1. We can’t get enough of the mouthwatering Famosos Tacos al Pastor from La Paloma Mexican Grill (3014 E. Sunshine St., Springfield; 417-719-4484; dinelapaloma.com). Yummy marinated pork and tangy bits of pineapple, plus the usual fixings like chopped onion, fresh cilantro and salsa verde, are cradled in warm corn tortillas.
2. Pho Kim (3433 S. Campbell Ave., Suite C, Springfield; 417-883-9999; phokimspringfield.com) has great appetizers. Our favorite these days is the goi cuon, or fresh spring rolls filled with pork, shrimp, lettuce, vermicelli noodles and basil.
3. If you haven’t made it out to La Boba Cafe (1601 W. Sunshine St., Suite D, Springfield; 417-720-1328; facebook.com/labobacafe), a bubble tea shop, go try the sweet, creamy matcha milk tea. One staffer ordered hers with lychee-flavored jellies and absolutely loved it.
4. We love cocktails with cool flavor combos, and one that’s at the top of our list of favorites right now is the Filthy Monk from Barley Wheat & Rye Social House (2144 E. Republic Road, Suite B401, Springfield; 417-720-1498; barleywheatandrye.com). It uses a distinctive blend of bitters that are tasty but not overpowering.
5. Pork lovers, don’t miss on the JLT sandwich at Metropolitan Farmer (2144 E. Republic Road, Suite B101, Springfield; 417-720-1665; metropolitanfarmer.com). The hefty sammie has salty, fatty pork jowl bacon (so, so good!), fried green tomatoes, peppery arugula and a dab of garlic aioli.
6. We love the balance of hot and cold components in the bún bò xào sa, the lemongrass beef vermicelli bowl, at Bambu (1338 E. Battlefield, Springfield; 417-881-9881). The dish has cool shredded veggies and delicate noodles with warm stir-fried beef, plus crunchy peanuts on top and seasoned fish sauce on the side.
7. Smothered in a rich pesto cream sauce made with a dab of mascarpone cheese, the delectable Gnocchi with Pesto Cream Sauce dish at Salvatore’s Fresh Ristorante Italiano (1932 W. Retail Lane, Ozark; 417-485-3838; salvatoresfresh.com) is to die for thanks to the dumplings’ fluffy, pillow-soft texture.