My search for the best cinnamon roll in the Carbondale, Illinois, area has so far resulted in three top contenders and some honorable mentions. These results are based on empirical research, trust me.
#1 Panera Bread, Carbondale–Longest-Lasting Roll
The cinnamon rolls at Panera are my number-one choice. They are big, round, pinwheel-shaped rolls, with cinnamon evenly distributed along the seams, and just the right amount of icing. These rolls are dependable and tasty, and can be eaten easily by pulling off short, bite-sized pieces. With this eating method, the roll seems to last longer-always a good trait in a pastry! The Panera cinnamon roll can last for an hour-long chat with a friend over coffee.
The downside of this roll is that if you want it heated, you have to do it yourself, using the microwave under the coffee and tea stand.
#2 Longbranch Coffeehouse, Carbondale–Flakiest Pastry
The pastries Elaine Ramseyer serves up at Longbranch are legendary. Her cinnamon rolls are my second choice because of their melt-in-your-mouth light, flaky pastry. They are frosted, but moderately-which is a good thing. What these rolls are heavy on is raisins-plump and fresh. If you love delicious pastry and raisins, these rolls are for you.
#3 Crossroads Coffee Company, Carterville–Most Decadent
This attractive little restaurant in the strip mall across from Subway and Mimmo’s, near the Carterville Crossroads, wins hands-down for the most decadent cinnamon roll I’ve tried. It’s more like a cinnamon pastry made in the shape of a large cup, then filled with rich cream-cheese frosting. Some people would not be able to finish a pastry this rich. (I am not one of those people!)
Besides my top three, I have some honorable mentions: the cinnamon rolls in De Soto at the Chestnut Cafe, a friendly place for home cooking on the main drag going north on Highway 51 (a.k.a. Chestnut Street). Their rolls, made fresh every day, are a little more robust, like individual coffee cakes.
At Burger King in Carbondale I tried a Cinnabun. They look so good in the case-and they are good–small, moist, sticky-sweet, and in my opinion better than the rolls at Steak ‘n’ Shake next door.
I was anxious to see what was on offer at Cristaudo’s Bakery in Carbondale, as their pastries are always delicious. However, they told me they make cinnamon rolls only for special orders, usually a half-dozen or more. Pity.
That’s the current cinnamon-roll situation as I see it in Carbondale and nearby towns in Southern Illinois. I will be continuing my research on the best cinnamon rolls. I’ve heard the ones at Sycamore Farms in Carterville are hard to beat, so I have to try them.
Yes, it’s an ongoing job. But I am up to the task!