Top 10 Restaurants-Springfield IL & More

For a couple of years now my family, the women that is, have been having a girls night out. Once a month or every six weeks, we gather together and eat out at local restaurants. This was my sister Debbie’s idea. It is a way for us all to connect.

Debbie and I out and about.

There are seven of us, my mom, my sister, me, my two daughters, my daughter-in-law and my grand daughter. Often we don’t all make it, but whoever is free comes and we all meet up, share what is going on in our lives, then go our separate ways. Part of the fun of this is finding new and different restaurants to eat at in the Springfield area.

The last time we gathered together, my granddaughter Lilly said, “Grandma, you need to do a blog about the best places to eat in Springfield!”

Thinking that was a grand idea, I sent out a questionnaire on Facebook to friends and family and the response was telling. It was interesting to note that most of the restaurants are not chains, but local family owned favorites.

The best places! Restaurant Number 1

Number 1 in my very small probably family biased survey of favorite restaurants is Darcy’s Pint. Darcy’s Pint is advertised as a “cozy neighborhood bar featuring authentic Irish fare”.

I think perhaps they are most famous for their horse and pony shoes. For those not from the Springfield area, a horse or pony shoe is a local concoction. It is a bed of toast with hamburger, ham or another meat covered with french fries and cheese sauce. Yummy!

Darcy’s makes the best and I love their Chicken Cesar salad. In fact, I have never had a bad meal there. The only thing that can be frustrating here is the wait! Cost is moderate, this restaurant won’t break the bank. Sadly you can’t make reservations.

Restaurant Number 2

Number 2 is Gabatonis! My love for Gabatoni’s goes back to date nights for Keith and I and we will be married forty years this March! Gabatoni’s has been open for over 60 years. This wonderful restaurant offers up my FAVORITE pizza. They also have wonderful Poor Boy sandwiches and much more! Gabatoni’s is a Springfield icon establishment. Although the interior has been renovated, they still have the same “feel” as in the old days.

One great aspect here is that you can make reservations which is nice because they can get really busy on weekends!

Restaurants Number 3, 4 & 5

The restaurants were ties for the # 3,4 and 5 spots!

Bella Milano. Okay this one while not totally a chain does have two other locations, one in Edwardsville, and one in O’Fallon, so it doesn’t fall under the one location like the others mentioned above. This Italian restaurant offers great pasta and an amazing salad.

This is a great anniversary, or celebration restaurant. It is moderate to pricey but the food and service is top notch and in our family, it is well loved. You can also make reservations at Bella which makes this another plus in my book.

Tied with Bella is Dicarlos which is located in Virden a little south of Springfield. This family restaurant has been beloved by our family since the kids were babies. In fact our children grew up at the same time as the DiCarlo children. My son loves the pizza and diner so much that they know his voice when he calls. He doesn’t even have to order, they already know what he wants. He is the to DiCarlos what Norm is to Cheers!

The pizza is amazing and they have a wonderful array of authentic Italian food that can’t be beat. I have a friend (Jane you know who you are!) that demands DiCarlos anytime she is in the area and for good reason! The prices are very moderate and you can make reservations.

The Old Lux also was tied with Bella and DiCarlos! This steakhouse like Gabatoni’s is a mainstay that dates back to the dating days! Keith and I just visited the Old Luxe with friends Saturday night and the food was as good as ever. The filet and lobster and shrimp are mainstays of this wonderful place along with baked potatoes with chive sauce. The neighborhood is a bit dicey, but a Springfield policeman sits in the parking lot during business hours so don’t let it keep you from going to this great establishment.

They take their time so don’t expect a “fast” meal but if are patient and are in the mood for a great evening out, this is the place!

Restaurants Number 6, 7 and 8

Restaurant selections for Numbers 6,7 and 8 are all tied as well!

Coz’s Pizza & Pub, this is a fun pizza place that also caters. When I worked for the state and we had events with the American Lung Association this was a favorite place to get pizza from for good reason. In fact, it is our Girl’s Night out choice for tonight! Affordable!

Westwoods Lodge is such a fun place on the West side of town. I often forget this fun place that offers an amazing array of food. If you like venison etc. this is where to go. I like the fun atmosphere and especially the burgers! You can make reservations cost is affordable.

Lake Point Grille located on Toronto Road, this is a personal favorite also because it is so close to home! They offer oven fired pizzas and calzones along with upscale meals as well. This can be a laid back stop, or a romantic dinner. There is also a room in the back that is a great party place for a shower or get-together! Lake Point takes reservations! Cost is affordable to moderate.

Restaurants 8, 9 and 10 are tied too!

Can you believe the same thing restaurant selections tied again!

Louikens on 4th! This is a can only visited on lunch unless you want to splurge because it is a bit pricey, but this is a great spot for something different! Across the street from the Governor’s Mansion the menu is ever changing and different, but amazing. This spot offers casual upscale dining downtown!

Findlay’s Tap House on the West side is another family favorite. This is a place where I have found the best Fish and Chips ever! Be sure to share if you order them because the order size is huge! Great salads and service, this is a fun stop where it is lively, but quiet enough to carry on a conversation!

Last but not least is Charlie Parkers where you go for the food and the fun ambience. This quonset hut diner with the 1950’s decor has an AMAZING breakfast and nice lunches as well. Not open for dinner, (or as my grand daughter argues, supper), this is a morning and early afternoon spot. Go for the big pancake or a great omelet, you won’t be disappointed at this award winning restaurant.

Other restaurants received honorable mentions were Springfield’s Cozy Dog, Rochester’s Public House 29, and Hillsboro’s Canton Inn as well as New Berlin’s Capone’s Hide Out and Hamel’s Weazys. Other Springfield favorites included Fulgenzis Pizza and Pasta, NuNoh, KiKu!

Keep in mind that this was a small survey of favorite restaurants but it may give you some ideas of where to go when in town! At least, this is our take! I’d love to know your favorites as well, I’m always looking for new places to try!

Another local favorite is Saputo’s read about this local Italian diner! With COVID-19 Gabatoni’s and DiCarlo’s lately have only offered curbside pickup, but I hope this will change in the future!

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  1. Chelsey Knuth

    These all sound good! Might have to schedule a trip to the Springfield area soon!

    1. Cindy

      There are lots of great dining options in the Land of Lincoln!

  2. Sage Scott

    This is such a great idea! I wished my mom and sisters lived closer so we could do something like this! (Oh, and thanks for the delicious advice!)

  3. Cindy

    I love our girl’s night out it is great fun and a good opportunity to reconnect.

  4. Kim

    I love a good list to help plan a trip! I’ll have to remember the pony shoe at Darcy’s Pint.

    1. Cindy

      Yes, there are lots of fun dining spots in Springfield and a horseshoe is a must if you have never had one!

  5. Stacey Billingsley

    Cool post! We had a short trip to Illinois in July. We tried Darcy’s and Charlie Parker’s from your list. So good! Had to have a Horseshoe!

    1. Cindy

      What’s a trip to Springfield without a horseshoe?

  6. Kylie N

    I’ve been to the Cozy Dog too! We stopped there we’ll driving Route 66. Their fries are so good!

  7. Vicky

    What a great idea to have a survey! That’s a fun way to see what everyone’s favorites are. Seems like Italian food is a favorite, no matter what restaurant.

    1. Cindy

      Italian beat hands down!