A classic American diner, Charlie Parker’s brightens up West North Street with its cheerful sign and marquee, which proclaims it serves the ‘best breakfast’ in town. They’re not lying. On the all-day breakfast menu are steaks, eggs served in every way possible and a special ‘cowboy breakfast’ (which includes beef brisket and potatoes). If you’re really hungry, try the ‘breakfast shoe’, a Springfield original, featuring an egg on toast topped with bacon, hash browns, cheese, gravy, and fries. Husband and wife team Mike and Cindy Murphy run the diner inside a WWII Quonset hut, a metal structure shaped like a ship’s bow, it’s hard to miss.
Charlie Parker’s, 700 W North St, Springfield, IL, USA, +1 217 241 2104
D’Arcy’s is a jolly Irish pub serving a combination of Irish and American dishes. Irish dishes like the Irish Reuben (corned beef with swiss cheese on rye) or boxtys (potato pancakes stuffed with meat and vegetables) are marked out on the menu by shamrocks, and rub shoulders with American classics like cheese steaks, catfish, and grilled chicken. There’s a friendly atmosphere, and D’Arcy’s is a favourite with locals, so it could be a good way to leave the tourist trail for a laid-back dinner and drink in the beer garden or main restaurant. Make sure to try the Irish and English ales and beers on tap.
D’Arcy’s Pint, 661 W Stanford Ave, Springfield, IL, USA, +1 217 492 8800
Not far from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, this steakhouse gives you a view over Springfield as you enjoy your red meat. It’s located on the 30th floor of the Hilton and looks out over the historic downtown, including the domed capital building. On the menu is everything from snails to firecracker prawns to accompany the selection of steaks and sauces. The food is presented beautifully, steaks are topped with curls of fried onion, and the desserts are (almost) too pretty to eat. The decor is restrained yet elegant, with designer lights and a flash of colour in the hot pink centrepieces.
Cozy Dog Drive-In is situated on one of the main routes in or out of the city, so is a great way to bookend a trip. Here, they serve their classic Cozy Dog corn dog, along with a range of burgers and sandwiches, in a cheerful white clapboard house along Highway 55. Ed Waldmire Jr and a friend developed their corn dog recipe while in the Air Force, and sold them to troops and locals through the war. Ed’s wife came up with the name ‘cozy dog’, and a legend was born. The Drive-In was first established in 1949 and has been in its current location since 1996.
Cozy Dog, 2935 S 6th St, Springfield, IL, USA, +1 217 525 1992
Krekel’s markets itself as serving the slightly improbable combination of custard and hamburgers, luckily, not served together. Their burgers are the best in town and the custard manifests itself in their desserts and famous milkshakes, which are thick, enormous and delicious. While it has six branches in the state, Krekel’s isn’t your average burger-n-shake chain; their burgers are all made and grilled in-house, and the service is personal and friendly. It’s very much a family restaurant, founded in the 1950s by William Krekel, and his granddaughter Suzie now owns and runs the Springfield branch.
Krekel’s Custard, 2121 North Grand Ave E, Springfield, IL, USA +1 217 525 4952
An upmarket contemporary spot, Indigo serves great global and fusion dishes. Tucked in the southwest corner of the city, it has a dizzying array of entrees on offer, from salmon and steaks to sushi, pasta, and pizza. A particular favourite is ‘the rock’, a steak appetiser which you cook yourself on a hot rock brought to your table. Expect great wine and cocktails too; once dinner’s over, Indigo transforms into a bustling bar, popular with visitors and locals alike. The decor is sophisticated, with mahogany chairs and low lighting, lending a sophisticated, romantic atmosphere.
Indigo, 3013 Lindbergh Blvd, Springfield, IL, USA, +1 217 726 3487
Maldaner’s, hidden up a flight of stairs on 6th street, has been open for business since 1884. Its interior certainly has a vintage feel about it, with its wooden features and green leather banquettes, and the menu reads like a tribute to an earlier era. Beef Wellington (served with truffle sauce), bread pudding and calves liver are old-school Illinois dishes, but you’ll struggle to find them anywhere but Maldaner’s. Port or after-dinner liqueurs like Drambuie and Grand Marnier complete the experience, by the end of your meal, you’ll be one smoking jacket away from becoming a 1920s Illinois gentleman.
Maldaner’s, 222 S 6th St, Springfield, IL 62701, United States, +1 217-522-4313
Obed and Issac’s is a restaurant and bar on the corner of Seventh and Jackson streets, only one block away from Lincoln’s family home. Court and Karen Conn bought the 19th-century family home, which had been converted into office space, in 2007 and rescued it from demolition to create the brewery and restaurant that stands there today. The menu is wide-ranging, from steaks to chilli, and an extensive list of the hand-crafted beers brewed on site is also on offer. Outside, there’s a garden for eating, drinking and playing ‘bocce’, a game similar to boules, and there’s also a children’s playground.
The cheery downtown Cafe Moxo serves cupcakes, breakfast, and lunch, and is a great place to spend some time mid-Lincoln sightseeing (it’s between the Presidential museum and the capital building). Outside, bright red umbrellas encourage you to eat in the sun, while inside the spacious dining area and ceiling fans offer the chance to cool off from the downtown heat. For the food, there are breakfast burritos and oatmeal for brunch, grilled sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch and their delicious home-baked cakes and pastries for afters. Everything’s fresh and made in-house, including their coffees; the chai latte, made with Oregon chai, is particularly good.
Cafe Moxo, 411 E Adams St, Springfield, IL, USA, +1 217 788 8084