Dubbed C-Street by locals, this six-block shopping, dining and entertainment district is the place to be, much like it was 150 years ago when the railroad made its way to Springfield and the area became a bustling hub of retail activity.
More than a century later, C-Street is now an eclectic area with a strong entrepreneurial community that strives for individuality. From antique shops to galleries and fine dining to the city’s oldest tavern, C-Street is a must-see in Springfield, especially for those looking for the unique, unusual and unpretentious side of the city.
Robin Gilmore, owner of Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase on C-Street, said it’s the perfect location for her business.
“C-Street is just a neat little area in Springfield,” Gilmore said. “It’s an old-time vibe and the neighbors are wonderful.”
Gilmore has traveled the world visiting tea rooms and flea markets and says she has never seen one like the one that bears her name. And it’s no wonder.
Tea room at Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase in Springfield, Missouri.
An elaborate storefront greets customers and once inside, sensory overload delivers thanks to an ornate blown-glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling and every available space filled with everything from home décor to clothing to antiques.
“I wanted it to be something quite different and unique and somewhere I would want to go; a feast for the eyes,” Gilmore said.
The tea room, set within the intricate displays of the market, fills up from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with diners enjoying quiches, soups, sandwiches, salads and scrumptious desserts.
“I wanted this to be something that’s not just a restaurant,” Gilmore said. “I want people to come in and be entertained. I really wanted this to be a destination stop and that’s what it’s beginning to be.”
Another destination stop on C-Street is Lindberg’s Tavern where if the walls could talk, they’d have quite a story to tell.
Lindberg’s, the city’s oldest tavern, opened in 1870 and quickly became a one-stop-shop for railroad workers looking to kick back after long hauls on the line.
From Lindberg’s corner perch, it’s easy to imagine tired workers coming off the trains sitting on the rows of tracks visible across the street, dodging horse-drawn wagons to cross Commercial Street for a beer and the bordello that used to be at the tavern.
Nowadays, the people frequenting Lindberg’s are from all walks of life, including Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens who enjoys the architecture and history of the building along with the live entertainment showcasing local artists.
“It’s almost unusual to see an out-of-town band playing there because they have so much local stuff going on,” Stephens said. “And they’re not scared to try different things.”
That’s also true when it comes to the food at Lindberg’s.
Owners Ryan Dock and Eric Weiler have added their own flavor to the menu featuring a daring take on traditional bar food. Burgers seared in duck fat, poutine (fries covered in gravy and cheese) and black-eyed pea hummus are popular items.
Sandwiches served up at Lindberg's Tavern in Springfield.
“We’ve really tried to embrace the history of this place but also add our own little flavor to it,” said Dock.
A passion for history, food and C-Street had a significant influence on what they offer, including condiments made with locally produced craft beer and one of their most popular desserts featuring Askinosie Chocolate — another C-Street business to explore.
“We just wanted to embrace C-Street by using ingredients for our food from local businesses,” Dock said. “And we wanted to bring something to C-Street that was missing. Turns out that was a good, local burger and quality bar food.”
Quality food is definitely a signature of C-Street. Cafe Cusco is the city’s only Peruvian restaurant; Sisters in Thyme deli and bakery serves sandwiches on homemade bread; Pizza House, the city’s oldest pizzeria, is always packed; Big Momma’s Coffee & Espresso Bar is where the coffee is better than what mom used to make; and many other places to grab a bite are found along the street among the antique shops, flea markets, boutiques and galleries.
Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield, Missouri.
Askinosie Chocolate, one of a small handful of places in the nation making bean-to-bar chocolate, is among those shops. Along with the mouthwatering aroma of cocoa, you’ll find chocolate made with beans sourced directly from farmers. Dark and white chocolate bars, nibs, cocoa powder, chocolate-covered malt balls and more tasty treats are available. Try out the free samples!
Also be sure to check out Creative Escape Glass where you can purchase or make your own fused glass art; Chabom Teas + Spices featuring products from around the world; Artivities — a studio specializing in interactive classes and events; and all the other businesses that make C-Street the hip place to be that it is today.