Charlie Parker’s | The Amazing Springfield Horseshoe

Review by: Michael Stern

Gargantuan Pancakes

We came to Charlie Parker’s in search of breakfast — the amazing Springfield horseshoe in particular. But first, we confronted equally awe-inspiring pancakes.

No one ever has been able to eat a Four Giant Stack at Charlie Parker’s, which is a shame, because if you do, it’s on the house. Otherwise, you’ll pay about $25. Actually, that is a bargain, considering that the four pancakes that comprise a Giant Stack are enough food for eight people, easily. Non-competitive customers order a single giant for under $10. To finish even a single is a significant accomplishment. It covers an 18-inch diameter pizza pan and is nearly a half-inch thick, flipped on the griddle using a pizza peel. (Normal-size pancakes also are available.)

Surprise! The Giant Pancake also is very good, made from a batter we want to call brut – not sweet at all, but fresh and farmy with a lot of good crunch to the edge. It arrives topped with a quartet of blister packs of Land O’ Lakes Fresh Buttery Taste™ Spread and a pitcher of corn syrup. All the spread and the whole pitcher of syrup barely stretch to cover the pancake, which expands to even greater size as it absorbs them both. A small portion of one of these mighty flapjacks is a terrific hors d’oeuvre before plowing into one of Charlie Parker’s fine breakfast horseshoes.

Springfield’s Edible Horseshoe

The horseshoe is a dish you’ll not likely find outside of Springfield; but it does have cognates in such other regional kitchen-sink meals as a Rochester garbage plate and Midwest hoppel poppel. Cooks place white bread, the foundation of a horseshoe, on a big oval plate. To that they add eggs, breakfast meats, hash browns, and cream gravy and/or hot cheese sauce. Nearly as hard to polish off as a Four Giant Stack, this amazing Springfield horseshoe makes a fine meal for two. At lunch, customers come for horseshoes made with turkey or chicken, burgers, tenderloin, or walleye.

Retro-Diner Style

Charlie’s is an out-of-the-way Quonset hut diner that goes back decades. In recent memory, it got a spiffy-kitschy 1950s interior makeover that includes plenty of glass bricks, neon, and chrome-banded stools at the counter.

Directions & Hours

7am - 2pm
  • Monday: 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Thursday: 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Friday: 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Saturday: 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Sunday: 7:00 AM – 2:00 PM

What To Eat




Charlie Parker’s | The Amazing Springfield Horseshoe Recipes


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A Really Big Shoe

By Jane and Michael Stern Originally Published 2009 Gourmet Magazine Horseshoe sandwiches are ubiquitous in Springfield, Illinois, but no one eats them anywhere else. Like many folk foods, they’re...


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