Viewing posts categorised under: Food

27 Underrated Metro East Destinations

Tiffany Garavaglia
Attractions, Beer, Farms, Food, News, Orchards, Shop Local, Shopping, Wine, Wineries

The River Front Times recently published an article on the 36 Metro East Destinations That Are Totally Underrated and since so much in our territory was listed we decided to break down the underrated spots that fall in ILLINOISouth. See the List Below: (more…)

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Dining Around with Dan: Jonny’s Pizza in Fairview Heights

Tiffany Garavaglia
Dining Around with Dan, Food

About Jonny’s Pizza and Pasta

Jonny’s Pizza and Pasta is located in Fairview Heights, Illinois only 15 minutes from St. Louis and Scott Air Force Base. The owner, Jon Weaving, opened Jonny’s in 2008 after a long-term relationship with the love of pizza. Jon says his favorite thing on the menu is his Chicago-style pizza and that it is a staple in their house. Pizza is not the only thing you will find on their menu. They also have a great selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and deserts. Jonny’s is open Tuesday through Sunday (check full hours below) and always has a great special going on. (more…)

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Sights to See: Casey

Tiffany Garavaglia
Accommodations, Attractions, Food, Life's A Trip, Outdoors, Recreation, Summer

It’s time to start planning for vacations this year! ILLINOISouth is home to many great sights and has something for everyone. This combined with our restaurants and dining options you can make a whole trip out of our Sights to See!

In this edition of Sights to See check out the city of Casey. Casey is home to several “World’s Largest” items featured in the Guinness’s Book of World Records. Spend the day snapping pictures with you in the largest rocking chair and let the kids send a letter from the World’s Largest Mailbox.


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Sights to See: Carlyle Lake

Tiffany Garavaglia
Accommodations, Attractions, Food, Life's A Trip, Outdoors, Recreation, Summer

It’s time to start planning for vacations this year! ILLINOISouth is home to many great sights and has something for everyone. This combined with our restaurants and dining options you can make a whole trip out of our Sights to See!

In this edition of Sights to See check out Carlyle Lake. Check out the events to celebrate the 5oth anniversary of the lake. There is plenty to see and do around Carlyle!


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Hot Java Warms ILLINOISouth

Bill Beggs
Attractions, Food, Holiday Guide, Tourism Times

For some folks just hoping to wake up, the end justifies the means, so they grab a warmed-over cuppa joe at McDonald’s or a Casey’s, “to go.” (And don’t let the door hit you on the fanny on your way out.)

For a coffee snob, this just won’t do! They want their coffee to stay.

When the weather outside is frightful during a hectic holiday season’s hustle and bustle, the chill may encourage shoppers to beat feet from storefront to storefront. But our area’s one-of-a-kind coffee emporiums provide respite, a haven for as long as you want. While you sip the steaming, fragrant elixir of life, you can even compare gifts. (For who would dare embark on a retail therapy session alone? Humbug! )

Throughout the burgs and villes of ILLINOISouth are coffeehouses that will make you forget there was ever a premium coffee that starts with Star and ends with bucks. And most of these java joints serve freshly baked pastries that are “slap-your-grandma good.”

Red Roaster in MaeystownWe even found one place that roasts its own beans, the Village Kaffeehaus in Maeystown, via the Lil’ Red Roaster. But you’ll have to hold off on your fix until Saturday, because most places in this authentic German village aren’t open until the Wochenende (weekend).

Sacred Grounds in Edwardsville gets its beans from a St. Louis company called Mississippi Mud. Others use beans from fine roasters in The Lou such as Chauvin or Kaldi’s. But the important thing is what they do to the brew, whether you like it black or all frou-frou—a latte, mocha or cappuccino (gesundheit).

The baristas at Mokka Café in Columbia spice up their brews with pumpkin flavoring at Thanksgiving. But why stop there? They make pumpkin-flavored gooey butter cake and whip up a pumpkin-pie latte. Closer to Santa-time is when you can enjoy a peppermint mocha or gingerbread latte here.

Any coffeehouse worth its caffeine pays great attention to ambiance. (Read: art and interior architecture.) Mokka’s walls are done in pallet wood and corrugated aluminum. Artists do murals on the chalkboard wall; kids create their own masterpieces on a chalkboard table while their parents, who’ve finally dropped after shopping, may relax.

s Cup in OlneySacred Grounds, famed for its vegetarian menu, rotates works from local artists. Ophelia’s Cup in Olney does the same, often spotlighting elementary-school talent. They’ve displayed works by autistic artists. And you can help yourself to a book, as well as leave one or a few, in the shop’s book nook.

Not sure what the brew du jour is? Check out the Facebook page, which many stores update as often as daily, among them The Coffeehouse Co. in O’Fallon. Sacred Grounds in Newton prides itself on a different flavor every day.

And don’t be disappointed to find your caffeine dealer closed on this day or that. Java Joe’s Coffee House, the pride of Centralia, is shuttered Sundays and Mondays… just like most self-respecting local barbershops.

The Abbey doesn’t sound like the name for a coffee shop. Well, Belleville locals will tell you it’s all that, and more. Not only will you find fair-trade coffees and teas, but crafts from around the globe. The Abbey leads a bit of a double life, so if espresso has kindled a holiday romance, after 5 it’s time to warm it up with spirits and maybe a bit of mellow music, often live jazz.

The Abbey in Belleville

There’s no time like the holidays, of course. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so let’s have some coffee, and tawk.

Click Here to find information on these and other great coffee houses and restaurants on our website.

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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TURN UP THE HEAT – Chili cook-offs in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
Events, Fall, Food, What's Happening

Communities all over ILLINOISouth come together this time of year to celebrate the best part of Fall…STEAMING POTS OF CHILI!!!

Individuals, businesses and community groups bring their A-games to festive events every year, with one goal – to make the best chili in town. Searching far and wide, they find the best meats, the hottest peppers, the right blend of beans, and secret ingredients that they simmer to perfection.

While you’re chowing down on chili peruse a variety of vendors, entertainment, art exhibits, children’s crafts and more – you can even carve a pumpkin in some cases.

Not a chili fan? Most events offer several great food and beverage options making for a well-rounded menu.

October 3 – 4
Chili Cook-Off
Downtown Belleville
Belleville’s Chili Cook-off features the culinary creations of individuals, local organizations & area businesses, as well as children’s area and entertainment throughout the weekend!

October 4
Du Quoin Fall Festival
Keyes Park, Du Quoin
There will be craft vendors, chili cook-off, live D.J. and open mic, Elvis impersonator and whistle pigs.

October 11
Chili Cookoff
Make a day of it at the chili and salsa contests, washer tournament, bike show, white lightening run, music, truck pulls, children’s activities, craft show and fireworks.

October 11
Chili Cook-Off
It’s chili tasting for all, and prizes for the best chili, people’s choice and best decorated booth. Kids activities, wine tasting, additional food items, beer, soda and other beverages are also available.

October 18
Fall Festival, Chili Cook-Off, Craft Fair
Dupo Community Park, Dupo
The whole family will have fun tasting the chili, browsing the arts & craft and food vendors and enjoying live music and games.

October 18
Fall Fest & Chili Cook-Off
This annual event has something for the entire family. There’s a Chili Cook-off, Car Show, craft & product vendors, children’s area, food and entertainment. In the Chili Cook-off you can sample over 20 kinds of chili. The Car Show offers a variety of makes and models. The wide variety of Craft and product vendors that line Main Street is just the place to start your Christmas shopping. The free children’s activity area has crafts, bounce houses and the highlight is the story time featuring the Mascoutah Library Players, who bring a season story to life. From 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 618-566-2244

October 25
Chili & Soup Cookoff
New Baden Village Park, New Baden
There’s a Tasters’ Choice competition for both chili and soup with prizes awarded in both categories. Families will find a craft fair, touch-a-truck equipment display, bounce houses and more.

October 25
88th Annual Halloween Parade & Fall Festival & Craft Fair
Centralia Recreation Complex & Downtown, Centralia
This parade is older than the Macy’s parade and features floats, marching unites, horses, old fire trucks, costumed characters, school bands and more. The Fall Festival is held during the day with a children’s parade, chili cook-off, mini train rides, haunted house, craft fair, games for the kids, food and car show.

October 25
Fall Festival
Downtown Collinsville
The day is packed with fun family festivities that include Trick or Treating, a Chili Cook-Off from 10am to 3pm, a Children’s Costume Contest at noon, and a Pet Parade that steps off from the Dog Park at 2pm.

November 22
Santa’s Holiday Avenue Parade & Chili Cook-Off
2000 Edison Ave., Granite City
Large holiday parade with over 100 entries followed by Chili Cook-Off and vendor festival. There will be St. Louis food trucks and local vendors as well as arts, crafts, jewelry and much more. Free stuff for the kids, face painting, pony rides, giant blow-up slide, bouncy house and train rides. 

November 22
Holiday Happenings
Red Bud
A full day of fun is on the menu with a chili cook-off and deer sausage competition, trolley rides, home tour and taste of Red Bud and make sure you don’t miss Santa’s arrival to town at noon!

Love Fall events? Click here to check out our recent post about Fall Festivals in the region!

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Heartland Rivers Wine Trail

Alex Matthews
Attractions, Food, Tourism Times, Wine, Wineries

Wine down in ILLINOISouth along The Heartland Rivers Wine Trail…

The Wine Trail is an endless adventure through ILLINOISouth. Visitors can enjoy the extraordinary flavors – from their sophisticated dry reds to the popular sweet country wines . . . each winery offers a unique and often surprising experience.

The trail’s twelve wineries produce over 100 different wines, following a tradition of fine winemaking established by early settlers of Illinois who brought their wine-making expertise from Europe. Each winery is different. Small to medium in size, all proud of their well-crafted red and white wines that range from bone dry to dessert sweet.

Heartland Rivers Wineries:
Bretz Wildlife Lodge & Winery (Carlyle)
15469 State Rte. 127 | Carlyle, IL 62231 | 618-594-8830

Crooked Creek Winery (Centralia)
24585 W. 10th Street Rd. | Centralia, IL 62801 | 618-495-2161

Forsee Vineyards & Winery (Coffeen)
18165 N. 4th Ave. | Coffeen, IL 62017 | 217-534-6347

GenKota Winery (Mount Vernon)
301 N. 44th St. | Mount Vernon, IL 62864 | 618-246-9463

Hidden Lake Winery (Aviston)
10580 Wellen Rd. | Aviston, IL 62216 | 618-228-9111

Mary Michelle Winery & Vineyard (Grafton)
Pere Marquette State Park Lodge | Grafton, IL 62037 | 618-786-2331

Orchard View Winery (Alma)
307 2nd St. | Alma, IL 62807 | 618-547-9911

Plainview Vineyard (Plainview)
10456 2nd Rd. | Plainview, IL 62685 | 618-836-5514

Roundhouse Wine Co. (Centralia)
1938 Dogwood Ln. | Centralia, IL 62801 | 618-532-1600

Schorr Lake Vineyards (Waterloo)
1032 S. Library St. | Waterloo, IL 62298 | 618-939-3174

Springers Creek Winery (Edwardsville)
817 N. Rt. 157 | Edwardsville, IL 62025 | 618-307-5110

The Winery At Shale Lake (Williamson)
1499 Washington Ave. | Williamson, IL 62088 | 618-637-2470

Click Here to find out more about these and other great
ILLINOISouth Wineries!

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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Life's A Trip…to the Country

Alex Matthews
Attractions, Farms, Food, Life's A Trip, Museums

Life’s a Trip is a blog series that highlights similar attractions near each other, making each edition a perfect way to plan a day trip, or something to work in to a staycation!

marcoot cow_lo

Isn’t it time your kids found out where their food really comes from? At Marcoot Jersey Dairy & Creamery near Greenville, a tour includes petting a calf, seeing the milking parlor and watching how cheese is made. Before you leave, taste the cheese or homemade ice cream. Nearby is the American Farm Heritage Museum that has hundreds of tractors and other farm implements, along with hands-on activities and a train ride that circles the property. Both places offer an up close and personal look at agriculture.

While in Greenville, see the DeMoulin Museum’s unusual collection of Lodge Initiation Devices dating back to the 1890s. Who wouldn’t want to see the Lifting and Spraying Machine, the Invisible Spanking Machine, the Lung Tester, and the Practical Goat? For art and architecture lovers, the Richard Bock Sculpture Museum at Greenville College gives tours by appointment. Bock is best known for his work with Frank Lloyd Wright.

bock museum_lo

Want to go?

Marcoot Jersey Dairy & Creamery, 526 Dudleyville Rd., 618-664-1110
Tours by appointment on Monday, Wednesday & Friday (cheese production days)

American Farm Heritage Museum – I-70 at IL Rte. 127, 618-664-3050
Open Saturdays 9am – 5pm, May – October, by appointment and for special events

DeMoulin Museum, 110 W. Main, 618-664-4115
Friday 1-3pm; Saturday 10aqm-2pm; Sunday 2-4pm or by appointment any day

Richard Bock Sculpture Museum, Greenville College Campus, 315 E. College Ave. 618-664-6521

This information originally appeared in the Spring/Summer Tourism Times 2013. Click here and sign up to receive three of these great seasonal guides every year at no cost!

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