Best of 417 2012

Our 13th annual guide to the Best Of everything in 417-land!

Are you ready for the big reveal?

We know you’ve been anxiously waiting to find out who won the 2012 Best of 417 Readers’ Poll Awards. After all, they’re your awards. In September, we asked 417 Magazine readers to nominate their favorite local people, places and things in more than 60 categories in the Best of 417 Readers’ Poll ballot.

You made your voices heard, and we tallied the nominations. The top vote-getters in each category went on to a second round of reader votes. The winners, as you defined them, are on these pages.

We also added Editors’ Picks to honor dozens more delicious, fun, exciting and noteworthy food, people, places, services and shopping in our corner of the state.

The following pages hold so much excitement, and we just can’t wait to share it with you. These are the things that we’re all excited about. So dig in, and find new ways to enjoy your 417-land.

Chicken Wings at Hackett Hot Wings
One of the best parts of working at this magazine is finding surprising and delicious food discoveries all over the region. During his reporting for a “5 Best Hot Wings” story, staffer Dylan Whitaker got to taste the wings at Hackett Hot Wings in Joplin. The revelation? They are, we think, the best darn wings in this corner of the state, and the hot and honey and dry Greek options are worth a drive to Joplin from wherever you happen to live.

Best Reason To Eat Dinner Super-Early
The Banh Mi Sandwiches at Rolls N Bowls
You know something is good when it is constantly selling out. You have to get to Rolls N Bowls early to get the banh mi sandwiches because they tend to run out of the homemade bread. It’s worth it to eat early or to trek over there at lunchtime. Those sandwiches are fantastic and a don’t-miss part of 417-land’s Asian cuisine landscape. The refreshing and filling banh mi consist of pork, cucumber, picked radish and carrot, loads of cilantro, fresh jalapeños and more, all served on soft Vietnamese baguettes.

Best Reinvention of Itself
Gem of India
This past year, it seems like we’ve been hearing more and more from Gem of India. The restaurant’s website is updated (and includes its truly enormous menu). It has become active on Facebook, interacting with patrons and pumping up potential diners about upcoming events. One of those was last October’s Diwali Festival of Lights. They bumped the event up to four nights and included a community aspect: A food drive. The restaurant and its skilled kitchen crew are even doing regular cooking classes now—just another way they are getting their patrons a little more involved. Our favorite change: They removed the weirdly sarcastic quotation marks from their name (Gem of “India”) and got a new logo and signage. They even put “Not everything is spicy!” on the marquee. From the street, this spot looks a little more updated, a little more welcoming. If you have been toying with the idea of giving Springfield’s Indian cuisine a try, now’s the time to do it.

Best New Foodie Trend
Bibimbap (and Other Korean Flavors)
Here at 417 Magazine, we’ve long loved the complex flavors in a big portion of Korean bibimbap, served in a crackling-hot stone bowl. So imagine our delight as that dish—along with other Korean flavors—has gained popularity in 417-land. We’ve been eating it at Soo’s Korean Restaurant and Golden Korean for years, but now you can also find it on the menu at Haruno. Jin’s Fine Asian Cuisine opened up last year with its own tasty take on the dish. And newest to the scene: Bibiya serves bibimap prepared to diners’ preferences, along with other healthy Korean options. Plus, Soo’s has remodeled and expanded its menu. We visited on a recent Tuesday night to find the place full nearly to capacity. Clearly, 417-land is loving Korean flavors.

Best Reason to Bypass the Grocery Store on Taco Night
Tortilleria Perches
This authentic Mexican eatery sells—in addition to a menu full of spectacular tacos, burritos and tamales—its homemade tortillas. You can run in and grab a package of about 25 fresh corn tortillas for around $2. It’s a steal, and it’ll impress your significant other on Taco Tuesday.

Best Soda Selection
Garden Cafe on South National
If it’s carbonated, alcohol-free and available in a glass bottle, this spot probably serves it. The selection of bottled sodas is impressive at Garden Café. Root beer variety? Got it. Old-fashioned bottles of Coke? Got ‘em. Retro stuff like Moxie? You bet! It’s worth a lunchtime stop to this pizza, pasta and sandwich spot, even if only to pop the top off of something fizzy and delightful.

Best French Onion Dip
Hammons Field
Sure you can make French onion dip at home. Sure you can buy it in a tub at the grocery store. But we don’t care how simple this dip might be; we want to sing the praises of a place that does it oh-so-well. A visit to one of the stadium’s luxury suites had some of our staff raving about the stuff. They could not stop talking about how tasty it was.

Best Garlicky Crust
Grant’s Restaurant
We already knew Grant’s had the bread thing down. The restaurant’s rolls and bread service are varying and delicious. Well, add pizza crust to the list of yeasty wonders this place produces. Slathered in garlic, it’s the perfect base for a pizza. Best part: It’s even good leftover, straight from the fridge.

Best Month for Food-and-Drink Lovers
October
Did anybody else notice that October has become the don’t-leave-town month for local foodies? There are loads of events to create packed calendars. If you happen to admire a good brew, there are numerous Oktoberfests, including the gigantic craft beer tasting at Brown Derby International Wine Center, the local music-beer-and-food celebration at Mother’s Brewing Company and even some smaller Oktoberfests at places like St. Joseph’s Academy. For gourmands, there was the Springfield Food Day Celebration, the Springfield Oyster Festival at Cartoon’s and the Diwali Festival of Light at Gem of India. And finally, with its new go-ahead-and-drink-on-the-Square policy, Taste of Springfield combined the foodie fanatics and the beer enthusiasts with its many outdoor booths with local restaurant fare, and plenty of Oktoberfest Village fun.


The Breakfast Buffet at Bistro Market
In the wee hours of the morning, downtown Springfield’s bar-goers start to emerge from their favorite nightlife hotspots. And they are hungry. As they wander the streets searching for something to fill their bellies and soak up the fun time they just had, they can find plenty of the obvious: late-night sandwiches, late-night drive-throughs. Lately, though, we’ve been in love with one particular downtown middle-of-the-night food option: The hot breakfast at Bistro Market. It might be delicious. It might be nourishing. It might be just what people need at the end of a fun night. But our favorite way to think of it: A method of continuing today right on until tomorrow. Oh, is it morning now? Pancakes, please!


Rocco’s Pizza & Subs
With locations in Republic, Willard and Marionville, this fast-growing little pizzeria serves up slices that are more like New York–style pizza than we’ve had anywhere else in 417-land. According to one 417 staffer, “Rocco’s serves enormous, foldable slices I want to wrap around my body.” We’re obviously not alone in our love of this spot. Its first franchise location opened in Lebanon, with more on the way.

Best Way to Meat-Up Your Veggies
Warm Bacon Vinaigrette at Beth’s Bake Shop
One of our staffers orders the same thing every time she visits Beth’s Bake Shoppe: The baby spinach salad with hot bacon dressing. The salad’s tender spinach, Mandarin oranges, red onion, egg, bacon bits, garlic-roasted almonds, feta cheese and croutons make it tasty in itself, but it’s the hot bacon dressing that makes this salad to-die-for. It’s made fresh every day with peppered bacon, red onions, vinegar and sugar, and a mouth-watering little pool of it is served warm and ready to meat-up the pile of fresh greens.

Best Meal for Indecisive Diners
Small Plates
We love the growing number of 417-land restaurants offering more and more tapas and small plates. For foodies who just can’t make up their minds, it’s a way to try a bit of everything (and share it with fellow diners, too). Houlihan’s, Flo and Touch all offer tasty, affordable small plates, and we just can’t get enough of it. Plus, it feels good to indulge our more gluttonous tendencies: Why yes, I’ll take the sliders, the fish tacos, the asparagus salad and some sushi, thankyouverymuch.

Best (Only?) Chance to Eat Kangaroo in 417-Land
Exotic Jerky at Silver Dollar City
If your only reason to trudge to one of the farthest corners of Silver Dollar City is to jump onto Powder Keg, you’re missing out. Just outside the Powder Keg exit is a tiny little shop selling exotic jerky, and finding it would be worth the walk even if it weren’t right outside a heart-stopping roller coaster. At Smokehouse Jerky & Sausage Company, you can find beef jerky alongside more interesting dried meats, like elk, boar, ostrich, alligator and kangaroo. Best part? You can even get a mixed pack and sample several options at once.

Best Super-Addictive Bite-Size Eat
Bacon-Wrapped Peppadew Peppers
You can get these little wonders at Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub. The roasted peppadew pepper is just a little bit sweet and the perfect amount of spicy. The cream cheese filling is silky, warm and smooth. The bacon that surrounds the whole thing is always cooked to crisp perfection. And a bite that includes a little bit of each component? Well, it’s one of the most mouth-watering appetizers in 417-land, and you won’t want to share.

Best Wall o’ Beer
Hy-Vee
In a separate giant room off of the main giant grocery store, is the liquor section of Hy-Vee. And in that liquor section is a big cold room full of chilled beer. Yes, that’s impressive, but draw yourself away from it for just a second, and keep walking to the far wall of the liquor section instead. There you’ll find a big long wall with loads of bottled beer. And its expansiveness isn’t its only perk; the variety is the best part. There are tasty microbrews that just go on and on and on. It’s a new haven for Springfield beer-lovers.

Best Vista During Dinner
Candlestick Inn
The only thing that holds a candle to the food at Candlestick Inn is the restaurant’s perch up in the bluffs. What else can we say? This Branson mainstay has long held bragging rights for its lovely view. Dine outside, and you can look out over Lake Taneycomo and the hustle and bustle of downtown Branson.

Best Use of Black Light
The bathrooms at Classic Rock Coffee
Classic Rock Coffee (with its rock ‘n’ roll theme and its music blaring out onto the sidewalk) is not decked out in your typical coffee shop décor by any stretch of the imagination. And the bathrooms? With black lights? Our best advice is to just go there and see it for yourselves.

Best Place to Get a Cocktail with Your Breakfast
Coyote’s Adobe
We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But the best part of breakfast at Coyote’s is that you can grab a cocktail before 11 a.m. Whether you need a little hair of the dog, or you just want to start your day with a bang, it’s a nice option. Plus, orange juice is full of vitamin C—so a screwdriver might be the healthy part of your meal when you are scarfing down the Glenstone Pile-Up.

Best Restaurant Space Makeover
Boca Mocha
It was Randy Bacon’s studio. Then it was the (sadly) short-lived Rendezvous Coffee Lounge. Now, this sweet little space on Park Central West is home to Boca Mocha, which wins our award for best restaurant makeover. The space, previously filled with lots of dark wood, is now a bright, airy and charming space with serene grays that are complemented by bright greens and happy yellows that eat up any sunshine that pours in from outside. The uplifting organic look is quite a face-lift and we love it. (The food’s pretty great, too!)

Best Coffee with a Side of Draft Beer
Coffee Ethic
We love Coffee Ethic’s top-notch coffee, espresso and tea drinks. But did you know the spot also serves up beer? It’s true. This superb little coffee house also has a few superb little microbrews on tap, giving us yet another reason to swoon.

Best Condiment to Clear Your Sinuses
Hot mustard at Leong’s Asian Diner
For all the nostalgic reasons to visit Leong’s Asian Diner (original Springfield–style cashew chicken, egg rolls reminiscent of Leong’s Asian Tea Room), our favorite menu item is simply a condiment. The hot mustard has an intense sinus-clearing punch of wasabi that we just can’t get enough of. If you like spicy bites like we do, you’ll want to slather this stuff all over everything you order. It’s good on crab rangoon, egg rolls, rice… you name it. Maybe not dessert.

Five Best Restaurants
Grad School
Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub
Ocean Zen Pacific Rim
Metropolitan Grill
Flame Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Runners-Up
Touch Restaurant
Avanzare Italian Dining
Ristorante Gilardi’s
Aviary Café and Creperie
Haruno Sushi & Grill

Best Chef
Mike Jalili of Touch Restaurant and
Flame Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Runners-Up
Nicola Gilardi of Ristorante Gilardi’s
and Nicola’s Ristorante
Pat Duran of Metropolitan Grill
Kevin Sparks of Nonna’s Italian Cafe
Tony Garcia of Avanzare Italian Dining
    
Best Branson Restaurant
Candlestick Inn
Runners-Up
Level 2 Steakhouse
Table 22
Dobyns Dining Room at The Keeter
Center

Best Joplin Restaurant
Red Onion Café
Runners-Up
Woody’s Woodfire Pizza
Crabby’s Seafood
Mythos Euro-Kuzina

Best Burgers  
Ebbets Field
Runners-Up
Grad School
The Grotto

Best Breakfast
Gailey’s Breakfast Café
Runners-Up
Anton’s Coffee Shop
Cedars

Best Donuts
St. George’s
Runners-Up
Daylight Donuts
Ray’s Donuts
Chain Winner
Krispy Kreme

Best Bar Food   
Big Whiskey’s American Bar & Grill
Runners-Up
Ebbets Field
The Roost

Best Sports Bar
Big Whiskeys American Bar & Grill
Runners-Up
Ebbets Field
Bair’s All-American Sports Grill
Chain Winner
Buffalo Wild Wings

Best Beer Menu
Patton Alley Pub
Runners-Up
Big Whisky’s American Bar & Grill
Parlor 88
Finnegan’s Wake

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant
Incredible Pizza Company
Runners-Up
Cheddar’s
Mexican Villa

Best Romantic Restaurant
Flame Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Runners-Up
Ristorante Gilardi’s
Metropolitan Grill

Best Casual Dining
Maria’s Mexican Restaurant
Runners-Up
Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House
Bambino’s Café

Best Outdoor Dining
Galloway Station
Runners-Up
Springfield Brewing Co.
Touch Restaurant

Best Frozen Treat  
Andy’s Frozen Custard
Runners-Up
Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt
Gelato Mio
Pineapple Whip

Best Sweets Shop
The Cup
Runners-Up
Beth’s Bake Shoppe
Elle’s Patisserie

Best Sushi
Haruno Sushi & Grill
Runners-Up
Nakato Japanese Restaurant
Kai
Ocean Zen Pacific Rim
Mijuri Sushi Bar & Grill

Best Pizza
Pizza House
Runners-Up
Bruno’s Restaurant
Cravin’ Pizza
Chain Winner
Arris’ Pizza

Best Steaks
Flame Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Runners-Up
Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub
Doe’s Eat Place
Argentina Steakhouse

Best Cashew Chicken
Leong’s Asian Diner
Runners-Up
Hong Kong Inn
5 Spice China Grill
Tasia

Best Tea Room
Tea Bar & Bites
Runners-Up:
Beth’s Bake Shoppe
Spring Creek Tea Room

Best Greasy Spoon
Casper’s
Runners-Up
Ziggie’s Café
Anton’s Coffee Shop

Best 24-Hour Restaurant
Ziggie’s Café
Runner-Up
George’s
Chain Winners
Steak n Shake
Waffle House

Best Salads
The Grotto
Runners-Up
Nonna’s Italian Café
St. Michael’s Sports Bar & Grill

Best Sandwiches
Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House
Runners-Up
St. Michael’s Sports Bar & Grill
Big Easy Grill

Best Mexican Food
Maria’s Mexican Restaurant
Runners-Up
Cielito Lindo
Tortilleria Perches
Amigo’s
Chain Winner
Cantina Laredo

Best Coffee Shop
Mudhouse
Runners-Up
hebrews coffee
The Coffee Ethic
The Buzz


Nonna’s Italian Café
Runners-Up
Avanzare Italian Dining
Ristorante Gilardi’s

It has exceedingly darling décor and a menu that would lead even the most reluctant diner to drool. Maybe that’s why you chose Nonna’s Italian Café (pictured here) as the Best of 417 Readers’ Choice winner for Best Italian.

Subscribe today and get 417 in your mailbox every month!

 

Best Branson Entertainer
Yakov Smirnoff
Runners-Up
Andy Williams
Shoji Tabuchi

Best Male Solo Musician
Andy Williams
Runners-Up
Art Bentley
Lyal Strickland

Best Female Solo Musician
Candy Coburn
Runners-Up
Cindy Woolf
Lee Ellen Starks

Best Male TV Personality
Ethan Forhetz / KY3
Runners-Up
Joe Daues/ KSPR
Steve Grant / KY3

Best Female TV Personality
Lisa Rose / KY3
Runners-Up
Maria Neider / KY3
Sara Forhetz / KY3

Best Meteorologist
Brandon Beck / KY3
Runners-Up
Ted Keller / KOLR 10
Ron Hearst / KY3

Best Sportscaster
Ned Reynolds / KY3
Runners-Up
Dan Lucy / KOLR 10
Joe Hickman / KY3

Best Local Band
Human Anyway
Runners-Up
Big Smith
Members Only

Best Bartender
Josh Lumos / Houlihan’s South
Runners-Up
Kristen Gray / Metropolitan Grill
Travis Fisher / Finnegan’s Wake

Best Server
Kari Zrubek / Metropolitan Grill
Runners-Up
Dirk Myers / Texas Land & Cattle
and Macaroni Grill
Keegan Pierce / Grant’s American
Grill


Fotsch & McClain The Morning Buzz / Power 96.5
Runners-Up
Kevin & Liz Lounge / Alice 95.5
Woody & Janet / KGBX 105.9

Do you wake up with Fotsch and McClain every morning? No wonder you voted them best radio team!

Best All-Things-Local Family
The Millsaps
Curtis Millsap and his wife, Sarah, operate Millsap Farms CSA, a community-supported farm that offers 417-landers the opportunity to share in locally grown veggies and even work on the farm to help produce the harvest. And Millsap Farms also sells locally grown veggies and locally sourced meat, eggs and cheese.

Then there is Curtis’s brother, Adam, and his wife, Melissa, who own Urban Roots Farm. Urban Roots strives to provide local food to people of all income levels and to educate our community on growing natural food locally.

And then there’s Curtis and Adam’s sister, Amanda Millsap Owen, and her husband Ryan Owen. The two own and operate Homegrown Food. Homegrown Food has a store that sells food and products sourced from local farmers, growers and gardeners, and the store even offers delivery!

The Millsaps are all working to provide 417-landers with locally sourced food, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.

Best Sweet-Voiced Sibling Duo
The Kilgore Sisters
This crooning acoustic duo (who are actually sisters, by the way) are some of our favorite voices in 417-land. You can see them at local events, weddings and parties (including 417 Magazine’s Best Lawyers party last November). Alea and Alexa Kilgore were even in the running for The Voice last year, and we aren’t surprised that their skills are gaining attention.

Best Expat Blogger
Jeff Houghton
About a year ago, 417-lander Jeff Houghton (whom you might have known from the Skinny Improv and his on-stage talk show The Mystery Hour) left southwest Missouri in his rearview mirror as he set off to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Throughout his journey, he blogged online at themysteryyear.com. We laughed hysterically when he described the different types of plastic surgery atrocities he’d see in L.A. We’d go “Awwww” when he wrote about how hard he and his wife worked to communicate from afar. And we rooted for him with gusto when he relayed his navigation through the trials and struggles of chasing his acting dream. Now, Houghton’s back in 417-land, and we can only hope he’ll keep his charmingly insightful blog going for our reading pleasure.

Best Facial Hair on a Butcher (a.k.a. Friendliest Butcher)
Greg Leafty
Have you ever stopped at the Price Cutter Plus at Battlefield and Highway 65 in Springfield and made your way back to the butcher counter? There’s a staffer there who we have grown to love, both for his creative facial hair (well-waxed and perfectly curled handlebar mustache, anyone?) and his super-friendly personality. Our favorite interaction with him: His take on the sushi selection. We won’t give away his punch line, but pop in at lunchtime for some pre-rolled sushi and see if he gives you any tips. It’s charming, indeed.

Best Local Oscar Connection (We Predict)
Brad Pitt
Okay, okay, okay… Maybe we’re jumping the gun a little bit. As of press time, Brad Pitt hasn’t been nominated for a 2012 Academy Award yet. Nominations are announced January 24, which is after this magazine goes to the printer. But we can’t help it! We just want this for our local Hollywood connection, so badly. He deserves a Best Actor nod after a top-notch performance in Moneyball, and his name has been showing up on various Oscar-prediction lists. We can’t see the future, and we’re not putting money on it or anything, but wouldn’t a 2012 Oscar for Brad Pitt be so great?

Best Homebuilding Hero
Sam Clifton
He is the mayor of Nixa. And he’s a homebuilder and owner of Millstone Custom Homes. And as if that’s not enough to keep a man busy, Sam Clifton also headed up the Extreme Makeover Home Edition project to build seven homes in seven days in Joplin to help repair the city after last May’s devastating tornado. Did you read that? Seven homes. In seven (seven!) days. This guy (and the volunteers and companies who helped him do it) deserves a hug from all of 417-land.


Gavyn Sky
We profiled painter Gavyn Sky in September 2010 as an up-and-coming artist to watch. But since then, Sky’s art has been everywhere. Everywhere. We aren’t even exaggerating. Local stores like Obelisk Home regularly sell his pieces. Homes that we scout for potential home profiles regularly have Sky’s work on their walls. All of a sudden, this man’s bold and eye-catching work has exploded the local art scene. And we totally called it.

 

Most Exotic Getaway Spot
Zulu Lodge
Our beautiful Ozarks mountains have plenty of out-of-the-way places to enjoy the wild. But nothing is wilder than the Zulu Lodge cabins at Turpentine Creek in Eureka Springs. Turpentine Creek is a wild cat refuge that houses rescued tigers, lions and other exotic animals. And as you turn in for the night in the charming little one-room African-themed Zulu Lodge cabins that surround a fire pit and hot tub… well… that’s when that wildcat refuge comes to life. You can actually hear lions roaring in the night as you drift off to sleep. It... is... awesome!

Best New Local Experience That You Don’t Want To Miss
Events at Mother’s Brewing Company
In addition to the tasty brews that are created at Mother’s Brewing Company, the spot is also home to plenty of community-focused events that makes us love it even more. Bocce anyone? How about an Oktoberfest celebration? There’s plenty to keep beer-loving, community-minded 417-landers busy.

Best Cycling Spot
Frisco Highline Trail
This 36-mile-long trail is so incredibly beautiful. It winds all the way from Springfield to Bolivar, paved for the first 8 miles with gravel covering the rest of the trail. While serious riders might go the full 36 miles, there are many mini-routes that are perfect for a leisurely afternoon or a day trip with the family. We particularly love riding the 8.5 miles from Walnut Grove to Wishart, where the trail is flat and shady and crosses over several scenic bridges. Plus, the flora and fauna are second to none. On a recent trip, we spotted perky wildflowers, wild hops, two friendly snakes, a terrapin, a hawk and countless butterflies.

Best New Water Feature
Sequiota Park
The stones beg you to play in the water. It’s great for pets. It’s great for kids. It’s great for romantic dates. All that time spent wishing for our park back during construction was worth it. This spot is lovely.

Best Little Comedy That Could
Hamlet Vs. Zombies: Something is Rotting in the State of Denmark
This play (an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet) was written by two hilariously brilliant locals, Jeff Jenkins and Bryant Turnage, for the 2011 Shakespeare Project Summer Festival. Since then, the comedy has gained national attention. It was featured at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, for example, and wound up being (very positively) reviewed by The Huffington Post. Why we love it? Well, it’s Shakespeare and the undead, which is clever enough on its own. But Jenkins and company dealt with a tiny budget by coming up with clever solutions to expensive problems. Instead of using prop guns, actors shout “Bang! Bang!” These ingenious ideas didn’t go unnoticed by critics nationwide.

Best Rumor-Starter
Pensmore
When the gigantic 72,000-square-foot concrete mega mansion (built to withstand a tornado) started to take shape in Highlandville, the rumors began. It’s being built by Brad Pitt! It’s going to be a military bunker! It’s for aliens! No, it isn’t any of those things. But, it was fun to hear people speculate. (The mansion is in fact being built by Steven Huff, who is designing it to showcase green-building techniques and technologies.)

Best Educational Fun
Cooking Classes
Suddenly, there’s a wealth of local educational kitchens. There’s one at Hy-Vee, as well as at the Kansas Expressway Price Cutter, both offering culinary classes. YOUR Commercial Kitchen has classes for both adults and children. Gem of India offers classes in Indian Cuisine. And Silver Dollar City has the Culinary & Craft School. (Oh, and did we mention 417 Magazine Cooking Classes at Metro Appliances and More?) If you’ve ever wanted to brush up on your culinary skills, there’s no better time than now.

Best Place to Run Into a Celeb
Hilton Garden Inn
We heard of some Michael Bublé sightings when he was in town for a concert. (Swoon!) Colbie Caillat stayed there, too. Is this the new visiting celebrity hotspot? Put on your best paparazzi binoculars during the next big concert, and let us know.

Best Hidden Fun
The petting zoo at Silver Dollar City
If your kids are too little for the rides, they will get a kick out of the petting zoo area at SDC. It’s tucked away behind McHaffie’s Homestead. Our advice: Seek it out! Find this animal-filled spot, and spend a morning making your kids very, very happy.


Sound of Freedom
Some of us sing too loudly in the car. Some of us throw a living room dance party. Some of us play racquetball or run a few miles. And then some of us… well... some of us massage out the stress of a crazy week by firing off a few rounds. If shooting guns is your thing, Sound of Freedom is one of the cleanest and nicest gun ranges around. You can even rent and try out a gun while you’re there. So, put whatever you need to on that target, and fire away.

Best Step Forward for the City
Alcohol is Allowed Outside
During this year’s Taste of Springfield and Oktoberfest Village event on Park Central Square, event-goers got to experience something a little new for downtown Springfield: Beer sales on the street. They could purchase a cold brew to sip while they made the rounds to all the delicious food booths (rather than be sequestered in a little parking lot beer garden). The atmosphere was fun and casual and filled with camaraderie. If the new alcohol plan caused major problems, we didn’t see them during our time at the event.

Best Place to Feel Like You’re Feeding Both Your Body and Your Community
Greater Springfield Farmers’ Market
The food is fresh. The farmers are right there, so you can talk to them an ask questions about their veggies or their meat. There’s the warm scent of herbs over here. The yeasty aroma of freshly baked bread over there. And everywhere you look there are other farmers’ market shoppers to chat with. You can eat fresh, meet your neighbors and support local farmers, all in one place.

Best Place to Take Visitors
Branson Landing  
Runners-Up
Silver Dollar City  
Bass Pro Shops

Best Belly Laugh
The Skinny Improv
Runners-Up
Ernie Biggs Chicago Style Dueling Piano Bar
Fair City News
 
Best Branson Show
Dixie Stampede
Runners-Up
Six
Shoji Tabuchi

Best Branson Attraction
Titanic Museum Attraction
Runners-Up
Silver Dollar City
Dixie Stampede

Best Place to go Dancing
Icon Night Club
Runners-Up
Savoy Ballroom
Zan Night Club

Best Day Trip
Eureka Springs
Runners-Up
St. Louis
Ha Ha Tonka

Best Kids Birthday Party
Discovery Center
Runners Up
Firehouse Pottery
Dynamic Gymnastics
Chain Winner
Incredible Pizza Company

Best Charity Event
Rock’n Ribs
Runners Up
Sertoma Chili Cookoff
Ball of the Wild

Best Nature Spot
Springfield Conservation
Nature Center
Runners-Up
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Best Place to Be Seen
First Friday Art Walk
Runners-Up
Metropolitan Grill
Touch Restaurant


Big Cedar Lodge
Runners-Up
Chateau on the Lake
Branson Hiltons

Whether you’re enjoying nature or snuggling with your honey, you must love Big Cedar. You voted it the best!

 


Ashley Lauren Salon & Spa
Runners-Up
Nu Essence Spa
Details Salon

Your idea of the perfect treat for your toes? A pedi at Ashley Lauren Salon & Spa. It was voted by readers as the best pedicure in 417-land.

Best Spa
Grove Spa
Runners-Up
Zen 3 Spa and Bodyworks
Spa Chateau
Nu Essence Spa
 
Best Massage
Grove Spa
Runners-Up
Zen 3 Spa and Bodyworks
Spa Chateau
Nu Essence Spa

Best Hair Salon
Karma Salon
Runners-Up
ViVo Modern Hair Design
W3 Salon
Alchemy–A Salon
 
Best Stylist
Ryan Boyle / Karma Salon
Runners-Up
Lori Viles / ViVo Modern Hair Design
Larry Hillhouse / Salon Moda
Eileen Gabrielson / Ashley Lauren
Salon & Spa

Best Health Club
Cox Health Fitness Centers
Runners-Up
Ozarks Regional YMCA
Ozark Fitness
 
Best Pet Groomer
All About Dogs & Cats
Runners-Up
Pampered Paws
Clippers ‘n’ Dippers

Best Veterinarian
Beverly Sherman / Parkcrest
Veterinary Hospital
Runners-Up
Denise Roche / Deerfield Veterinary
Hospital
Rita Wittu / Bradford Park Veterinary
Hospital

Best Personal Trainer
Jack Misiorowski / The Meyer Center
Runners-Up
Noah Alldredge / Big Time Results
Pamela Hernandez / Thrive Personal
Fitness
Adam Grube / Cox Republic       

Best Savior for a Busy Mom
Grocery Delivery
You know how it goes. You are leaving work, and your mind goes straight to dinner. You need butter. So you swing by the grocery store for a “quick” stop, and it winds up turning into a mad rush through the produce section, a long line at the check-out and a cart full of things you didn’t plan on buying. Sure makes you wish you could have someone else do the legwork for you, huh? We love that Price Cutter offers just that. After you order online at pricecutter.com, the store will gather your groceries and either hold them for pick-up (a $5 fee) or deliver them to your home for just $10 (plus the cost of groceries, of course).

Best Use of Hot Wax
A Pedi with Paraffin
On a recent toe-primping trip to Esthetiques, we found ourselves dipping our naked tootsies right into a tub of hot wax. And it was spectacular. After you dip your toes into the silky smooth stuff, they are wrapped in plastic and then enveloped in a soft, warm bootie. It’s like the best bear hug ever, for your feet. And the end result after the pedi is over? Soft feet, of course. It’s divine.

Best Primping Experience for Busy People
Mobile Spray Tanning
We’ve been tanned by The Healthy Bronze, and we’ve been tanned by Backstage Tanning. And we didn’t even have to leave our homes! These companies bring the spray tan to you. They set up a little pop-up booth right in your living room and spray away. And it’s not even messy! We thought our carpets might get tanned along with our legs, but the spritz stays confined to the tent.

Best Workout
Barre Classes at Balance Fitness
The group classes at Balance Fitness are always a serious endeavor. (Have you tried TRX yet? Oh my!) But our favorite is the barre class. It’s designed to tone legs and make them look longer. Using ballet techniques and light weights, this class might sound light. Oh it is not light. It’s tough. It’s strenuous. It’s intense. And it makes you feel like a million bucks.


Too Hotties
We know what you might think when you hear a name like “Too Hotties,” but don’t judge. Some men on staff (and some staffers’ husbands) can attest to the extra-enjoyable primping they get when they go in for their haircuts. This place has a lot going on. One night a week, a haircut package also gets you a bunch of extra perks: An eyebrow wax, a hot towel treatment, a shoe shine. It’s a great opportunity for guys to get a little spruced up for a night on the town. And why not? Who says the ladies should have all the salon fun?

 

Best Place to Get Lost for a Day
Relics Antique Mall
There are aisles upon aisles of antiques and treasures spread out for what seems like forever at Relics Antique Mall. An antiques aficionado or a shopping fanatic could easily spend the good part of a day here, poring over everything from antique earrings to beautiful pieces of furniture. From pristine milk glass to antique photographs. This is the kind of shopping experience you want to prepare for. Eat lunch before you go. Tell your family where you’ll be (otherwise they might report you missing). Then let yourself fall into junk store heaven.

Best Shop with a Heart
5# Apparel
This store sells a variety of great gift ideas and clothing items, but they all come with a little something extra: A bit of philanthropic feel-good. That’s because the shop donates a portion of the sales of its clothing line, so that the company can help send nutritional peanut butter to kids who are suffering from malnutrition. When we go in and eye a wooden iPhone case or a clever T-shirt, we can shop it up without feeling any guilt. We know a little bit of our money is going to a good cause.

Best Grown-Up Boys Club Shopping Experience
Town & County
Town & County has always been good to the guys who shop there. It’s a great men’s shopping experience that makes the guys feel oh-so-welcome and relaxed. And after the store’s recent remodel, that’s more true than ever. You can lean back on a comfy couch, watch a little TV, get a shoe shine and sip a bit of tasty Scotch. Wait, what did you come in here for? Shopping?

Best Reason to Stop Halfway to the Lake
Gourmet Grocer
This little gem of a grocery store is tucked away in Branson West, but it has plenty to offer the traveling foodie who might be passing through on the way to Table Rock Lake. There are specialty food items and plenty of wines available for purchase. But the store also has wine tastings and other foodie-friendly events. You can even grab a friend, buy a bottle of wine, snatch up some fancy cheese and enjoy the spot’s comfortable patio overlooking Table Rock Lake. It’s the ultimate food-and-drink shopping experience that you might not have known exists.

Best Resale Store
The Review Shoppe
If you aren’t the kind of shopper who frequents resale stores, you might reconsider once you peek into The Review Shoppe. This spot is great, and it’s filled top to bottom with some really high-end clothing items and accessories that are oh-so-gently used. And when we say high-end, we mean truly high-end brands. That include things like legit Louis Vuitton bags and the like. Not too shabby. We love the idea of shopping here to dress ourselves for a night out... without breaking the bank, or even coming close.


BridgeBlue Sourcing Partners’ Warehouse Sale
Were you there? Did you see it? The beautiful furniture and home goods. The deep discounts. The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. We can’t deny it: The whole thing was a little insane. But we loved every minute of this crazy-good sale, where we found things for our homes for way less than we could have hoped to spend on a beautiful BridgeBlue item. Rumor has it, BridgeBlue (whose owners also own Obelisk Home) is bringing the sale back this year, too. Despite the bedlam, we’ll be there.

Harem & Company
Runners-Up
Staxx
Town & County
Chain Winner
Dillard’s

Harem & Company is one of those shops that specializes in superb customer service and plenty of attention given to shoppers. That must be why you picked it as the Best Women’s Fashion in this year’s Best of 417 Readers’ Choice Awards.

Best Men’s Fashion
Blackwells Apparel
Runners-Up
Town & County
Staxx
Chain Winner
Dillard’s

Best Place to Buy Gifts
Countryside Cottage
Runners-Up
The Market
Baglady Boutique
Obelisk Home

Best Branson Shop
Dick’s 5 & 10
Runners-Up
Gifts of Distinction
Dressin’ Gaudy

More Articles Like This

Meet a Staffer: Kinsey Batson Rogers

We have a fresh face on the staff here at 417 Magazine. Meet our newest account manager, 27-year-old Kinsey Batson Rogers.

An Epic Cause

Led by teens, for teens, ETHIC is changing the world.

11 Questions With the Burger King

Meet Cory Norwood, one of Springfield’s favorite grill masters.
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Sign up for our newsletters Follow us on Instagram

  1. Ettie's Eats: Pumpkin Bourbon Punch
    Fill up on weekly kitchen experiments, recipes and local cooking tips from our assistant editor,...
  2. Ettie's Eats: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bourbon Sauce
    Fill up on weekly kitchen experiments, recipes and local cooking tips from our assistant editor,...
  3. Ettie's Eats: Fall-Spice Granola
    Fill up on weekly kitchen experiments, recipes and local cooking tips from our assistant editor,...
  4. The Coffee Ethic Adds In-House Roaster
  5. Ettie's Eats: Rosemary & Garlic Pumpkin Hummus
    Fill up on weekly kitchen experiments, recipes and local cooking tips from our assistant editor,...