Ready for a culinary adventure that will lead you all the way around the globe? Prepare to feed your adventurous spirit.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.
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Iguana Roja Restaurante
[ Mexican ]
107 W. Church St., Ozark, 417-485-8585
Iguana Roja owner Brian Taylor was born and raised in Springfield, but he went to culinary school in Fort Lauderdale. “In that experience, I was introduced to using many exotic flavors while working with chefs from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and South America,” Taylor says. When he returned from training, he was inspired to share his freshened-up interpretation of these cuisines with 417-landers. In addition to usual favorites like fajitas, burritos and enchiladas made with the freshest ingredients available, Iguana Roja offers many specialties, including chile rellenos that are lovingly stuffed with quinoa, raisins, almonds, rice, shredded pork, ground beef and caramelized onions and then baked. For a real treat, try the stuffed jalepeños that are loaded plump with goodies like local Terrell Creek Farm goat cheese, bacon and fairy dust—a seasoning blend ground in house from cumin, garlic, annatto seed and cracked black pepper that’s also used to season the chips.
[ British ]
2620 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-864-6994, farmersgastropub.com
Great Britain native Bill Griffiths, who owns Farmers Gastropub with his wife, Christina, says he’s always wanted to open a restaurant. After learning to cook while living in France, he moved to Springfield in 2004 and opened Farmers Gastropub in 2009. The gastropub concept leads the restaurant to feature as much local fresh, organic and sustainable food as possible. With a nod to Bill’s roots, much of Farmers’ menu is British, including the fish and chips. “We hand-cut all of our French fries and double fry them,” Bill says. The bangers and mash dish features sausage that’s mixed in-house and stuffed at Harter House, and the cottage pie is complete with beef, veggies, gravy and mashed potatoes. Farmers also serves a full English breakfast on Sundays. Recently, the restaurant hired Chef Peter Tinson, who is known from his years at Gallery Bistro and his more recent stinit at Springfield’s south-side location of Nonna’s Italian Cafe.
Yan’s Chinese Restaurant
[ Chinese ]
533 S. Kimbrough, Springfield, 417-719-4560
Originally from China, Yan’s Chinese Restaurant owner Tom Hsi moved to the United States in 1984. Hsi opened his Springfield restaurant in 2012, and with high hopes of pleasing the palates of all 417-landers, he created both American Chinese and authentic Chinese menus. While you’ll find many of the ordinary chicken-meets-sauce favorites on Yan’s Americanized menu, we suggest branching out and ordering from the authentic menu instead. The top-selling authentic dishes include duck offered five ways (oh, the roasted duck!), fish bowl soup, spicy cabbage, braised ribs served with tofu noodles and deep-cooked pork, which is a flavor-packed pork belly that is slowly cooked for eight hours and served dripping with flavor. The restaurant also offers hot pots with fish, beef, meatballs or vegetables that are delivered to your table on a portable stove while they’re nice and hot (in fact, they’re still steaming!) “A lot of people come in and try all the authentic menu items one by one,” Hsi says. Sounds like a plan.
Great American Taco Company
[ Mexican ]
Great American Taco Company owner Pat Duran opened this restaurant to offer 417-landers a not-so-traditional take on Latino food. The menu here specializes in tacos (nearly 20 varieties served in your choice of six shells, often with different meat options), but there are also other tasty options that include gourmet posole soup, enchiladas, burritos, and Frito pie. To add to your list of ordering decisions, the restaurant offers four varieties of salsa and six styles of fresh guacamole. First timers should sample the Ultimate Perfection taco with chili sauces, queso, smoked cheddar, pepper jack, shredded romaine, fresh tomato, cilantro citrus sour cream and your choice of meat.
Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant
[ Indian ]
1250 E. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-719-4573
Dishes at this Indian restaurant can be ordered mild, medium or spicy and with plenty of indulgent sauce, so be sure to order some naan (Indian flatbread) so you can soak up every last drip. Owned by India natives Tarvinder Girn and Paramjit Kaur, the restaurant offers a full buffet at lunchtime and an enormous menu at dinner time. If you’re new to Indian cuisine, Girn suggests trying out the chicken tikka masala featuring chicken in a creamy sauce and served with rice. (What’s not to love?) The lamb vindaloo, a spicy lamb dish, is a great option for more adventurous eaters who are ready to graduate from chicken tikka masala.
London Calling Pasty Company
[ British ]
836 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-380-7943, londoncallingpastycompany.com
Long before he began greeting customers at this gourmet pasty company, Neil Gomme left his West London home to attend summer camp in Maine. While he was there, he ended up meeting his wife. “She was from Springfield,” Gomme says. The two lived in London for a while, but then they ended up relocating to 417-land, and Gomme decided to put his charming accent and knowledge of British food to good use by partnering up with his sister-in-law, culinary guru Carrie Mitchell, to open London Calling. “She does the cooking, and I brought a lot of the recipes,” Gomme says. Located in Springfield’s food truck park and offering a big red double-decker bus for seating, this restaurant specializes in creating the ever-so-popular British pasties made with flaky crust and warm fillings. Flavors range from a traditional filled with tender steak, onion, golden potato and rutabaga to a version filled with bangers and mash, one with steak and stilton and even a tikka masala that’s loaded with chicken, a cream-based tomato sauce and English curry. You’ll also find a tasty shepherd’s pie and traditional sausage rolls on the menu, with every ingredient made from scratch in the food truck.
Gem of India
[ Indian ]
211 W. Battlefield Rd., Springfield, 417-881-9558, gemofindia.net
If you’re a first-timer who’s looking to try a wide variety of Indian food, make friends with the lunch buffet at Gem of India. Owner and head chef Gurnek Singh is originally from northern India’s Punjab, and he loads up this beauty with a smorgasbord of goodies. The dinnertime menu is even more impressive, boasting dozens of entrées featuring chicken, seafood, veggies and a whole lot more. Try the Dinner for Two with mulligatawny soup, vegetable samosas, pakoras, papadam, tandoori chicken, lamb bhuna, chicken tikka masala, saffron rice, naan, raita and dessert. (Woah!)
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