Best of 417 2018

And the 2018 winners are…

Editors' Picks By Katie Pollock Estes | Readers' Choice Awards edited by Rose Marthis

Feb 2018

Photo by Brandon AlmsBest Happy Hour Winner: Touch Restaurant & Oyster House (From left to right) berry mojito, cucumber jalapeño margarita, Kinky Blue Martini

Every year, we ask readers to vote for their very favorite things in five categories: Food & Drink, Places & Experiences, People, Shopping and Services. It starts with a write-in nomination period followed by voting to determine which of the top five nominees make the cut. It all happens online at But behind the scenes, the editors are hard at work, coming up with Editors’ Pick awards that we add to the Readers’ Choice Awards you helped determine. So are you ready for the big reveal? (Drumroll please.) The 2018 Best of 417 winners are…

Photo by Brandon Alms

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Best Restaurant Empire Expansion

The Jalili Empire

This past year, the family that owns Flame, Touch and Black Sheep Burgers + Shakes had two big bits of news that grew their Springfield dining empire even more. Toward the end of 2017, Black Sheep ASAP took over the East Sunshine space formerly occupied by a Sonic (alternate award: Best Use of an Old Sonic), making it the third Black Sheep location in Springfield. Just a couple of months before that, the Jalilis also announced that Chops, a boutique steakhouse, is in the works and will be located at a new development in the Galloway neighborhood. Expect Chops to open its doors to hungry carnivores in late 2018.

Best Little Bits of Charred Goodness

Burnt Ends from Lost Signal Brewing

They aren’t on the regular menu, but you can often find burnt ends up on the chalkboard at Lost Signal Brewing (610 W. College St., Springfield, 417-869-4755, among the specials on Friday nights. And believe us, they are worth the hunt. Every bite is mouthwatering and tender, with enough salty seasoning to make you really appreciate the glass (or two!) of beer you ordered to accompany your dinner. We recommend ordering these incredible little nuggets with a side of roasted Mexican street corn and a cold glass of Lost Signal’s On Air IPA.  

Best Worst (For You) Thing

Fried Chicken Skins at CB Social House

Our mouths water just thinking about the incredible fried chicken skins from the snacks menu at CB Social House (314 S. Patton Ave., Springfield, 417-368-0778). When we say these are the worst, it’s only because our arteries are trying to convince us not to eat them. They are skin—there’s no sugar-coating that. They’re perfectly fried in oil until they reach the most delightful level of crispiness. They are, in a word, amazing. They come to the table topped with a bit of honey, hot sauce and thyme for a sweet-savory-herbaceous flavor that we simply cannot resist.

Photo by Brandon AlmsThe Press’s basil-mint lemonade is an instant hot day pick-me-up.

Best Summertime Soother

Flavored Lemonade from The Press

We love the transformation this little juice purveyor has made since becoming The Press (2144 E. Republic Road, Suite A102, Springfield,, and we have had a lot of fun exploring the tasty drinks and creative eats on the menu. But one thing we always come back to on hot summer days is the freshly squeezed lemonade, packed with tons of tart lemon flavor without too much sweetness. Our favorite one to sip on after a hot and sweaty morning wandering the stalls at Farmers Market of the Ozarks is the seasonal basil-mint lemonade—it’s easily some of the brightest, most refreshing lemonade we’ve ever had. (Serve it again in 2018? Pretty please?)

Best NonPotato French Fry

Carrot Fries from The Bruncheonette

If you’ve never eaten at The Bruncheonette (424 N. Main St., Joplin, 417-781-3447,, here’s the most important thing you need to know: They take breakfast and brunch classics and put a clever, delicious spin on them. Take for example the pancakes that are served topped with tender pulled pork instead of the typical side of bacon. Or the fresh grapefruit with a bruleed sugar crust. Or the beet hollandaise that is served over a veggie-packed version of eggs Benedict. We could go on and on. One of our favorite flavors from The Bruncheonette, though, is the mild sweetness of the super-thin and super-crispy carrot fries. They are thin and delicate, and so flavorful. You won’t even miss the potato that you usually dunk into ketchup when you have something as tasty as a carrot French fry to take its place.

Best Grown-Up Fish Sticks

Ahi Tuna Tempura Pops from Ocean Zen

If you find yourself perusing the appetizer menu during a lunch date at Ocean Zen (4117 S. National Ave., Springfield, 417-889-9596,, stop your eyes from wandering when they hit the Ahi Tuna Tempura Pops. These delightful little lollipops are kind of like a grown-up fish stick. But a thousand times more delicious. No mystery white fish. No too-thick breading. No deep-fried grease bomb. Just a little nugget of perfectly crispy rare ahi tuna that’s served on a stick alongside some fresh Asian slaw mix and a rich lobster-soy-butter sauce. It’s your chance to eat a lollipop, a fish stick—whatever fun kiddish name you want to give it—while actually indulging in something pretty darn sophisticated.

Photo by Brandon AlmsThe selection from Express Foods is as fresh as if you had plucked the fish from the ocean yourself.

Best Seafood Hookup

Express Foods

If you want to really impress your dinner guests while maybe also pretending we don’t live in a land-locked state, then you need to know about Express Foods (417-766-4628, This local seafood distributor can get its hands on just about every fresh-from-the sea find you could possibly want—and its online menu is extensive. You don’t even have to worry about being less-than-adept at cooking the salty swimmers because Express Foods also does catering and can provide both the seafood and the know-how for fun events like crawfish boils and fish fries.

Best Sangria

The Pitch Pizza & Pub

We’re just going to come out and say it: The Pitch Pizza & Pub (2924 E. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-368-0277) is a little bit too under-the-radar. Maybe a little bit too underrated. I mean, have you tried the fresh homemade ravioli? Oh my. The casual spot serves creative pizzas and indulgent appetizers, but no matter what we order to eat we always make sure to ask for a glass of sangria. The flavors are ever-changing, with each creative batch followed by another new one. We tried a glass in early December that was red and dry and was made with both Brandy and vodka. Garnished with a cinnamon stick and a pretty rosemary sprig, it was winter in a glass. The best part is that it was not too sweet. Just flavorful and, well, perfect.

Best “Don’t Mind if I Do”

Free Ice Cream at Sakura

Fridays are the best and the worst. Saturday is almost here, but the workweek has made you too exhausted to hit the weekend running. That’s when we tend to abandon the idea of cooking at home—the shopping, the prep, the dishes, the inevitable temper tantrum. On days when that task seems too daunting, we instead load the family into the car and head to Sakura (3230 S. National Ave., Springfield, 417-882-8000, Mom and dad can binge on raw fish while the kids eat pork katsu and wait patiently for the grand finale: Every dinner comes with a tiny little bowl containing a tiny little scoop of ice cream. For free! It’s enough to feel like a treat, but not enough to send the kids into a sugary rage. That’s a win for everybody.

Photo by Vivian Wheeler

Best Post-Trail Indulgence

Bourbon Slush at Sequiota Bike Shop

Sequiota Bike Shop’s (3521 S. Lone Pine Ave., Springfield, 417-881-4488) location directly across from Sequiota Park is super-convenient if you’re the kind of person who likes to reward an hour of exercise with an hour of drinking. (Insert hand-raising emoji here.) After a bike ride or a run on Galloway Creek Greenway, you can pop over to Sequiota Bike Shop to sit back under the trees, enjoy the fresh air and sip on a bourbon slush—that magically delicious grown-up slushie that features Four Roses bourbon and has just the right amount of sweetness to somehow taste exactly like applesauce. 

Best Meat (Period)

Birria from Cesar’s Old Mexico

Ever since it opened up in a tiny little storefront on East Sunshine, Cesar’s Old Mexico (3027 E. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-881-8252, has been an instant favorite among Mexican food fans. Everything on the menu is top-notch, especially the little street-style tacos. They can be filled with your choice of meat (and all of the ones we’ve tried have been delicious), but we always go back to the same delectable protein: birria. The slow-cooked beef is so tender, so flavorful, so delightful. Once we tried it, we had a hard time moving away from that little corner of the menu. (And for the record, Cesar’s pork is a close second and absolutely worth a try as well.)

Best Reuben Twist

Vespa Kitchen

If you are a corned beef fanatic who has maybe had a few too many Reubens in your lifetime, head to Vespa Kitchen (2931 E. Battlefield Road, Springfield, 417-889-4951, to excite that palate with a fun twist on the classic sandwich. There, the Cobblestone Creek Reuben keeps the classic Thousand Island dressing, rye bread and cheese, but it adds a 5 Spice rub to the corned beef. Our favorite change, though, is the addition of house-made kimchi in place of sauerkraut. The clever swap keeps a familiar tangy, fermented topping on the sandwich but puts a decidedly Asian twist on the flavor profile.

Best Fried Bird Throwback

Riverside Fried Chicken at Queen City Wine Dive

Do you remember when Riverside Inn in Ozark shut down, and every longtime 417-lander within earshot lamented the loss of an institution? Not the restaurant itself (although everyone was sad to see it go), but the fried chicken. That fried chicken! It had been a local favorite for years, and then it was just… gone. Well, now we can all stop mourning. That bird’s been resurrected. You can get Riverside Inn recipe chicken at Queen City Wine Dive (105 Park Central Square, Springfield, 417-429-9020,, and, yes, it’s just as amazing as its namesake. Crispy. Juicy. Perfect.

Photo by Brandon AlmsThe breakfasttime staple, perfectly handmade bread, gets a boost at Best Bakery winner, Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe.
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Top 5 listed in alphabetical order

Best Fine-Dining Restaurants

Avanzare Italian Dining
Flame Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub
Nicola’s Ristorante 
Ocean Zen

Springfield Casual Restaurants 

Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar
Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes
Cafe Cusco
Galloway Grill
Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe

Joplin Casual Restaurants 

The Eagle Drive In
Fred & Red’s 
Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs
Red Onion Cafe

Branson Casual Restaurants 

Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar
Danna’s BBQ
Dobyns Dining Room At The Keeter Center
Outback Steak & Oyster Bar
Vasken’s Deli 

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Food & Drink Winners

Best Appetizers

Winner: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar
Second Place: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub
Third Place: Farmers Gastropub

Best Bar Food

Winner: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar
Second Place: Dublin’s Pass
Third Place: Lindberg’s Tavern

Best Barbecue

Winner: City Butcher and Barbecue
Second Place: Whole Hog Cafe
Third Place: Hog Tide Bar-B-Que

Best Beer Menu

Winner: Mother’s Brewing Company
Second Place: 417 Taphouse
Third Place: Patton Alley Pub

Best Breakfast

Winner: Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe
Second Place: Early Bird Breakfast Pub
Third Place: Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe

Best Brunch

Winner: Aviary Café
Second Place: Early Bird Breakfast Pub
Third Place: Dobyns Dining Room At The Keeter Center

Best Food Truck

Winner: London Calling Pasty Company
Second Place: The Wheelhouse
Third Place: Twisted Mikes

Best Burgers

Winner: Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes
Second Place: Bair’s All-American Sports Grill
Third Place: Grad School

Best Asian Dining

Winner: Nakato Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar
Second Place: Haruno Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill
Third Place: Ocean Zen

Best Cashew Chicken

Winner: Leong’s Asian Diner
Second Place: Hong Kong Inn Restaurant
Third Place: Chinese Chef

Best Chicken Salad

Winner: Spring Creek Tea Room
Second Place: Tea Bar & Bites
Third Place: Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe

Best Chicken Wings 

Winner: Coyote’s Adobe Cafe
Second Place: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar
Third Place: DUGOUT Bar & Grill & Sports & Music

Best Cocktail Menu

Winner: The Golden Girl Rum Club
Second Place: Scotch & Soda
Third Place: The Order

Best Coffee Shop

Winner: Mudhouse Coffee
Second Place: Classic Rock Coffee Co.
Third Place: hebrews coffee

Best Desserts

Winner: Andy’s Frozen Custard
Second Place: Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe
Third Place: European Café

Best Fish Tacos

Winner: Maria’s Mexican Restaurant
Second Place: Great American Taco Company
Third Place: Grad School

Best Fries

Winner: Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes
Second Place: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar
Third Place: The J.O.B. Public House

Best Gluten-Free Menu

Winner: MaMa Jean’s Natural Market
Second Place: Cafe Cusco
Third Place: The Wheelhouse

Best Happy Hour

Winner: Touch Restaurant & Oyster House
Second Place: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar
Third Place: Patton Alley Pub

Best Mexican Dining

Winner: Mexican Villa
Second Place: Tortilleria Perches
Third Place: José Locos Steak & Grill

Best Nachos

Winner: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar
Second Place: The Wheelhouse
Third Place: Hog Tide Bar-B-Que

Best New Restaurant

Winner: The Hill SGF
Second Place: Piccolo Contemporary Italian 
Third Place: Vespa Kitchen

Best Pizza

Winner: Pizza House
Second Place: Arris’ Pizza
Third Place: The Big Slice

Best Italian Dining

Winner: Bambino’s Café
Second Place: Avanzare Italian Dining
Third Place: Nonna’s Italian Cafe

Best Bakery

Winner: Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe
Second Place: Amycakes Bakery
Third Place: Elle’s Patisserie

Best Locally Made Booze Business

Winner: Mother’s Brewing Company
Second Place: Springfield Brewing Company
Third Place: Copper Run Distillery

Best Place for Lunch

Winner: Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe
Second Place: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub
Third Place: Hog Tide Bar-B-Que

Best Restaurant or Bar Patio

Winner: Sequiota Bike Shop
Second Place: Galloway Grill
Third Place: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar

Best Restaurant Service

Winner: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub
Second Place: Farmers Gastropub
Third Place: Hog Tide Bar-B-Que

Best Salads

Winner: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub
Second Place: Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe
Third Place: Big Whiskey’s American Restaurant & Bar

Best Sandwiches

Winner: Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe
Second Place: Sub Shop
Third Place: Chicago Cheesesteak Company

Best Soup

Winner: Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House
Second Place: Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe
Third Place: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

Best Steaks

Winner: Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub
Second Place: Flame Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Third Place: Doe’s Eat Place

Best Tacos

Winner: Great American Taco Company
Second Place: Tortilleria Perches
Third Place: Mexican Villa

Best Tea Room

Winner: Tea Bar & Bites
Second Place: Spring Creek Tea Room
Third Place: Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase

Best Vegetarian-Friendly Menu

Winner: MaMa Jean’s Natural Market
Second Place: Cafe Cusco
Third Place: The Wheelhouse

Best Sushi

Winner: Haruno Japanese Sushi Bar & Grill
Second Place: Nakato Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar
Third Place: Kai After Dark
Photo by Conor TierneyShake up your Sunday routine and head to Cellar + Plate to see Crystal Methyd, Daegen Mich­elle, Daya Betty and Lux.­

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Best Unexpected Sunday Morning Rabble-Rousers

Drag Show Brunch-Goers at Cellar + Plate

When we think of Sunday morning, we think of pancakes and church with the kids. Or maybe we think of waking up late, staying in our jammies and enjoying quiet time with a cup of coffee. But behind the doors at Cellar + Plate (2916 S. Lone Pine Ave., Springfield, is a wild monthly event that’s anything but quiet, family-oriented or reverent. The crowd is full of eager faces, flush from bloody marys and mimosas. Everybody fills a plate from the buffet before the real fun starts: Four elaborately adorned drag queens make their appearances. As the music starts, the crowd goes wild and waves dollar bills in the air, as the queens lip-sync, shimmy and strut their way through the audience. There are wigs, lingerie and costume changes, inappropriate moments and unexpected surprises. And after attending, we won’t think of Sunday mornings the same again! This event typically sells out in a matter of hours, so keep an eye on Cellar + Plate’s Facebook page for upcoming event info.

Best Way to Enjoy Local Attractions


It happens in February: The weather is horrid and cold, and you need something to do to kill the cabin fever. It happens in July: The weather is horrid and hot, and you need something to do to distract you from the humidity. It can happen any time of the year. You don’t want to spend extra money. You don’t want to spend energy. You just want the fun to be there, waiting for you. The past couple of years, we’ve been taking advantage of memberships to local attractions, so we always have a way to find the fun and feel good about supporting local hot spots at the same time. You can get them to Dickerson Park Zoo, Wonders of Wildlife, the Discovery Center and many more. Memberships usually cost about the same as admission to the attraction two or three times, and they pull double duty: They guarantee a bit of financial support to the attraction for improvements and maintenance, and they guarantee easy boredom-busters for you. It’s a win-win.

Best Karst Exploration

The Ultimate Springfield Cave Tour

There’s nothing more intriguing than a sign that says “Keep Out.” We always find ourselves wishing the “Do Not Enter” sign outside Sequiota Cave was more of a welcome sign, but we never venture in. (We don’t want to harm the at-risk bat population!) If you’re like us, and you’ve ever peered into the entrance of Sequiota Cave and wished you could go inside, then this experience is for you. A few times a year, Springfield–Greene County Park Board offers half-day tour events that take participants through three local caves. It starts with a hike to the outside of the caves at Ritter Springs Park. Then there’s a walking tour of Doling Park’s Giboney Cave. And for the grand finale: A boat ride through Sequiota Cave at Sequiota Park. The first tour of 2018 is this month, on February 24 and 25, and reservations are $15. 

Best New Thrill

Artificial Snowtubing

Missouri is no Colorado, but we have snowy thrills of our own. On its opening day, we got a chance to experience the Snowflex tubing hill at Branson Zipline at Wolfe Mountain (wolfemountainbranson). The new attraction allows guests to tube down a synthetic surface emulating a snowy hillside. The easiest thing to compare Snowflex to is artificial turf, but even that’s not accurate. Snowflex feels softer and smoother. Misters blow a sprinkling of water over the surface (enough to spritz you but not enough to make you wet), and the heavy tubes glide across the surface. They more than glide, actually. They zip. The 400-foot-long track looks innocent until the Wolfe Mountain employee at the top spins your tube before take-off and sends you careening down the hill in discombobulating circles. And it is really exhilarating! It’s impossible not to scream.

Best Travel Upgrade

Springfield Branson National Airport’s Restaurant Changes

Among several 2018 upgrades to the Springfield-Branson National Airport is an expansion and remodel of the gate-area restaurant, a project designed by local firm Butler Rosenbury & Partners architects. The restaurant space is growing by 50 percent, including an improved kitchen that allows for an expanded menu featuring craveable dishes like burgers and freshly prepared breakfast items. That’s better than an upgrade to first class. A recent press release said yearly passenger numbers are expected to exceed 1 million, meaning this expanded restaurant space is much-needed for all those hungry flyers traipsing through the terminal. Renovations started last month and are expected to be complete by springtime. Hear that, spring breakers? Your beachy getaways will start in an upgraded airport.

Photo courtesy Kennady ForrerKennady Forrer is ready to take flight in front of one of Andrea Ehrhardt’s murals.

Best Street Art

Andrea Ehrhardt’s Murals

Andrea Ehrhardt is making Springfield a little more colorful one wall at a time. Ehrhardt has been painting murals that are like magnets to Instagram-loving citizens looking for the perfect photo op. One is a set of butterfly wings on a Walnut Street brick wall (just east of South Avenue). It’s the right size and height to pose in front of, as if you were ready to flutter away. Another, located outside Seminole Décor Center, features umbrellas that you can stand below—so colorful dripping paint doesn’t fall onto you, of course. On the corner of Grant and Walnut Street, a tentacled monster looks like it’s escaping from a brick building. Ehrhardt hasn’t stopped there. Another set of butterfly wings has even appeared at Dickerson Park Zoo. As you’re probably imagining, Ehrhardt’s murals make the perfect photo backdrop for you and your clever captions on social media. They are an Instagrammer’s dream and even have their own callout: #417streetart.

Best Up-And-Coming Movie Star

The Ozarks

Let us be the first to officially say it: We’ve been discovered. Although recent releases on TV and the silver screen aren’t exactly the Ozarks’ Hollywood debut (you remember Winter’s Bone, right?), this region is having a bit of a moment. Jason Bateman currently stars in Ozark, a Netflix crime drama set at Lake of the Ozarks that has been renewed for a second season. Then there’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri—a black comedy about an unsolved murder starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes and Peter Dinklage. Three Billboards was filmed in North Carolina but is set in a fictional Ozarks town. It has a pretty impressive cast and has been met with positive reviews from critics, as well. And then there’s the third season of True Detective, to be released later this year, set in the Arkansas Ozarks. It, too, centers around a crime and contains a whole lot of gritty violence. So, if there’s one thing the rest of America will think they know about the Ozarks after this is all over it might be this: We’re kind of... scary?

Best Glow Up


Think back to what Commercial Street looked like 20, 15 or even 10 years ago. Now look take a look at it now. It has undergone quite a transformation, right? In fact, we can hardly keep up with all the cool stuff happening there. New restaurants keep opening up and down the street (like the much-anticipated harbinger of Dutch waffles, Van Gogh’s Eeterie, which is planned to open this spring), new businesses keep putting down roots (like longtime C-Street standby, Askinosie Chocolate) and the homegrown-meets-international-flavor vibe is getting more and more pronounced. C-Street is cool and growing. If you are part of the “south of Chestnut” crowd, it’s time to venture north.

Photo by Brandon AlmsGet tipsy turvy with Golden Girl Rum Club’s tropical-inspired cocktails.

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Places & Experiences Winners

Best Afternoon Out With the Kids

Winner: Silver Dollar City
Second Place: Dickerson Park Zoo
Third Place: Itty Bitty City

Best Afternoon Out Without the Kids

Winner: Mother’s Brewing Company
Second Place: Relics Antique Mall
Third Place: Dickerson Park Zoo

Best Art Gallery

Winner: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Second Place: Springfield Art Museum
Third Place: Randy Bacon Photography

Best Bicycle Route

Winner: Sequiota Park
Second Place: Galloway Creek Greenway
Third Place: Two Rivers Mountain Bike Park

Best Branson Attraction

Winner: Silver Dollar City
Second Place: Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show
Third Place: Branson Ferris Wheel

Best Branson Stage Show

Winner: SIX
Second Place: Moses at Sight and Sound Theatres
Third Place: The Haygoods

Best Charity Event

Winner: Sertoma Chili Cookoff
Second Place: Camp Barnabas Big Party Half Marathon & 5K
Third Place: Springfield Black Tie

Best Date Night

Winner: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Springfield
Second Place: Springfield Little Theatre
Third Place: Andy B’s Restaurant & Entertainment

Best Girls Night Out

Winner: The Golden Girl Rum Club
Second Place: Springfield Little Theatre
Third Place: AR Workshop Springfield

Best Event Venue

Winner: Gillioz Theatre
Second Place: Sycamore Creek Family Ranch
Third Place: The Gambrel Barn

Best Float Trip

Winner: Buffalo National River
Second Place: Current River
Third Place: Niangua River

Best Hike

Winner: Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Second Place: Springfield Conservation Nature Center
Third Place: Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area Shooting Range

Best Karaoke

Winner: Friend’s Karaoke Pub
Second Place: Bugsy Malone’s
Third Place: Stepchild Lounge

Best Neighborhood

Winner: Rountree
Second Place: Southern Hills
Third Place: Woodland Heights

Best Outdoor Event

Winner: Farmers Market of the Ozarks
Second Place: Springfield Cardinals
Third Place: Mother’s Brewing Spring and Fall Festivals

Best Park

Winner: Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park
Second Place: Sequiota Park
Third Place: Dickerson Park Zoo

Best Place for a Kids Birthday Party

Winner: Springfield’s Incredible Pizza Company
Second Place: Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Third Place: Dickerson Park Zoo

Best Place to Meet Somebody New

Winner: Church
Second Place: Downtown Springfield
Third Place: Sycamore Creek Family Ranch

Best Place to Work

Winner: CoxHealth
Second Place: Mercy
Third Place: Camp Barnabas

Best Sunday Drive

Winner: Eureka Springs
Second Place: Table Rock Lake
Third Place: Branson

Best Weekend Getaway

Winner: Eureka Springs
Second Place: Big Cedar Lodge
Third Place: Table Rock Lake

Best Trivia Night

Winner: Dublin’s Pass
Second Place: Patton Alley Pub
Third Place: Finnegan’s Wake


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Best Place to Buy Vintage Cowboy Boots

MJ’s Flea Market

Flea market shopping is always a little bit of a gamble. You don’t necessarily know what you’re going to find, and it helps to have a seasoned vintage shopper who knows the ropes and can show you where to find the best stuff. Let us play that role for you right now and point you straight to MJ’s Flea Market (208 E. Commercial St., Springfield, 417-831-9441). Among the bits, baubles and retro goodies that fill the shelves at MJ’s, there’s one thing you can always find: great vintage cowboy boots. And a great vintage cowboy boot can be a wardrobe staple if you know how to style it. 

Most Anticipated New Shop

Culture Flock

This fall, trendy and of-the-moment T-shirt–maker Culture Flock ( is opening up a brick-and-mortar storefront in a new Galloway development. Although the business has focused on online sales thus far, the new physical location will give shoppers an opportunity to see their products in person and to shop for other items as well. That means that if you’ve been coveting their “Don’t Count on It” Magic 8 Ball shirts or “Our Lady of Existential Dread” Joan Didion stickers through your device screen, now you can skip the more impersonal online retail experience and come face-to-face with the clever goodies.

Best Way to Make it a Day

Shop and Dine in Fordland

If you’re familiar with Grayson Home (, then you’ve probably heard of Schofield + Gray, the owners’ seasonal market located in the little town of Fordland. Well, Grayson Home has closed its Springfield storefront and moved to the Schofield + Gray site. And although that means Springfieldians have to travel a bit farther to shop, it’s also a prime excuse for making a daytrip out of it! While you’re in Fordland, you can also indulge in some of Chef Roland Parny’s fabulous French fare at La Galette Berrichonne ( The French pastries are to-die-for, but you’ll want to visit on a day when you’ve reserved a spot at one of the seven-course French dinners. It’s quite a treat.

Best Place to Get Buzzed While You Grocery Shop

Lucky’s Market

Grocery shopping is only a relaxing experience if you are—wait, never mind. It’s never a relaxing experience. You have your list. Unless, of course, you forgot your list. But even if you have your list, you might miss something. If you miss something, it’s probably the one ingredient that’s vital to the success of that dish you decided to make for the very first time for the dinner party you agreed to host even though you’re way too busy to properly prepare for it and… Okay, we need a drink just thinking about all of this. And that is why we love Lucky’s Market (3333 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield). Hop on over to the bar before you grab your cart and order a beer to sip on while you shop. It feels, honestly, a little luxurious. They’re all out of artichokes? No problem.

Best Itty Bitty Worlds

Inspirational Home

Here’s something we never really thought we’d say with this much confidence and enthusiasm: Fairy gardens are so hot right now! Grown-ups like them. Kids like them. And why wouldn’t they? The tiny little worlds are charming and full of interesting details, and they can be a whole lot of fun to create. Inspirational Home (3830 S. Lone Pine Ave., Springfield, 417-823-8493) has a garden fairy room that’s full of everything you need to take up the big hobby that centers around tiny things. Whether you like a simple little fairy house to set in your garden or you prefer to construct your own mini fairyland with moss, rocks, succulents and tiny figures, you can find the goods to get you started at Inspirational Home. While you’re in the shop, make time to take a stroll around and check out the plants, gifts, home decor and even clothing items that are available.

Photo by Josh BostonBest Men’s Fashion winner MODERN SOCIETY APPAREL helps gents look sharp.

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Shopping Winners

Best Accessories

Winner: The Uptown Boutique
Second Place: STAXX
Third Place: Shaila’s

Best Antiques Shop

Winner: Relics Antique Mall
Second Place: Little Bluebird Vintage Boutique
Third Place: Urban Flea Market

Best Home Decor

Winner: Little Bluebird Vintage Boutique
Second Place: Ellecor Design & Gifts
Third Place: Obelisk Home

Best Home Furnishings

Winner: Little Bluebird Vintage Boutique
Second Place: Wheeler’s Furniture
Third Place: Obelisk Home

Best Men’s Fashion

Second Place: Town & County
Third Place: John’s Suit Shop

Best Place to Buy Gifts

Winner: Little Bluebird Vintage Boutique
Second Place: The Market
Third Place: HonkyTonk Clothing Company

Best Place to Shop for Babies and Kids

Winner: Jellybeans
Second Place: Little Uptown Kids
Third Place: Haute Tot

Best Resale Shop

Winner: The Review Shoppe
Second Place: Haute Tot
Third Place: The Avant Garde’n

Best Shop in Branson

Winner: Wild Orange Boutique
Second Place: Mulberry Mill
Third Place: The Spice & Tea Exchange of Branson

Best Shop in Joplin

Winner: Blue Moon Boutique
Second Place: Sandstone Gardens
Third Place: Twisted Oak

Best Women’s Fashion

Winner: The Uptown Boutique
Second Place: Shaila’s
Third Place: STAXX

Best Shoe Selection

Winner: Plaza Shoe Store Inc.
Second Place: The Uptown Boutique
Third Place: Harem & Company


Photo by Nic GilardiGreat Scott, Batman! We seem to have caught the caped crusader in the batcave.

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Best Superhero

Springfield Batman

Did you know that the Caped Crusader does more than just fight crime in Gotham City? Here in 417-land, Springfield Batman also donates his time to local kids. According to, his mission is to “give back to the community and put a smile on children’s faces,” and he does that by visiting sick kids in the hospital and bringing a little positivity along with him to brighten their days. Kids get Project Bat backpacks, too—filled with goodies to help them keep their hands busy and their minds off their hospital stay. That’s a real hero, if you ask us.

Best Hollywood Connection

Jeff Houghton and GigSalad for The Mystery Hour

With recent guests on The Mystery Hour ( like Modern Family’s Dana Powell (who also happens to be a Springfield native) and comedian Paul Scheer, Jeff Houghton—with booking help from GigSalad—is upping the ante season after season on Springfield’s first late-night talk show. If you attend a taping at the Gillioz Theatre (and you should!) you’ll notice a lot of hilarious bits of entertainment beyond the special guests. On the Paul Scheer episode for example, Houghton ran around the building wearing a “helmet cam” and hilarity ensued. But it’s those always-getting-better and ever more impressive special guests that keep us refreshing Facebook waiting for the next exciting announcement.

Best Artsy Brothers

The Wolkens 

A diorama is just a diorama unless it’s a Wonders of Wildlife diorama. There, the wildlife galleries are immersive, with walking paths that wind through the displays and the addition of sounds, smells and even temperature changes that make it feel like you’re right there. None of them would feel nearly as realistic, though, if it weren’t for the incredible landscape murals on the walls that were painted by Aaron and Adam Wolken. These creative brothers painstakingly painted the majority of the murals that you see inside Wonders of Wildlife ( The paintings are expansive and detailed (and so beautiful!), with a depth that makes you feel like you’re standing on the edge of a bluff overlooking a sprawling vista. 

Best Ozarks Ambassador

Johnny Morris

Yes, yes… We know. Two Wonders of Wildlife–related editors’ picks? Hear us out. While the Wolken brothers represent all of the talented local artisans whose hard work created the beautiful details inside Wonders of Wildlife, Johnny Morris represents the big picture. This man is putting 417-land on the map, and the past six months has been big. Visitors to New York City around the time of the WOW opening might have noticed the gigantic WOW ads in… wait for it… Times freaking Square! That’s not the only thing that has increased WOW’s national visibility. In December and early January, all of Morris’ efforts creating a world-class attraction here in Springfield were starting to pay off, as the museum was named Best New Attraction by USA Today. He has created a museum that is turning the country’s eyes toward us. 

Photos by Vivian Wheeler, Prixel Creative Twin sisters Sara Schmitz Olson (left) and Christa Schmitz Tiggemann (right) are doodling their way into our hearts; Larnelle Foster is making C-Street a little more popular one belly laugh at a time.

Best Springfield-Positive Personality

Larnelle Foster

By now, everybody knows that Commercial Street is a special place full of special people. The business owners who have opened up shop on Commercial Street are positive and creative and committed, and they’ve helped the neighborhood become more and more vibrant each year. One of the most vibrant personalities on the street is Q Enoteca owner Larnelle Foster. He could have earned any number of awards from us: Best Hugger of People He Just Met. Best Explosive Laugh. Best Instant-BFF. Best Mood Booster. But those superlatives only get at his personality and don’t even touch on how much this guy loves Springfield and the people who live here. He has big dreams for what Commercial Street can be, and he has a real desire to make real connections with real people. Really! In fact, he has so many good ideas about connecting people to people that he’s going to start writing about them in 417 Magazine. Keep an eye on future issues for more from Foster. 

Best Masterful Doodlers

Chrisara Designs

Twin sisters Christa Schmitz Tiggemann and Sara Schmitz Olson ( have the artistic skills we only wish we had and the amazing ability to work together on one piece. They sketch charming family portraits for clients, design dreamy T-shirts and tanks and paint gorgeously sprawling wall murals. We love their work so much, in fact, we turned straight to them when we were looking for artists to create The 417 Magazine Coloring Book last year. They churned out beautiful illustrations of some of the region’s most iconic spots for the book that’s for sale right now on

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People Winners

Best Cover Band

Winner: The Dirty Saints
Second Place: Members Only 
Third Place: The Mixtapes 

Best Creative Mind

Winner: Jeremy Rabe
Second Place: Crystal Methyd
Third Place: Angela Hughes, Artistic Photography

Best Local Instagram to Follow

Winner: @LoveSpringfield
Second Place: @nathanapplegate
Third Place: @crystalmethyd

Best Original Band

Winner: Mark Chapman Band
Second Place: SIX
Third Place: The Rosy Hips

Best Radio Personality or Team

Winner: Fotsch & Sarah, Power 96.5
Second Place: Cash + Summer, The KTTS Morning Show
Third Place: Mike The Intern, 104.7 The CaveBest 

Person to Invite to a Party

Winner: Jeremy Rabe
Second Place: Crystal Methyd
Third Place: Jesse Tyler 

Best Solo Musician

Winner: Mark Chapman
Second Place: Shaun Munday
Third Place: Laura Ashley

Best TV News Personality (Female)

Winner: Sara Forhetz
Second Place: Maria Neider
Third Place: Lisa Rose

Best TV News Personality (Male)

Winner: Brandon Beck
Second Place: Ethan Forhetz
Third Place: Jeremy Rabe
Photo by Starboard & Port CreativeVoted Best Medical Spa, Acacia Spa has a modern and zen location that’s sure to leave you relaxed.

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Best Old-Timey Photo Op

Tintype Portraits

Everybody with a smart phone fancies themselves a photographer, but authentic technique is a bit harder to come by. When you’re looking for someone to take your portrait but want to try out a more rare, old-fashioned process, check out one local artist’s tintype portraits. Springfield artist Paige Whitcomb ( uses authentic 19th century equipment and processes to create tintype portraits in her beautiful Commercial Street studio. Prices range from $100 to $150 depending on the photo size, and they come with a digital scan of the tintype too. 

Best Dry Cleaner for Your Competitive Side

Lloyd’s Cleaners

We don’t normally think of dry cleaning as a competitive endeavor, but there is one spot in town that adds a little contest to the mix. At Lloyd’s Cleaners (, you have a chance to earn discounts if you can answer trivia questions correctly. It’s just a tiny element of fun to break up a typically mundane task. But if you’re a competitive person, well, you might get a whole lot of satisfaction from that  discount you earned by knowing the middle name of that obscure character in Doogie Howser, M.D.

Best One-Stop Guy Shop

Town & County with Dapper

Last fall, Dapper: A Fine Gentleman’s Barber Club announced that it was opening a second Springfield location—this one conveniently situated inside Town & County in the Brentwood Center (2660 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield). That puts a lot of guy-friendly services in one building. Men (and women!) can shop for clothing and accessories in Town & County, a longtime Springfield staple featuring high-end brands before their appointment for a little trim from Dapper—all under one roof. We see opportunities for getting spiffed up and accessorized before a big event, or just indulging in a little retail therapy before your monthly cut. Either way, it’s super-convenient. 

Best Front-Porch Visitor

Prairie Pie

Opening your front door to see a smiling face holding a freshly baked pie sounds like a dream, right? Last year in Springfield, that smiling face belonged to Prairie Pie ( owner Eleanor Taylor, who made gorgeous pies in classic (cherry pie is a summertime favorite) and creative flavors (Earl Grey Cream Pie is knock-your-socks-off good), before delivering them right to your door. The sad news is that at press time Taylor told us she was discontinuing pie delivery. But the company’s quality customer service remains, with speedy response times and always-perfect pies.

Best Purveyor of Meatless Monday Fare

Cafe Cusco

For vegetarians looking for meat-free meals or omivores who want to veer a little farther into the plant-based end of the spectrum, it can sometimes be tough to find a lot of options all in one place. That’s where Cafe Cusco (234 E Commercial St, Springfield, 417-868-8088) comes in. There, you can indulge in a meat-free buffet. That’s right... a buffet! That means you’ll have tons of options. It costs $11 for adults and $7 for kids, and it features an entirely vegetarian lineup with several vegan options as well. The restaurant offers the buffet on the first Monday of every month, but at press time they told us they were considering expanding to twice a month. Please do! Eating healthfully is hard work, and this buffet makes it easier.

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Services Winners

Best Barber Shop

Winner: Hudson/Hawk Barber & Shop
Second Place: Outlaw Gentlemen Barber Shop
Third Place: Rogue Barber Co.

Best Caterer

Winner: Simply Delicious Catering
Second Place: Traveling Chef
Third Place: Touch Restaurant & Oyster House

Best Children’s Photographer

Winner: Locke Photography
Second Place: Teresa’s PhotoWorks
Third Place: Heaven’s Blessings Photography

Best Cosmetic Surgeon

Winner: Bharat Shah, MD, FACS
Second Place: Dr. Michael Swann, MD
Third Place: Dr. Robert Shaw

Best Day Spa

Winner: Grove Spa
Second Place: Acacia Spa
Third Place: Nu Essence Spa

Best Place to Work Out

Winner: The Meyer Center at CoxHealth
Second Place: The Studio
Third Place: Orangetheory Fitness

Best CrossFit Gym

Winner: CrossFit Springfield
Second Place: CrossFit Republic
Third Place: CrossFit RTB

Best Place to Go for Waxing

Winner: Grove Spa
Second Place: Eyebrows by Corrina
Third Place: D’s Wax Factory

Best Doggie Day Care

Winner: Bow Wow Pet Resort
Second Place: Caroline’s Pampered Pet Motel
Third Place: Pampered Paws Pet Resort & Salon

Best Esthetician(and where they work)

Winner: Lindsey Mobley, Grove Spa
Second Place: Liz Watts, Acacia Spa
Third Place: Amanda Woodman, The Center for Plastic Surgery CoxHealth Med Spa

Best Fitness Instructor (and where they work)

Winner: Brooke Ely Henderson, Pat Jones  YMCA
Second Place: Jamie Kinkeade, The Studio
Third Place: Eric Lolar, Orangetheory Fitness Springfield East

Best Florist

Winner: Linda’s Flowers
Second Place: The Nest
Third Place: RosAmungThorns

Best Hair Salon

Winner: Studio 417 Salon
Second Place: Honey + Hive Salon
Third Place: Indie Blue Salon

Best Interior Designer

Winner: Ellecor Design & Gifts
Second Place: Nathan Taylor
Third Place: Decorating Den Interiors

Best Massage Therapist 

Winner: Lindsey Mobley, Grove Spa
Second Place: Adrianne Stern, Nu Essence Spa
Third Place: Haven Richardson, Massage Haven 417 at Dynamic Body

Best Medical Spa

Winner: Acacia Spa
Second Place: CoxHealth Med Spa
Third Place: Swann Dermatology and Esthetics

Best Personal Trainer (and where they work)

Winner: Dylan Harris, Anytime Fitness Battlefield Road
Second Place: Jeremy Mhire, CrossFit Springfield
Third Place: Adam Grube, CoxHealth Fitness Center Republic

Best Pet Groomer (and where they work) 

Winner: Sarah McNealey, The Mutt Hutt
Second Place: Rene, Renes Grooming
Third Place: Missi Hogan, Abracadabra Pet Grooming

Best Pet Supplies

Winner: Petsway
Second Place: Fetch Pet Supplies & Gifts
Third Place: All Pet Supplies & Equine Center

Best Veterinarian

Winner: Galloway Village Veterinary
Second Place: The Traveling Vet
Third Place: VCA Parkcrest Animal Hospital and Pet Lodge

Best Yoga Studio

Winner: Sumits Yoga
Second Place: My Hot Yoga
Third Place: Pure Hot Yoga

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