Take a Quest off the Beaten Path in Southern Illinois


From a cabin in the woods full of taxidermy to a Swedish barn in the middle of wine country, these four southern Illinois restaurants definitely reside outside city limits. But while these destination eateries may require a short road trip, they're definitely worth the drive.

The Blue Boar
Just outside the small town of Cobden, Ill., the Blue Boar offers a unique atmosphere on top of its exceptional food. Said to bring a little bit of Louisiana to Illinois, the log-cabin-style restaurant offers a mix of Cajun cuisine and down-home BBQ.

The essence of Louisiana continues throughout the restaurant's atmosphere. In addition to several taxidermy animals, jazz instruments and Mardi Gras beads are strewn throughout.

Giant City Lodge
The beautiful scenery leading up to this restaurant is reason enough to take the trip, but it's the country-style cuisine that will keep you coming back. Nestled in the gorgeous Giant City State Park, the lodge is located in Makanda, Ill.

While the Giant City Lodge is famous for its all-you-can-eat, family-style fried chicken dinner, which comes with all the fixings, the menu is full of delicious comfort food.

And if the hostess tells you there's a wait (which there often is), don't worry. There's plenty to explore outside the historic stone building, including a water tower open for climbing that offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the expansive forest surrounding the restaurant.

The Peach Barn
If you head into Illinois wine country, you must make a stop at the Peach Barn, part of Hedman Vineyards in Alto Pass, Ill. Situated in a historic barn on the vineyard's grounds, this unique restaurant brings a taste of traditional Sweden to the area.

In addition to classic Swedish fare, like wiener schnitzel and Swedish meatballs, the café also hosts seasonal themed dinners throughout the year. The August menu makes the most of the area's delicious peach crop, while October takes advantage of southern Illinois' crisp apple abundance.

Scratch Brewing Company
Offering farm-to-table cuisine and beverages, this one-of-a-kind eatery is always changing. In addition to unique, seasonal in-house brews like a roasted carrot rauchbier or wild licorice stout, Scratch Brewing Company, in Ava, Ill., also makes its own soda.

The restaurant and brewery are located on the owners' farm, which is five miles outside the Shawnee National Forest. While the menu is small, it is locally sourced and includes fresh-baked bread and produce pulled straight from the nearby garden.

The newly opened farmhouse brewery has already received accolades from Outside Magazine and All About Beer Magazine (who said it's one of the most beautiful places to drink beer).

Emily Hunsaker has lived in southern Illinois for the majority of her life. In addition to her love of food, she also enjoys seeking out new and adventurous places to eat it.