Commercial Break

C-Street’s recent revival has made it our favorite street in Springfield.

BY Natalie Torres Gallagher | Photography by Josh Beecher

Springfield has more than one claim to fame. It’s not only the birthplace of Route 66 but also the site where Wild Bill Hickok won the first Wild West quick-draw shoot-out in 1865. It’s home, too, to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium (the state’s number one attraction, where you can pet stingrays and point out all the fish you recognize from Finding Nemo). But the Queen City of the Ozarks is also a hotbed for the arts, international cuisine and good vibes—perfect for your weekend getaway.

And the spot to be is C-Street, which has had a recent revival.

Around six years ago, on my drive back to Kansas City from Branson, I stopped in Springfield for lunch. I was intrigued by Cafe Cusco—Peruvian restaurants are not common in southern Missouri—and was delighted to find Pisco sours on the menu. But I don’t recall being especially inspired by much else on Commercial Street, or C-Street, as the locals call it. There were a handful of other businesses and restaurants spread over six blocks, but there were plenty more buildings that sat empty or boarded up. 

Today, C-Street is booming. Cafe Cusco is still a popular destination, and owner Joe Gidman loved the district so much that in 2018, he introduced a second concept called Van Gogh’s Eeterie just up the street. The Dutch diner specializes in pannenkoeken—crepe-like pancakes prepared with sweet or savory fillings—and soused herring.

La Habana Vieja opened in 2021, serving Cuban classics like ropa vieja, and in February, Beyond Bliss brought smoothies and fresh-baked cakes to the party. 

It’s more than enough to sustain you while you pop in and out of C-Street’s hip shops. At Chabom Teas and Spices (also owned by Gidman), you can find rare green peppercorns and premium THC teas. Vintage enthusiasts will love browsing the retro racks and mid-century modern furniture inside Hakaar’s Bazaar. And just try to talk yourself out of those neon pink skates at Bees Knees Roller Skate Shop (it opened in September). 

At the east end of C-Street, you’ll find Askinosie Chocolate, a lauded bean-to-bar factory from chocolatier Shawn Askinosie. Between samples of single-origin dark chocolate, you might inquire about other projects in the neighborhood, like the proposed rehabilitation of the historic Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, which previously offered residents a safe path over the train tracks dividing Springfield’s north and south sides. The Missouri Hotel has been vacant for almost a decade, but there are plans to restore it to its original 1927 splendor and open the doors to travelers once more. And there are endless Instagram selfie opportunities thanks to the murals, mosaics and sculptures from local artists lining the sidewalks and alleys.