5 Illinois Unique Diners

Ohio River Bridge

Illinois has plenty to offer in terms of awesome, must-try restaurants. Chicago is just the tip of the iceberg that is the state’s rich culinary tradition. In this article we look at five unique diners to check out in Illinois.

Cozy Dog Drive-In – Springfield, Ill.

The name says it all: a low-key diner that’s filled with memorabilia and All-American eats. The Chicago Tribune explains that the Cozy Dog Drive-In actually claims to be the first establishment to put a corn dog on a stick. Apart from gourmet dogs, they also specialize in burgers and chilli – exactly what you’d expect from a place that doubles as the fictional hometown of one Homer J. Simpson.

Nick’s BBQ – Alsip, Ill.

The village of Alsip isn’t exactly known for being a foodie destination. However, this all changed in 2017, when Nick’s BBQ moved in. If you’re in the mood for a full slab rib dinner, brisket, or Illinois’ take on the classic Philly steak sandwich, Nick’s is the place to be. The restaurant moved to Alsip in 2017 from Palos Heights and the reason for the move is actually a rather interesting story.

It happened shortly after the restaurant sold a $393 million Mega Millions jackpot ticket to lottery winner Patricia Busking, which earned the restaurant half a million dollars in proxy winnings. In comparison, Lottoland states that the U.S. Mega Millions jackpot now reaches $425 million. Selling the ticket for today’s jackpot would earn Nick’s BBQ considerably more money. However, while visitors are unlikely to find another winning ticket, what they will get is some of the state’s top barbecued ribs.

Legend Tasty House – Chicago, Ill.

Legend has it that fried ice cream was invented in Chicago, while others claim that it started in Japan or Thailand. Whatever the truth is, you can taste one of the best versions of this popular delicacy when you visit Legend Tasty House in the city of Chicago. It’s located in the heart of Old Chinatown, which also puts you within walking distance of some of the best savory dishes in the area.

Burt’s Place – Morton Grove, Ill.

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Burt’s Place is the Chicago area pizzeria that managed to convert deep-dish skeptic Anthony Bourdain into a full-blown believer. Pre-ordering is recommended as it takes some time to make their signature deep-dishes. Pair classic pepperoni and sausage flavors with the restaurant’s variety of craft beers and wines. This Morton Village institution is proof that the art of deep-dishes is alive and well in the suburbs of Chicago.

Durty Gurt’s – Galena, Ill.


Specializing in over-the-top, large portioned, experimental burgers paired with other greasy delicacies, Durty Gurt’s is arguably one of the best spots in Illinois for unadulterated comfort food. Its intense culinary offerings go well with the restaurant’s offbeat decorations. Sit in one of the restaurant’s flowery, up-cycled toilet seats and sink your teeth into what the Herald & Review calls one of Illinois’ best burgers.