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Jul 2, 2003 11:50 AM

The Horror ... Branson

  • b

I'm going to be in Branson, MO for a weekend in August and need to find a few places to eat that aren't devoted to middle of the road, buses welcome, family entertainment tourists. Please, please recommend any place that is remotely worthwhile or local oriented, no matter how far out of the way. I'm always up for a little hidden BBQ shack out in the mountains. On another topic, is Branson dry and do I need to pack my own potables?


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  1. I'll see what I can come up with, but also wanted to extend my sympathies. Branson was a great area when I was a kid and we had to sleep in the car because there were no hotels. I have managed to not go near it now that it has suffered the fate it has. Relatives of mine drove an RV from Seattle to Branson, took one look, turned around without getting out of the vehicle and instead spent the week parked in front of my aunt's house in Oklahoma City.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Betty

      oh, and I don't think Branson is dry. I found listings for a couple of bars, but now brewery's.

      This Branson question has come up before, with no response, so I looked around online and it looks, sure enough, pretty bleak.

      Here's a research start anyway:


      lists local restaurants by "type" with phone numbers, good for research. A good start in weeding out buffets and "family" (bus friendly no doubt" chains.

      this one had dining coupons for download

      one site I didn't keep listed Outback and Shorty Small’s as not chains but “unique to the Branson area”. In case you don't have Shorty Smalls where you are, it is a chain also, as are most of the restaurants listed.

      One hopeful note is that Uncle Joe’s on 76 (apparently restaurant row so to speak) has been serving BBQ since 1956, so that’s before the “boom” so we shouldn't judge it for its location. And one of the two websites above list two Greek places, one "downtown" probably not a hit with big bus tours. I couldn't find any Thai or vegetarian, which I always start off searching for in a new place.

      So Branson clearly needs a thorough Chowhound survey. I hope you will report back.

      1. re: Betty

        To the best of my knowledge there is absolutely nowhere truly exceptional in Branson for a serious meal. The best that I have found are Buckingham's and The Candlestick Inn both of which are probably the best that Branson has to offer. Depending on your expectations either may be fine. Usually when I've stopped in Branson on business I've left and driven four hours north to Kansas City or three hours south to Little Rock for dinner (Doe's Eat Place).

          1. re: Jane

            That sounds better than the Branson place that invited guests to "gather around the world's largest banjo"!!!

            1. re: Betty

              There are several decent places to eat in and around Branson. There is a Thai restaurant on Gretna Road, about one block north of Highway 76.

              Just south of 76 on 165 is Acapulco, a place that has large portions of good Mexican food. Near Table Rock State Park is Veracruzana, another good Mexican cafe. Other Mexican places are in Hollister (La Hacienda), which is across Lake Taneycomo from Branson, on Downing Street, and east of Branson five miles on Highway 76 in Kirbyville is Jose's. All these have simple Mexican food.

              Top of the Rock Restaurant is just off Highway 65 about six miles south of Branson. It has beautiful views, with indoor and outdoor seating, and fairly good upscale food and drink. Candlestick, overlooking downtown Branson, can be good.

              I often eat lunch at Vasken's Deli, which has Middle Eastern food, including falafel and other veggie dishes and gyros, to eat in or carry out, as well as packaged international grocery products.

              Branson Cafe downtown has well-prepared traditional American hearty fare. Also downtown is Mr. G's, which claims to have Chicago-style hot dogs, sliced beef sandwiches and pizza.

              There are three Asian food places about a mile west of Highway 65 on 76. At Hong Kong Buffet, I like the beef and broccoli. At Tran's, I like the shrimp. The third is Mongolian Barbecue, which is fun, though I really don't know if it's better or worse than other Mongolian places. South of 76 on 165 is a Shogun, with a bar called Tsunami next door, which is a busy drinking and sushi place for timeshare salespeople and others who work in the tourist industry.

              Uncle Joe's Barbecue is good, as is Sadie's Sideboard and the Ribcrib, which is a small chain place that seems to be taking off.

              1. re: Harry Styron

                I think top of the rock is closed due to a fire a while back. Their website says it will reopen soon, but it has been that way for a while...

    2. Oh, I have great sympathy for you. Branson is truly a hole. Make sure you catch that amazing violinist, Shoji. Just kidding.

      If you are up for a neat little trip, try to get to Eureka Springs, Arkansas while you are near it by being in Branson. It should be less than an hour's drive south and the scenery is not pretty. However, the town is GREAT fun and is filled with neat bars and fairly tasty food. There is one really decent Italian place - ask when you get into town, everyone knows it. Also there is a very tasty place called Rogue's Galley, with lots of cool dead animal heads and the best cocktails ever. While you are in E.S., go to the top of town to a creepy hotel called the Crescent - from the top you can view what I believe is the second largest statue of Jesus in the world. Tres tacky, even for the religious. Good luck and I wish you the best in your difficult travail to Branson.

      1. I hope I'm not too late. The best place for lunch is Vasken's Deli, about one mile west of US 65 on Highway 76, north side of road, across from Ramada.

        Which is better, Vasken's falafel or his wife's legs?

        1. good to see mr. styron on here..i'm gonna defend my homeland....yes branson can be a hole..yes branson is a big glamcheese mecca..yes yes yes branson can be a crap pile......but...there is wonderful food and culture in the area...don't dog us hillfolk until you've met us head on in the woods....danna's bbq can hold it's own. anyplace that burns to the ground, rebuilds bigger, and then taunts "destruction" in the face by hanging up fire-seared signs from the rubble on their dining room walls has to be good....mmmmm...big cedar lodge.....mmmm...and vaskin's deli...take on billy bob's dairyland for the small style grill top burger...acapulco has hispanic style seafood...find comfort food at branson cafe and the shack....or if you have the buckeyes for it, you could happen your way into a church fish fry or family reunion and taste the ozarks in its natural form......smoked hams, venison, turnip greens, persimmon pie, fried crappie, scuppernong jelly, home baked rolls......ask around...eat hearty..chains suck

          5 Replies
          1. re: walteralias

            My most vivid memory of Branson was a place where they threw rolls at us!

            1. re: Rheta

              That would be Lamberts. . . great food but definitely a place that they welcome busses.

              1. re: Rheta

                in the vernacular they "throwed" rolls at you...

                Manda: I welcome busses or even just a peck...

                ok, I'll stop being a grammar nanny.

              2. re: walteralias

                Billy bob's.
                cant believe you recommended that place,now I'm not a tourist, we live in harrison,being a transplant from Miami for over 2 years now,we are constantly on the lookout for decent food restaurants,even though we love branson,billy bob's is the pits, we can get a better burger at burger king.SORRY

                1. re: mutti

                  I used to LOVE Billy Bob's from 1995-2000. But I think Billy Bob passed away baround 2004.

              3. The College of the Ozarks has a really beautiful restaurant on their campus. It's not far from Branson and has an interesting history. It's referred to as Hard Work U.. Located at Point Lookout, MO. The food's as good (no alcohol) as anything you'll get in that area (not James Beard but good, especially for lunch). IMHO, what makes it is the setting, but then again, I just plain love the Ozarks.

                3 Replies
                1. re: SonyBob

                  Another thumbs up for the restaurant at the College of the Ozarks, Hard Work U, which is easily accessible from the freeway a bit south of Branson itself, but well before you get to the Big Cedar Lodge. Save room for dessert, as portions for the mains are quite large. Prices are moderate but not a bargain, and execution can be spotty -- two in our large party ordered salmon, my mom's thick filet was perfect but my very large, wide portion was overcooked. But the room is large and wonderful, a huge wooden banquet room with big picture windows on one side overlooking a picturesque portion of campus and Ozark landscape. Service amazingly friendly and enthusiastic. A great experience that we thoroughly enjoyed, though better perhaps for a brunch than an early dinner trying to make a later showtime.

                  1. re: SonyBob

                    My SIL's sister works at hard work u's dining room and we ate there once 3 months ago. All the food is made on the premise and they even have their own cows for milk! The ice cream bar at the enterance of the dining room is stocked with homemade ice cream and the pastery's are all made from scratch. the ice cream is delicious! For lunch, I had the pot roast with mashed potatoes and buttered veggies. All meals are served with an assortment of breads and a trio of flavored butters. The bread (a cranberry bread, white rolls, sourdough, and wheat rolls) were delicious and homemade. Slathered with the honey butter, I was in heaven. The pot roast itself was dry and the mashed potatoes were gluey. But it looked as though I got the only dud of the group of 17...everyone raved about their burgers, the sandwiches were stacked high with meat the greek salad looked gorgeous, framedwith evo drizzled pita bread, and the homemade potato chips were yummy and hot. We were there for a very early lunch (10:30ish) so i thnk the pot roast was a reheat from the day before. However, service was excellent and very friendly. The view was nice and overall I really enjoyed it. It is even more impressive knowing that students basically RUN the entire college, including the dining room. My SIL's sis said that the servers here are some of the best in branson and other restaurants send people to observe how they train the staff so they can replicate it in their own establishments...

                    1. re: asiansensation007

                      The restaurant at College of the Ozarks is called the Keeter Center, and it is indeed well worth checking out. Order simply for entrees and leave room for dessert, which is their strength. The Keeter Center is at the main entrance to the university property, very convenient.

                      For a more recent thread of rec's and feedback re: Branson -- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/398882.