Springfield’s “Horseshoe Trail” Puts Downstate Delicacy On The Map

Visit Springfield has introduced a new food tour focusing on Springfield’s most iconic dish: the horseshoe. Horseshoe Trail is a digitally based tour that takes hungry Illinoisans to 24 of the Capitol’s best restaurants, all serving up the legendary horseshoe sandwich.

Horseshoe Trail is free and easy to use. To begin their journey, users must simply enter their phone number or email address and will immediately receive their very own Horseshoe Trail “passport” on their mobile device. With each new location visited, the user’s phone will automatically detect their arrival and will add points to their passport, which can be redeemed for prizes along the way. In addition to the comprehensive list of Springfield’s best horseshoes, the passport grants users access to exclusive discounts they can use at their stops along the way. 

The horseshoe is a dish that is as simple as it is tasty. The most popular version of the open-faced sandwich starts with two thick pieces of white toast, each topped with a hamburger patty. The sandwich is then topped with a hefty portion of French fries and a creamy cheese sauce. Thanks to the popularity of the horseshoe amongst foodies in Springfield, restaurants across town have created their own unique twists on the Midwestern delicacy such as the breakfast horseshoe, which swaps out the patties and fries for eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon or sausage. No matter what kind of horseshoe you choose, you’re in for a treat. 

The history of the horseshoe is almost as rich as the sandwich itself. First created in 1928 at the Leland Hotel, Chef Joe Schweska wanted to create a new item to include on the hotel’s lunch menu. His wife, who was inspired by a Welsh Rarebit recipe she had recently seen, suggested they serve an open-faced sandwich covered in the sauce. Just like that, the horseshoe was born. While most horseshoes today consist of the same four ingredients, the original recipe found at the Leland Hotel used potato wedges instead of French fries and a piece of ham cut in the shape of a horseshoe instead of hamburger patties, hence the name of the infamous sandwich.

The horseshoe has remained a fan favorite among Springfieldians ever since it first began being served nearly a century ago and is the official sandwich of Illinois. The horseshoe’s downright deliciousness and proximity to our state’s lawmakers have earned it the praises of State Legislators too.

“I used to enjoy the horseshoes at Wayne’s Red Coach on North Grand during my flying career with the Illinois Air National Guard,” said State Representative and retired General Wayne Rosenthal.

While a horseshoe is delicious regardless of where it is enjoyed, Horseshoe Trail aims to shed light on Springfield’s rich history and traditions. The tour was created to offer a unique experience that blends digital content with the physical world, also known as “phygital” as described by Amy Beadle, the marketing manager of Visit Springfield. This type of tour enables users to discover the city’s culinary heritage at their convenience and in their own time. To learn more about Springfield’s history, and enjoy Illinois’ favorite sandwich, go to VisitSpringfieldIllinois.com