Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup - Celebratory Dinners

Regional road trips are all the rage right now. Many folks feel most comfortable hopping in the car with their loved ones and exploring sights that are off the beaten path. Some of those sights may even be in your own backyard! For plenty of regional travel ideas, check-in every Wednesday for a Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup on themed topics showcasing several destinations across the southern portion of the state. This week’s topic highlights some of the best places for a celebratory meal. For a lot of us, it’s not out of the ordinary to drive up to an hour for a dining experience we’ve been looking forward to. When it comes to food, there are so many wonderful restaurants in Downstate Illinois to experience - so why not highlight them? 


Carbondale offers several eclectic eateries perfect for a celebratory dinner large or small. Flame Grill and Bar offers innovative menu choices from fine dining to the weeknight dinner out with a fun atmosphere. With bold decor, generous portions, and an outdoor patio, it’s the perfect foundation for a captivating dining experience. Visit the hibachi grill at Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse for an exciting, entertaining meal. Serving a combination of hibachi style dishes and freshly made sushi daily, Fujiyama will be sure to please the whole dinner party. Global Gourmet serves up a combination of new American small plates and entrees along with an impressive collection of imported beers and wines. Enjoy an ever-changing menu in a classy space with a seasonal patio. Hunan Fine Chinese Cuisine offers fine dining and cuisine from various regions. It’s the place to enjoy an unforgettable dinner in an atmosphere of warmth and excellent service. Keepers Quarters is a gastropub serving elevated pub-style fare with a creative blend of sandwiches and refined plated entrees, appetizers, and desserts. Owned and operated by two brothers, Keepers Quarters offers no-frills food that prioritizes seasonal flavors from local food producers. Thai Taste is known for serving delicious Thai fare in an urban atmosphere. Meals may be customized for preferred level of spiciness. The signature pad Thai dish is a local favorite and can be topped with anything from tofu to shrimp. Underground Public House is a cozy pub focused on eclectic world beer cuisine and culture, featuring seasonal farm to table menus. Aside from lunch and dinner, there are more than 20 rotational craft beers on tap, and premium spirits and wines. Yamato Steakhouse of Japan offers delicious Japanese dining and takeout, with a modern interpretation of classic dishes. Made to order sushi dishes, make this a favorite. Quatro’s Pizza has been serving Chicago- style and thin-crust pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and salads since 1975. A favorite of locals and visitors alike. Grab a booth or push tables together, and don’t forget to take home the classic Quatro’s yellow cup. Italian Village has been serving up fresh pasta dishes and pizza for more than 50 years. Their updated interior and large outdoor patio make Italian Village a popular social gathering place for great food and fun. Pagliai’s Pizza is a family-owned casual Italian restaurant serving pizza and pastas for dine-in, takeout, or delivery. Push tables together or enjoy a private party in the event room, perfect for large groups.


Firefly Grill, for Any Occasion…

There’s so much to celebrate, at Firefly Grill! While you don’t need a special occasion to enjoy the fresh, farm and table cuisine at this award-winning roadhouse, Firefly knows the perfect way to commemorate each and every special moment in life. Home to countless proposals, baby shower brunches, weddings, graduation dinners and all the occasions in-between, Firefly cultivates a lively, yet intimate atmosphere, where every meal becomes a memory. Their eco-friendly roadhouse is an oasis, right in the heart of the Midwest. With their reclaimed barnwood exterior and ever-changing, seasonal menu, Firefly Grill provides the warm welcome of a small town with the gourmet flavors of the big city. Walk their on-site gardens, watch meals being prepared in their expedition kitchen and dine on their patio, overlooking Lake Kristie. The experience at Firefly goes far beyond ambience, of course. Firefly’s award-winning chef, Chef Niall, provides guests with a menu that boasts fresh, sustainable seafood, prime steaks, brick-oven pizzas and soulful, American-fresh cuisine. Using only the best ingredients, Firefly sources what they can from their on-site gardens, and what they can’t, they source from nearby artisan farms and local foragers and fishermen. From the moment you walk through the door to the first bite… from the highly-anticipated event to the after-dinner, celebratory dessert… you’ll feel like part of the Firefly family. The team at Firefly Grill is not only highly capable, but also a team that cares for and delights in helping create an experience, a moment, a memory… Celebrate your life, and all the moments in between at Firefly Grill, where you become part of the Firefly story… and Firefly becomes part of yours.


There are an abundance of restaurants and eateries in ILLINOISouth throughout our 22 counties. Whether you are celebrating an anniversary, graduation, promotion, or anything in between - ILLINOISouth offers some amazing venues. In our Western Region 1818 Chophouse in O’Fallon comes with an extraordinary dining experience with progressive, innovative cuisine. The options are endless - dive right in with an appetizer ranging from Crab Cakes to Goat Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates. Maybe a Soup or Salad like their Chophouse French Onion or Fried Green Tomato and Mozzarella. For an Entrée, you can try anything from Buffalo Shrimp Tacos and their Grilled Chophouse Burger, to flame grilled salmon, and filet mignon. With their beautiful view, luxury vibe, and remarkable food - you will celebrate anything just to come on back. At The W in Du Quoin, a special experience awaitsl. Once you get to Du Quoin, you can almost hear their house cut steaks, fresh fish, homemade pasta, gourmet burgers, custom cocktails and dessert calling your name. An outdoor seating area with fire pits and heaters is a great space to celebrate. There is a patio attached to a horse arena so you can watch horses as well! In our Eastern Region, enjoy a modern rustic vibe at Jovalou in Fairfield. Celebratory meals are even better with a cocktail, right? There is no shortage of drink options at Jovalou - sip on everything from a Raspberry Gin Fizz to a Southern Bourbon Sweet Tea, and so much more! There are so many great places to eat and celebrate in ILLINOISouth. For more information on all of our amazing restaurants – visit


Are you looking to celebrate a special occasion in Metropolis?  From company gatherings to personal milestones there are several restaurants that are ready to make your special occasion more special.  Cordavino’s Italian Kitchen has a separate seating space to accommodate groups of 40 or less.  You may choose to have a buffet style event or your guests may order from the menu.  With a full bar and extensive wine selection drinks are available for you as well.  If this is a quaint, private celebration Cordivino’s offers the unique Black Rock Grill dining experience which allows you to see your juicy steak cook right in front of your eyes at the table on a 775 degree black rock.  Couple this with perfect desserts and you have a celebration to remember.  Fat Edd’s Roadhouse is also a great place to celebrate in Metropolis.  This bar and grill is open to guests of all ages.  There is a separate banquet facility on the upper level that accommodates up to 75 guests for private parties and events.  Again, meals can be provided either buffet style or from the menu.  Fat Edd’s is a great place for drinks and the home to the Fat Edd’s Roadhouse Tea and Kryptonite specialty cocktail. Lastly, Bridges Dining Company located inside Harrah’s Metropolis Hotel is a great place to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or simply a night away from the house.  Secluded from the lights and sound of the casino, this dining facility offers a robust menu full of selection.  Cold beer on tap  and speciality drinks can be ordered from the full service bar.  And don’t think about having a celebration without a world-class dessert from Harrah’s.  Once your appetite has been satisfied you can walk steps to Harrah’s Casino to complete the night of fun.  Who knows? You may need to stay at the hotel and celebrate your big win with breakfast at Bridge’s the next morning! 

Mt. Vernon

It’s 2021 and we are “hopefully” coming out of a pandemic. It is time to (safely) celebrate every milestone that comes our way!  In Mt. Vernon, there are several places uniquely poised to host your celebratory dinner no matter the occasion! If you are looking for a fancy to-do, Rare Chop House has you covered from ambiance of the restaurant to the elegant cuisine and five-star service. Go early and grab and appetizer at the bar while you wait for your party to be seated in the semi-private or private dining areas. Don’t forget to make a reservation, especially if you have several celebrating with you! Located in the heart of downtown, Rare is known as the place to go to make your celebration special. If you are looking for a more casual celebration, check out Agave Mexican Restaurant on South 44th Street near the interstate. Agave will recognize your guest of honor with a sombrero to wear while they are there, and the food and drinks are festive and fun. Reserve the party room in advance or, if the weather is nice, enjoy dinner al fresco on the patio. Caesar, Amanda and the crew are sure to make you feel special as you celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other occasion. Uniquely situated where Interstates 57 and 64 meet, Mt. Vernon is an ideal location to join up with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while. Make any occasion a special occasion and enjoy time with those you love. Visit for a complete listing of restaurants, attractions and lodging. 

Southernmost Illinois

If you’ve got something to celebrate or even if you don’t, be sure these restaurants are on your radar. Once a secret meeting place for such notorious villains as Charlie Birger and Al Capone, Tom’s Place in Desoto now serves as one of the most renowned restaurants in Southern Illinois. Proprietor and Chef Lasse Sorensen spent eight years as an apprentice in Europe and ten years preparing critically acclaimed Californian cuisine before his passion for cooking lead him to buy Tom’s Place. Now, Chef Lasse and his wife Maryjane strive to keep Tom’s Place on the cutting edge of contemporary cuisine, offering an ever changing variety of gourmet dishes and wines to their grateful visitors. Crisp linen, fresh flowers and soft candlelight create an atmosphere of comfortable elegance, evidence of the couple’s polished, personal attention to detail. Located in Murphysboro, Cummare’s menu features authentic Italian cuisine featuring homemade sauces used in the lasagna and spaghetti, along with pizza dough and alfredo sauces, all made from recipes that have been in the family for years.  The name Cummare means "best friend" in Italian. Once you come in and try their delicious food in front of the rustic fireplace, sip a glass of wine, or sample some of the fantastic Italian desserts, you will agree that the name is well suited for this cozy restaurant. 


Eat, drink, and be merry in Williamson County! While we believe you can celebrate at any of our local eateries, we have a few that make celebrating extra special! Whether you’re looking for an intimate, upscale celebration or something spacious and casual for the whole crew, we have got you covered! Mary’s Restaurant in Herrin offers a great selection of gourmet food and decadent desserts, perfect for any special occasion! Share an intimate dinner for two or enjoy an evening with up to 90 of your closest friends in The Atrium. You can even book a room at the Mary’s Bed & Breakfast for those extra special celebrations! Bennie’s Italian Foods in Marion is another great spot for celebration! They have a large, private banquet room that can be rented for everything from birthday parties to rehearsal dinners to holiday parties, and more, with room for up to 80 guests! Offering various options for buffet style meals or individually served dishes, you can tailor your event to meet your needs! Mackie’s Pizza in Marion is the perfect place for a casual, family-friendly celebration! Enjoy easy ordering with party menu options and a large private room with plenty of space! They also have an arcade that will keep the kids occupied for hours!  Sergio’s Mexican Restaurant in Herrin is a fun, laid-back option that offers a private event space and great food! With margaritas by the pitcher and baskets of chips with salsa, you can make any gathering a celebration! A Johnston City staple, Andresen’s Café, recently underwent a renovation project to create a large event and celebration space! This beautiful new addition is a great setting for any special event. No matter what you’re celebrating, we’ve got the space for you in Williamson County!

Note: Occupancy rates may differ as Covid-19 protocols change.