Five Carbondale restaurants alumni love the most


Quatros pizza is pictured Wednesday, Oct. 2017, at Quatros pizza in Carbondale. (Auston Mahan | @MahanuAuston_DE)

By Kitt Fresa

Great food is everywhere in Carbondale, and there aren’t many who know that better than SIU alumni. The Daily Egyptian asked graduates old and new what their favorite restaurants were when they were students, and here are a few of the most common responses:

Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza

Quatro’s got its start in 1976 and it has stayed exactly the same ever since, manager Brandon Trovillion said.


“Our interior, the way we do business, everything is the way it’s always been,” Trovillion said.

Pizza is the main attraction, of course, but they also offer a wide variety of other dishes like spaghetti, lasagna, plenty of sandwiches, soups and salads.

For Trovillion, the pizza never gets old.

“I’ve been working here for 10 years and I still eat it,” he said.

When events like homecoming come around, Trovillion said they see a lot of familiar faces.

“We get people who come here who say they graduated in the early ‘80s and used to eat here all the time and they were just back in town … and had to stop and eat here,” Trovillion said.

Address: 218 W Freeman St.


Hours: Every day from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Mary Lou’s Grill

Owner Marilynn Martin has a few suggestions for anyone looking to try her family-owned-and-operated restaurant, established in 1962.

“Our main dish is the biscuits and gravy, and we have homemade plate lunches, can’t really get them anywhere else,” Martin said. “Unfortunately no one seems to care anymore, I don’t think.”

Martin said SIU’s continual drop in enrollment combined with high city taxes has led to a significant decline in revenue for the restaurant.

Martin’s mother Mary Lou started the business and on Jan. 1, 1990, Martin took over.

“We are very blessed to have the business we’ve had all these years, but it’s going down, it really is,” Martin said. “During the eclipse, a lot of people were old alumni and they came in and they did us good, we had two good days right off the bat … I hope we see a big influx of alumni for [homecoming] weekend.”

Address: 18 S Illinois Ave. #5

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This word cloud was created to show the restaurants in southern Illinois that alumni enjoyed during their time at SIU and still enjoy today. The information was collected through informal social media outreach on the Daily Egyptian’s Facebook page.
(Abbey La Tour | @LaTourAbbey)

Harbaugh’s Café

Harbaugh’s, a breakfast-lunch café, has been a popular restaurant for students and locals alike since 2000.

Manager Jeff Formentini recommends just about anything on the menu.

“Any of our breakfast items, omelets, eggs benedict, corned beef hash,” Formentini said. “For lunch items, we have a good turkey club, a good reuben and then any lunch specials.”

Not much has changed at Harbaugh’s since 2000, including the menu, Formentini said.

The restaurant seats 50 people, is open every day of the week and often has a line out the door, he said. If you’re not a morning person, don’t fret — breakfast is an all-day affair at Harbaugh’s.

Address: 901 S Illinois Ave. #B

Hours: Every day, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Don Taco

Don Taco is famous among students for its Mexican cuisine and ultra-late hours, serving all the way until 1:00 a.m. every day.

For newbies to the restaurant, manager Victor Paneda recommends the big combo plates.

“Anybody that comes from the outside area, they mainly want to try the big combo plates which is a great option,” Paneda said. “Not many people know about that option.”

The restaurant will be moving to a new location soon, just down the road on Grand Avenue.

“It’ll be like a new beginning for us,” Paneda said. “We’re going to try and do things better, we’re going to have new items on the menu, we’re going to have specials … We want everybody to come try it out.”

Address: 600 E Grand Ave. #1

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Pagliai’s Pizza

Established in 1968, Pagliai’s is a Carbondale mainstay.

Owner Melissa Parsons recommends the Joe’s special, the Pag’s special, their pizza slices, pasta with homemade meat sauce, Italian beef, meatball sandwiches and more.

“We’ve grown with the university in lots of ways,” Parsons said. “We’ve expanded to catering, we have a partnership with the SIU Athletics… It’s been a really positive relationship with SIU over the years.”

Parsons has been working at Pagliai’s for 20 years, and she said throughout her time there she’s seen her share of students and alumni come through the restaurant.

“Seeing them use their degrees, become a success, have a family, come back and bring their kids back to show them where they went to school, it comes full circle,” she said.

Address: 509 S Illinois Ave.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Staff writer Kitt Fresa can be reached at [email protected]

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