Mystery Diner at Starved Rock: Famous Sunday brunch buffet worthy of its reputation

Diners can opt for breakfast or lunch items, but should always save room for dessert

The Starved Rock Lodge has been a must-visit destination in Illinois for nearly a century — and its famous Sunday brunch buffet is a must-visit for diners.

If La Salle County has a landmark, it is almost certainly Starved Rock, the state park that surrounds it and the nearly century-old Starved Rock Lodge that welcomes millions of visitors every year.

If La Salle County has a Sunday meal, it’s almost certainly the famous Sunday brunch buffet at Starved Rock Lodge, a meal so memorable no Sunday hike is complete without it.

Every person at the table with the Mystery Diner on their most recent Sunday trip to Starved Rock built themselves a different brunch experience. In fact, on their last two outings, so did the Mystery Diner.

A salad and dinner roll sit beside a plate including fried chicken, oven-roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes topped with pot roast and a citrus salmon fillet, all on the Sunday brunch buffet at Starved Rock Lodge.

On a visit during the winter, the Mystery Diner focused on the ample breakfast offerings: French toast, sausage, the especially flavorful bacon, eggs, biscuits, fruit and what tasted like perfectly cooked honey-baked ham sliced to order. (There’s also a chef standing by to make omelets on request, but the Mystery Diner’s plate always seemed to fill up before arriving there.)

After going mostly “br-” during that earlier visit, the Mystery Diner turned their attentions to the “-unch” part of brunch on a return visit this spring.

Mouth-watering ham is cut by request  during Starved Rock Lodge's Sunday buffet.

Making its way to their plate were a side salad with unseasonably delicious tomatoes, crispy fried chicken with a sweet and tasty breading, oven-roasted vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes topped with what may be the buffet’s signature item – meaty chunks of moist pot roast, zesty citrus-flavored salmon, another slice of the cut-to-order ham and a dinner roll. (There was no room – on the Mystery Diner’s plate or in their stomach – for the lasagna, fried zucchini, chicken Parmigiana or anything else, though others at the table confirmed they tasted just as good.)

It’s said there’s always room for dessert, even if it’s just barely. The Mystery Diner did their best for the sake of you readers, sampling a few of the assortment of cookies, cakes (try the carrot!), brownies, lemon squares and Rice Krispies treats. All were exquisite.

Delicious desserts are out in full force to finish a meal at the Starved Rock Lodge's Sunday brunch buffet.

So much food made the hiking afterward on the trails of Starved Rock State Park go a little slower, but it was definitely worth it.

Starved Rock Lodge’s Sunday brunch buffet costs $23 for adults and $11.50 for children. It runs Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Making advance reservations is highly recommended for this treat of an experience.

 The Mystery Diner is an employee of Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.


WHAT: Starved Rock Lodge’s Sunday brunch buffet

WHERE: One Lodge Lane, Oglesby

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays

PHONE: 815-220-7321 (reservations recommended)