Charlie Parker’s, Springfield, Illinois

After a late and large lunch at BEAST Craft BBQ in Belleville, Nancy and I went on to Springfield and checked in to our hotel.  Nancy wasn’t at all hungry, and I wasn’t interested in a big meal, so I reverted to hunter-gatherer mode at a local supermarket and dined on oranges, a bag of M & Ms, and a couple of Hazy Little Thing IPAs.

We normally would have eaten the free breakfast in the hotel, but my in-depth restaurant research disclosed that a local place, Charlie Parker’s (named after the saxophonist), was the “National Grand Champion of Thomas Hometown Breakfast Battle.”  I eventually realized that “Thomas” referred to the English muffin people.  (Isn’t it supposed to the Thomas’, pronounced Thomases?  And did you know that Thomas is owned by Bimbo Bakery USA?)  Charlie Parker’s defeated 165 other restaurants from all over the country.  You might have seen them prepare a “Horseshoe” on national television one morning.  You can read about the Horseshoe, a Springfield specialty, here.

So off we went on a cold, windy morning to a light industrial area off a side road on the South edge of town.  There we saw Charlie Parker’s.

charlei parker ext

I thought the architecture fit in well with the neighborhood.  The building has a large, open interior  jammed with people, records, album covers, musician/celebrity posters, and other memorabilia.

charlie parkers int

We sat in the only available table, right by the entry.  There’s a small vestibule as you enter the restaurant to block the cold air from coming in with full force.  That was a good idea, but for our seats it was undermined by the graciousness of the customers: someone in every group held the door open for all of the others, some of whom apparently were just getting out of their cars with their walkers at the far end of the parking lot.  No sooner did the door close than it would reopen for another group of polite people.  I didn’t need coffee to wake up, but ordered some to keep warm.  I acclimated quickly, however, and enjoyed myself.

I ordered eggs over easy with, in a radical departure, sausage rather than bacon, and with hash browns and white toast; and I asked for the egg’s best friend, Tabasco sauce.

charlie parkers j

Nancy ordered a two egg Western omelet, shown in progress, with hash browns and rye toast.

charlie parkers n

She also ordered one small blueberry pancake.

charlie parkers pancake

Thats’s a small blueberry pancake on a dinner plate.  A large pancake is 16 inches across.  If you can eat four of them, they’re free.  It was a very good pancake, a triumph of the pancake art.  Nancy, who eats like a bird, insisted that I help her finish it.  Being a devoted husband, I did.

Nancy enjoyed her omelet.  She was a bit surprised by the cheese in (actually on) a Western omelet, but should not have been.  This is America, where we put cheese on everything.  I was in a Granville, Ohio, diner once when another customer ordered a waffle.  The waitress asked if he wanted cheese on it.

My eggs over easy were expertly cooked, with every bit of yolk still liquid, and the sausage, which was very thick, had a good meaty flavor.  The hash browns were good, although I would have preferred them scattered, smothered, and peppered.   They were not at all greasy:  you may consider that either a bug or a feature.  The toast was good — nice and warm.

It was a very good breakfast.  We both thoroughly enjoyed Charlie Parker’s.  It’s a homey place full of very friendly people.  I do have some regrets that I didn’t order a Horseshoe, but then I saw one at another table and decided I’d have regretted eating one even more.  As it was, we were well fueled for our walk, and for our visit to the absolutely sensational Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Their films — actually holograms –are wonderful beyond mere words.  The Museum has excellent docents and offers plenty of surprises.


The Museum alone is a reason to visit Springfield, and there’s much more to see, with Lincoln everywhere you look.  So go there.  Go to Charlie Parker’s.  Have a Horseshoe, and tell me about it.


And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box.  Or bookmark us and check in from time to time.  If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, usually close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event).  Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome.  And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.

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