“Welcome to Airport Steakhouse. Like it or not, we treat you like family,” says a sign on the wall in the family-owned-and-operated restaurant located in the terminal at Coles County Memorial Airport in Mattoon.

The restaurant, which is on Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative lines, takes its location to heart. From the real airplanes landing and taking off outside the windows to the model planes hanging from the ceiling, diners are in for a high-flying experience.

Pam Bean has worked at the Airport Steakhouse for 44 years and has owned it for the last three. She inherited it from her father Ron, who owned it for 38 years. Pam can be seen hosting, cooking, baking pies and interacting with customers. She says she has no plans to make any changes to the eatery.

Elephant ear tenderloin

“We don’t change anything here, because our customers are very devoted to what we have,” says Katherine Bennett, an Airport Steakhouse employee. “Don’t fix what’s not broken.”

Customers can always rely on the restaurant’s famous elephant ear tenderloin. This hand-cut, breaded pork tenderloin is the size of its plate, providing a filling meal. It also plays a part in the logo for the restaurant, which features a smiling elephant dressed as a pilot.

However, there is more to the menu. Appetizers, noted on the menu as “deep fried tasties,” consist of deep-fried delicacies like hand-breaded onion rings, mozzarella sticks and the restaurant’s popular hand-cut, breaded and made-to-order fried mushrooms. Bean says the mushrooms are so popular that they slice up to 40 boxes of them a week.

There are a variety of sandwiches and burgers available, including baked ham, grilled cheese, chicken fried steak, BLT, club, fish, grilled or fried chicken, patty melt, bacon cheeseburger and mushroom Swiss burger. Don’t want a bun? Sandwiches can also be made into wraps.

Thursday special: breaded chicken breast, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy

Dinner meals are served with two sides and a dinner roll. Options include ribeye, steak and shrimp, chopped sirloin, ham steak, butterfly pork chops, fried chicken, chicken livers, mushroom chicken, breaded chicken strips, walleye, fish and shrimp.

Salads can be served as a side or as a meal. Spice things up with a beef or chicken taco salad or choose between ham, turkey or chicken in the chef salad.

With its 7 a.m. opening time, many diners come in to enjoy breakfast, even though it is served all day. Omelets, pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, and deep-fried cornmeal mush are all options on the menu.

Children have some choices of their own on the “tiny humans” menu for kids aged 12 years and younger. Sliders, chicken strips, mini corn dogs, hot dogs, grilled cheese, French toast or pancakes — each is served with a choice of side and small drink.

Chocolate peanut butter pie

For visitors with a sweet tooth, there are homemade pies. Flavors include coconut, chocolate, peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter, cherry, apple and pumpkin.

Although the dining room is on the smaller side, all tables have a clear view out of the many windows of the planes on the runway. For larger groups needing more space, there is a banquet room in the back that can accommodate 40 people.

While many customers may be headed off to faraway destinations, the restaurant has its fair share of local support. Some of these “frequent flyers” eat at the restaurant every day.

“We have people coming here who are coming for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Bennett says. “You’re either a very devoted Airport Steakhouse customer or you don’t know it exists,” she laughs.

IL-Map_MattoonLet’s EAT!

Airport Steakhouse
410 Airport Road, Mattoon, IL

Tues.-Sat. 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday 7 a.m.-2 p.m.