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Last updated on December 1, 2022 by Wandering our World

Known as the crossroads of opportunities, Effingham is a thriving little town in central Illinois. There’s much to explore here, whether it’s the iconic 200 foot tall cross or the gorgeous Effingham County Museum. And if you’re a food enthusiast like us, you’ll be glad to know that the food scene is equally bustling.

Dotted with dozens of restaurants, you can let your culinary cravings go wild here, especially during the annual restaurant week when fun and festivities are in the air!

So we’ve rounded up some of the best restaurants in Effingham, IL, where you can experience top-class food and service without driving up to the big cities. Bon appetit! 

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Elihu Castillo Ramirez

Our Top Eight Picks for the Best Restaurants in Effingham, IL

1. Firefly Grill

Upmarket eatery with fantastic cocktails serving New American fare with ample outdoor seating offering stunning views of a pond and gardens.

Established in 2006 by power couple Niall and Kristie, Firefly Grill is arguably one of the most popular restaurants in Effingham, IL. This farm-to-table restaurant serves up new American fare in a stunning setting, where you feel like you’ve stepped on to a distant countryside farm (when in actuality, the highway is a mere half a mile away!).

Just walking up to the restaurant can uplift your spirits, as there are well-kept, lush green gardens surrounding the property. Inside, the atmosphere is lively and upscale in a modern dining room, with a spacious bar and chic decor. But in our opinion, dining alfresco is the way to go here, whether it’s at the front porch on cozy couches around fire pits or the back with a breathtaking view of a pond and fountain. So relaxing!

Even better than the ambiance is their high-end, meticulously prepared food. Made with produce grown on Firefly’s own farms and other local farms, the chefs here are always coming up with innovative dishes – the kind of stuff you’d see on Top Chef or Masterchef.

A tight yet inclusive menu ensures that everything they dish out is tailored to your preference and looks prim and perfect. Small plates include lots of vegetarian picks, and the salads are the freshest and most vibrant. Luxurious steaks with a demi-glace also grace the menu, as do some fresh and creamy seafood risottos. You can also go easy and choose from one of their brick-oven pizzas.

Almost all sorts of dietary restrictions can be catered to here; top that with their attentive service, and you’ll be left feeling like an absolute king! 

On Sundays, you can dive into a glorious brunch spread (10 am – 2 pm), with a side of mimosas and Bloody Marys. Firefly Grill is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am onwards, and Monday, 4 pm onwards.

Address: 1810 Avenue of Mid-America, Effingham, IL 

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/bhofack2

2. Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse

Japanese specialties like Hibachi and sushi served in a casual atmosphere with a full bar.

Authentic Japanese cuisine served with a side of entertainment is what Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse is all about.

Specializing in Hibachi, the place has four Hibachi grills, where you can watch the talented chefs perform their magic up close as they walk you through the process while showing off their skills. The atmosphere itself is relaxed and casual, with deep orange walls, comfy booth seats, and a spacious sushi bar, so you can walk in with a T-shirt for an elegant meal of Japanese delicacies, and no one will bat an eye. 

Lunch comes with a relatively short menu dotted with all the Japanese favorites one could want. A handful of appetizers that include Gyoza and shrimp Shumai grace the menu, after which you can get some Hibachi grill action going, taste freshly rolled sushi or opt for the flavorful Teriyaki picks.

The same goes for dinner, except that the menu selections are much wider, with creative special rolls on offer. The sprawling list of dinner appetizers includes some fresh oyster tempura and Tako Su (steamed octopus), and mains extend to surf and turf platters and exciting noodle picks like shrimp Lo Mein. And although they’ve got generous pours of wines and cocktails on offer as well, nothing beats their plum Sake – definitely try it! 

Portions are always generous, and the place is kid-friendly with a nice little kids’ menu too, so everyone leaves happy and satisfied! They’re open every day from 11 am onwards – try and get reservations for Hibachi grill seats! 

Address: 1302 Avenue of Mid-America Suite C, Effingham, IL

3. Gabby Goat American Pub and Grill 

Pub grub served in a casual atmosphere with TVs, games, and a semi-enclosed patio.

On days when you aren’t in the mood for an elaborate dinner scene, Gabby Goat always comes to the rescue with comfy pub grub.

This relaxed, friendly little sports bar has been around for quite some time, where locals flock to for hanging out over some fantastic drinks and casual eats. A buzzy, chatty atmosphere prevails inside the dining room, where you’ll find a long bar, plenty of tables, TVs, a pool table, and even some arcade games – talk about a fun night out! Their semi-enclosed patio seating offers a quieter dining experience, which by the way, also has a small bar. 

Gabby Goat’s menu is all about relaxed, satisfying meals, so don’t be surprised when you receive huge portions! It mainly revolves around handhelds, which include gigantic, juicy burgers, a creative cross between a taco and a hotdog called ‘Walking Taco Dog’, and sandwiches piled high with fillings.

Flatbreads, wraps, and salads can also be devoured, along with cheesy and sticky tidbits like nachos, tater tots, and some gooey smoked gouda mac and cheese bites – a regular favorite.

Dinner specials often include hand-cut steaks, ribs, and pasta, along with dozens of craft beers, sipping tequilas, and splendid margaritas! 

Open every day from 11 am onwards, this long-running pub is the place to be for chilling out over great food and beer. Oh and, we’ve heard they throw electrifying Halloween parties each year, with contests, lots of drinks, and groovy music! 

Address: 303 E Fayette Ave, Effingham, IL

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/KucherAV

4. Joe Sippers Cafe 

Local cafe serving house-roasted coffee, breakfast, and lunch bites with seasonal outdoor seating and occasional live music.

If you love the warm feeling of stepping inside a cozy coffee shop for a cup of joe, you’re going to love Joe Sippers Cafe – a true local gem.

This cute little cafe has been around for over 15 years, serving the neighborhood and travelers with rich, house-roasted coffees, breakfast and lunch bites, as well as homey baked goods. It’s spacious yet really cozy inside here, with warm colors, comfy couches, pretty plants, and art made by local artists hanging on the walls (which is often on sale, by the way!). Hop in for a quick bite or settle down for work with some coffee – the relaxing and quiet atmosphere is great for everything. 

Apart from the enticing spread of pies, cookies, and muffins that make you want to abandon all your calorie-burning plans, Joe Sippers also offers a light lunch menu. It mainly involves wraps and sandwiches, but they aren’t like your average cafe food. They’re warm, served on freshly baked bread, and filled with meat and fillings – they really don’t skimp on them! For example, their Pig and Fig Grilled Cheese is a fan favorite, filled with fig jam, bacon, and pimento cheese spread, and makes for a very tasty lunch.

Healthy picks like a vegan Thai wrap stuffed with marinated tofu and veggies in a spinach wrap are also offered, along with vibrant, fresh salads with house-made dressings. They’ve got you covered for breakfast too, with stuff like avocado bagels, hefty breakfast wraps, and cheesy Frittata egg bites on the menu.

And of course, let’s not forget their smooth and rich coffee and specialty drinks (pumpkin maple latte, anyone?) – that’s the main reason why locals choose Joe Sippers over the likes of Starbucks! The cafe remains open every day except for Sunday, from as early as 6 am. 

Address: 114 S 4th St, Effingham, IL

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Alisa Korolevskaya

5. Taqueria Don Pedro 

Mexican eats influenced by South Mexico offered in a cheery environment with rooftop and patio seating. 

Effingham has more than its fair share of Mexican joints, but Taqueria Don Pedro’s passion and dedication to serving great-tasting authentic Mexican food really makes it stand out.

Serving Mexican delicacies influenced by the South Pacific coast since 2009, Don Pedro goes out of its way to ensure your dining experience is excellent. Whether it’s the courteous FOH staff, hard-working cooks, or the atmosphere itself, this place checks all the boxes of a good Mexican restaurant.

Sitting inside here is a laid-back and comfortable experience (so you can chow down tacos and cheesy chimichangas without a care in the world), but nothing beats their fantastic rooftop dining setup offering skyline views of the town. They’ve also got patio seating during warmer months for you to settle and sip on their fantastic margaritas.

A carefully curated menu offers hearty portions of all your Mexican favorites done right. Be it the loaded enchiladas or the flavorful fajitas, you’ll find everything to be authentically Mexican and cooked to perfection. A section of the menu features cook Ede’s dishes that she’s been cooking for her family for decades. Handmade tamales inside banana leaves, refreshing fish tacos topped with a tangy chipotle sauce, and a creamy shrimp pasta Verde are some of her unique recipes that are bound to delight your taste buds.

Vegetarian and a few gluten-free picks ensure everyone can be a part of the flavorsome experience, as colorful margaritas flow freely throughout the day.  

Seasonal specialties also grace the menu, so you’ll always find this place alive and bustling with folks who can’t get enough of their food. Open Monday to Saturday, 11 am onwards, Don Pedro is easily one of our favorite restaurants in Effingham! 

Address: 307 W Jefferson Ave Suite 101, Effingham, IL

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Gulcin Ragiboglu

6. Niemerg’s Steakhouse 

Long-running, quaint eatery serving homestyle American favorites in a family-friendly atmosphere

Established all the way back in 1978 by two pals, Niemerg’s Steakhouse has fed locals with homestyle cuisine for decades and remains one of the top restaurants in Effingham to this date.

The secret behind their success lies in their scratch-made food made from family recipes, and the old-school charm inside this quaint place definitely helps keep the place packed with loyal customers.

They’ve got various seating arrangements in different dining rooms, and they all have a very 1970s feel to them that can remind you of the comfy vibe in your grandma’s house. An extensive salad bar and their Brass Rail Lounge with TVs are also a part of the restaurant, where you can chug down iced beers while watching a game. 

Their menu is eclectic yet relaxed, offering everything from steaks, burgers, pasta, and fried tidbits. Start with their garden basket of fried zucchini, mushrooms, and onion rings before moving on to even heartier and generously-portioned mains.

The bourbon glazed sirloin that’s marinated overnight makes for an excellent steak dinner, while the Cowboy burger stuffed with onion rings and bacon is great for a hefty, satisfying meal of cheesy goodness. No matter what main dish you order, you get guaranteed access to their salad bar that has loads of fresh stuff and homemade soups too.

Oh and, they’ve got great lunch specials every day, and their coffee shop has all the decadent breakfast favorites – think waffles and steak n’ eggs – one could ever want. Sunday mornings also come with a glorious breakfast buffet (7.30 – 10.30 am), so don’t forget to check that out! 

The affordable prices are the cherry on top that has kept this place at the top of the game, so drop by any day from 6 am onwards for breakfast, lunch, coffee, or dinner – they’ve got you covered for everything.

Address: 1410 W Fayette Ave, Effingham, IL

Photo for illustrative purposes only (iStock.com/YuraWhite).

7. Gopher’s Grill 

Sports bar offering delicious bar eats and entrees in a lively atmosphere with a patio, along with simulators, arcade games, and more 

Food, drinks, and fun games are the ultimate ingredients for a night out with friends, and there’s no place better than Gopher’s Grill for that.

Dishing out elevated versions of typical bar fare and hearty entrees, this place offers a lively, exciting atmosphere, where people are either scarfing down delicious eats, playing games, or doing both!

Whether it’s catching a game on one of their many screens or showing off your skills with their sports simulators, Gopher’s Grill ensures your meals are doused in entertainment. They’ve even got ping pong, pool tables, and a whole floor dedicated to arcade games, so there’s never a dull moment during your visit here. Or, you could cozy up on their charming, fenced-in patio for a delicious meal minus the buzzy background noise.

Despite being packed with fun stuff to do, the main attraction remains their skillfully prepared food. Try the number of yummy-looking appetizers they’ve got, such as parmesan-breaded mozzarella balls and a refreshing shrimp cocktail before you move on to the mains.

Handhelds include sandwiches and wraps, and boy can they whip up some mean burgers! Their gooey Mac Daddy burger comes stuffed with housemade mac and cheese, bacon, and even more cheese, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular picks. Made-to-order entrees like the ribeye or the shrimp scampi are also worth trying checking out in case you’re not in the mood for finger foods.

Vibrant cocktails flow freely in the dining room, so do try your luck with one of their simulator games before you get too tipsy! Gopher’s Grill is open every day from 10.30 am onwards, and when it comes to fun this place is easily one of the best restaurants in Effingham, IL.

Address: 206 W Jefferson Ave, Effingham, IL

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/Trygve Finkelsen

8. The Pizza Man

Long-standing restaurant serving thin-crust pizzas and salads in a casual atmosphere 

Although The Pizza Man looks like any other typical pizza parlor with its cozy brick walls, counter service, and casual seating arrangements, it’s far from ordinary.

You’ll know that’s true once you step inside, as the place is usually packed with locals dining in or popping in and out for their to-go orders – it’s an obvious favorite among restaurants in Effingham, IL. There’s something about this long-running pizza place that keeps drawing the customers back for more, and we believe their irresistible pizzas is the culprit! 

Their extensive menu of thin-crust pizzas becomes even more exciting once you realize how affordable they are. Choose from one of their specialties – say, the BBQ chicken or the yummy cauliflower crust pizza – or build your dream pizza by adding as many toppings as you want. No matter which pizza you get, they’re always cut into small squares (unless you request otherwise) with a gooey, satisfying cheese pull! Those pizzas in themselves make The Pizza Man one of the best restaurants in Effingham, IL!

They’ve also got wings doused in various sauces – the sriracha bourbon and sweet and spicy BBQ are particularly delish! – along with some loaded sub sandwiches in case you’re looking for a light bite. Oh and, let’s not forget their cute salad bar that’s always packed with fresh stuff and is very popular among regulars.

Do check out the lunch specials with even more attractive price tags and the same stellar flavors! They’re open from Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am onwards, and Sunday, 4 pm onwards. 

Address: 604 W Jefferson Ave, Effingham, IL

Photo for illustrative purposes only: iStock.com/JulyProkopiv

Our Favorite Restaurants In Effingham, IL – Final Thoughts 

Savoring good food amidst small-town vibes is an experience hard to beat, and there are many local restaurants in Effingham, IL offering just that. So give our favorite picks a try and find out what all the hype is about!


  • Wandering our World

    Hi and welcome to Wandering our World! This article was written by one of the Wandering our World team - a team of travel enthusiasts who live around the globe.