Restaurants in Springfield, IL

Springfield, Illinois’ capital, is where an aspiring young lawyer named Abe Lincoln paid $1,200 for a little white home for him and his bride, Mary. It also was the first big town after Chicago on old Route 66, and you still can eat a wonderful legacy of that era: the Cozy Dog, so named because you never want just a single lonely one. Yes, it’s a corn dog , but it’s made to order and its earthy golden coat is a thing of beauty. Another essential dish unique to Springfield is the horseshoe. In a category of such kitchen-sink meals such as the Rochester Garbage Plate and upper Midwest Hoppel Poppel, the horseshoe was conceived in 1928 as an open-faced ham sandwich that resembled a horseshoe on an anvil with French fries scattered around like shoeing nails. Since then, it has grown exponentially and now goes far beyond any reasonable definition of sandwich or any resemblance to equine footwear. Local taverns and diners pile shoes with hamburgers, pork tenderloins, fried chicken, whitefish or even just vegetables along with about a kilo of French fries and a flood of cheese sauce. And let us not forget that Springfield has been deemed the “Chilli Capitol of the Civilized Universe” by the state legislature (which spelled it with two Ls). Springfield chilli is ground beef, similar to Iowa loosemeats, that comes swimming in grease — known more politely as hot oil — and is almost always accompanied by beans. It is possible to ask for the oil to be skimmed off when you order a bowl, but that would negate the purpose of the little oyster crackers that come alongside. They are a nice sponge for the oil, sopping up its chili pepper zest.

Springfield’s Most Famous Dishes

Eggs and breakfast meats are buried under a mound of hash browns, cheese sauce, and gravy.


Cup of chili topped with cheese and chopped raw onions


Mountainous sandwich holds pastrami, egg, French fries, cole slaw, and a tomato at Primanti Brothers in Pittsburg, PA


Three corn dogs with three kinds of mustard for dipping

Corn Dog

Springfield’s Best Restaurants

Eggs and breakfast meats are buried under a mound of hash browns, cheese sauce, and gravy.


Breakfast horseshoe is a mountain of hash browns
D&J Cafe


Sunrise Cafe


Two corn dogs in a cardboard trough ... kicks on Route 66
Cozy Dog | Corn Dog Kicks on Route 66


Charlie Parker’s | The Amazing Springfield Horseshoe


Springfield chilli, floating in hot oil
The Chili Parlor | Mild to Firebrand 4-Alarm | Springfield, IL


D'Arcy's Pint Buffalo horseshoe with blue cheese and hot sauce on the side
D’Arcy’s Pint


Springfield Articles & Guides

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Technically, the horseshoe belongs to the open-face sandwich category. But its size and scope create a category all its own. Cooks pile lunch and supper shoes with hamburgers, pork...


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