"It's just a really good combo... it's fancy and delicious," Karen Beiler says of The Lindberg Baby with Onion Jam from Lindberg's Tavern.Purchase Photo
What Springfield Foodies Eat
A guide to the local southwest Missouri restaurants, dishes and culinary delights that make the experts swoon. Find your new favorite Springfield staple, hangover cure, date-night dish, restaurant for a family outing and more.
By Claire Porter | Art Direction by Fried Design Company
If you’re anything like us, you face the “What should I have for dinner?” question nightly, and sometimes we hit a slump, going back to the same places for a perfectly fine meal. But we want to love what we eat, not just like it. So we asked chefs, restaurateurs and food industry experts about desserts they desire, sauces that make them swoon, dive bars of their dreams and every luscious, lusted-after dish and drink they’ve had in this town. As diverse as our dining scene is, some standouts came up over and over again, so we’ve made a list of the most buzzed-about, drool-worthy, can’t-get-enough sips, bits and bites as told to us by our local foodies. Start your exercise plan now—you’re going to need every calorie you can get.
MEET THE FOODIES
Click on each foodie's picture to read about their local culinary lust.
THE SWEETEST SLICE
The Foodie: Katie Baker
Her Lust: Any Pie from Prairie Pie
When it comes to indulgences, Katie Baker rarely gives in, but when she does, she always goes for Prairie Pie. “I don’t know what she does,” Baker says. “It’s just pie, but pie that your grandma would make—like, the best pie ever.” Baker and her husband frequent Cherry Picker Package x Fare, where Baker can’t resist snagging a piece of Eleanor Taylor’s inventively flavored concoctions packed into a traditional butter crust. Baker admits she’s tried almost every flavor, but her go-to is any fruit pie—she personally can’t resist apple pie. “They truly taste like comforting grandma’s pies,” Baker says.
Jorge Cespesdes, Culinary Creative Director at Marlin Network, with Fried Chicken and a gin and tonic from J.O.B. Public House.Purchase Photo
THE HIDDEN GEM
The Foodie: Karen Beiler
Her Lust: The Lindberg Baby with Onion Jam from Lindberg's Tavern
Karen Beiler is gonna own it: She loves a good burger, and for her, Lindberg’s has the most incredible one around. “It’s kind of unassuming from the outside, but it’s such a gem,” she says of her fellow C-Street business. Beiler says you can’t go wrong with any of the burgers, but her favorite is The Lindberg Baby, a single patty seared in duck fat, plus an added topping of onion jam. “The onion jam is phenomenal with the provel cheese,” she says. “It’s just a really good combo.” While you’re chowing down, don’t sleep on the French fries with homemade Table Rock Red ketchup. “It’s fancy and delicious,” she says.
THE LATE-NIGHT CRAVING
The Foodie: Jorge Cespesdes
His Lust: Fried Chicken and a gin and tonic from J.O.B. Public House
As you stumble from bar to bar during your next evening downtown, do yourself a favor and end your night with a gin and tonic and fried chicken from J.O.B. Public House. “It’s maybe not what you’d be drinking at the end of the night, but they go great together,” says Jorge Cespesdes, who likes to build progressive-style dinners downtown. After various drinks at various bars, Cespesdes finds himself wanting the crispy, crunchy, salty greasiness of fried chicken. “Late at night, I really like the fried chicken at J.O.B.,” he says. “That’s a good drunk food kind of place.”
HALL OF FAME
These five Springfield, MO restaurants were recommended time and time again by our expert foodies.
ZAYKA INDIAN CUISINE
This downtown Indian joint stood out for its consistently flavorful and affordable lunch buffet, but if you’re choosing an entree, the butter chicken is a fan favorite.
THE GOLDEN GIRL RUM CLUB
You probably know Golden Girl makes great cocktails—and one of the best-made daiquiris, according to several foodies—but don’t miss out on the tacos, specifically the al pastor and Korean barbecue ones.
For steaks in this town, Flame has been the go-to restaurant for years, but it’s also home to an extensive and carefully curated (and highly recommended) wine list.
SKULLY'S FOOD TRUCK
The mystery of Skully’s is how they can make food with so much flavor in such a small truck. Their rice bowls, mushroom ramen and kimchi fries came up in multiple conversations.
CESAR'S OLD MEXICO
What’s not to love about Cesar’s? The fare was endorsed over and over again. Favorites include anything made with Cesar’s pork, tacos, chile verde, palomas and micheladas.
THE HANGOVER CURE
The Foodie: Michael Cho
His Lust: Bun Bo Hue from Bambu Vietnamese Cuisine
When your head is throbbing and your stomach is churning after a rough night, head to Bambu Vietnamese Cuisine for the Bun Bo Hue, soup made with spicy beef broth and wheat noodles. “That is life-giving,” Michael Cho says. “That’s literally all I’m thinking about sometimes in the mornings. Like, that has to happen.” Still feeling attached to your bacon egg and cheese biscuits? Put a little faith in Cho’s advice: “Noodle soup—people who don’t know that, I’m changing their lives. You’re doing God’s work by printing this. You don’t understand what it does to your body and to your soul after a night out. To all those people who need help in the mornings, if they heed this advice for Vietnamese noodle soup, I expect them to tip me. I expect monetary compensation. Throw my Venmo account in there.”
THE ULTIMATE BURGER
The Foodie: Daniel Ernce
His Lust: Full Ride From Grad School
Almost every Monday night, you can find Daniel Ernce downing the Full Ride at Grad School. The double-patty burger comes topped with caramelized onions, lettuce, bacon and super-soft sharp cheddar cheese. “I think the Full Ride is delicious and not pretentious, and it delivers exactly what it is: a burger that speaks to you and can get you back on your feet after a long week or a long night,” Ernce says. Although he likes other local restaurants for their less artery-clogging fare, Ernce is always drawn to Grad School. “I always feel good after I leave [a place like] Neighbor’s Mill—they make their own bread, it makes you feel whole, and you didn’t just necessarily slam dunk a Full Ride,” he says. “They’re different feelings—feeling better versus feeling whole, but I enjoy them both either way.”
THE SUSHI STOP
The Foodie: Susie Farbin
Her Lust: Super-Fresh Food from Haruno Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill
When Susie Farbin is hosting guests and wants a night off from cooking, she heads to Haruno. Farbin likes that the restaurant has options for every diet and palate. Although she often gets whatever fish is freshest that day served sashimi style, she also likes the bibimbap, which she says is a great value, and salad. “Their salad dressing—I mean, you could drink it it’s just so good,” she says. However, Farbin says the standout dish at Haruno is the agedashi tofu appetizer. “It’s a soup with special tofu, agedashi tofu, that is amazing,” she says. The 2,000-year-old recipe consists of fried tempura-battered tofu in a soy-ginger broth. “It’s really, really good,” Farbin says.
"I think their Milk and Honey dessert is the best dessert I've ever had in my life," says Elle Feldman. And she's not the only one who lusts for the Progress dessert. Rogan Howitt and Joshua Widner also highly suggest the dish.Purchase Photo
THE FINAL COURSE
The Foodie: Elle Feldman
Her Lust: Milk and Honey from Progress
Between her roles as esthetician and co-owner of Good Skin Day, Elle Feldman is traveling the globe, having visited about 10 countries—seven in the past year alone. The former owner of Elle’s Patisserie knows sweets and has dined in Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide, but her favorite dessert is at Springfield’s own Progress. “I think their milk and honey dessert is the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life,” Feldman says. “It’s ridiculous.” Italian-style semifreddo is topped with crunchy almond streusel and served with milk jam. “I’ve never tasted anything like that in my life,” Feldman says of the jam. “It’s kind of thick but also creamy, and it’s really a delicious buttery caramel. It’s just amazing.”
THE DRUNK FOOD
The Foodie: Dylan Fox
His Lust: Halle(peño) Berry from The Chicago Cheesesteak Co.
If you’re hungry and it’s after midnight, your options in Springfield are limited. Fortunately, Dylan Fox has found the perfect cure for his late-night cravings: the Halle(peño) Berry sandwich from Chicago Cheesesteak Co. The Walnut Street location is within walking distance of downtown bars, and its 2 a.m. close time means hot, greasy goodness is available long after last call. At this time of night, just about any cheesesteak will do, but the Halle(peño) Berry packs every taste onto one bun. “It’s definitely comfort food,” Fox says. “It’s got cream cheese, fruit jam and jalapeños on it. It’s creamy, hot, spicy, sweet.” What more could you want?
THE DATE DISH
The Foodie: Joe Gidman
His Lust: Spanish Meatballs from Cellar + Plate Wine Bar
Joe Gidman is a C-Street champion. His businesses line the strip, and he frequents neighborhood restaurants and coffee shops, like his morning stops at Big Momma’s Coffee & Espresso Bar for a brownie and a breakfast burrito. But when it’s time for a date night, Gidman heads south to Cellar + Plate Wine Bar, owned by his friend Mary Guccione. “I like her food because it’s more small plate–style… so you can go with just two people and order several small plates and have that experience of tasting lots of different things,” he says. “She’s got a spicy Brussels sprouts [dish] that I’m obsessed with, and I like her Spanish meatballs.” Not only is the food conducive for some one-on-one time with your sweetheart, but the wine selection and cozy atmosphere round out the night.
THE SPRINGFIELD STAPLES
The Foodies: Rogan Howitt and Joshua Widner
Their Lust: The Kringle from Supreme Bakery and The Rico Suave Jackhammer from Andy's Frozen Custard
These brothers are best known for running some of Springfield’s most popular bars and coffee shops, but the two have a taste for sweets, particularly ones from Springfield staples. Widner and Howitt can rattle off their favorite sweets faster than you can blink—including almost every pie by Prairie Pie, doughnuts from St. George’s Donuts and Progress’s Milk and Honey dessert. But Widner’s heart belongs to Andy’s Frozen Custard. “I’m a choco-fiend,” he says. “I probably get Andy’s three times a week, which is shameful to say out loud.” His pick is the Rico Suave Jackhammer (pecans, Oreos and fudge) made with chocolate custard. Howitt’s choice is Supreme Kringle Bakery. “[It’s an] old-school Springfield spot,” he says. “They have incredible baked goods.” So incredible, in fact, that he brings a kringle to his family’s Christmas celebration every year. “That shit’s amazing,” he says.
THE FAMILY OUTING
The Foodie: Young Jun
Her Lust: Dinner at Bawi Korean BBQ
Young Jun knows about Korean food—it’s even the name of one of her restaurants. So it’s a huge testament to the authenticity (and deliciousness) of a new restaurant when Jun crowns it her favorite place to eat. Right now, she loves dining at Bawi Korean BBQ, which she likes because the concept is relatively new to our region. “I love to eat there—even though we’re competition!” she says. Jun especially loves the thinly sliced and marinated meats, and she says it’s a fun place to eat with family, friends and big groups of people when you can get boisterous and eat a lot. “That’s not a dating place,” she says with a laugh.
THE SIMPLE SUPERSTAR
The Foodie: Uliana Komodi
Her Lust: Roasted Cauliflower Steak from Progress
Sometimes the simplest dishes are the most surprising, and that’s why Uliana Komodi loved the roasted cauliflower steak with carrot puree from Progress. “It was so simple, like, how did I not make this because it was truly amazing,” Komodi says. “It was one of those things where you didn’t expect much, but then you bite into it and go, ‘Oh my god, this is so good.’” The dish, which has since been replaced by a similar cauliflower and sweet potato combo for the winter, sat atop a carrot-coconut sauce and came topped with spiced Rice Krispies. “That was one of the things that I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is genius,’” Komodi says. “It’s just such a good bite all together.”
Cari Price, owner of CPCulinary Consulting and Corporate Chef with Marlin Network, with Pork Belly Biscuits from Farmers Gastropub.Purchase Photo
Joy Robertson, Co-host of KOLR10 Ozarks Live, with Singapore Mei Fun from New Oriental Restaurant.Purchase Photo
THE "I'LL HAVE IT ALL"
The Foodie: Cari Price
Her Lust: Everything at Farmers Gastropub
If you’re wondering what to order at Farmers Gastropub, give Cari Price a call. Price loves just about everything on the menu, including the salty-sweet desserts, the made-from-scratch biscuits, the local produce, the sweet potato–bean-carrot burger (pro tip: order it with bacon), the pig ear tacos… the list goes on. But Price’s absolute favorite is the smoked pork belly biscuits. “I have raved about Farmers biscuits for a while, but the fact that [chef Andy Hampshire] combines the smoky, salty, fatty richness of his smoked pork belly with the perfect accompaniment of sweet maple and sharp spiciness of whole-grain mustard sauce on biscuits that I wish I could make so perfect—tender and light on the inside with a rustic, buttery crunch on the outside,” Price says. “This dish is incredible and absolutely solidifies my passion for cooking.”
THE LATEST OBSESSION
The Foodie: Joy Robertson
Her Lust: Singapore Mei Fun from New Oriental Restaurant
“My obsession right now is a dish called Singapore Mei Fun from New Oriental [Restaurant],” Joy Robertson says. “It’s a dish that I never knew I needed until last summer, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life.” Singapore Mei Fun is a stir-fried rice-noodle dish seasoned with curry and served with chicken, beef and shrimp. “That dish is freaking delicious any way you get it, whether you go in and sit down at the restaurant or whether you take it home, which I like to do so I can have a glass of wine with it—or even cold the next day out of the fridge; it’s just that good!”
A PROGRESSIVE MEAL WITH DOUG RIDDLE
If you ask Doug Riddle to design his ideal day of eating, he can come up with an itinerary almost instantly. Riddle, who also works part-time with Tie & Timber Beer Co. and Mother’s Brewing Co., says this is one of his favorite activities when he visits other cities, so we had him include his must-hit spots in one nosh-filled day’s itinerary for when he hosts visitors of his own.
Your day starts early, so buckle up. “I would do apps at Gastropub for brunch,” he says. His picks? Deviled duck eggs when they’re in season and pork ear tacos. “We’ll split French toast for the table. None of my friends can eat a full order of French toast, really.”
ELOTES DON TOÑO
After you’ve awoken your appetite, head up Glenstone Avenue to Elotes Don Toño, the fire engine–red food truck serving authentic Mexican fare. There you’ll order a couple of tamales or tacos. “The carne asada tacos are absolutely killer,” Riddle says.
ENTERPRISE PARK LANES
“For a midafternoon snack, go over to Enterprise Lanes, throw a couple of balls and get a couple of their BLTs,” he says. Get yours on Texas toast with a side of seasoned fries. “We’d also probably grab a pour of whiskey to work off the meals we’ve sampled all day,” he adds.
“We would end the night at Yan’s,” Riddle says of his dinner choice. “Get like eight people and do family style.” His picks are shareable plates for the table, like the spicy pork and dried tofu noodle from the traditional menu and the affordable cumin beef.
SOCIAL ON PATTON
And when you think you can’t handle another bite, rally your appetite and head to Social on Patton to close out the night. There you’ll have amaro and what Riddle calls some of the best ice cream he’s ever had. Then, head home to sleep off your gluttony.
THE MULTI-COURSE MEAL
The Foodie: Zach Smallwood
His Lust: Dinner at La Galette Berrichonne
When he’s not in the kitchen, Zach Smallwood loves to eat. He says he’s eaten at most restaurants around town, but he was recently blown away by the Provençal French cooking (and the $50 price tag) of the seven-course meal at La Galette Berrichonne in Fordland. “I think that it’s the best fine dining,” Smallwood says. “By the fifth course I was completely stuffed.” Smallwood raves about the beef tenderloin wrapped in flaky pastry, and he fell in love with the scallops. “He somehow found delicious scallops in Missouri,” Smallwood says. “It was really, really interesting with a mushroom cream sauce and Gruyere on top that was put under the broiler so it was crispy—ah, amazing.”
THE SALMON SAMMIE
The Foodie: Robert Stricklin
His Lust: Land & Sea BLT from The Eagle Drive-In
Although it’s a hop, skip and a jump outside of Springfield, Joplin is home to some noteworthy pit stops, particularly The Eagle Drive-In. “Any time I’m going in that direction, I make a point of stopping in there,” Robert Stricklin says. “They do a salmon club sandwich that I think is pretty outstanding.” Stricklin is an associate professor and just wrapped up a course on responsible fishing, farming and buying practices, so if he’s recommending seafood, you know it’s worth trying. The Land & Sea BLT, as it’s called, is served on Texas toast with bacon, lettuce and tomato for a sea-inspired spin on a club classic.
FAVORITE SPRINGFIELD DRIVE-THRUS
Mike Jalili is always on the go, so he likes his food to be, too. Here are his favorite local drive-thrus.
5 SPICE CHINA GRILL
“They’ve got really good stuff,” Jalili says of the Chinese restaurant run by the Tan brothers. “Everything is really delicious, and everyone loves their fried rice.”
Another Tan enterprise, Ocean Zen offers drive thru, allowing Jalili and his family to get their sushi roll fix after work.
GREAT AMERICAN TACO CO.
With such an extensive menu, Great American Taco has something the whole family enjoys, and Jalili gets the chance to try a new taco each time he visits.
THE UNEXPECTED INFATUATION
The Foodie: Drake Tillman
His Lust: Peach and onion pizza from Millsap Farm Pizza Night
Amid children chasing barnyard cats and summer crops rustling in the wind lies the dish that caught Drake Tillman by surprise. “The best pizza I’ve had anywhere around here was definitely at Millsap Farm,” Tillman says. “They had this peach and onion pizza. It was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. I didn’t know how I was going to like it at first.” Tillman is a self-described stickler for pizzas, having lived in Italy and spent time as a pizzaiolo, but the rustic simplicity of this take on pizza surprised him. “They’re making, like, farm pizza, and that’s why it’s so good,” he says. “I probably ate a whole one of those pizzas; I came back [to the serving table] so many times.”
THE PERFECT 'ZA
The Foodie: Ryan Vanwinkle
His Lust: Greek signature pizza from Ozark Pizza Co.
West Plains is a small town hiding some big flavors, the most notable being the Greek pizza from Ozark Pizza Co., according to Ryan VanWinkle. “That’s probably the best pizza I’ve had anywhere in the United States,” he says. “Almost everywhere you go, you order pizza for one meal, and I still haven’t had any one better than theirs.” Ozark Pizza Co.’s New York–style pies have homemade crusts and sauces, and the Greek pizza comes topped with spinach, artichoke, tomatoes, red onion, feta, Kalamata olives and pesto.
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