BEST DAY STARTER
Morning Meditation Juice at First Watch
Mornings are hectic enough as it is, and sometimes we feel lucky if we even get out the door on time. So when we go to breakfast, we want it to feel like a bit of an escape—from the hullabaloo, and from our daily pasty oatmeal. That’s why the Morning Meditation juice at First Watch always has us singing a bright, new tune. The zippy combination of orange, lemon and ginger gets a hint of earthiness from turmeric and beet. It’s sweetened with agave nectar, the most zen of all the sweeteners. The way the beet juice floats on top of the bright citrusy parts of the drink makes it feel just a little bit like you’re about to dip into a tequila sunrise—minus the vice. It’ll turn your day right around, especially if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
BEST CHEESY SMOKY PILE OF GOODNESS
Pulled Pork Nachos from Smokin' Bob's BBQ
You know when you’re hungry but you don’t know what you want because you’re kind of in the mood for everything? You want something warm, but not hot. You want something crunchy... but also soft. Maybe smoky, but it’s gotta have some sweetness in there, too. You also need something, like, melty? It’s a hard feeling to pin down, and when it strikes, a satisfying meal is a challenge. Luckily for those in the Springfield area, there’s one dish that will check all the boxes. That, my friends, is the barbecue nachos at Smokin’ Bob’s BBQ. A base of crunchy tortilla chips is smothered with smoked cheddar cheese and piled high with pulled pork. (This is the traditional meat option, but feel free to ask for others, like the burnt ends.) Then drizzle sweet or spicy barbecue sauce, a scoop of beans and a scoop of coleslaw. Now you’re really building flavors and textures. But don’t stop there! Make your nachos next level by ordering a side of cheesy corn. Save the cup and dump it right on top of your nachos. Use both hands to carry your creation to your table, and devour the perfectly warm, crunchy, soft, smoky, sweet, spicy, melty, delicious dish that satisfies every craving.
BEST HOMEMADE PICKLES
Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a pickle from Druff’s, and that’s pretty darn close. What makes these pickles so good you ask? They’re a wonderful combination of salty and sour and just a little bit crunchy. They also provide the perfect contrast to Druff’s signature grilled cheese sandwiches, adding just a touch of brightness to an otherwise rich meal. We love that these dill pickles are made in-house. The team at Druff’s starts by making a brine composed of vinegar and some secret spices (including coriander, mustard seed, lots of garlic and more). The brine is simmered, and then more herbs and spices are added to the mix. Throw in some cold water, and it’s ready to be poured over the fresh cucumbers. A mere 48 hours later, these chill dills are ready to be served. A quick pickle at its finest.
Tacos El Gordo
In a green and pink hut off the train tracks hides Springfield’s best-kept secret. As soon as the clock strikes noon, customers pack Tacos el Gordo (1510 N. National Ave., Springfield) to the gills waiting for flavorful tacos, burritos, tortas and the ilk. But the shining spot on the menu isn’t the trompo (although meat on a spit is never to be missed); it’s the pupusas. As is anything wrapped in masa and crammed full of pork and cheese, these certainly aren’t good for you, but oh, lord, are they good. The pupusas are perfectly pillowy and, surprisingly for something coming straight off the griddle, not at all greasy, meaning you won’t think twice about devouring one (or two!).