Sunrise Cafe

Review by: Michael Stern

“Do you serve smashed crispyburgers?” I ask the waitress, hoping I have found a place that serves that central Illinois specialty of hamburgers squished so flat on the grill that their edges turn crisp and lacy.

“No, we just serve hamburgers,” she answers. “But they do smash them pretty hard when they cook and they do get kinda crisp.

“Do you want your cheese under or on top?” she inquires when I specify a cheeseburger. It’s a question I’ve never heard. “It was under for 50 years,” she explains. (For the record, Sunrise Café opened in 1989.) I suspect that the reason one would want their cheese underneath is to keep the crisp edges of the meat patty from getting soft under a molten orange mantle.

Whatever it’s called and wherever the cheese is or is not, the hamburger served at Sunrise Café is smashed and crisp-edged, so flat that it is cooked only on one side, that side becoming the crunchy part. The ungriddled side maintains juicy character and lots of slider-flavor. I am in central Illinois and loving the local way with hamburgers!

Another regional specialty on the Sunrise menu is a Springfield horseshoe, the kitchen-sink dish of meat, French fries, and cheese sauce that is an all-in-one meal. Diners can choose to have it made with a hamburger patty, ham, bacon, eggs, sausage, or tomatoes. It’s a decent ‘shoe and will sate an appetite, but the French fries are boring and the cheese sauce is flat. The pastry case also contains squares of what is billed as gooey butter cake (a St. Louis thing), but one bite had us rechristening it glooey butter cake. It’s more viscous than chewy.

On a much brighter note, the lemon “state-fair shake-up” is a cold, slushy, sweet-tart drink that is so good and so refreshing that it easily can lead to brain freeze.

Breakfast is served all day. Evening specials include fried chicken Tuesday, walleye Friday, and rib-eye steak Saturday.

What To Eat

Double Cheeseburger


Gooey Butter Cake


State Fair Shake Up


Sunrise Cafe Recipes


What do you think of Sunrise Cafe?

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