Features

Where to Eat Now

We tell you which restaurants are newly opened, newly revamped or soon to arrive in southwest Missouri.

by Katie Pollock Estes

Jan 2024

Where to Eat Now in Springfield MO banner image

Ariake Sushi
Photo by Tessa CooperAriake is a chic spot would seem right at home in more cosmopolitan cities.

Ariake Sushi & Robata

1110 E. Battlefield Road, Springfield
417-501-1675
The Vibe: Chic, upscale, modern
Try this Dish: White usuzukuri, a dish of thinly sliced raw flounder accented with yuzu, pear, black lava salt, candied quinoa and chili oil.

The second we noticed some remodeling activity outside the restaurant space at 1110 E. Battlefield Road, our dining scene Spidey Senses perked up. The second we learned this new eatery was the brainchild of John Jung and Young Jun, we lost our minds. This husband-and-wife team is behind some of the best Asian cuisine focused eateries in Springfield: Haruno Sushi Bar & Grill, Kai and Karai Ramen.

The anticipation was realer than real.

And lucky for us (and the rest of 417-land) Ariake delivers. This chic spot would seem right at home in more cosmopolitan cities, for sure. Its menu of (very) small plates gives diners a chance to taste new and exciting flavors at every visit. We’re partial to the beautiful raw fish items on the Cold Tasting portion of the menu. But anything made with A5 wagyu, like the A5 Hot Rock, is a close second.

Dining here is an experience. That’s especially true if you opt for the Omakase experience, where you give the chef full control to choose all your dishes.

At a spot like Ariake, where quality is always top-notch, we’d trust the chef to put together something perfect.

65 Tapas
Photo by Brandon Alms65°Tapas has a menu focused largely on Spanish-style tapas, plus entrees and paella. Purchase Photo

65°Tapas

3371 E. Montclair St., Springfield
417-827-2777
The Vibe: A moody spot for sharing with friends
Try this Dish: Datiles Rellanos bacon-wrapped dates with honey-lemon-chili sauce and goat cheese filling.

Located inside one side of ReRico Brazilian Grill, this new tapas joint is the latest dining option from local restaurateur Angel Kim. He also owns The Hill Italian Restaurant and, of course, ReRico Brazilian Grill.

65°Tapas has a menu focused largely on Spanish-style tapas, plus entrees and paella. Empanadas come stuffed with steak, green olives and hard-boiled eggs. Grilled octopus is served with blistered peppers. And entrees include mouthwatering options like grilled lamb lollipops with parsley pesto and port wine reduction.

Next time you’re commuting up Highway 65, grab some buds for a happy hour with treats to share at 65°Tapas.

Fusion Eatz

2825 Glenstone Ave., Springfield
417-569-7732
The Vibe: Healthful global flavors, served fast and casual
Try this Dish: Chicken tikka wrap with masala onions and cilantro chutney.

It’s all about bright açai bowls, funky taco options and ingredient-packed bowls at Fusion Eatz. You’ll see tons of fresh fruits and veggies, plus Indian spices and flavors in surprising places—like in the flavor-packed paneer tacos.

Amici

4728 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield
417-299-8236
The Vibe: Neighborhood coziness with modern Italian fare
Try this Dish: The arancini appetizer.

Catherine and Thor Bersted, who own Lavender Falls Farm and Aviary Cafe, have brought Italian bites to southwest Springfield. The started off offering prix fixe menus, but at press time had just switched to a regular menu of tasty items like pasta, seafood, steak and more. And it rotates regularly, so there’s always something new to taste.

Cabos Bonitos Grill & Cantina

406 South Ave., Springfield
417-221-3490
The Vibe: The post-work chips-and-salsa happy hour you’ve been waiting for all day long
Try this Dish: Fried avocado with shrimp, sour cream and chipotle ranch sauce.

When two Springfield-favorite Mexican eateries closed—the long-lived Maria’s Mexican Restaurant and the beloved Los Cabos Mexican Grill—they left a lot of fans pining for their favorite margarita happy hour or deep fried tacos. But James Daniel, the former assistant general manager at Los Cabos, found a way to bring a little bit of both places back to life.

Enter his new restaurant, Cabos Bonitos Grill & Cantina. It opened in the familiar downtown Springfield space formerly occupied by Maria’s, and it opened up with a staff composed partially of Los Cabos team members.

The menu features familiar Mexican fare—enchiladas, tacos, fajitas and desserts like sopapillas and flan—with a few more unique items thrown in as well. We love the fried avocado appetizer, for instance. And the southern fried chicken tacos use crunchy chicken tenders for something a little out of the ordinary. Don’t sleep on the margarita options; they are the perfect addition to a meal.

Food at Blue Heron Bakery
Photo by Tessa CooperBlue Heron specializes in beautiful handmade pastries, often filled with handcrafted sweet and savory ingredients.

Blue Heron Farm & Bakery

206 E. Commercial St., Springfield
417-701-1130
The Vibe: Your favorite corner bakery
Try this Dish: Lemon curd galettes.

If the smell of yeast and fresh baked bread and pastries sends you over the edge, then stepping into Blue Heron Farm & Bakery’s shop on Commercial Street will feel like a little bit of heaven.

Owned by seasoned bakers Jennie and James Boosey, Blue Heron specializes in beautiful handmade pastries, often filled with handcrafted sweet and savory ingredients.

The shop also uses other locally made or grown ingredients, such as goat cheese from Terrell Creek Farm and greens from Box Turtle Farm.

We love that there’s a pastry on this menu for everybody, whether you want to indulge in a sweet and luscious raspberry cream croissant to satisfy your sweet tooth or a hearty and savory hand pie for lunch.

Our favorite sweet pastry is the lemon curd galette, filled with so dang much sweet curd and a lovely slice of candied lemon on top. In the savory category, we’re nuts for the sausage roll with its little skewer of pickles on top.

There are coffee, tea and espresso offerings as well. We like the Algerian, a refreshing lemony iced coffee.

The staff inside Blue Heron is always warm and welcoming, and that vibe extends to some of the restaurant’s additional offerings. You can take cooking classes through Blue Heron where the staff share their unique talents with curious home cooks.

Harry's Cocktail Lounge
Photo by Brandon AlmsThe newest addition to Big Cedar Lodge’s restaurants is Harry’s Cocktail Lounge & Bar. Purchase Photo

Harry’s Cocktail Lounge

612 Devil’s Pool Rd., Ridgedale
417-339-5200
The Vibe: Chic and moody
Try this Dish: The shareable charcuterie board

One of the things we love most about the   growing dining scene at Big Cedar Lodge: You know you’re in for an immersive experience. The newest addition to Big Cedar Lodge’s restaurants is Harry’s Cocktail Lounge & Bar, and it’s located downstairs at the upscale Worman House Bistro. While Worman House Bistro serves  French fare, Harry’s has more of an intimate lounge-like personality. Housed in a beautiful historic home with pretty stained glass windows, the spot specializes in well crafted cocktails and a small menu of appetizers and shareable plates.

You can make it your main destination if you’re up for munching on the delicious small plates. Or you could head down there after a dinner at Worman House, for a little night cap or a cocktail before heading home for the day.

And like many other Big Cedar Lodge properties, stellar views are part of the package when you dine here. There is an outdoor patio complete with a bubbling fountain and wide, sprawling views of the sparkling waters of Table Rock Lake.

Interested in learning more about his new hotspot? You can read more about the food and drinks at Harry’s Cocktail Lounge & Bar here.

El Cafecito

2462 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield
417-665-2486
The Vibe: A brightly Instagrammable caffeine run
Try this Dish: Shredded pork tostada with chimichurri sauce.

El Cafecito is a triple threat: great coffee, delicious Latin cuisine and a cute mural-adorned space perfect for an extra-long lunch break with a friend. The food doesn’t disappoint, with a variety of tortas, tacos and more—plus great specials. The coffee here is well done, with unique options like the Cajete Latte made with goat’s milk, espresso and thick caramel. The indecisive side of you can order a latte flight. There’s even a shop inside selling items like handcrafted huarache shoes and hats made in Mexico.

Before & After Brewing

2940 E. Sunshine St., Springfield
The Vibe: A neighborhood gathering place
Try this Dish: Smoked rainbow trout served with goat cheese mousse and pickled red onions.

You’ve probably noticed the facade revamp that’s been going on for months at the Southern Hills Shopping Center on East Sunshine Street. If you look closely, you’ll see that among those upgraded storefronts is a new, tiny, excellent neighborhood brewery: Before & After Brewing. It opened amid all that construction, and its offerings are not to be missed. The beauty of Before & After Brewing is that their beverage game is strong in all three categories: coffee and espresso, cocktails and beer. They are a nano-brewery, so all of their beers are brewed in small batches, and they’re not distributed or available anywhere else. That means enjoying them in-house is extra-special.

As far as the food is concerned, the menu is small but mighty. There are a few sandwiches and lots of snackable, shareable items. The loaded pretzel and cheese with tons of tasty toppings is a great complement to the brewery’s beer. And the seasonal hummus puts a fun spin on everybody’s favorite dip. For example, in the fall they were offering pumpkin hummus. Don’t miss the selection of Fishwife tinned fish dishes that come with some seriously delightful homemade condiments. Read our full review here.

Storeroom Coffee + Wine

995 Historic Highway 165, Branson
417-348-1683
The Vibe: A mid-century modern dreamland with Ozarks flair
Try this Dish: A sharable charcuterie board.

This little spot is located inside The Ozarker Lodge. And like the hotel itself, Storeroom Coffee + Wine leans into its Ozarks roots and offers sips and bites made in the area. There is coffee from Springfield-based Kingdom Coffee, charcuterie boards with local Terrell Creek Farm goat cheese and Grandma Ruth’s Cinnamon Rolls made at Silver Dollar City.

Box Turtle Creamery in southwest Missouri
Photo by Tessa CooperBox Turtle Creamery offers a frequently changing small menu of handcrafted ice creams

Box Turtle Creamery

1458 E. Cherry St., Springfield
The Vibe: A sunny afternoon for the kid in you
Try this Dish: When they have it, the roasted banana ice cream with tasty bits of crunchy honeycomb candy.

As if we needed another reason to love the ever-growing food scene at the intersection of Pickwick Avenue and Cherry Street!

Box Turtle Creamery opened in the cute little mini-building beside Wallace Rae Salon in early November, and it was an immediate favorite in this walkable micro-district. It’s owned by Dani Hunnell, who also owns Sleepy Opossum Cafe, located just down the block. If you have ever tried any of Hunnell’s uniquely flavored slices of cake at Sleepy Opossum Cafe, then her skill with sweets should come as no surprise.

She takes those clever flavor combos across the street to Box Turtle Creamery, with a frequently changing small menu of handcrafted ice creams. The roasted banana comes with honeycomb candy. The orange-cinnamon tastes like the holidays in a cup. And the dill pickle sorbet is a “you just have to try it” curiosity. And best of all, if you can’t pick one, you can order a six-scoop flight.

Casper's new location in Springfield MO
Photo by Tessa CooperCasper's might have a new location, but the classic vibe (and chili) is still there.

Casper’s

937 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield
417-227-7377
The Vibe: Pure, sweet nostalgia
Try this Dish: The smothered Chili Chz Fries.

Casper’s has existed, in one form or another and under various ownership, since 1909. That’s about 115 years of slinging chili to hungry diners in Springfield. So the nostalgia and local love for this tried-and-true eatery runs deep among Springfield diners.

Purists would say the quonset hut that formerly housed the restaurant in downtown Springfield was a huge part of the place’s personality. But the new location on Glenstone Avenue, lovingly revamped by owner Shawn Kraft, did a pretty darn good job of recreating and updating that kitschy vibe when the restaurant reopened there last year. There are brightly colored walls hung with curious items, memorabilia and little bits of history.

And the menu? Well, there were some new additions like hand-breaded chicken fingers. But the main event—Casper’s chili—is still the star of the show. And just like at the former quonset hut location, you can belly up to the bar and shoot the breeze with the regulars while you dine.

Food from Brunch Box in Springfield MO
Photo by Leah StiefermannTwo fan-fave vegan eateries recently joined forces to open up together in one new location. Purchase Photo

Brunch Box + Sweet EMOtion

211 E. Walnut St., Springfield
The Vibe: A haven for vegans and the vegan-curious
Try this Dish: bacon-and-egg biscuit sandwich from Brunch Box, tiramisu ice cream from Sweet EMOtion.

Two fan-fave vegan eateries recently joined forces to open up together in one new location. Brunch Box (formerly called Whipped Cream & Other Delights) offers coffee and vegan breakfast and brunch fare. Sweet EMOtion’s menu is focused on soft serve ice cream with a non-dairy oat milk base.

At Brunch Box, those morningtime dishes range from lighter options like chia pudding topped with berry compote to more indulgent items like breakfast tacos and biscuits with faux-sausage gravy. There are also plenty of pastries, plus the option to pre-order desserts like full-size cakes. All of it is 100% vegan and served from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. In the afternoons and evenings, Sweet EMOtion takes over to serve their sweets and treats from 4 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 2 to 10 p.m. Friday through Saturday.

Dough Bar doughnuts
Photo by Leah StiefermannWe’re partial to the savory donuts, with fillings like fresh herb cream cheese, from the Dough Bar. Purchase Photo

Dough Bar

At Farmers Market of the Ozarks, 2144 E. Republic Road, Springfield
The Vibe: Farmers market friendliness meets sweet treats
Try this Dish: Any of the savory brioche donuts.

Liz Chun was already known for her beautiful iced sugar cookies, sold under the business name Liz Cookie Co., when she added a new item to her repertoire: brioche donuts. To say they took off is an understatement.

Now, she’s rebranded as Dough Bar, and her creative donuts—with their perfectly airy pastry and to-die-for fillings—are known to sell out at the market week after week. We’re partial to the savory donuts, with fillings like fresh herb cream cheese. But the sweet ones are just as dreamy. The London Fog donut with its subtle flavors of Earl Grey tea and lavender absolutely makes us swoon.

Purple Panda

502 N. Third St., Ozark
The Vibe: Auntie’s kitchen with all her secret recipes
Try this Dish: Deep fried pork belly.

What started as a food truck is now a storefront. Purple Panda serves homemade Filipino food with a welcoming, family vibe. The chicken adobo is an obvious must-try, but the entire menu is flavor-packed. Don’t miss the halo-halo desserts!

Jamaican Patty Co.

301 Park Central West and 3439 S. Campbell, Springfield
The Vibe: A fun spot for a quick lunch date
Try this Dish: The barbecue jerk chicken.

When Jamaican Patty Co. expanded from their Campbell Avenue store to a second location on Park Central West, they expanded their menu offerings too. But the classic filled patties, similar to empanadas, are not to be missed.

Good Spirits and Co. in Springfield MO
Photo by Tessa CooperThe Good Spirits & Co. headquarters serves as offices for the Good Spirits team, but it’s also open to the public during tasting events and pop-up events.

Good Spirits & Co.

1424 E. Cherry St., Suite A, Springfield
The Vibe: Oh-so-chic
Try this Dish: Any of the expertly crafted cocktails.

Good Spirits & Co. is the team behind many of Springfield’s most creative local bars, like Best of Luck Beer Hall, The Golden Girl Rum Club, Sweet Boy’s Neighborhood Bar, and Cherry Picker Package x Fare. And last year, they built a beautifully designed headquarters building at the bustling foodie intersection of Pickwick Avenue and Cherry Street. The spot serves as offices for the Good Spirits team, but it’s also open to the public during tasting events and pop-up events.

The events offer guests a chance to experience a one-time foodie moment, complete with creative and beautifully crafted cocktails from Good Spirits Beverage Director Rogan Howitt. They’ve even had champagne and oyster tastings—a super-luxe experience unlike any other in 417-land.

Fox in the Fields dinner
Photo by Tessa CooperThe team from The Royal started a new outdoor dining experience in fall 2023, and it featured a dreamy collaboration involving several talented local folks.

Foxes in the Field

1427 E. Cherry St., Springfield
The Vibe: Sparkly moments under the sparkly stars
Try this Dish: The menu changes, so it’ll be a surprise!

The team from The Royal started a new outdoor dining experience in fall 2023, and it featured a dreamy collaboration involving several talented local folks. Dustin Fox and Kyle Davis crafted the menu. Dylan Fox and Offshoot Selections handled crafted cocktails and wine pairings. And even the tablescapes and music were well thought out with decor by Autumn Davis and Courtney Jean Weddings and music from the talented Spencer Pearson—all in the grassy field beside The Royal’s building. Put it all together, and it was an evening to remember from dusk all the way to the starry night. And the best news is that there are plans to continue offering Foxes in the Field dinners in 2024 as well. Keep an eye out for updates on this dreamy experience.

Farm to Bridge Dinner

802 Finley Farms Lane, Ozark
The Vibe: Twilight magic with the music of the rippling river
Try this Dish: Depends on the menu for each event!

Finley Farms has started offering wine dinners on the historic Riverside Bridge, where guests enjoy seasonal farm-to-table menus with perfect drink pairings and a setting to knock your socks off.

Cave Dinners

The Vibe: A unique rustic setting with a fine dining meal
Try this Dish: Ingredients foraged from the Ozarks.

Rachael West of Eating the Ozarks offers tasty meals of foraged ingredients at interesting destinations—like cave dinners that offer an experience as quirky as it is delish. The next one is on Valentine’s Day!

14 Mill Market

203 E. Mount Vernon St., Nixa
The Vibe: An absolute smorgasbord
Try this Dish: A slice of pizza from Pie Paradiso.

You’ll be lousy with options at this food hall, which has 10 restaurant vendors and an on-site bar. You can get everything from Queen City Soul Kitchen wings to sweets from Liege Love Waffle Co. and more.

New and Upcoming

Here are a few extra eateries that are brand new or on the horizon.

Avanzare

What we can't wait for: More space at the bigger location
What we know so far: Avanzare has been hard at work building its new location on South Fremont Avenue, just south of Battlefield. And we’ve been anxiously awaiting its opening day! Avanzare has long been a local favorite for stellar Italian fare. This new spot brings the restaurant out of its original tiny strip mall space and into a large, freestanding building. We can’t wait to see what it looks like inside!

JW’s Kitchen

What we can't wait for: The return of post-farmers market brunches... finally!
What we know so far: The space at Farmers Park that most recently housed Progress (may it rest in peace) is now home to a new brunch spot: JW’s Kitchen. It’s owned Andy Hampshire, the culinary mind behind another local favorite: Farmers Gastropub. If the Farmers Gastropub menu is any indication, JW’s is going to have some pretty incredible morning meals.

Springfield Brewing Company Expansions

What we can't wait for: The OG brewery, in new neighborhoods
What we know so far: Last year, Springfield Brewing Company announced that they were expanding and adding two new locations. One is a production facility and tasting room in Willard, right on the Frisco Highline Trail. The other is a tasting room in Rogersville, which will also serve wood-fired pizza. Both will offer neighborhood brewpub experiences with outdoor spaces and lots of room to gather with friends.

Loose Goose

What we can't wait for: Coffee plus pickleball, baby!
What we know so far: Part of the Grant Avenue Parkway Project is a food-and-fun development called Loose Goose at the intersection of Grant Avenue and Grand Street. Although it isn’t open yet, it has been approved by the city. There are plans to include a drive-through coffee shop, food trucks, an outdoor walk-up bar and even some outdoor activities like lawn games and pickleball courts.

Cafe Cubano

What we can't wait for: More reasons to order that tasty Cuban sammy
What we know so far: Formerly known as Country Girls Espresso, Cafe Cubano are leaning into the tasty Cuban items that are already on the menu. The Cuban sandwich is a longtime favorite, and the guava pastry and Cuban coffee offerings are excellent morningtime options.


Katie Pollock Estes - Editorial Director

About the Writer

Katie Pollock Estes is the Editorial Director at 417 Magazine. Katie has been working at 417 since December 2005. Her role includes writing, editing and planning stories while leading the team that produces 417’s editorial content. Read more about Katie.