Charleston Food Guide: 10 Must-Eat Restaurants & Street Food Stalls in Charleston

April 14, 2018 Joeann Galban

Charleston is a city in and the county seat of Coles County, Illinois, United States. The population was 21,838, as of the 2010 census. The city is home to Eastern Illinois University and has close ties with its neighbor, Mattoon. Both are principal cities of the Charleston–Mattoon Micropolitan Statistical Area.

1. Pagliai's Pizza

1600 Lincoln Ave Ste C, Charleston, IL 61920-3029 Delivery, Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol Italian, Pizza Dinner, Late Night +1 217-345-3400
Excellent
66%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
6%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 99 reviews

Pagliai's Pizza

Reviewed By MamaB126 - Charleston, Illinois

Love this hometown jewel!! Excellent pizza, spaghetti, salad and cheese bread. We have been going here since we went to college at EIU. We love the pizza (Pagliai's Special), salads (the house dressing is excellent!), spaghetti, cheese bread and always the friendly, hometown feel.

2. Dairy Queen

20 State St, Charleston, IL 61920-1454 +1 217-345-6886
Excellent
78%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
11%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 9 reviews

Reviewed By Janice1978 - Rochester, Mi

The other two reviews are about their food, but who goes to the Dairy Queen for food???? Their ice cream is superb--very thick and extra creamy. We are DQ aficionados and hardly ever pass one by--this one stands out as excellent. I started coming to this DQ in the early 1950's and my aunt comes here every night. We'll keep coming.

3. Jackson Avenue Coffee

708 Jackson Ave, Charleston, IL 61920-2004 Seating Cafe Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner +1 217-345-5283
Excellent
51%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 14 reviews

Jackson Avenue Coffee

Reviewed By Jean E - Longmont, Colorado

My mom and I used to frequent Jackson Coffee while she was still alive. We always appreciated the rich coffee in pretty mugs, the delicious sweet treats and the calm accepting atmosphere. Local art from the university makes for good conversation and the fruit smoothies are a good reason to go back.

4. Roc's Blackfront Restaurant and Lounge

410 6th St, Charleston, IL 61920-2025 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Bar, Pub Lunch, Dinner +1 217-348-8018
Excellent
39%
Good
46%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 46 reviews

Roc's Blackfront Restaurant and Lounge

Reviewed By Vicki M - Hutsonville, IL

Wow what a historic place to eat. This bar & grill has been a speakeasy, gambling den, restaurant.....you can just soak in the ambiance while you eat. Service was excellent, food was very good. Be sure to read all the history on the back of the menu. We'll be back!

5. Starbucks

437 W Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920-3022 Seating, Wheelchair Accessible Breakfast +1 217-345-5553
Excellent
27%
Good
55%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
9%
Terrible
9%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 11 reviews

Starbucks

Reviewed By Vicki M - Hutsonville, IL

I just had the craziest and most super-irritating thing happen at this Starbuck's. My husband and I were passing through today (we live about an hour away) and stopped in for coffee around 2 PM. There were several VERY PROMINENT displays and bins of the "Christmas Blend" ground coffee, coffee beans, instant coffee, etc. I took some to the counter to buy them. The counterperson said "We can't sell those to you, they aren't available yet". I said something very intelligent, like "Huh?" and he said "We can't sell those until tomorrow". I asked "Why do you have all this coffee out all over the store in all these displays if you aren't going to sell it ????" He replied "Can't well it until tomorrow". Well we walked out. This is CRAZY, Starbucks!!! Why do you have your stores put all this coffee out and then REFUSE TO SELL IT TO PEOPLE?!?!?!?
Guess I'll go to the grocery store and get Maxwell House. I bet they will cheerfully sell it to me.

6. What's Cookin'

409 7th St, Charleston, IL 61920-2046 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff American Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch, Dinner +1 217-345-7427
Excellent
44%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
11%
Terrible
4%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 68 reviews

What's Cookin'

Reviewed By sclptr - Charleston, Illinois

When traveling, my wife and I always inquire about where the locals eat breakfast. In Charleston, that's What's Cookin'. The waitstaff and kitchen folk make great breakfasts and lunches. Lots of variety and always delicious. Very friendly atmosphere and if you're lucky you'll get to sing happy birthday to someone! And oh, they make great muffins and their special strawberry bread, mmmmmmmm.

7. Brick House Bar & Grill

920 W Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920-2427 Takeout, Reservations, Parking Available, Free Off-Street Parking, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Accepts Discover, Seating, Waitstaff, Outdoor Seating, Accepts Credit Cards American, Bar, Pub Lunch, Dinner +1 217-512-2174
Excellent
40%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
16%
Poor
8%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 50 reviews

Brick House Bar & Grill

Charleston's newest upscale/casual restaurant, offering steaks, seafood, pasta and chicken dishes! Lunch & Dinner. Restaurant and Lounge Open Daily.

Reviewed By JohnVic_11 - Chicago, Illinois

We (my wife and I) were staying at Unique Suites, and Brick House is the restaurant associated with it. I'm not sanguine about restaurants tied to a hotel, but we were strangers to Charleston, didn't want to explore.
Great decision!
Brick House is a revelation. There were two specials (Monday, dinner) one of which was swordfish. My wife ordered that, and I had the Mediterranean salad. (We're older, don't need a lot of food at dinner).
The swordfish was like Ahi tuna, but without the tuna taste. I'll never eat swordfish again without comparing with Brick House.
We also got the soup de jour, which was a "variation of French onion." It was delicious, and something different about the stock which I couldn't place.
We (reluctantly) declined dessert, owing to our waistlines, but wonder how good those might be?
Our waiter was very, very good.

8. Smoky's House

300 W Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920-3019 Takeout, Seating, Wheelchair Accessible, Reservations American, Barbecue Lunch, Dinner
Excellent
40%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
19%
Poor
4%
Terrible
6%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 47 reviews

Smoky's House

Reviewed By Gary S - Decatur, Illinois

After a long day helping a friend through an inpatient hospital visit turned over night stay, I decided to treat myself to a dinner at Smokeys House BBQ.

I arrived a couple of minutes before 4pm. The waitress was an her phone talking to a friend so it took a couple of.minutes for her to notice me an say I can seat myself anywhere.

I looked at the lunch and dinner specials since it was right at 4pm, the end of lunch and the beginning of dinner.

I settled on the burnt end dinner and asked the waitress if it was close enough to 4 pm to order that and she said it was close enough.

I ordered a glass of water to drink and the order was placed.

The order came pretty quickly.

The fried were hot and crispy. The slaw was creamy. The cornbread came wrapped in a napkin and tore apart as I opened it.

The burn end were warm at best. At least they were lean and not globs of fat.

Shortly into the meal the waitress brought the bill and said she could take payment any time. That's a bit odd as most places bring the bill after you're done eating. Still that was better that having to wait on a bill.

Then I noticed they'd charged a dime for a glass of water. First time that had occurred here, but Maybe they needed the dime to pay for the Styrofoam cup?

Then I noticed the dinner I'd ordered at $12 on the dinner special menus was listed for $13. I looked at the time stamp on the receipt and it said 3.59.22.

Was I 38 seconds too early for the special?

I asked the waitress and she said she'd check on it an correct it.

She returned and told me the price was correct. They had just that morning raised their prices on everything.

I pointed out that their menus said $12 and checked 2vother to verify it wasn't a rogue menu.

No, all of the menus said $12.

She went back to tell the manager once again about the problem.

This time she returned and explained she'd entered it incorrectly the first time and the new price was $13.66!

The manager was too cowardly to actually come out herself and sent the poor waitress out to settle the dispute.

Well I paid the bill, left no tip, will not return, and am posting negative reviews on all the major review sites.

Enjoy the dollar you stole from me!

9. McHugh's Double Drive Thru

4 Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920-3030 Fast Food Lunch, Dinner +1 217-345-1071
Excellent
51%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
18%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 16 reviews

McHugh's Double Drive Thru

Reviewed By James P - Savoy, Illinois

We stop here when we're in town on business. The have a good variety at excellent prices. The serving of fries are enough for two people. The Burgers are good, and the sandwich choices a plenty. They have an excellent Ham and Swiss; and the only place I know that still sells am olive burger.

10. El Rancherito of Charleston

819 W Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920-2454 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Serves Alcohol Mexican Lunch, Dinner +1 217-345-5038
Excellent
45%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
11%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 27 reviews

El Rancherito of Charleston

Reviewed By MilesOfFun - Charleston, IL

The food was plentiful but rather bland. The menu has a good variety of choices and it is good, but not great, Mexican good. My enchilada was flat with very little cheese filling, but the red sauce was very tasty. Taco was just very lightly seasoned (I had to add some of the salsa from the chips to give it flavor) ground beef, a little shaved white cheese, and lettuce--- no tomato, nor sour cream. My husband did not like his chimichanga-said it was in a soft shell and he likes crispy and crunchy shells. He, too felt the ground beef filliing had little flavor. I guess if you're hungry Rancherito will do. Just don't expect outstanding Mexican food.

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