Sunrise Cafe

Diner | Hamburgers
Worth a return

“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
Sunrise Cafe, Double Cheeseburger
Double Cheeseburger
Sunrise Hamburgers are thin enough to make a double the right choice.
Sunrise Cafe, State Fair Shake Up
State Fair Shake Up
"State fair shake-ups" are brilliantly refreshing cups of fruity slush.
Sunrise Cafe, Horseshoe
Horseshoe, made with ham -- the original meat in the first horseshoes.
Sunrise Cafe, Gooey Butter Cake
Gooey Butter Cake
Gooey butter cake is slippery more than gooey.
Sunrise Cafe, Chili
Springfield has dubbed itself Chili Capital of the World. This bowl is barely one-alarm.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday8am - 8pm
Monday8am - 8pm
Tuesday8am - 8pm
Wednesday8am - 8pm
Thursday8am - 8pm
Friday8am - 8pm
Saturday8am - 8pm
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
5 stops | 5 MILES | 19 min

Although the horseshoe is technically an open-face sandwich, it is so big and profuse that it deserves a category of its own. Lunch and supper shoes are piled up 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. Breakfast…

12 stops | 420 MILES | 7 hr 37 min

In 1946, when Bobby and Cynthia Troup drove their Buick convertible from the East to the West coast in hopes of finding a future writing songs, Cynthia suggested to Bobby that he write one about Route 40. But Bobby found Route 40 boring. When they got to Illinois and hit Route 66, something clicked. Bobby…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Cozy Dog

    Southern View, Illinois

    Dipped in batter and deep-fried when ordered, the Cozy Dog has vivid crunch and succulence. It’s an Illinois Route 66 landmark.

  • Charlie Parker’s

    Springfield, Illinois

    Charlie Parker’s is an out-of-the-way Quonset hut diner specializing in huge pancakes and the Springfield, Illinois, signature dish, the horseshoe.

  • Joe Rogers Original Recipe Chili Parlor

    Springfield, Illinois

    The hot-oil chili that is a specialty of Springfield, Illinois, comes in six degrees of heat at Joe Rogers, from MILD to FIREBRAND. The latter is ferocious.

  • Shannon’s Five Star

    Bloomington, Illinois

    A large, friendly diner / coffee shop along old Route 66 in Illinois, Shannon’s is a place for hearty breakfast, lunch, and dinner with truck-stop ambience.

  • D’Arcy’s Pint

    Springfield, Illinois

    D’Arcy’s Pint is a family-friendly pub specializing in the unique horseshoe sandwich — a huge kitchen-sink meal unique to downstate Illinois.

  • D&J Cafe

    Springfield, Illinois

    D&J is an inconspicuous cafe serving one of the best horseshoe sandwiches in Springfield, Illinois — for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.