The unique Amish dining experience to try at Arthur


Arthur and nearby Arcola are home to the largest Amish communities in Illinois. Located off Interstate 57, these communities are in east central Illinois. The Arthur Community was founded in 1864 by Amish people from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa. Arthur and its surroundings offer wonderful restaurants, shopping experiences and fun stops. Growing up near this area, I’ve had the good fortune to sample fine Amish cuisine over the years, so I know eating is one of the best reasons to come to the Amish community! There are many ways to enjoy the homemade goodness of the Amish experience.

1. Dine at an Amish home

A few Amish families in Arthur’s Country open their homes to strangers. I experienced this opportunity twice: once for my husband Keith’s birthday with two other couples and once with a group of friends. Before the second meal, we shopped and had a fun girls day, ending with dinner at the same wonderful lady’s house.

Elizabeth was our hostess and she was very personable. His house was simple and pleasant. She was willing to answer questions about her garden and food preparation. Our meal was served on a beautiful long wooden table and dinner began with a prayer. She and her daughter then provided water, lemonade and a serving of homemade bread, butter and apple butter. The salad came with a homemade ranch dressing. Most of the items on the table were from his large garden. The meal included fresh corn, mashed potatoes and amazing noodles, chicken and meatballs.

Dessert was a choice of peanut butter or strawberry pie. When I went for Keith’s birthday, Elizabeth had baked a beautiful angel food cake as well as an extra for sale. Keith immediately took it out of his hands!

When I set up my tours it was through a company that is no longer in business, however, ACM Tours offers guided tours to Amish homes. The cost is $27.50 per person and is the same regardless of age, except for a child under five. They also offer a guided tour for coaches and discounts for large groups.

Barry Burnett of ACM Tours said: “There is a minimum of eight people for a group meal. It is best to book a meal with two weeks notice and if the party is larger than about eight people, the further away the better.

He also noted that if you need to change numbers, it must be done at least 3-4 days in advance, otherwise you will be charged for the number of meals ordered.

Arthur Chartered Tours of Tuscola, Illinois also offers Amish Meals on Wheels. We found the food and the opportunity to dine in an Amish home a fascinating look into their life and culture. The experience provided a wonderful opportunity to sample the food the Amish are famous for!

Beachy’s Bulk Foods in Arthur (Photo credit: Cindy Ladage)

2. Food

Yoder’s Kitchen in Arthur is almost as much a destination as it is a foodie stop. Anna Herschberger and her husband Nelson, along with their sons, Daren and Derrick, own Yoder’s Kitchen. This marvelous restaurant offers homemade cuisine in the form of a buffet. Besides the buffet, you can also order off the menu, which I usually prefer as I always want dinner of a chicken breast. I also must have the mashed potatoes as they are made with real potatoes! A bakery and gift shop are also attached to the restaurant.

The grandkids loved the visit to Yoder’s Kitchen last summer. They enjoyed the whole Arthur experience and the visit to a slightly different culture.

To try cooking like the Amish at home, buy bulk foods that the Amish use at Beachy’s Bulk Foods. Beachy’s Bulk Foods offers a wide range of specialty Amish products that you can take home and prepare yourself. Beachy’s selection includes charcuterie and cheese, freshly made peanut butter, gluten and sugar free, pickled jar goods, homemade pies and baked goods. My personal favorites are the prepared mixes for soups and casseroles. Homemade jellies (especially seedless blackberry jam) are wonderful on homemade bread! Also, I always have to look for pickled beets for my husband.

Pro tip: Arthur Visitor’s Center staff recommend stopping by Roselen’s Coffee and Delights and Shady Crest Market.

Historic Amish house in the Illinois Amish Heritage Center near Arthur, Illinois.
Historic Amish house in the Illinois Amish Heritage Center (Photo credit: Cindy Ladage)

3. Amish culture

Outside of Arcola is the Illinois Amish Heritage Center. Although it’s only open on special occasions, it’s worth taking a minute to drive there and see the Amish homes on display. The two historic Amish homes include the oldest Amish home in Illinois, the 1865 Moses Yoder House. Plans include an Amish living history farm and a 10,000 square foot museum center. Although the center is not complete, they are planning a future state-of-the-art museum with exhibits on Illinois Amish heritage and culture. “IAHC’s mission is to enhance the preservation, understanding, and appreciation of all aspects of the culture and heritage of the Amish people in Illinois from 1865 to the present day.”

4. Tradition of hospitality

While the Amish live separately from the rest of the world in their own communities and the “English” are technically not part of their community, the Amish are very hospitable and have opened their communities to tourism. Agriculture is often considered the main source of income for the Amish, however, their prowess in woodworking, cheese making, baking, etc. allow visitors to central Illinois to enjoy their unique talents. Some of these talents are appreciated during Amish culinary experiences. We loved the homemade food and items from the gardens and the baked goodies!

After traveling through the Arthur and Arcola area, you might want to take a minute and stop by some of the beautiful lumber shops where Amish craftsmen make beautiful furniture and more. Cabinets for the home are also available in Arthur’s area. There are a variety of items available that make shopping at this unique location a pleasant getaway!

The Amish community offers a craft destination where you can find many quality homewares, see the countryside cultivated like generations ago, and dine on some of the best home cooking around!

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