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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Bambu Vietnamese Cuisine
[ Vietnamese ]
1338 E. Battlefield Rd., Springfield, 417-881-9881, springfieldbambu.com
Henry Huynh came to Springfield from Vietnam in 1989. Nearly 10 years later, he was still baffled by the fact that Springfield had Chinese, American and Mexican restaurants on what seemed like every corner, but there were no Vietnamese restaurants to be found. “The food is really fresh and really healthy,” he says. “We needed that, and that is why I opened.” Henry opened Bambu with his brother, Nguyen, in 1998. The restaurant serves a variety of authentic Vietnamese dishes, among them pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup with broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat. All of the stocks used here are made in-house and cooked for 12 hours, giving them an exquisite depth of flavor, and many dishes come with a side of fresh herbs, lime, bean sprouts and chili for customizing your meal. You’ll also find a variety of vermicelli dishes, rice platters and noodle soups on the menu.
Avanzare Italian Dining
[ Italian ]
1908 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-567-3463
Originally from Mexico, Avanzare’s owner Tony Garcia was trained to cook in Chicago and now specializes in creating all things Italian at his Springfield restaurant. Favorites here include the Mussel al Forno appetizer with baked mussels in a zesty garlic wine sauce with a splash of the restaurant’s house-made marinara and the Frutti di Mare, a spaghetti dish with shrimp, calamari, scallops and black mussels in freshly made marinara with a touch of red pepper. All the dishes are to die for, though, since many of the pastas and all of the sauces are made from scratch in the restaurant’s kitchen.
[ Middle Eastern ]
400 South Ave., Suite 100, Springfield, 417-720-1018, threecornergrill.com
Opening a Middle Eastern restaurant wasn’t always the dream of Riad Matar, who came to the United States from Syria as a university student. He actually studied civil engineering in college, and he didn’t start experimenting with cooking until he developed a weight problem. “I learned to cook 12 years ago because of my health problems,” Riad says. He was taught to cook by his mother, and his restaurant quickly became well known for its babaganoush, hummus and gyros, among other dishes. Many of the options here are healthy, including the tabbouli. “I say, ‘go healthy and be healthy,’” Riad says.
[ Greek ]
725 E. State Hwy. 248, Reeds Spring, 417-272-8243
Let’s get fired up! The most fun way to start a meal at this Greek restaurant is with the saganaki, a dish of buttered and grilled kasseri cheese that’s covered with brandy and set on fire tableside. This is just one of many authentic Greek favorites offered by owners Bessie and Tom Haldoupis, who were born and raised in Greece. After living in New York and then moving to Springfield, the couple opened Papouli’s in 1986. Their background inspired many other favorites here, including dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), spanakotiropita (a spinach and cheese pie), gyros, moussaka and pastitsio. The Greek salads are topped with house-made Greek dressing of olive oil, white wine vinegar and Greek seasonings and are also a favorite. If you’ve never tried Greek cuisine before, consider starting with Papouli’s super-popular kebabs, which feature your choice of fork-tender filet, lamb, pork or chicken with broiled tomato, pepper, onion and mushroom.
Thai Thai Cuisine
[ Thai ]
1615 W. Hwy. 76, Branson, 417-334-9070, thaithaibranson.com
Owned by Thailand native Budsabong Brutham, Thai Thai Cuisine offers everything from stir-fry, curry, noodle and fried-rice dishes to entrées featuring seafood and other proteins. And then there are other Thai creations perfect for those who are willing to try something new, like the red curry duck dish featuring barbecue duck, tomato, pineapple, red peppers and sweet basil. While spice levels typically range from not spicy to extra spicy on a scale of 1–5, if you want to try an extremely spicy dish, the restaurant will do its best to accommodate you.
Leong’s Asian Diner
[ Chinese ]
1540 W. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-887-7500, leongsasiandiner.com
Leong’s Asian Diner is perhaps best known for its name. David Leong was the blessed soul who invented Springfield-style cashew chicken more than 50 years ago. Today, the original cashew chicken recipe is prepared and served to the masses at this restaurant, owned by Leong and his sons, Wing Wah Leong and Ling Leong. But the restaurant’s menu also features authentic Chinese dishes, including egg foo young. Available with veggies, chicken, pork, beef or shrimp, the delectable dish features a combo of eggs, baby bok choy, bean sprouts, mushrooms, snow peas, carrots and green onions shaped into patties and served with cashew sauce and steamed rice. Another authentic favorite here is the Cantonese-style roast duck, which is slow roasted and sweetly topped with made-from-scratch plum sauce. To wake up your appetite, start with the dim sum sampler platter.
Bruno’s Italian Restaurant
[ Italian ]
416 South Ave., Springfield, 417-866-0007, brunositalianrestaurantdowntown.com
Bruno Gargiulo was born and raised in Palermo, Sicily. He came to the United States in 2003, then opened Bruno’s in downtown Springfield in 2005. The restaurant serves everything from a variety of pasta dishes to ravioli, pizzas and fresh seafood dishes. “We always have a weekly fish special, depending on what fish I can get in fresh,” Bruno says. From the breads and sauces to the sausage, everything at this restaurant is made from scratch. In addition to a truly authentic Italian menu (really—entrées are even written in Italian), Bruno brings another Italian must-have to the dining scene: wine. He owns a vineyard in Sicily, and you can order a glass of his vino to accompany your meal.
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