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107 W. Mt. Vernon Blvd., Mt. Vernon, 417-466-4650; 101 N. Hickory, Mt. Vernon, 417-466-3460
Eating at Red Barn Café and Hen House Bakery feels just like you’re eating at your mom’s house, if your mom cooks up fresh, gigantic, beyond-delicious meals every day. The original Red Barn Café is located in a large metal red building, and the interior is cozy and welcoming with cutesy old signage, plaid curtains and all the accessories you’d expect to find in a country-style kitchen.
The most popular breakfast option is the Country Style buffet, which is well stocked with eggs, sausage, bacon and country chunks (country fries), pancakes, waffles and even a fresh fruit bar. The spot also has a sit-down breakfast menu. A favorite choice is the Plowboy Breakfast ($7.25–13.95). First, you choose your meat (bacon, sausage, chopped steak, country ham, country-fried steak, two pork chops or a 12-ounce ribeye). Yes, you can eat pork chops for breakfast. The chops come well seasoned, seared and juicy. And if you’re more of a steak eater—this is ribeye for breakfast! The Plowboy includes eggs cooked to your preference, a choice of potatoes and a choice of a biscuit and gravy, silver dollar pancakes or toast. The meal is as big as it sounds, so be sure to bring a massive appetite. And also make sure to save some room for dessert—Red Barn has a huge selection of made-from-scratch sweet treats, including pies, cakes and cinnamon rolls that take up an entire dinner plate.
Rosie Jo’s Café
915 W. Jackson St., Ozark, 417-581-6047
In 2001, Rosemary Griffin and Carla Joline Veach combined their names and their cooking skills to open up Rosie Jo’s Café in Ozark. In 2003, the restaurant moved to a larger location in a shopping center off the main drag of the city’s Jackson Street, and it’s still located there today. Now Griffin is the sole owner of the café, and you can often find her in the kitchen preparing some stick-to-your-ribs, country-style cooking.
The restaurant is usually hopping in the mornings, when a favorite dish is the three-egg breakfast served with ham steak, sausage or bacon, hash browns and toast or biscuits and gravy (all for $5.29!). Eggs come cooked any way you want them, including the usual options, but Rosie Jo’s also offers to prepare your eggs basted. “If you’re frying an egg in a pan, you don’t flip it to turn it,” Griffin says. “You have a lot of butter in there, and you baste it to turn it white.” And the hash browns served here have never seen the inside of a freezer. “We bake the potatoes, peel them, hash them and cook them on the grill,” Griffin says.
Other favorites at Rosie Jo’s include made-from-scratch biscuits and homemade sausage gravy, pancakes, French toast, omelets and breakfast specials for $3.49. It’s simple, but it’s simple done right. “We’re a meat and potatoes kind of place,” Griffin says. Friendly faces and tasty food make this a country-style café well worth a visit.
513 N. West Bypass, Springfield, 417-865-3646; 3322 DD S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-890-1984
If you order the chicken fried steak breakfast at Cedars Restaurant, you’re in for a real treat. “That’s kind of what made us,” says Dennis Butzlaff, who co-owns the restaurants with Jim Dillard. “We take it, dip it in buttermilk and then hand bread each one to order.” At breakfast time, this No. 1-selling steak is served with sausage cream gravy; two eggs any style; your choice of hash browns, American fries or grits; and your choice of toast, biscuits and gravy or an English muffin. It’s a whole lotta food, especially for the $5.69 price tag. And if you’re feeling extra-hungry, you can upgrade your hash browns to the Cedars hash browns, which are another customer favorite. “It’s our hash browns with onions, tomato, green peppers, ham and Monterey jack and cheddar cheese,” Butzlaff says.
2415 W. Division St., Springfield, 417-831-0883
Originally called Vaughn’s Drive In, this northwest Springfield eatery has been serving 417-landers stick-to-your-ribs cooking since 1949. It’s best known for its lunchtime favorites of hand-dipped shakes, hand-cut fries, burgers and pork tenderloin sandwiches, but it’s also a popular a.m. spot for everything from biscuits and gravy to omelets or breakfast burritos. A belly-warming option for breakfast is Louie’s Platter, which comes with the choice of a massive slice of hand-carved ham or giant breaded hunk of pork tenderloin, plus hash browns, toast and three eggs. Both the ham and pork are great options, but the crispy breaded pork tastes great smothered in a couple of scoops of peppery white gravy. The spot also has a popular chili, and some frequent diners order it on top of their hash browns. The drive-in itself is teensy, with the inside having only 12 seats. If there isn’t any room, it’s a great spot to order food to-go.
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