BEST EVERYDAY CELEBRATION
Fancy Cakes from Charity Fent Cake Design
Can we all agree to make 2022 the year of celebrating the little things, all the time? One of our favorite ways to bring the fun is with one of the pretty treats from Charity Fent Cake Designs (2648 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield). The flavors are incredible.
BEST LITTLE SEASONAL BITES
On the menu at Eurasia Coffee Co.’s Culture Café (445 E. Commercial St., Springfield), you’ll find all of your favorite coffee and espresso drinks, including a Slow Bar with preparations like Chemex pour-overs. But it’s the food that we find most interesting. The menu features tastes inspired by the owners’ world travels, such as the tikka wrap with hints of Indian flavors. The seasonal menu items are always faves, like the smoky chili we tried in the fall that blew us away.
BEST WAY TO EAT FRIED SQUID
Calamari from Level 2 Steakhouse
Fried calamari is the classic, crunchy, indulgent app that is supremely shareable. We’ve had it many different ways at many different restaurants, and one of the versions we love the most is found at Level 2 Steakhouse (inside Hilton Branson Convention Center, 200 E. Main St., Branson). Instead of the rings and tentacles you might expect to see, this calamari is sliced into strips. They’re thicker and more tender, with a light batter that adds just the right amount crunch. On the side you’ll find a zippy key lime miso mayo for dipping.
BEST PATIO MAKEOVER
We’re a little obsessed with the patio expansion at Team Taco (1454 E. Cherry St., Springfield). The little dining room is no longer open, and instead guests order at the walk-up window and can choose a seat in one of the two outdoor patios. Both are fenced in for a cozy vibe, and one is covered. The result is more space for guests to sit and a bright, airy community vibe. Our favorite way to enjoy Team Taco? We grab some B.A. Baracus tacos and munch on them under the shade of the covered patio on a warm afternoon.
If you haven’t visited the cute little building in Joplin that houses Pineapple Bliss (1021 E. 20th St., Joplin), you’re missing out. They serve a variety fruity soft serve flavors (plus dark chocolate), and you can opt to have them made into a super-creative float. Maybe you want mango soft serve in pineapple juice with spicy Chamoy on top. Or grapefruit soft serve in citrus-hibiscus-orange Stubborn soda and freeze-dried Skittles on top. No matter what ingredients you put together, you know it’ll be creative, surprising and super-brightly Instagrammable.
BEST SUBTLE LATTE FLAVOR
Lavender-Sage Latte from Kingdom Coffee
With single-origin pour overs and a delicious house roast, the coffee is incredible at Kingdom Coffee (211 S. Market Ave., Suite 100; 2896 S. Lone Pine Ave., Springfield). And when we’re in the mood for something a little sweet in our brew, they seriously deliver with their lavender-sage syrup. It’s not too sweet, not too floral, and not too herbal. It’s just the right amount of all of those things for a delightfully balanced latte indulgence that we truly can’t resist.
BEST VEGGIE SURPRISE
Green Tomato Cake from The Ozark Mill Restaurant
When you think of the perfect dessert, do you think of microgreens and green tomatoes? No? Honestly, neither do we. Yet somehow both of those things come together beautifully in the green tomato cake from The Ozark Mill Restaurant (at Finley Farms, 802 Finley Farms Lane, Ozark). This layered cake is the sweetest sage-green hue thanks to its vegetal key ingredient, and the microgreens garnish somehow works oh-so-perfectly with this sweet concoction. If you’re not sure you want a veggie in your cake, let us remind you how delightful carrot cake is. It’s a flavor in that vein, but more moist and more subtle—and it’s one of our favorite sweet local bites.
Tie & Timber Beer Co.
Usually it’s the local brews and the amazing outdoor dining area that gets us excited about Tie & Timber Beer Co. (1451 E. Cherry St., Springfield). But on a recent visit, we were surprised by the well-crafted mocktails that we didn’t even realize were on the menu. How had we missed them? They come in a handful of flavors, but the one we adore is a mango concoction that is sweet, tart and a little bit spicy thanks to the tangy Tajin rim. It turned out to be bright, refreshing and a super-fun sip for anyone interested in a change of pace.
BEST SURPRISE IN KIMBERLING CITY
Lake Time Bistro
On your next visit to Table Rock Lake, make sure you stop for a meal at Lake Time Bistro (13272 Missouri 13, Suites C-D, Kimberling City). This unassuming little restaurant is serving up some seriously delicious food. Take for example the shrimp New Orleans, with its flavorful broth, tender shrimp and crusty bread for dipping. Bonus: They also serve a Sunday brunch, so you can round out your lake weekend there before you head home.