Best of 417 Awards 2007
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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South Avenue Pizza
South Avenue Pizza takes more of your votes than last year’s winner, Arris’ Pizza… maybe people slightly prefer a whole-wheat crust (South Avenue) over a sourdough crust (Arris’).
Best Restaurant Atmosphere
There’s a reason why two of the Jalili family’s restaurants show up in this category’s results—and her name is Sara Jalili. She’s the one who refined the look of Flame Steakhouse (formerly Epicurean) and Touch restaurant (formerly Chardonnay). Gallery Bistro—which did quite a lot of campaigning this year—is always enlivened by works of art from art dealer Jan Hyde’s Walnut Street Gallery, upstairs.
Garbo’s (tied with St. Michael’s)
St. Michael’s (tied with Garbo’s)
Our picks: The Bistro’s seasonal Caprese salad with tomato, basil and mozzarella, Flame’s classical-steakhouse Garbage Salad; the house salad at St. Michael’s with cajun jerk chicken, served in a giant metal bowl; Garbo’s house salad with Canadian bacon, breakfast bacon, mushrooms, onion and black olives, served with a house-made Italian dressing.
Jimmy John’s (chain)
Cassil’s Coffee Café
Lenny’s Sub Shop
Many restaurants got a lot of votes here because sandwiches are so popular. We pick everything on the menu at Sub Shop, a true Springfield original if ever there were. The veggie is particularly popular. After a fire kept Nearly Famous out of the game for many months, we’re glad to see it’s still beloved by readers. Cassil’s probably has the most exotic sandwich ingredients. The chains on this list are all good; French-bread lovers should head to Jimmy John’s, toasted-sandwiches are best at McAlister’s, while the Jersey-based Lenny’s has the best Philly cheese steaks.
Red Lobster (chain)
Bijan’s Sea & Grille
When James Clary sold his original Clary’s American Grill in favor of constantly focusing on his mid-market Fish, it was clear that quality improved almost immediately. Our picks: Fish tacos or the super-tasty clam chowder, as well as any of the dinner entrées. (Believe it or not, Fish serves a pretty darn good steak.) The number of votes for Bijan’s and Ocean Zen, when added as a sum, are more than those received by Red Lobster, which shows that locals not only love their independent restaurants, but also mass-market everyday dining.
Bijan’s Sea & Grille
Gallery Bistro took to the top slot, unseating 2006 winner Bijan’s, while Clary’s has disappeared from the list entirely. Agrario has always done well on service, taking home the Best Server award in the past. The changes in ranking here simply show how sensitive the dining public is to the slightest change in service quality: It’s more important than the food.
Club Nutrition & Fitness
Smoothie King (chain)
Tropical Smoothie Café
The Club Nut smoothie-breakfast-after-workout routine is the healthy start to the day for the club’s plugged-in clients.
Panera Bread (chain)
At Gallery Bistro, the house-made cream of mushroom soup with sage ($3.75) is almost considered the restaurant’s signature dish. Panera has a chicken with wild rice soup and a broccoli-cheese soup that are both great this time of year ($3.72).
Best Sports Bar
Indigo Joe’s (chain)
Is the number of flatscreen TVs at a bar directly proportional to the number of Best of 417 reader votes each sports bar gets? Seems likely.
Texas Roadhouse (chain)
Doe’s Eat Place
Flame is what a trendy steakhouse should be; go whole hog with the 12-ounce filet mignon. Doe’s Eat Place seriously sells 3-pound sirloins, while Argentina Steakhouse offers a wonderfully South American take on steak; we’re partial to bife de chorizo, a 12-ounce prime KC strip seasoned with Argentine salt. Chain winner Texas Roadhouse provides value-priced steak at an “everyday” price level.
Best Supermarket Deli
Harter House is best known for its meats, but its deli—with a host of partially prepared foods you can finish cooking at home—is a godsend to the I-don’t-have-time-to-cook crowd. Stick HH’s cordon bleu in the oven for 35 minutes, and it’s ready to go. Other than those two qualities, the best Price Cutter and Dillon’s stores are very similar, with good gourmet selections.
No surprises here. Tip: Everyone else likes sushi at these restaurants, so do make a reservation. Tip No 2: Sushi-newbies, don’t be afraid to try new things. When you make your reservation, ask to be seated at the sushi bar. Ask the sushi chef what’s good. They love the attention.
Note to newbies: Ocean Zen has a charmingly vintage drive-through, and Mr. Yen’s and Yen Ching also offer wonderful take-out, but only call for delivery from Steak-Out.
Best Tea Room
Spring Creek Tea Room
Beth’s Bake Shoppe
Galloway Village Tea Room
Spring Creek Tea Room is renowned for its veggie sandwich, with a jalapeno-artichoke sauce ($3.25 for a half sandwich with chips; $5.50 for a whole sandwich and soup or salad). Also good is the Butterfinger cake ($2.50). Beth’s Bake Shoppe has the hot Tuscan chicken sandwich ($8.99 with chips and a pickle); Galloway Village Tea Room serves the famous birds-nest quiche with fruit and a muffin ($7.95).
Tong’s Thai Restaurant
Congratulations to Thai House, which has won reader votes consistently over all five years of the readers’ poll.
Best Wine List
Flame Steakhouse has Wine Spectator recognition (as had Pairings, the wine-driven restaurant which closed). Flame even has a Wine Cellar Table.
The Tower Club
Candlestick Inn Restaurant
The Tower Club overlooks a panorama of Springfield; Pairings, before closing, had a treetop view near the Finley River; Candlestick Inn Restaurant overlooks Branson Landing.