Cozy Dog Drive-In
An icon in Springfield is the Cozy Dog Drive-in, home of the original batter-covered hot dog on a stick. This landmark, located on historic Route 66, features a great collection of Route 66 memorabilia. Although corn dogs are popular at state fairs, you have to go to the Cozy Dog drive-in for the original. Open 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday - Saturday, closed Sundays. 2935 S. Sixth Street, 217-525-1992.
Chilli (otherwise known as Chili)
Chili is a popular menu item in Springfield, but here it is more commonly spelled chilli, not chili. The first chilli restaurant in Springfield, and the first to call it “chilli,” was the Dew Chilli Parlor which opened in 1909. Although the original location is now closed, the secret recipe lives on at Dew Chilli at 2312 Wabash Ave., along with Dew Chilli Pub and Grill locations at 301 North Grand Ave. and 2690 S. Dirksen Parkway. Another local favorite, which was established by Joe Rogers in 1945 as the Den Chili Parlor, is now called The Chili Parlor, located at 820 S. Ninth Street. If you eat a bowl of Firebrand chili at The Chili Parlor, your name will be memorialized on the wall.
You haven’t truly experienced Springfield until you’ve eaten a horseshoe (or at least a ponyshoe). Springfield originated this concoction, consisting of thick-cut slices of bread topped with meat, then potatoes, and cheese sauce over the top. Chef Joe Schweska of the Leland Hotel created the horseshoe in the late 1920s. The Leland Hotel, now an office building, was located on the corner of Sixth and Capitol Streets. The original horseshoe was made with ham cut in the shape of a horseshoe, wedges of potato (the nails), a Welsh rarebit type cheese sauce and was served on a hot metal plate (the anvil). Today’s horseshoe typically has two slices of Texas toast, your choice of meat (hamburger, ham, turkey, chicken or shrimp), French fries, and a rich cheese sauce smothered over the top. Most people believe the secret is the cheese sauce. A smaller version with just one slice of bread is called a ponyshoe. You can find horseshoes on many menus in Springfield with different variations on the classic version.
You may get your kicks on Route 66, but for a sugar fix go to Mel-O-Cream. Mel-O-Cream has been making donuts in Springfield for 80 years. Cake donuts, cream-filled donuts, old-fashioneds, iced donuts, glazed donuts, apple fritters, long johns, cinnamon twists and donut holes are just some of the varieties. There are four locations in the Capital City to tempt you. Locations are 217 E. Laurel Street (217-544-4644), 1953 W. Monroe Street (217-546-4651), 525 E. North Grand Avenue (217-528-2303) and 3010 S. Sixth Street (217-529-7708).
This restaurant, built in 1921 along historic Route 66, claims to have had the first drive-thru window in the country. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Maid Rite serves distinctive ground-beef sandwiches, also called the “Loose Meat Sandwich,” plus sides, shakes and root beer floats. Open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday, closed Sundays. 118 N. Pasfield, 217-523-0723.