Where to Eat in Springfield, Illinois: 10 Best Restaurants to Try

Photo of Marcelina Morfin
9 February 2017

Every year tourists flock to Springfield, Illinois to explore the rich history – President Abraham Lincoln lived and worked there – and to experience new adventures. From museums to festivals and other events, plenty is waiting to be discovered, including delicious cuisine from farm-to-table eateries to lively pubs. Here is an updated look at some of the best culinary offerings in Springfield.

Interior of La Calia | Courtesy La Calia

La Calia

Restaurant, Vietnamese, $$$
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Cozy Dog Drive In
Cozy Dog Drive In | Courtesy Cosy Dog
Opened in 2013 by Leah Schrenk, La Calia is a gem of a restaurant, featuring cuisine infused with an array of international flavours. A tiny restaurant located downtown, across from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, diners rave about the innovative fare, which changes often to highlight locally sourced seasonal ingredients. Creating menus that appeal to many tastes, the dinner menu — written on chalkboards — usually features a dish featuring the following: pork, beef, fish, and vegetarian. Past offerings have included goat enchiladas in mole, served with black beans; heirloom tomatoes, buratta, roasted beets and greens on a bed of quinoa; and a Vietnamese thinly cut pork chop with rice and cucumber.

Cozy Dog Drive In

‘Cozy dogs’ were launched in 1946, but it was not until 1949 that the Cozy Dog Drive In was established on the historic Route 66. The original site is now an historic landmark — the present location is right next door. Famous for the hot dog on a stick or corn dog, which was perfected by Ed Waldmire Jr. and his friend Don Strand, this American casual eatery also features an array of other tasty edibles, from breakfast sandwiches to hamburgers to a host of side dishes. In addition to the famous ‘cozy dogs’, diners can sample the bacon and egg sandwich; the chilli cheese hot dog; and the BBQ sandwich, to name but a few options.

Cozy Dog, 2935 S. 6th St., Springfield, IL, USA, +1 217 525 1992

Norb Andy's Tabarin

Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub, American, $$$
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Originally built as a residence in 1837, the Hickox Building now houses Norb Andy’s Tabarin, a lively bar and restaurant serving home-style American cuisine. One of the oldest places of its kind in Springfield, this establishment is named after Norbert Anderson — the owner from 1937 to 1980. In keeping with tradition, much of his vision remains today, including the nautical décor that blankets the walls. In an environment full of history and friendly people, diners can sample hearty dishes, including the Greek burger with kalamata olives, green onion, feta, and cucumber sauce; the blackened prime rib sandwich with Cajun spices; and vodka linguini with or without chicken. Daily specials are also offered, plus Norb Andy’s Tabarin often hosts fun events like trivia nights and live music.

American Harvest Eatery

Diners wishing to savour the flavours of Springfield head to American Harvest Eatery, as its goal is to showcase local ingredients in its innovative American cuisine. This chef-driven dining spot procures only the freshest quality products by reaching out to local family-operated farms, especially those that do not use pesticides. In a friendly environment, guests can delight in seasonal items, including salmon with curried cauliflower, chickpeas, and Marcona almonds; charred tomato romesco and goat cheese ravioli with fairy tale eggplant; and tomato ragu with Tuscan kale, pine nuts, and parmigiano. A selection of tempting desserts, craft beers, and wines are also available.

American Harvest Eatery, 3241 W. Iles Ave., Springfield, IL, USA, +1 217 546 8300

Café Moxo

Café Moxo is a locally owned café located downtown, specialising in delicious espresso drinks as well as savoury and sweet treats. The made-from-scratch edibles and the relaxed atmosphere of this delightful café keep customers coming back again and again. Delectable highlights of the savoury kind include cheddar bacon biscuits with gravy; the four eleven sandwich with Portobello mushrooms, tomato, roasted onion, and artichoke spread on marbled rye; and chicken pot pie. As for sweet bites, diners’ taste buds will be tickled by a host of baked goods, from scones to muffins to colourful cupcakes – such as the banana chocolate chip cupcakes topped with peanut buttercream, banana chips, and chocolate drizzle.

D’Arcy’s Pint

Locally owned and loved by locals, D’Arcy’s Pint opened in 1998, creating a great place for tourists to have a local experience while savouring American and Irish fare. A cosy and friendly Irish pub, this eatery features a warm interior, with decorations that pay homage to Springfield’s history, and an outdoor beer garden. American dishes include everything from Black Angus burgers to pizza, while tasty Irish delights include traditional corned beef and cabbage served with parsley buttered Irish taters and marble rye and horseradish sauce. A variety of boxtys boxtys are available as well, which are potato pancakes stuffed with savoury items, such as steak, mushrooms, and caramelised onions.

Julia’s Kitchen and Lounge

A new addition to the Springfield culinary scene that has quickly built up quite a following, Julia’s Kitchen and Lounge opened in early 2014 and specialises in Southern cuisine. Located in the historic Vinegar Hill Mall — constructed in the early 1900s — this eatery features a rustic chic interior with chandelier lighting and wooden touches, creating a charming atmosphere that will appeal to many. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday plus a Sunday brunch, foodies can savour flavourful dishes, such as fried chicken with Yukon mashed potatoes and shiitake cream sauce, and the fried green tomato tower, which is layers of goat cheese, tomato chutney, and a balsamic reduction.

Julia’s Kitchen and Lounge, 107 W. Cook St. Suite 1, Springfield, IL, USA, +1 217 670 1972

Little Saigon

Restaurant, Vietnamese, Thai
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Little Saigon is a lovely restaurant serving authentic Vietnamese and Thai cuisine to hungry diners seven days a week. In a warm and inviting atmosphere, foodies can feast upon a host of delicious dishes, from appetisers to soups to noodle dishes and many more. Many of the flavourful recipes can be customised to a guest’s desired spiciness. Highlights include the pho tai bo vien, which is rice noodle soup with medium-rare sliced beef, meatballs, onion, and cilantro; the bahn xeo (crispy Vietnamese crepe) filled with shrimp, pork, and fresh vegetables; a thick sweet curry with coconut milk, shrimp, mussels, and scallops; and squid stir-fried with red curry and veggies, known as Soldier in the Red Sea. With plenty of vegetarian options, Little Saigon will appeal to many palates.

Nick & Nino’s Penthouse Steakhouse

Located high in the sky on the 30th floor of the Hilton, Nick and Nino’s Penthouse Steakhouse offers up stunning views of the Springfield skyline. In an environment that exudes casual elegance, those celebrating a special occasion or a fun night out on the town will feel at home. Discerning diners can feast upon a selection of mouth-watering steaks, chops, and other entrées, with highlights being the filet mignon, either 8 oz. or 10 oz., with the diner’s choice of crust and sauce, and the chipotle-marinated sea bass with spinach, grilled tomato salsa, smoked pepper cream sauce, and sweet potato curls. Be sure to visit the cosmopolitan Pinnacle Club Lounge across the hall for more beautiful views and a pre- or post-dinner cocktail.

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