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You may be wondering where to eat in Springfield, Illinois, for families when you are checking out all the Lincoln attractions and all the other great things Springfield has to offer. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.
We’d like to thank the Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for hosting us at all of these wonderful restaurants in Springfield! As always, all opinions are honest and our own.
Most people visit Springfield, Illinois, with the intention of taking in all of the Abraham Lincoln attractions. And this is an awesome reason to visit! The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library remains one of my family’s favorite museums anywhere, and we had a blast on the Lincoln Ghost Walk. You can click here to read more about our experience at the museum and here to learn more about the ghost walk.
Still, while your family is having all of these amazing adventures, you’ll need to stop every once in a while to refuel. I think we can all appreciate the importance of keeping everyone in the party fed and rested. Don’t worry! We were happy to sample some of the most unique and fun places to eat in Springfield. And the food is delicious! Here are 5 fabulous places to eat in Springfield for families.
1. Cozy Dog Drive In
2935 S 6th St.
You simply can’t miss Cozy Dog Drive In in Springfield. Located along the iconic Route 66, Cozy Dog is a reminder of the drive-ins of yesteryear. This family-owned restaurant will help you create family memories of your own as you sample the hand-dipped goodness of an original Cozy Dog.
Pictured below is a family meal. Perfect! To read more about our experience at Cozy Dog, click here.
2. D’Arcy’s Pint
661 W Stanford Ave.
One thing we learned early in a trip is that we needed to try Springfield’s signature dish–The Horseshoe. And we also learned that D’Arcy’s Pint is a great place to give it a try.
The Horseshoe has a foundation of Texas Toast and a choice of meat. Fries are heaped on top, and then a liquid cheese goodness is poured on top. That’s the basic Horsehoe. Then you can order variations.
Above is a smaller version, if you can believe it. I went with a Ponyshoe, and I still couldn’t finish it! This is the Irish Cheesesteak variation, and it was so good! I promise I don’t eat like this all the time, but a splurge every once in a while is worth it.
Jeff is not a big fan of cheese. When he asked about getting a gravy topping in instead, they said that they really didn’t do that. No biggie. He went with the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich which also, sadly, wasn’t available with gravy. Again, not a big deal. He said it was pretty tasty.
Kristin went for her standard “dining out” entree of chicken tenders and fries. She gave them a thumbs up. I enjoyed my first Horseshoe experience, and the next morning, Jeff gave one a try.
3. Charlie Parker’s Diner
700 W North St.
Breakfast at Charlie Parker’s Diner is a great way to start your day, and if you’re a fan of retro diners, you’ll be in heaven. The place is named for Charlie Parker, a groundbreaker in American jazz music who was known for his saxophone playing and composing. He was born in Kansas City, where he got his start in the jazz scene. His life is fascinating, and sadly, he’s another example of a great musician whose life was too short. The decor in the diner features records and posters of musicians of the 1950s. So fun!
The diner also has a claim to fame in that Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives filmed an episode of the show there in 2007. They’ve also received several awards and recognitions over the years. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Kristin decided to go ala carte and ordered a pancake and scrambled eggs. She loved it!
I went with a Breakfast Horseshoe to give the signature dish of Springfield another try. Again, I went with the pony version, and I chose tater tots for my potato.
The Breakfast Horseshoe comes with a choice of meat and style of egg. I chose sausage and scrambled. And no, I didn’t finish it. Not even close.
Jeff gave it a shot. He was able to do the gravy instead of cheese here, as you can see. He went with shredded hashbrowns, sausage, and eggs sunny side up. Here is the inside.
Jeff became a fan of The Horseshoe. Give Charlie Parker’s a try, and you’ll become a fan, too!
4. Long Nine Junction
5 W Old Capitol Plaza
Long Nine Junction is right off the square that is home to the Old Courthouse, and as it turns out, it was in the perfect location for us as we were sightseeing downtown. I was a little worried for my picky family here, but I had no need to be. This was one of our favorite meals of the trip!
The restaurant is named for a group of Illinois lawmakers, of which Abraham Lincoln was a part, who were taller than average. Their legacy includes moving the state capital to Springfield. You can check out the museum dedicated to this group in Athens, Illinois.
When you enter the restaurant, the menu is on the wall to the right. When you’ve made your decisions, you place your order at the counter. The owner, Corey Faucon, answered our questions and took our orders. I wasn’t sure what Kristin would like, so we decided to share the Ol’ Capitol Chicken with mac n’cheese for the side. Jeff went with the slow roast beef on a bun. We had lemonade to drink, which you can get yourself. They also have bottled pop.
I shouldn’t have worried! It was delicious, and Kristin loved the chicken!
The roll, salad, and mac n’cheese were awesome, too. I would definitely eat here again anytime! Here is Jeff’s. He also said it was really good.
We finished things off with this large, delicious cookie!
I loved this place. If I lived in Springfield, I would eat here once a week. Give it a shot; if you have picky eaters in your family, I’ll bet they’ll surprise you.
5. Tacology 101
219 S 5th St.
Tacology 101 was probably the restaurant most outside all of our normal comfort zones, but I’m so glad we gave it a try. This taco place is right off the Old Courthouse square downtown, so it’s also convenient when you’re out sight-seeing. We had an early evening dinner since we were heading to a drive-in movie, and it was the perfect time to visit. The concept is that this is the place to go to get your education in tacos. The menu is set up like a college syllabus, and the decor reminds you of a chemistry classroom. So cool!
Here, you also order at the counter and then grab your drinks. Luckily, we had some help deciding what to order. We started with some chips and manchego cheese–very good. Kristin decided to sample some of my tacos rather than getting her own. Jeff doesn’t really eat Mexican food, but he was able to order some plain BBQ pork tacos. It was an adventure for all of us!
Following the concept, my “major” was undecided, so I got to try three different tacos for my entree. I knew right away I wanted to try a fried cheese taco. I also selected the braised brisket and carnitas. The fried cheese was my favorite, but they were all good!
And here’s Jeff’s plain BBQ carnitas. So yummy!
Kristin nibbled here and there on our food and the chips and cheese, but she was really into the churros!
They were so big and filling that we had one for breakfast the next morning! I highly recommend taking some churros home with you even if you think you’re full. Delicious!
We had a great time sampling all the good food that Springfield, Illinois, has to offer. Part of the fun of traveling is to experience new things, I that certainly extends to trying the food you may not normally try. I was proud of my picky eaters who sampled some things they normally wouldn’t. So if you’re visiting Springfield with your family, and you have a few picky eaters in the bunch, give the above restaurants a try. You’ll be glad you did!
Well, I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I saw all the great photos! I sure hope to pass through Springfield someday!
LOVE corn dogs!!!! Brings me right back to my childhood! Awesome suggestions!!
All of the food looks amazing, but especially breakfast. I love a good, hearty breakfast to start my day.
Tacology looks yummy! That would be my pick!
It was so delicious!
Holy smokes! Everything on this list looks incredible…I’ve never been to Springfield, but now I feel I need to plan a trip there for all this food! Tacology and Long Nine Junction would be my first two stops! 🙂 Awesome information, awesome post! 🙂
I’m a big fan of diners so would love these places. I had never heard of a horseshoe or a ponyshoe but they look and sound amazing. I’m from Iowa so love a breaded tenderloin…even though this one is in Illinois, I would try it. And the Tacology sounds like a fun experience! Now to go find me a midnight snack since this post made me hungry. Ha!
These all look delicious! We passed through Springfield in May traveling from Alton to Chicago, but we didn’t stop. If we return I will know where to eat!
It all looks delicious! This place looks like such a fun place to visit…adding to my travel wishlist and sharing with my Indiana based family.
I’m a taco fan so would totally be seen eating at Tacology.. LOL!! YUM
My kids would absolutely love those corn dogs! They are such a treat when traveling…and I would LOVE that diner! I absolutely love old-fashioned diners and this one would totally meet my criteria!
I would try all of them. The cookie would be my first item to try.
A very comprehensive list of great places!
I’m not a cheese person either, but the sandwich looked really good and how about those fries next to the corn dogs? YUM! When I go through that way, I will know where to stop and eat, which is super helpful. Thanks for sharing where to eat in Springfield!
That chicken at Long Nine looks amazing! Never been to Springfield but good to know where to eat in case we find ourselves there
Oh how I love diner food! All of this looks so yummy! Thank you for sharing!
I have lived in the Springfield area just over 20 years. Cozy Dog posted this article to their fb page, which I enjoyed reading— and the comments. There are so many wonderful restaurants in Springfield! A great resource for “The Best of Springfield” in many, many categories is located on the Illinois Times fb page or website.
Thank you for commenting! We loved our visit to Springfield.