Best of 417 2016

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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The Cowboy Carl is one of many mouthwatering options at Mike Jalili’s new Black Sheep Burgers & Shakes and is just one reason why we picked the new restaurant as best expansion as a brand.

5 Best Restaurants in Springfield 

Aviary

400 E. Walnut St., Suite 100, Springfield; 2144 E. Republic Rd., Suite E120, Springfield

Crepes! Those pups are a winner at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

Bambino’s Café

1141 E. Delmar St., Springfield; 2810-D E. Battlefield, Springfield

Here you can find tasty pasta, panini and soups that won’t break the bank.

 

Haruno Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill

3044 S. Fremont Ave., Springfield

It’s a go-to spot for sushi, with everything from gorgeous sashimi to wild rolls.

 

Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

1935 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield

This spot is more than just steak. It’s drool-worthy apps, tasty salads and more.

 

Ocean Zen

4117 S. National Ave., Springfield

Now in its third Springfield location, this spot has décor that’s as beautiful as the food is delicious.


Filled with cream cheese and drizzled with balsamic, the bacon-wrapped peppadews at Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub are this year’s best appetizer. 

Best Appetizer

Winner: Bacon-Wrapped Peppadews at Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

Second Place: Pomme Frites at Aviary

Third Place: Mozzarella Asparagus Tempura at Haruno Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill

 

Best Asian Dining

Winner: Nakato Japanese Restaurant

Second Place: Ocean Zen

Third Place: Haruno Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill

 

Best Bakery Item

Winner: Donuts at Hurts Donuts

Second Place: Cupcakes at The Urban Cup

Third Place: Kringle at Supreme Bakery

 

Best Bar Food

Winner: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar

Second Place: Bair’s 

Sports Grill

Third Place: Dublin’s Pass

 

Best Barbecue

Winner: City Butcher & Barbecue

Second Place: Buckingham’s BBQ

Third Place: Crosstown BBQ

 

Best Beer Menu

Winner: Mother’s Brewing Company

Second Place: Springfield Brewing Company

Third Place: Patton Alley Pub

 

Best Breakfast

Winner: Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe

Second Place: Aviary

Third Place: Early Bird Breakfast Pub

 

Best Brunch

Winner: Aviary

Second Place: The Keeter Center

Third Place: Early Bird Breakfast Pub

 

Best Burgers

Winner: Bair’s Sports Grill

Second Place: Grad School

Third Place: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar

 

Best Cashew Chicken

Winner: Leong’s Asian Diner

Second Place: Hong Kong Inn

Third Place: Lucy’s Chinese Food

 

Best Caterer

Winner: Simply Delicious

Second Place: The Traveling Chef

Third Place: As You Like It Catering

 

Best Chicken Salad

Winner: Tea Bar & Bites Bakery and Cafe

Second Place: Spring Creek Tea Room

Third Place: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

 

Best Chicken Wings

Winner: Coyote’s Adobe Café

Second Place: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar

Third Place: Grad School

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Winner: MudLounge

Second Place: Scotch & Soda

Third Place: Barley, Wheat, and Rye Social House

 

Best Coffee Shop

Winner: Classic Rock Coffee

Second Place: Hebrews Coffee

Third Place: The Coffee Ethic

 

Best Desserts

Winner: Andy’s Frozen Custard

Second Place: Aviary

Third Place: Elle’s Patisserie

Best Dive Bar

Winner: DUGOUT Bar & Grill & Sports & Music

Second Place: The Flea

Third Place: Stepchild Lounge

 

Best Fine Dining Restaurant

Winner: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

Second Place: Flame Steakhouse

Third Place: Ocean Zen

 

Best Fish Tacos

Winner: Great American Taco Company

Second Place: Grad School

Third Place: Purple Burrito

 

 

Best Fries

Winner: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar

Second Place: Aviary

Third Place: Grad School

 

Best Gluten-Free Menu

Winner: MaMa Jean’s Natural Market

Second Place: Cafe Cusco

Third Place: The Grotto

 

Best Happy Hour 

Winner: Touch

Second Place: Flo Eatery & Wine Bar

Third Place: MudLounge

 

 

Best Food Truck

Winner: London Calling Pasty Company

Second Place: The Wheelhouse

Third Place: Aviary on the Fly

 

Best Italian Dining

Winner: Bambino’s

Second Place: Nonna’s Italian Cafe

Third Place: Avanzare Italian Dining

Best Local Bread Bakery

Winner: The Artisan’s Oven

Second Place: Aviary

Third Place: Sisters in Thyme

 

Best Locally Made Booze Business

Winner: Mother’s Brewing Company

Second Place: Springfield Brewing Company

Third Place: Copper Run Distillery

 

Best Mexican Dining

Winner: Maria’s Mexican Restaurant

Second Place: Mexican Villa

Third Place: Tortilleria Perches

 

Best Nachos

Winner: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant& Bar

Second Place: Maria’s Mexican Restaurant

Third Place: Buckingham’s BBQ

 

Best New Restaurant

Winner: City Butcher & Barbecue

Second Place: Early Bird Breakfast Pub

Third Place: The Order at Hotel Vandivort

 

Best Pizza

Winner: Pizza House

Second Place: The Big Slice

Third Place: PaPPo’s Pizzeria

 

Best Place for a Business Lunch

Winner: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

Second Place: Springfield Brewing Company

Third Place: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar

 

Best Place for Lunch

Winner: The Grotto

Second Place: Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House

Third Place: Grad School

 

Best Restaurant or Bar Patio

Winner: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant& Bar

Second Place: Galloway Grill

Third Place: Sequiota Bike Shop

 

Best Sandwiches

Winner: Sub Shop

Second Place: Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House

Third Place: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

 

Best Restaurant Service

Winner: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

Second Place: Flame Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Third Place: Metropolitan Grill

Best Salads

Winner: The Grotto

Second Place: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

Third Place: Bambino’s Cafe

 

5 Best Branson Restaurants

Chateau Grille

Florentina’s Ristorante Italiano

The Keeter Center

Level 2 Steakhouse

Outback Steak & Oyster Bar

 

5 Best Joplin Restaurants

Big R’s BBQ

Crabby’s Seafood Bar & Grill

The Joplin Eagle Drive In

Midtown Pizza Kitchen

Red Onion Cafe

 

Best Soup

Winner: French Onion at Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

Second Place: Deli Tomato Soup at Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House

Third Place: French Onion at Aviary

 

Best Steaks

Winner: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

Second Place: Flame Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Third Place: The Argentina Steakhouse

 

Best Sushi

Winner: Haruno Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill

Second Place: Kai

Third Place: Nakato Japanese Restaurant

 

Best Tea Room

Winner: Tea Bar & Bites Bakery and Cafe

Second Place: Spring Creek Tea Room

Third Place: Beth’s Bake Shoppe & Tea Room

 

Best Vegetarian-Friendly Menu

Winner: MaMa Jean’s Natural Market

Second Place: Cafe Cusco

Third Place: The Grotto

 

Best Nostalgic Treat

Homemade Ice Cream at The Keeter Center

Everybody had that one aunt or uncle who always spoiled the kids. They’d take you to the ice cream shop and insist on three scoops (not one) of something you knew your mom wouldn’t want you to eat. But you’d press your nose against the cold glass, pick the most creative flavor and happily dig in. Nettie Marie’s Homemade Ice Cream at The Keeter Center (100 Opportunity Ave., Point Lookout, 800-222-0525) is just the thing to bring back those tasty childhood memories. Using fresh cream from the College Creamery, staff here whip up some tasty flavors that are as rich and indulgent as your yummiest ice cream reverie. From classics like chocolate and vanilla to more creative options like blueberry basil sorbet or the Black Cow (a mix of root beer sorbet and vanilla ice cream), there’s certainly something here to tempt your taste buds. 

 

Best Lunch-on-the-Go

Paninis from the Deli at Harter House

You’re in a rush to get back to the office, you’re raving with hunger and you don’t have time for a sit-down restaurant lunch. Take our advice and skip the drive-through, so you can hit Harter House instead (multiple 417-land locations, harterhouse.com). There you can order a freshly pressed panini at the deli that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, is big enough to share and tastes oh-so-delicious. One of our favorites: The Italian beef panini that is super-gigantic but only costs $5.49. Grab it to go, snag an apple from the produce section, and call it a day. 

 

Most Creative Mexican Menu

La Paloma

There are a lot of things we’ve been enjoying about La Paloma (3014 E. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-719-4484) since the Mexican restaurant opened up in East Springfield. There’s the cute decor and nice transformation of the restaurant space. But we especially adore sitting down to pick something oh-so-delish from the menu full of yummy tastes that flip the script on typical Mexican restaurant fare (like the chicken and spinach enchiladas smothered in a poblano-spinach cream sauce that are  off-the-charts yummy).  

 

Best Quiet Date Spot

Kremer’s

Sometimes you want to be in the thick of it. You want to feel the buzz of the crowd, sip on the cocktail everyone is talking about, see and be seen. But sometimes, you want to sit down with your date and have a conversation. Our favorite spot for a quiet date night is Kremer’s (1332 E. Republic Rd., Springfield, 414-890-7255), the little bar adjacent to Arris’s Pizza. The cocktails are tasty, the service is friendly and the noise level is just right for a low-key night out. Extra-tasty bonus: You and your sweetie can fill your belly with some of Arris’s fare (like any of the well-crafted pizzas or the killer gyro… but that might ruin your date breath). It’s casual, comfortable nightlife that lets you relax. No pressure, just a nice time. That’s our kind of place.

 

Best Beer Innovation

417 Taphouse

Have you ever stood at a busy bar, money in hand, waiting way too stinking long for the bartender to come and pop open a new bottle of beer for you? Have you ever sat at table, tapping your fingers and waiting, waiting, waiting while your overworked server makes the rounds but never seems to make it to you? We’ve all been there, wishing so hard we could just lean over the bar, push the tap and fill our own glass. That magic exists in real life, and it’s called 417 Taphouse (431 S. Jefferson Ave., Suite 160, Springfield, 417-234-9224, 417tap.com), a new-in-2015 bar that lets you be the  master of your own glass, filling it with your favorite brew from self-pour taps on the wall that all the customers have access to. Thank you, 417 Taphouse, for freeing your thirsty patrons.

 

Best Place To Try Something New

Springfield Mobile Food Park

Yesterday your fickle tummy rumbled for thin-crust pizza. Today it’s feeling rather British and wishing for a warm pasty. Tomorrow it begs you to fill it with falafel. You can satisfy all those cravings in one place: the Springfield Mobile Food Park (836 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, sgfmobilefoodpark.com). This spot hosts Springfield’s tastiest and most successful food trucks. Places like Chef Baldee’s Pizza, London Calling Pasty Company and Cecil’s To-Go—where you can get that pizza, pasty or falafel, respectively. Although some trucks come and go and others stick around, the one sure bet is that you can try something new every time you visit. And if you want to try a new experience instead of a new dish, you can join the food park’s human foosball league (yes, that’s a real thing) and branch out with your extracurriculars, too.

 

Best Expansion of a Brand

Black Sheep

If you’re like us, you associate Mike Jalili’s name with fine dining. He’s the man behind the former-but-beloved Bijan’s, the always on-point Touch and the never-disappointing Flame Steakhouse & Wine Bar. We think of bacon-wrapped dates and dry-aged steaks when we think of Jalili. But now, thanks to his clever expansion back into the Walnut Street space that once housed Bijan’s, we can add burgers and shakes to the list of culinary excursions that are in his wheelhouse. Black Sheep Burgers & Shakes (209 E. Walnut St., Springfield, 417-319-5905) has a more casual menu teeming with creatively constructed burgers (like the Knife ‘n’ Fork topped with brandy mushrooms, melted Swiss cheese and a bourdelais sauce), over-the-top appetizers (like the mac and cheese waffles, which seem like they shouldn’t be real) and indulgent boozy shakes (like the American Girl filled with apple pie, Andy’s Frozen Custard and apple pie moonshine). Nice move, Jalili family. Very nice move.

 

Best Dish for Channeling Your Inner Fred Flintstone

Tomahawk Ribeye at Ocean Zen

Feeling primal? If finishing a monstrous steak like the carnivore that you are is your idea of a challenge worth taking, then you need to run straight to Ocean Zen (4117 S. National Ave., Springfield, 417-889-9596, eatoceanzen.com) for dinner tonight. Order the tomahawk bone-in ribeye. Yes, it costs $80. But it’s also a sight to see. The 30-ounce steak has a gigantic rib bone sticking out of it like an enormous handle. It looks prehistoric, like it came off some beast more massive than a cow. Like something Fred Flintstone would have been happy to sink his teeth into. And since it’s not a common item on local menus, it’s definitely a “gotta try it once” kind of dish.

 

Best Use of Square Footage

The Garden at Gilardi’s

One foodie movement we never tire of is farm-to-table dining. We like eating local, supporting local farmers and knowing where our food comes from. And when you dine at Gilardi’s (820 E. Walnut St., Springfield, 417-862-6400, gilardisonwalnut.com), you get farm-to-table dining that starts practically right outside the restaurant’s front door. Like yard-to-table dining. Like you can practically watch your meal growing as you walk from your car to the restaurant. That’s because restaurant owner James Martin has created an urban garden filled with ingredients that he picks and uses in his always delish and freshly prepared gourmet dishes at Gilardi’s. The payoff for the customer is super-fresh ingredients that you can really taste. In our opinion, those veggies are way better than a yard full of begonias.

 

Best “Whoa! Really?”

Papusas at Cesar’s Old Mexico

We love it (love, love, love it!) when a new restaurant opens up in Springfield and serves a dish that we don’t see on menus all over town. Uncommon additions that feature maximum deliciousness and a little element of surprise. That’s why we were so excited to hear that Cesar’s Old Mexico (3027 E. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-881-8252), an eatery that opened up in mid-December, serves homemade Salvadoran papusas. These little bites of goodness are made with cheese, beans and finely ground seasoned pork that are stuffed into a thick tortilla. At Cesar’s, they come with pickled cabbage on the side. Yum!

 

Best Oozy-Indulgent Breakfast Burrito

The Brew Co Breakfast Burrito at Springfield Brewing Company

Honestly, all we want for breakfast is egg yolk all over everything. We want a perfectly cooked egg with a bright orange yolk that’ll add a little richness to whatever else it runs into on the plate. And that’s why we are so madly in love with the Brew Co Breakfast Burrito from Springfield Brewing Company (305 S. Market Ave., Springfield, 417-832-8277, springfieldbrewingco.com). A tortilla is generously filled with chorizo, thick-cut bacon, hash browns and avocado, along with two eggs. After your first bite, that luscious yolk will ooze out and create a sauce inside your burrito that does a happy dance with that spicy chorizo and that creamy avocado. It’s a breakfast miracle. 

 

Best Cocktail That Smells Like a Campfire and Tastes Like Summer

Summer Embers at The Order

We tasted the Summer Embers cocktail at The Order (Hotel Vandivort, 305 E. Walnut St., Springfield, theordersgf.com, 417-832-1515) on one of the first cold days of the fall. We entered Hotel Vandivort’s giant front door and left some blustery wind outside behind us. We sat down and ordered the cocktail, which is made with Hendrick’s gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and cucumber. It came to the table smelling smoky thanks to the charred rosemary sprig that floated on top. But after that first whiff of herbaceous campfire, the drink was light and bright and bursting with summertime flavor. It was the perfect escape from our 417-land winter’s impending chill.

 

Best Handmade Meat

Beef Jerky at Scotch & Soda

We don’t usually think of dried meats when we think of classy cocktail bars. But Scotch & Soda (310 South Ave., Springfield, 417-719-4224, thescotchandsoda.com) has hand-crafted beef jerky on its menu, and once you sample a bit of it during a boozy night out, you’ll realize that it makes perfect sense. It’s salty, it’s satisfying. It’s a great snack to keep your belly a little full while you’re imbibing. 

 

Best healthful kid-distraction

Fresh Fruit at Price Cutter

One of our editors was recently racing through Price Cutter with her preschooler in tow. It had been a long day at work, and her kiddo was none too happy to be stuck in a cart. But then, there it was, shining like a beacon hope: a big basket of fresh, juicy apples with a little sign directing parents to take one for their kids to snack on. Produce aisle jackpot! With apple in hand, the little guy was content until check-out time. Since then, we’ve seen the beloved apple basket on several occasions. But on one trip when it wasn’t there, a friendly produce department employee walked up and handed out bananas instead. Thanks, Price Cutter, for giving us a belly-filling kid-distraction that’s healthier than a sugar-packed cookie!

 

Best never-ever-boring menu

Metropolitan Grill

Lots of local restaurants change up their menus to accommodate seasonal ingredients. Those every-so-often switcheroos keep their menus fresh and their customers interested. If you love this kind of thing, then you really need to become a repeat customer at Metropolitan Grill. Owner Pat Duran releases new menus on the regular (with more on them than just the occasional seasonal ingredient swap), and his eclectic dishes are the perfect combination of bold creativity and flawless execution. You know you’ll not only find something new to love on a new menu; you’ll also find something unexpected.

 

Best Bowl of Pho

Pho Kim

If you’re a fan of pho (a Vietnamese soup that is so simple but so satisfying), then you know a quality bowl of pho is all about the broth. At first glance, it looks like no big deal, like nothing that would take much time or effort to make. But in fact it’s layered with flavor and can take hours to make. It’s fragrant and beefy. It’s thin and light and almost clear, yet it’s flavorful and rich with lip-smacking umami. And if you want to taste the best pho broth in town (which makes their pho the best in town), then you need to head to Pho Kim (3433-C S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-883-9999, phokimspringfield.com). There, the pho blew us away. The humble dish was just as simply satisfying as you’d expect, but with a little something extra.

 

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