty of seating options, whether you're there to work, read, hang out with friends, or just enjoy a meal.
The outdoor patio area is particularly lovely, providing a great view of the Mississippi River.
Post Commons also offers a variety of services, including bartender services, private parties, and even non-profit events, making it an ideal spot for hosting gatherings of any kind.
As a local resident, I'm thrilled to have discovered Post Commons and can't wait for my next visit.
Don & Penny's Restaurant
Don & Penny's Restaurant has always been a favorite hangout spot for me and my friends.
Walking into Don & Penny's felt like coming home. After grabbing a seat at the bar, I couldn't help but notice the great jukebox and the pool tables that have always been a part of the establishment.
And to my delight, they still served their amazing beer cheese soup, which is hands down the best I've ever had!
I decided to try their fried ravioli this time, and it did not disappoint.
It was delicious, and it reminded me of why I love this place so much.
Their menu has something for everyone, with a wide variety of fried and finger foods, salads, pizzas, and even some cajun dishes thrown in for good measure.
As a non-smoker, I appreciate that the bar is smoke-free (great for allergy sufferers like me), but for all the smokers, there are a few bistro tables and chairs outside, as well as a brick ledge to sit on next to the walkway up to the door.
Overall, my re-discovery of Don & Penny's Restaurant was a delightful experience.
Gumbo 2 Geaux
As a lover of Cajun cuisine, I can't say enough good things about Gumbo 2 Geaux.
I had the pleasure of visiting this delightful spot for lunch the other day, and as always, the food was simply delicious.
I tried their fried ravioli smothered in seafood sauce, hush puppies, and even got to taste their banana pudding cup.
The flavors were spot-on, and I was truly impressed.
Their menu is packed with Cajun favorites, and I've heard that their Red Beans and Rice are the best outside of the French Quarter.
I also learned about their Chicken and Fried Pickle Sandwich with Potato Wedges, which had rave reviews on their Facebook page.
I'm already looking forward to trying it on my next visit!
During Mardi Gras season, Gumbo 2 Geaux even sold King Cakes, which were an absolute hit.
The King Cake I tried had the perfect texture and tasted as good as any I've had from the French quarter.
Brown Bag Bistro
I've been to Brown Bag Bistro several times for dates, single meals, and takeout.
My experience there has always been amazing, thanks to the delicious food, friendly staff, cozy seating, quick service, and inviting atmosphere.
Brown Bag Bistro is located on Broadway Street, about half a mile from The Argosy Casino and The Clark Bridge, making it an accessible spot for anyone in the area.
Some of my favorites include The New Yorker, Veggie Naan, the (limited-time-only) Carrie, and Garden Variety.
Each sandwich is packed with flavor and beautifully presented.
Although the plating can sometimes seem minimal, the main entrée more than makes up for it.
The place is always packed, so I suggest making reservations if possible.
However, they have lovely outdoor seating and additional indoor seating in their next-door shop when it gets chilly.
On one occasion, I went with my partner, and we got to enjoy the Bistro Club with lobster bisque and The Wadlow with pasta salad.
Both dishes were exquisite, and the outdoor seating area made for a perfect dining experience on a beautiful day.
One of my favorite memories is stopping for a late lunch with some friends.
The menu had a special grilled cheese with apple and brown sugar sauce, which was so delicious I couldn't get enough.
The sandwich was so good that I stopped dipping it in my soup to better taste the unique combination of flavors.
Joe K's Restaurant
I recently decided to visit Joe K's Restaurant for breakfast and was pleasantly surprised by their delicious offerings.
The restaurant is known for its basic American comfort food, and I was eager to try out some of its popular dishes.
I settled on "The Dublin" omelet, which turned out to be absolutely incredible.
If you're a fan of omelets or corned beef hash, you definitely need to try it.
To top it off, it was served with house-made spicy ketchup that left my mouth watering.
I also noticed that they serve the largest fish sandwich in town.
The ambiance inside the restaurant was easygoing and comforting, which made for a perfect dining experience.
Another dish that caught my attention during my visit was the cinnamon swirl French toast combo which I plan to try on my next visit.
I've heard that their lunches are fantastic, too, so I'll definitely be coming back to support this local diner and indulge in their scrumptious offerings.
I decided to treat myself to a night out at Decaro's in Alton, one of my favorite Italian family restaurants.
Their St. Louis-style pizza has always been my go-to comfort food, and I couldn't resist the cozy atmosphere and friendly service.
I ordered my favorite pizza with Italian sausage and jalapeños.
The rectangular shape of the pizza made it perfect for cutting into squares, and the toppings were generously applied.
The jalapeños were fresh and thick, providing a delicious crunch with each bite.
I could genuinely say that their square pizza is beyond compare.
To accompany my pizza, I opted for a Decaro's House Salad.
The mix of Romaine and Iceberg lettuce was topped with ham, Volpi salami, shredded provel, parmesan, black olives, tomatoes, onions, and pepperoncini.
The highlight of the salad was undoubtedly Decaro's Creamy Italian dressing, making it the perfect side dish for my pizza.
Throughout the night, the customer service remained friendly and attentive.
Gentelin's On Broadway
Gentelin's On Broadway is an upscale-casual American restaurant in Alton.
As a regular patron there, I can confidently say that the restaurant offers ala carte dining, a lounge, private dining, and banquet facilities, making it a great place for any occasion.
Upon arriving, I was greeted with a warm welcome and promptly seated as I had made reservations beforehand.
The restaurant offers a full bar, and I decided to start my evening with a well-made White Russian – a personal favorite of mine.
I also noticed that they had some interesting house special drinks, which I might try on my next visit.
The menu features a variety of steak, seafood, and pasta dishes, catering to different tastes.
I opted for the ribeye served over potatoes and asparagus, which was seasoned to perfection and incredibly tender.
I also requested a side of crispy onions to top my steak, and the server kindly obliged.
My friend ordered a seafood dish and a salad that she thoroughly enjoyed, and we both couldn't get enough of the delicious table bread basket served with herb-seasoned butter.
The service at Gentelin's On Broadway was consistently courteous and helpful, making it a truly upscale dining experience.
As a cherry on top, the view from the dining room overlooks the river, providing a beautiful ambiance to complement the fantastic food and drinks.
Just the other day, I decided to check out Taqueria Maya, a new Mexican taco shop that I'd been hearing so much about.
I've been living in the Alton area for quite some time, and I couldn't resist trying out their highly praised street tacos and Birria ramen.
While waiting, I noticed their impressive bourbon collection and opted to try one of their highly recommended Palomas.
It turned out to be the perfect choice for me, and I could see why others raved about it.
I ordered the Birria ramen and a chicken chimichanga, which turned out to be absolutely delicious.
The food was hot and fresh, with generous portions of meat, and it was ready at the exact time they promised.
I also couldn't resist trying their street tacos – they were just as amazing as I'd heard!
The Taco de Carne and Chicken Quesadilla both had a great amount of flavor and were served with plenty of jalapeños and sour cream on the side.
Although their menu is relatively small, it was clear they focus on quality over quantity.
I was pleasantly surprised to see they also offer five different hamburger options, which I'm excited to try on my next visit.
Other than that, the overall experience was fantastic.
Mini Corral Hamburgers
I've been living in this area for years, and one of my all-time favorite spots to grab a bite to eat is Mini Corral.
It's a simple burger joint with a Western-inspired decor, and its auxiliary menu consists of steaks, wings, and housemade root beer.
You can really feel the charm and coziness of the place as soon as you walk in.
The atmosphere is inviting and always makes me feel comfortable.
Their menu is pretty expansive, but my go-to choices are always their delicious burgers and sliders.
I also love their fish and chips, fish sandwiches, and fried appetizers.
The ribeye dinner is another fantastic option for a heartier meal.
Everything is made to order and served hot and fresh.
One of the unique things about Mini Corral is their housemade root beer, which is a must-try.
Of course, other sodas are available, and they're all done right without any chemical taste you often find in fast food restaurants.
They also offer $5 meals, which is a fantastic deal for a fast-casual place like this and a great response to the big chains out there.
3rd Chute II
I recently decided to pay a visit to 3rd Chute II in Alton.
To my delight, the place offered a laid-back atmosphere with great food, great service, and a great time.
I was thrilled to find out that they had live music, karaoke, daily specials, comedy nights, and more.
Initially, I had planned to get wings or a burger, but my mind was quickly changed when I found out the special of the day was Fried Catfish!
It came with two fillets of fish and two sides.
They also had signage up promoting Jayne's famous chili, so I went ahead and had a small bowl as one of my sides.
Although it was very mild, I could see why a lot of folks may be excited about it.
For my other side, I chose fries, which were extra crispy and only lightly salted - just the way I like them.
One of the things that impressed me the most was the variety of local breweries they offered.
I enjoyed a Love Gun from Heavy Riff, which was a pleasant surprise to find at 3rd Chute II.
The evening was made even better when I learned that they hosted a group of 20 people after a ball game, and they were treated exceptionally well.
Chubby's Grill & Garage
Let me tell you about my recent experience at Chubby's Grill & Garage, a fantastic spot for great food and a fun atmosphere.
Upon arriving, I was pleasantly surprised to find the parking lot filled with vintage cars and pick-up trucks in pristine condition - turns out an auto club was having a meeting there, and it felt like I had stumbled upon an antique car show.
I should mention that Chubby's is a cash-only establishment, but they do have an ATM on the premises for convenience.
After grabbing some cash, I headed to the kitchen counter to place my order.
I couldn't resist trying the Flaming Chubby Burger, which comes with pepper jack cheese and fried jalapeños on top, along with some extra spices and spicy sauce.
I also ordered a side of fries to go with my burger.
When my food was ready, I was impressed by the size of the portions – the fries were crispy and enough for two people, and the burger looked amazing with its hand-pressed patty.
As I enjoyed my meal, I noticed that Chubby's is a popular spot for bikers, and for good reason - the food and atmosphere are simply excellent.
The jalapeño burger was delicious and a great value for the price, and the fries were just the way I like them: crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Aside from the great food, Chubby's Grill & Garage also offers live music, weekday specials, car cruise, and bike events, making it a spot you can't miss as a local.
Riviera Maya Restaurant
I've always been a huge fan of Mexican food, and I'm so glad I discovered Riviera Maya Restaurant in my neighborhood.
The authentic Mexican dishes they serve are a delight to my taste buds, and every visit leaves me craving for more.
My go-to dish at Riviera Maya is their steak fajitas.
They never fail to impress me with their sizzling presentation and incredible flavors.
I also love munching on their complimentary chips and salsa, but I make sure to order the Bandito dip for an extra kick – the blend of Mexican pork sausage and cheese dip is just heavenly.
One thing I particularly enjoy about Riviera Maya is its amazing selection of drinks.
The restaurant has a full bar, and they serve some of the best margaritas I've ever had.
I usually go for the Top Shelf margarita, as I can really taste the difference in quality compared to the regular option.
Pairing their tasty tacos with a cold cerveza is also a great choice.
The atmosphere of the place is warm and inviting, with clean interiors and well-stocked bathrooms.
Bluff City Grill
I recently decided to spend an evening at Bluff City Grill with a group of friends, and I'm glad I did.
We were looking for a place with a fun atmosphere, good food, and the chance to play some games.
Bluff City Grill was the perfect choice.
As soon as we walked in, we noticed the clean and easygoing vibe of the place.
The menu was diverse, offering American fare and several popular dishes that caught our attention.
We started off with the Guacamole Bites, which were crispy and full of unique flavor.
As someone who loves crab rangoons, these guac-filled bites were a delightful twist.
For our main courses, I went with the Garlic Parmesan wings, and they were cooked to perfection.
My friends enjoyed their dishes, too - the steak was cooked just right, and the crab cakes were unbelievably delicious.
Throughout our meal, we enjoyed the drink specials like $5 martinis and local beers.
The bartender even made a great Bloody Mark that we couldn't resist.
Between courses, we had fun playing darts and pinball, as well as trying our luck at video gaming.
The location of Bluff City Grill was perfect for us since it's in the heart of downtown Alton, IL, and just minutes away from the Clark Bridge and Alton Amphitheatre.
The two-story parking garage and plenty of on-street parking made it easy to find a spot for our cars.
One of my all-time favorite places to eat is Castelli's Restaurant at 255.
Being family-owned and operated since 1937, they truly know how to make you feel at home.
When we go there, we always start with their homemade toasted ravioli appetizer.
Of course, you can't visit Castelli's without trying their famous TALK-N-CHIC™ fried chicken.
It's a house secret, a trademarked recipe that has been passed down through generations.
The fried chicken is always crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.
I love that they offer different options for the number of pieces and combinations of white and/or dark meat, making it easy to get exactly what you want.
In addition to their famous chicken, I sometimes go for their fettuccine Alfredo, which is creamy and phenomenal.
Their Roman house salad dressing is another must-try; it's so good that I wish they would bottle it and sell it at the restaurant or local grocery stores!
The atmosphere at Castelli's is truly a throwback, family-friendly American supper club.
They have a full bar selection, so if you fancy a quality bottle of wine or a nice cocktail, they've got you covered.
The service is always attentive and welcoming, making you feel like a part of the family.
What I appreciate most about Castelli's is the value you get for your money.
The portions are generous, so you can easily get more than one meal out of it.
Santino's Steak and Pasta House
Last weekend, my family and I decided to try Santino's Steak and Pasta House in Alton for dinner.
We had heard great things about their Italian cuisine and were eager to see if it lived up to the hype.
I was even more excited when I found out that they take reservations, so I called in advance to secure a table for us.
As we entered the restaurant, we were immediately impressed by the elegant and classy decor.
The atmosphere was calm and inviting, with candles on each table and white linen tablecloths.
We were promptly seated and eagerly perused their extensive menu, which boasted a wide range of Italian dishes and a variety of gluten-free options as well.
I decided on the pasta platter for two, which came with a salad and bread.
The serving size was enormous, and we couldn't help but marvel at the homemade red sauce that smothered the pasta.
We could almost taste the love and craftsmanship that went into preparing the dish as if an Italian grandmother had cooked it just for us.
The pasta was not only delicious, but it was also reasonably priced – a perfect combination for a memorable dining experience.
My friend opted for the eggplant parmigiana and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The flavors were authentic, and the dish was cooked to perfection.
When it came to dessert, we opted for the tiramisu. It was rich and creamy!
Bossanova Restaurant and Lounge
One of my favorite spots in town for an evening out has to be Bossanova Restaurant and Lounge.
The globally flavored American fare paired with a specialty martini menu creates a unique, hip nightlife setting that I always enjoy.
The world-inspired menu offers a fantastic variety of dishes, and their James Bond-themed martinis make for a fun and exciting drink experience.
With over 60 beers and 30 wines to choose from, there's something for everyone.
On my latest visit, I decided to try a goat cheese salad, which was absolutely to die for!
The salad was fresh and flavorful.
It was the perfect light meal to enjoy while having some drinks with friends.
Speaking of drinks, I chose a Dirty Martini made with Tito's vodka, and it was superb!
As a resident of the area, I was also pleased to discover that Bossanova participated in the local Alton Restaurant Week.
During this event, I had the opportunity to try a 10 oz filet cooked to a delectable medium rare, accompanied by green beans prepared with bacon.
The filet was excellent, and I'm looking forward to trying the creamy garlic mashed potatoes on my next visit, as recommended by the bartender.
I recently visited Tab's Cafe for a breakfast get-together with friends, and I must say it exceeded my expectations.
I had the waffle, egg, and bacon special, and it tasted so good!
The waffle was fluffy and perfect, while the bacon was crispy, just the way I like it.
My friends also enjoyed their meals, and we could not help but notice the delicious-looking lunch menu items as well.
The atmosphere at Tab's Cafe is intimate, cute, and clean, making it a perfect spot for a casual meal or meeting.
The coffee was absolutely fantastic, and I also had a chance to taste their homemade biscuit, which was wonderful.
I must also mention that the portions are generous; I ordered a Tab's double burger with fries on another visit, and it was more than I bargained for.
The burger reminded me of my childhood, a real, homestyle burger with no manufactured preformed patties.
The fries were delicious, too.
Fast Eddie's Fried Chicken
As someone who has lived in the area for years, I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of Fast Eddie's Fried Chicken.
Whenever I'm craving fried chicken, this is the first place that comes to my mind.
Not only is their chicken hot and crispy, but it's also very affordable.
I love that they offer chicken boxes that are simple and convenient, making lunch or dinner an easy decision.
The boxes come with a mix of white and dark meat, as well as crinkle-cut fries, which are simply my favorite as they hold the ketchup better.
One thing to remember is that Fast Eddie's is primarily an order-at-the-window and carry-out establishment.
There's no seating available, so you'll either need to enjoy your meal in your car or take it back to your home or office.
I've seen some people even have picnics nearby, which can be a fun way to enjoy their food.
I'm happy to report that the quality of the fried chicken and overall experience has not changed.
As a bonus, Fast Eddie's offers other boxed meals as well, not just fried chicken.
So, if you're in the mood for something else, there are options available.
However, I must admit that their fried chicken remains my top choice whenever I visit.
It's a local business, and I'm glad I can support them rather than resorting to one of those national chains.
Alton, Illinois, is truly a food lover's paradise, offering a variety of top-notch eateries to suit any palate.
Whether it's indulging in a juicy burger at Mini Corral, savoring the flavors of Mexico at Taqueria Maya, or enjoying a fine dining experience at Gentelin's on Broadway, there's always something to satisfy your cravings.
So, if you find yourself in Alton, be sure to check out these fantastic restaurants - I guarantee you won't be disappointed!