Springfield, Illinois, has its own vibe and great food places that are part of the Honest Abe, Route 66 laid-back style. Illinois’ capital city is famous for the cozy dog/ hot dog on a stick, and the horseshoe, which is a slab of heart-stopping meat on toast layered with fries, then covered with an awesome cheese sauce. If you’re not up for the horseshoe, there is the smaller pony shoe version.
Springfield has locally owned dining spots that I love to frequent. They have been introduced to me over the years through friends, family, and my love of trying new stops! Some places are breakfast and lunch only, while others are open only for supper.
Note that after COVID, websites are not always up to date, and sometimes restaurant hours change due to staffing issues.
1. Chesapeake Seafood House
Open for supper, this is a longtime family favorite. The nautical atmosphere is great fun. My favorite food to order is the crab stuffed shrimp, while my seafood-loving son’s favorites are the lobster tail and shrimp. The restaurant is set in a home built in 1857 by the McGredy family. It was once surrounded by a peach orchard. It has been a wonderful seafood house since 1983 and is across the street from Bergen Golf Course. Keep in mind that while it is known as a seafood house, they also offer hand-cut steaks.
Pro Tip: You can make reservations at the Chesapeake Seafood House, which is one of my favorite aspects of this great restaurant.
2. Springfield Carriage House
This is a recent favorite. Similar to the Chesapeake Seafood House, this lovely two-story building has a lot of history. The house belonged to John Zellars, who was a Teamster and a farmer. He bought the lot from Elijah Iles, one of the first residents of Springfield, in 1840. Then, he built and moved into the house sometime in the 1850s.
Decorated with Lincoln memorabilia and antiques, the diner is small, but lovely. If going upstairs, you need to be agile, because the steps are quite steep! They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For lunch, I love the Italian roast beef sandwich. It is tender and large enough for two. I also loved the corn fritters with ranch dressing. They have an extensive breakfast menu, and you can make reservations.
3. D’Arcy’s Pint
An Irish Pub, this fun restaurant has a traditional pub vibe in a modern building. Open for lunch and dinner, give yourself plenty of time when dining at D’Arcy’s because this popular place almost always has a bit of a wait. They don’t take reservations.
While famous for its horse and pony shoes, my favorite item is the mushroom Swiss burger. Although, the cheese sauce on the shoe is hard to beat!
4. Charlie Parker’s Diner
Open for breakfast and lunch, Charlie Parker’s Diner is in a distinctive Quonset hut. Decorated in a ‘50s style, you can’t help but smile when you enter. If you walk away hungry from the big helpings, it is your fault. I favor this dining spot for its great breakfast menu. It is a big family favorite!
The waffles are hard to beat, as well as the omelet combinations. My sister swears by the breakfast burrito. Guy Fieri visited and filmed an episode for Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives! The pancakes are huge and my favorite is the pecan pancake.
Open for supper, Italian fare with style is what you get at Saputo’s. This local restaurant located in downtown Springfield was founded in 1948 by Frank and Florine Saputo. Their specialties include Italian breaded steak, red sauce, veal parmesan, and chicken parmesan.
My personal favorite each time I go is the baked lasagna with meat sauce and mushrooms. They also have steak and seafood. This is a great date night place and celebration restaurant. We have celebrated New Year’s here, and other highlights many times over the years. They take reservations.
Papa Franks is on the west side, near the mall and the shopping district. It is also owned by the same family, so you can get the same quality food for lunch or dinner.
Pro Tip: Near the BOS Center, Saputo’s is perfect for dining when heading to events at this wonderful site.
6. Westwood’s Lodge Pub And Grill
Located on the west side of town, this fun place offers an amazing array of food. If you like venison, etc., this is where to go. I like the fun atmosphere that is heavy on the sporting scene. My favorite food here is burgers or a grilled portobello. You can make reservations, and the cost is affordable. They are open for lunch and dinner.
Pro Tip: At Westwoods, you have a chance to try food you may not have had otherwise, like duck or other meat not usually offered at dining establishments.
7. Finley’s Tap House
On their website, they share that Finley’s Tap House is their interpretation of a gastro pub. They offer regular drinks, craft cocktails, and a handcrafted, fresh daily, beer-inspired menu. Several things are nice on Finley’s menu, but my favorite is the fish and chips. It is large enough to easily serve two. They also have amazing onion rings and crispy Brussels sprouts. They are open for supper daily and lunch on the weekends.
8. Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery
This fun microbrewery is in a lovely historic house. They offer a variety of brewed beers. Strawberry blonde is my favorite beer, and the flatbread Margherita pizza is my favorite menu item, although I can never turn down their onion rings either!
If the weather is nice, Obed’s offers a wonderful beer garden. They have a lot of summer events as well.
Pro Tip: From May to September, there is a Moonlight Market with artists and artisans on the first and third Wednesday of the month!
9. The Chili Parlor
Open for lunch, make sure to have a bowl of chili! On a cold winter day, there is nothing better than the famous “Joe Rogers” Den Chili recipe! Open since 1945, this wonderful place offers chili, and you can specify how hot. As for me, I like it mild. I enjoy this in the chilly weather and fill my bowl with crackers and enjoy! At The Chili Parlor, you can also add in chili burgers, chili dogs, and tamales.
10. Cozy Dog Drive In
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a visit to Springfield is not complete without a stop at the Cozy Dog Drive-In. This Route 66 icon is the home of the original hot dog on a stick and has been open since 1949. Besides the fun food, you can’t miss part of the wonderful Route 66 artwork that Bob Waldmire made famous on display. Springfield is full of wonderful places to dine and things to do in the capital city. Spending time eating good food along the way enhances your visit. The Springfield Visitor’s Center can help find lodging and events to make your stay even better!
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