Illinois’ fall menu is filled with hearty fare and full-bodied drinks. Here’s our list of 12 favorites statewide that show off our state’s full range of seasonal flavors. Find them all on the map below and start planning your epic eating tour.
Of all the things to do at Curtis Orchard, and there are a lot, eating a donut from their bakery is a must. The donuts are made from scratch daily using local ingredients, like apples from the orchards next door. The cinnamon-sugar apple crisp is a classic, but you can’t go wrong with any of their other varieties.
Pick your own apples, drink apple cider, eat apple pie and explore apple orchards in Illinois.
As if you needed another excuse for something pumpkin-flavored, Grandma D’s Bake Shop at Didier Farms has the most scrumptious pumpkin donuts of the season. Baked in small batches every day, these handmade donuts are infused with fresh-picked pumpkin from their own patch. Get one with orange frosting and candy corn-colored sprinkles so your dessert matches the vibrant fall colors.
In case you do want more pumpkin-flavored goodies, the Homestead Bakery at The Great Pumpkin Patch serves pumpkin-flavored ice cream and a really good non-pumpkin flavored pulled pork sandwich.
Cranberries aren’t just for making sauce on Thanksgiving. They can also be used for making delicious wine, which is what the folks at Galena Cellars have done. Their Cranberry Wine has just the right amount of tartness to complement the richness of your favorite fall foods. Go all out and have it hot and spiced for some additional autumn feels.
Read why the rolling hills and verdant prairies of the Galena region make such amazing grapes with the Galena Wine Experience.
Fall’s arrival is a great occasion to pop a bottle of bubbly and celebrate. The minimal sweetness and full-bodied flavor with hints of raspberry make the Brut Ombré Rosé from Illinois Sparkling Co. is a natural choice. Its subtle color variations with extra tints of red or gold make each bottle unique and reminiscent of the colorful fall leaves outside.
Gin isn’t typically aged in oak barrels, but then again there’s nothing typical about Blaum Bros. Distillery. Their Oak Reserve Gin features bold flavors not normally found in gin, like oak or smoke. That’s because it absorbed them from spirits previously aged in those barrels. Each sip takes your taste buds on a metaphorical trip to a forest full of changing leaves.
Raise a glass to all the amazing wine, beer, and spirits makers in the great state of Illinois.
The Oktoberfest lager from Tangled Roots Brewing Co. traces its origins to a certain German fall festival celebrated on the 10th month of the year. This traditional beer is rich yet, smooth with malty flavors, a creamy texture, and a subtle, hoppy spiciness. It’s a great drink for celebrating the harvest or the end of daylight savings or any other fall-related occasion.
A distillery might not be the place you expect to see beautiful fall colors. But the deep brown, vibrant orange, and arresting red of Whiskey Acres’ Bold Fashioned rival any landscape. Not only is this cocktail pretty to look at, it tastes pretty great. It’s smooth, slightly sweet, and a tiny bit bitter with herbal hints, and a kick of rye.
Read more about where else you can get a glass of smooth whiskey.
A favorite at tailgates up and down the state, no sausage spells fall like the bratwurst. At Fast Eddie’s Bon Air, the Homemade Bratwurst is perfectly grilled and no-frills. The sausage is made using an old local recipe that’s distinctly seasonal but tastes timeless. Maybe it’s because it still sells for the same price it did when the bar opened.
Take a road trip to find the best diners, drive-ins, and dives and eat like a Guy (Fieri).
Back in 1946, Cozy Dog was the first place to put corn dogs on sticks. Of course, sticks aren’t the only thing that sets Cozy Dogs apart. There’s also the batter. It’s what gives Cozy Dogs their golden leaf-in-autumn color. And it’s what makes them taste and feel like a loaf of cornbread fresh out of the oven on an autumn afternoon.
Continue the mother of all road trips on Route 66 and visit nearby Bloomington-Normal.
The Horseshoe at Obed & Isaac's Microbrewery and Eatery covers all three main fall food groups: savory, starchy, and cheesy. The sandwich is made by taking your choice of protein, laying it onto Texas toast, topping it with fries, and smothering it with a one-of-a-kind cheese sauce. You’ll be glad you wore your loose fall sweater after eating one.
The Horseshoe isn’t the only must-try food in Illinois. There’s a whole list of other gotta-have Illinois foods you can’t leave without eating.
The 14 oz. Ribeye at Firefly Grill is a carnivore’s dream. The steak is covered in a savory melted herbed butter and rich demi-glace that complement the meat’s velvety texture and bring out its succulent flavors. It’s then pan-seared to perfection and paired with a whipped potato for a gourmet version on the classic meat and potatoes fall dinner combo.
A short drive from the Firefly Grill, you’ll find our state capital, Springfield, and all its historic charm.
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