1. Have a barbecue hankering, but want to enjoy it in a less-messy package? Try the pulled pork quesadilla at Heady BBQ (573 E. Elm St., Republic, 417-732-4227). Each bite is filled with tender pork, plenty of cheese, onion and tomato, plus your choice of barbecue sauce in varying levels of spice.
2. Chow down on the pork-packed pork belly barbecue burger at Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs (527 S. Main St., Joplin, 417-206-3647), a mouthwatering combo that includes a salty pork belly slab, pulled pork, mozzarella cheese and two types of barbecue sauce.
3. Ward off chilly temps with the soul-warming spicy shrimp ramen at Koriya (4121 S. Fremont Ave., Suite 128, Springfield, 417-882-0077) featuring a flavor-packed broth, slurpable noodles, succulent shrimp and hard-boiled egg. Toppings like green onion and bean sprouts add a nice touch of freshness.
4. Fair warning: we’ve been told that the pizza dip at Gusano’s Chicago-Style Pizzeria (3929 E. Seventh St., Suite E, Joplin, 417-623-9090) is seriously addictive. The hearty app features mozzarella cheese, house-made marinara, pepperoni and more smothering Fritos Scoops chips.
5. One staffer can’t get enough of the Earl Grey cream pie from Prairie Pie (417-459-8222), a 417-land pie-making company. The flaky crust has a thin layer of dark chocolate, which pairs nicely with the rich tea-flavored filling. Whipped cream and chopped pistachios top off the pretty pie.
6. Start your day on a high note at Early Bird Breakfast Pub (1717 E. Cherokee St., Springfield, 417-885-8088) with one of its Bird’s Nests, a unique dish with toppings like eggs and hollandaise on a puff pastry base. We love the Robin, which comes with goodies like sweet potato nuggets, bourbon-apple ham and steamed broccoli.
7. For a truly crave-worthy salad, order the Char-Crusted Ahi Tuna Salad from Houlihan’s (2110 E. Republic Rd., 2431 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield). The rare tuna is a treat, and the banana chips are a surprise. And we love the mildly sweet dressing.