21 Best Restaurants in Carbondale, IL

This article was written by local contributor Rhys Wilson & edited by the Travel Lens team.

Best Restaurants in Carbondale, IL

Carbondale, Illinois, a charming college town nestled in Southern Illinois, has always held a special place in my heart.

Over the years, I've had the pleasure of exploring its diverse culinary scene, from cozy cafes to lively bars and grills, and I can't wait to share some of my favorites with you.

Whether you're a student at Southern Illinois University or just passing through, come along and let me introduce you to the best restaurants in Carbondale, Illinois, that will leave your taste buds wanting more!

China Wok

I've been visiting China Wok for quite some time now, and I must say it's become my go-to Chinese restaurant in the area.

One of the best parts about eating at China Wok is the amazing taste and quality of their food.

I was so inspired by their beef and broccoli dish that I even tried making it at home!

The portions they serve are quite generous, and the prices are very reasonable considering the current economic climate.

China Wok · 883 E Grand Ave, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · Chinese restaurant

Harbaugh's Cafe

I always enjoy going to Harbaugh's Cafe for breakfast or lunch.

The place is bustling with energy, and the eclectic decor gives it a unique, artsy vibe.

I've never had a bad meal here - everything is well-prepared, and they even have hand-crafted coffees that are simply amazing!

One of my recent visits was during a trip from Memphis, TN.

Even though I'm not a tourist, I was impressed by the fast service and great customer service.

The prices are affordable, and the amount of food you get is definitely worth it.

I recently tried the Chicken Cordon Bleu with lettuce, thick-sliced tomato, and onion. It was delicious!

The home potatoes and sliced pineapple, and cantaloupe added as dessert really topped off the meal.

The food, atmosphere, and service always leave me satisfied and eager to return.

Harbaugh’s Cafe · 901 S Illinois Ave B, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · Cafe

Quatro's Deep Pan Pizza

I've been a frequent customer of Quatro's Deep Pan Pizza for years, and I must say that their Chicago-style and thin-crust pizzas never disappoint.

In fact, I usually find myself craving their Meateater Bonanza deep-dish pizza after a long day at work.

I've tried a variety of their pizzas, and I can confidently say that each one is as delicious as the next.

The Chicken Alfredo pizza, for instance, is an absolute treat, even if they could be a little more generous with the Alfredo sauce.

I also appreciate their mini pizza option, especially when I'm trying to watch my calorie intake.

Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza · 218 W Freeman St, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · Pizza restaurant

Mary Lou's Grill

This American restaurant has been a go-to spot for classic diner fare since 1962, and it never disappoints.

Whenever I visit, I usually order their famous biscuits and gravy - they're the best in the city!

The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, making it the perfect spot to enjoy a meal with friends or family.

They offer a wide variety of food options, so there's something for everyone, even those with picky palates.

Plus, their prices are incredibly affordable, making it an excellent choice for locals like me who are looking for a delicious meal that won't break the bank.

Another thing I appreciate about Mary Lou's Grill is that they're open even during tough weather conditions.

Mary Lou’s Grill · 118 S Illinois Ave # 5, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · American restaurant

Aban Kitchen

Dining at Aban Kitchen has been an absolute delight.

I recently went there with a few friends after a long day of climbing, and we couldn't have asked for a better dining experience.

I ordered the Lamb, which was cooked to perfection - succulent and falling off the bone, while my friend tried the falafel wrap, which was fresh and well-seasoned.

Both dishes were served with flavorful rice that left us feeling full and satisfied.

What truly set Aban Kitchen apart for us, however, was the impeccable service.

I've since gone back to Aban Kitchen and tried their chicken shawarma wrap, which was just as delicious as the lamb, albeit a bit oilier than I expected.

Their fries are also worth mentioning - crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, they're the perfect accompaniment to any meal.

Aban Kitchen · 114 S Illinois Ave, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · Mediterranean restaurant

Don Sol Mexican Grill

One of my favorite spots in the city to grab a bite is Don Sol Mexican Grill.

I've been here multiple times, and it never disappoints.

The colorful decor and upbeat ambiance make it a perfect spot for a casual dinner or a catch-up with friends.

Last week, I went there with my partner, and we chose to sit outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.

The food, as always, was excellent – I had their signature tacos while my girlfriend opted for a burrito.

What I particularly love about Don Sol is the unique menu options.

They offer a great variety of dishes, from the classics like tacos and burritos to more innovative plates like the Don Sol fajitas.

Don Sol Mexican Grill · 715 N Giant City Rd, Carbondale, IL 62902, United States
★★★★★ · Mexican restaurant

Longbranch Cafe & Bakery

One of my absolute favorite spots in town is the Longbranch Cafe & Bakery.

As a vegetarian, it can be hard to find diverse and delicious food options, but Longbranch has consistently impressed me with its eclectic menu.

Their menu offers a wide range of dishes, from breakfast classics to Asian noodles and even some mouth-watering nachos and falafel.

I love that there's always something new to try.

On my last visit, I had the pleasure of trying their matcha cupcakes and ginger chocolate cookies, both of which were absolutely divine.

I also enjoy sitting at their outdoor "bar" area, where I can relax in the shade, listen to the birds, and enjoy a delicious iced vanilla latte and stuffed biscuit.

Longbranch Cafe & Bakery · 100 E Jackson St, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · Vegetarian restaurant

Keeper's Quarters

I recently visited Keeper's Quarters for a special night out, and it did not disappoint!

The restaurant has a lovely ambiance, perfect for a romantic date or a celebration with close friends.

We started off with a delicious beef soup, and I couldn't resist trying their Reuben sandwich.

I must say, their French fries are truly out of this world!

I also treated myself to a juicy burger, which was cooked to perfection.

Another highlight of our meal was the Sunshine Pride Lemonade.

It was refreshing, beautiful, and sparkly – I highly recommend giving it a try!

Keeper’s Quarters · 817 S Illinois Ave, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Sunny Street Cafe

I absolutely love going to Sunny Street Cafe for brunch, and as someone who has tried various breakfast spots in Carbondale, I can confidently say that this place is the best!

Their menu is full of delicious options, and their service is top-notch.

I can't get enough of the sunny skillet and chicken and waffles - they're simply amazing!

And if you're looking for something different, the stuffed biscuits and gravy are to die for.

One of the things that makes this place stand out is its generous service and servings.

It's a perfect spot for gatherings with family, friends, or work colleagues.

Sunny Street Cafe · 900 E Walnut St, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · Breakfast restaurant

El Paisano Mexican Grill

Every time I visit El Paisano Mexican Grill, I'm always impressed by its fantastic food, excellent interior, and spacious seating.

Although the prices are on the higher side for Mexican cuisine in our area, the quality and taste of the dishes are definitely worth it.

The service is always on point, and their chips and salsa make a great starter while waiting for the main course.

My favorite dish to order is the steak tacos, which I highly recommend.

They're in the process of obtaining a liquor license and should have it by June, which will only enhance the dining experience.

One of the things that sets El Paisano apart from other Mexican restaurants in Carbondale is its extensive, varied menu with many authentic dishes to choose from.

I recently tried the chicken Veracruz, and it was absolutely delicious.

The dessert options are also great, with their flan being one of the best I've ever had.

El Paisano Mexican Grill · 1925 W Main St, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · Mexican restaurant


As someone who lives in the area, I've had the pleasure of dining at Hunan multiple times.

The spacious restaurant and bar offers a great selection of Chinese fare from various regions, including Sichuan and Cantonese.

One of my favorite dishes to order is General Tso's Chicken.

While I prefer it a bit crispier, the flavors are always on point.

Another must-try is the Orange Beef - it's simply amazing!

I also recommend the Chicken Coconut Curry (Panang Chicken) and Kung Bao Chicken.

Their Hot and Sour Soup is a perfect appetizer, with a nice, thick consistency that's not too watery.

Hunan · 710 E Main St, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · Chinese restaurant

Global Gourmet

Global Gourmet is an American restaurant in town that serves small New American plates and entrees.

I've been hearing great things about the place, so I decided to give it a try with a few friends.

From the moment we walked in, the atmosphere felt relaxed and inviting.

We were seated on their seasonal patio, which was a lovely touch to enjoy the nice weather.

To start, we ordered a couple of cocktails and wines, all of which were delightful, especially the old fashioned.

For our meal, I decided on the filet mignon with gorgonzola butter, mashed potatoes, and veggies.

Let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious – probably one of the best I've ever had!

My friends had the salmon and the lamb, both of which were cooked to perfection and packed with flavor.

Global Gourmet · 102 E Jackson St, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★★ · American restaurant

Yamato Steak House Of Japan

As a frequent visitor to Yamato Steak House of Japan, I must say that I have had some mixed experiences.

The food itself has always been tasty, especially their miso soup and house salad dressing.

The portion sizes are quite generous, and the prices are reasonable for the quality of food being served.

Yamato Steak House Of Japan · 1013 E Main St, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★☆ · Japanese restaurant

Chango's Bar & Grill

Just the other day, I decided to try out Chango's Bar & Grill, a Mexican restaurant in our city.

As soon as I walked in, I was welcomed by delicious smells and a clean, modern interior.

I ordered a burrito with chips and rice, and I was pleasantly surprised by the portion size.

It was definitely enough to satisfy my hearty appetite.

The food tasted fresh and flavorful compared to other Mexican fast-food places like Chipotle or Qdoba.

The service at Chango's was fantastic, and the late-night weekend hours make it an ideal spot for a quick, delicious meal after a night out with friends.

I can't wait to go back and try their other offerings, such as tacos and Mexican drinks.

I truly hope more people in our community get a chance to experience this gem of a restaurant.

Chango’s Bar & Grill · 519 S Illinois Ave, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★☆ · Mexican restaurant

Primo's Pizza

There's nothing like a good pizza to bring friends and family together, and that's exactly what Primo's Pizza does for us.

This casual pizza joint has been a staple in our community for some time now, and they never disappoint.

My go-to order is their "original" crust pizza, topped with high-quality cheese, fantastic sauce, and my favorite combination of bacon, shaved ham, and mushrooms.

One thing I love about Primo's is the variety on their menu.

Not only do they offer made-to-order and specialty pizzas, but their calzones are to die for.

If you haven't tried their Italian or Frisco calzones, you're missing out.

They are huge, delicious, and incredibly filling, making them perfect for sharing with family or friends.

And let's not forget their oven-baked subs and pasta dishes, which are just as fantastic.

Primo’s Pizza · 604 E Park St, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★☆ · Pizza restaurant

Pagliai's Pizza

One of my go-to spots for a delicious pizza night in Carbondale is Pagliai's Pizza.

I've tried several of their pizzas, but my favorite has to be the thin-crust house pizza with sausage, onions, and green peppers.

I also highly recommend their breadsticks with the fantastic tangy marinara sauce.

Whenever I have friends or family visiting from out of town, I always make a point to bring them to Pagliai's Pizza.

Pagliai’s Pizza · 509 S Illinois Ave, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★☆ · Pizza restaurant

Tequila's Mexican Restaurant

I recently visited Tequila's Mexican Restaurant and found it to be a quaint little establishment with good daily specials.

I went there for lunch and ordered their taquitos special which, despite having a few well-done portions, tasted great!

I simply removed the extra crispy pieces and enjoyed the rest of my meal.

The people working there were pleasant, making my first trip to the restaurant a comfortable experience.

Tequila’s · 100 N Glenview Dr #2275, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★☆ · Mexican restaurant

Sam's Cafe

Just last week, I decided to visit Sam's Cafe with a group of friends, and I have to say it was an excellent choice.

From the moment we walked in, the atmosphere was warm and inviting.

We started off with their famous Chicken Bacon Swiss Sandwich and some Mushroom appetizers.

I have to admit, I wasn't a big fan of fried mushrooms, but my friends seemed to love them.

The sandwich, on the other hand, was absolutely delicious, and I can't wait to have it again.

One of my friends tried the Deluxe Gyro Plate, and she couldn't stop raving about it.

We also shared a Pizza Puff, which was gone in minutes – it was that good!

Sam’s Cafe · 521 S Illinois Ave, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★☆ · Restaurant

Fujiyama Japanese Cuisine

Fujiyama Japanese Cuisine is a bustling Japanese outpost in my city, and I must say I was blown away by the experience.

The moment I walked in, I was greeted by an inviting and comfortable atmosphere that made me feel at home.

The place was well-maintained, clean, and had just the right amount of patrons, ensuring that it wasn't overcrowded.

The first thing I noticed was the lively hibachi dining area, which made for an entertaining meal.

I also indulged in some classic Japanese dishes and sushi, which were all absolutely delicious.

Fujiyama Japanese Cuisine · 225 N Giant City Rd, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★☆ · Japanese restaurant

Underground Public House

Just last week, I decided to visit Underground Public House for dinner with my family.

We were really excited to try this gastropub known for its rotating craft-beer selection and locally sourced American grub.

We ordered a variety of dishes, and I must say, the food presentation was top-notch.

The poutine was absolutely fantastic, scoring a solid 10/10.

Note that the schnitzel sandwich is huge and can easily be split into multiple meals, so don't worry about going hungry!

The ambiance of Underground Public House was pleasant, with lovely outdoor seating options available.

Underground Public House · 717 S University Ave, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★☆ · Gastropub

Pita Alley

As someone who lives in the area, I decided to give Pita Alley a try for a quick Mediterranean meal.

I've heard mixed reviews from friends, but I wanted to experience it for myself.

When I entered the restaurant, I was welcomed by friendly employees who seemed to care about making good food.

I ordered a gyro with extra meat and extra tzatziki sauce, as recommended by some of my friends.

The price was a bit high for a meal without sides or a drink, but I figured it might be worth it.

I was excited when I received my gyro as it was huge and looked delicious.

Pita Alley · 1711 W Main St, Carbondale, IL 62901, United States
★★★★☆ · Mediterranean restaurant

Final Thoughts

I can confidently say that Carbondale has no shortage of delicious dining options, whether you're craving Chinese food, Mexican cuisine, or a classic deep-dish pizza.

Throughout my time living here, I've enjoyed countless meals at these local establishments, and I'm always excited to discover new additions to the local food scene.

So, whether you're a fellow Carbondale resident or just passing through, I highly recommend giving these fantastic restaurants a try – your taste buds will thank you!

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