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Dec 25, 2012 05:16 AM

Cairo Illinois for Chowhounds?

Suggestions, please!

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  1. I remember the town in the early 70's. Considering your question, I hope it's changed considerably.

    4 Replies
    1. re: 3MTA3

      I lived in Cape Girardeau in the late 80s/early 90s. Cairo was in bad shape then, too. I'd try Carbondale or Cape for chow.

      1. re: shaja

        We used to go through there on the way to Cape G. or St. Louis in the mid-90s. And yeah, I'd also go on to Cape or Paducah instead of like actually stopping your car and getting out in Cairo. (Heck, even Lambert's in Sikeston, MO is probably a better option if you can manage to not get hit by 'throwed rolls'.)

        It's a weird and creepy place, especially after dark.

        1. re: beachmouse

          Please...come to Paducah!
          Whaler's Catch
          Martin Fierro
          All superb historic downtown local restaurants that consistently draw big crowds with their amazing food!

          1. re: jnky

            Whaler's Catch was our big road trip date night when we lived in Martin, TN. Glad to hear it's still there and doing well.

    2. I have a hunch this would get better responses in either the 'Central South' or 'Great Plains' boards.

      sure it's in Illinois, but gosh Cairo's a good what, 10+ hour drive to anywhere near the Great Lakes? (and I know that's a gripe for Site Talk) but it begs the question - how then does one quantify Kaskaskia?

      there was a thread about places around Charleston, MO and Sikeston you might search out. only the riverbed changes much around there.

      1. My boyfriend and I were traveling from Wisconsin to Houston and as we wound our way south on I-57, we were contemplating a place to stay for the night. Just outside of Cairo was a motel that was popular with truckers, but not to our liking, especially mine.

        Michael asked a clerk at the gas station/convenience store we stopped at and she adamantly said there's nothing there, despite the I-phone listing a Best Western there.

        From what I've heard about Cairo growing up (the adults always spoke of it in terms of it being a terrible place with terrible people).

        While living in Carbondale years ago, my news editor recalled covering a story there. One of the locals came up to him and asked where he was from. My editor told him, Carbondale, to which he replied, "Oh Carbondale. That place is full of communists and heterosexuals!"

        So, the clerk's admonition suggested nothing much had changed.
        With that, we headed onward to Missouri, where we stayed at a very nice Drury Inn & Suites in Sikeston.

        5 Replies
        1. re: GibsonGirl55

          "Oh Carbondale. That place is full of communists and heterosexuals!"

          aww that's a classic. I have to fwd that to a friend who teaches at SIU-C.

          so I suppose a town of Post-Adam Smith free-market capitalist homosexuals would be preferable?... (I know, I know, but if that were the choice of Carbondales I bet I know which version would have a better sense of humor and food)

          I've only been to Cairo in the daytime a long time ago and it was weird even then. a small dusty claustrophobic place due to the levees. a river town with no view of the river. only attraction locals could boast of was a night club called "King Tut's" was curious but never made it there.

          and BTW if you didn't already know it's pronounced like the corn syrup, not the capital of Egypt.

          1. re: hill food

            That area is known as Little Egypt and the towns, like Cairo, have names that are pronounced differently than you'd expect. For instance, Vienna is not pronounced like the city in Austria, but with a long I, Vi-Anna.

            1. re: GibsonGirl55

              HA! my current county seat in MO is Vienna and yes pronounced the same. don't even get me started on how Versailles has been mangled.

              ya'd think some shred of heritage would continue. ehh assimilation and all, I suppose.

              I have a hunch jnky has the best ideas.

              1. re: hill food

                LOL. Well, I'm from Wisconsin and there's New Berlin, with the accent on the first syllable instead of the pronunciation for the same-named city in Germany.

            2. re: hill food

              And the flood control gate at the north end of town that seems designed to be slammed into place if there's ever the kind of large scale race riots that drove port business from Cairo to Paducah in the 50s and 60s.

              At one point, the city was one of the richest small cities in the country because of the port, and there was supposedly some amazing residential architecture there. Shame that folks couldn't get along.

              Back to food, I think at one time there was a restaurant at the state park on the far southern tip of town, but again that would actually require getting out of the car, so we never investigated it. And Fort Definace is apparently not even a state park anymore, so scratch that.

          2. I did a Google Map search and found three places in Cairo Il:

            Shemwell Barbeque
            Nu Diner
            Chris Cafe

            I've only been in the northern part of Illinois, norhing south of I80. (My mother's family is from Chicago.)

            1. Update:
              Cairo - We came...we saw...we didn't eat.

              jnky - Our favorite CHOW is Paducah is the bbq mutton at Kountry Kastle. Down-market: YES! But we live outside the 'great mutton belt.' We even ordered an extra sandwich for the road.