Food — the heart of the soul and quite possibly, the portal to the center of the universe! For the typical Southern Illinoisan, it’s easy to find a “usual restaurant” for family outings or date nights. But, what if there were exciting and new places to eat not far from your back door?

Right in the heart of Carbondale, new restaurants are popping up left and right. Chango’s Bar and Grill is a top choice of local college students. Similar to Qdoba and Moe’s, Chango’s is a build your own taco, taco bowl, nachos or burrito bar. This place is for the choosy folks. Build your Mexican masterpiece from the tortilla to the toppings.

Another favorite taco joint is Taco Tierra. Located in Fairfield just a few miles east of Mount Vernon, this is a top choice of locals. There is nothing better than a Nacho Piggyback Taco, a hard shell taco coated in nacho cheese and wrapped with a soft taco shell. Taco Tierra’s mild sauce gives their tacos a unique edge with a sweet, tangy flavor.

Looking for something a little more on the mild side? There are some wonderful local bakeries to fulfill your sweet tooth. Rule of Pie in Murphysboro on Walnut Street is well-known for their picture-perfect pies and tiramisu. They are open Wednesdays through Fridays, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

If cookies are more your speed, head over to One Hot Cookie, on 14th Street in Murphysboro. This bakery has relocated from St. Louis to Marion and now to their new home in Murphysboro. Their storefront shop just opened in April and they’ve been hopping ever since. They sell cookies, pastries, cakes, pies and are happy to take orders for any occasion. They deliver orders and can ship cookies to friends and family in other states. They are well known for their gourmet cookies which include PMS, a peanut butter cookie with chocolate and peanut butter cups; Turtle, a chocolate cookie with caramel, pecans, and chocolate drizzle; and Extreme, a chocolate chip cookie covered in buttercream icing, candy pieces and drizzled with chocolate.

Late night cookies for the local college student can be found in Carbondale at Insomnia Cookies. This cookie shop is made for the insomniacs who need a sweet treat to keep them going. Insomnia Cookies offers online ordering and they deliver until 3 am. Obviously, these are a favorite for the college students of SIU, being open so late and right in the heart of The Strip. But don’t fret if you aren’t a student or a local, because these cookies can be shipped to friends and family.

Thanks to the local businesses of Southern Illinois, these restaurants and so many more have made it possible for locals to enjoy cuisines from all walks of life — or flavors of life in this case. It’s worth it to explore the expanse of the towns and cities in and around Southern Illinois.

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