SPRINGFIELD, MO, just moved here...
So here I am in Springfield, Missouri. I've read the Midwest posts back through several months' worth, and can't find much about food in this city. Okay, none.
Are there any other CH'ers here? Is there any good food?
In particular, the BBQ. I'm sick to death of BBQ brisket that hasn't been smoked long enough and therefore has to be sliced on a machine. If you cook it long enough, you wouldn't be able to do that because it would be so tender, it'd fall apart on a slicing machine. I'm looking for good, tender brisket that has to be very carefully hand-sliced. Is that just not a "Missouri thang"? And if not, as I suspect, what is the most popular local BBQ meat....ribs, pork, what? Obviously I need to switch my BBQ meat preference, 'cause the brisket I've tried thus far stinks.
What else should I try in "Missouri's third-largest city"?
First, my condolensces. I love MO very much, but never found much to crow about in that neck of the woods (and may have only found things to be fearful of - the most famous resident is probably moving back from DC any time now). I could help out much more if you were around Columbia (which is a chow oasis for its location)
As far as Sprungfeld, I can't give too many tips as it's been awhile and I never found anything great, chow-wise, but don't give up hope completely. For BBQ, I've never known that whole part of the state to even turn anything out - KC trips can take care of that.
However, in general, beef cooked in other ways should be good in many places. If you find a salebarn, find out when the sales are and go for lunch sometime.
Also, MO is a great place for country cured ham. Burgers is best known and will ship, but there are many others throughout the state.
Last general rule, if you like diner food, you'll love MO. This does hold true to Sp. and I have had good diner experiences there.
Hope you find the overall state to be a good experience. If you're outdoorsy at all, you're right near some great experiences incl. floating waterways, rock climbing, fishing and much more. That part of the state is fairly insular, though, and Sprungfeld may be the epicenter of it.
if you like BBQ then go to Hawgwild in Aurora. It is about 20 miles from town and is worth the trip.
if you try mexican villa, you must go to the one on national, it has a distinct atmosphere and of course get the sweet sauce.
Hong Kong Inn has the best all white meat cashew chicken and spicy sesame chicken.
Well if you like Mexican I would recommend Mexican Villa. Not exactly a gourmet experience but a favorite of my family. But you must go to the 'original' by St. John's hospital. There used to be a couple of unique resturants down by the college but I haven't lived there in 15 years and only go about once a year so I am not sure on those.
I moved away from Springfield about 4 years ago.
Here is the list of places I like to hit when I visit.
Anton's for breakfast. I really love the scrambled eggs Anton with salami and pepper jack cheese. Home made biscuits and gravy and real potato hash browns.
Aunt Marthas Pancake house is also okay. The bone-in ham, b and g, and peanut butter pancakes stand out.
Springfield is pretty decent for pizza.
My favorite is The Pizza House at Glenstone and Bennent. They have been around since 1958. Extra thin crust with burnt edges, cut in tiny squares. This the pizza that I measure all others by. The menu consists of pizza, dinner salad, and pepsi products. Skip the salad but try the sausage and deluxe pizzas. My favorite place in town maybe the world.
I have never had real NY pizza, but I like the slices at New York Pizzaria on Campbell and Morningside. I also like the garlic knots. They now have pasta dishes but I have never tried anything but the pizza.
Arris Pizza on Republic Road is a unique style that I have only seen in Jefferson City, Rolla, and Columbia. The original in Jeff City is better, but the one is Springfield is good to. The greek sausage is the only pizza I get there.
McSalty's has a couple locations. They use a whole wheat crust. The Bear pie is a really good combo of toppings with this crust.
For Mexican I like the fried tacos at Marias downtown. It used to be a take out place but know has a sit down restaurant. I liked it better before.
Mexican Villa isnt really mexican food, but I still like it. The burito enchilada style is my favorite.
Downtown has really come to life. I think some exploring down there might do some good. I have had a good meal at Millie's.
Clary's is a good a choice for steak.
I have not seen brisket the way you like in Springfield. Buckinghams is an ok place. Brisket and horseradish coleslaw on wonder bread makes a nice meal for me.
I have never cared for the world famous cashew chicken but my favorite chinese is in Nixa. I cannot remember the name but it east side of 160 just north of Walmart. Mr Yens is a fancy sit down place that is ok.
Anyway I hope this helps
Want to follow up on the BBQ. What is the most-popular type of meat that folks get? Ribs? Chopped pork? Pulled pork? I don't think I'm really in 'brisket country' and it's always been my philosophy to try out what the locals get instead of insisting on what I'm used to.
So at these BBQ places y'all have recommended, what do the locals get?
And a BIG THANK YOU to all of you for trying to help a girl out. I really wasn't hopeful I'd hear anything at all when I posted.
If it's barbeque you want, you picked the wrong Missouri city. You should have picked the second largest, KC. Even St. Louis doesn't have comparable BBQ.
Springfield is world (or at least, Midwest) famous for their chinese food, particularly the cashew chicken. Look around, there's a chinese hash house on every corner.
I've traveled to Springfield many times, and haven't found many decent places to eat. Good luck.
Interesting about Springfield-style cashew chicken...
I actually lived in Asia for several years, including Hong Kong, and love authentic Chinese cashew chicken so I was pretty excited when I moved to Springfield and everybody raved about the cashew chicken. I was disheartened to the max, and that's putting it mildly, the first time I tried that Springfield-style. And it never got any better to me. Chicken covered with bland middle-American-style brown gravy. That gravy would have been fine poured over a fried chicken breast and served with some mashed potatoes, peas & carrots, and a zippy and tangy salad on the side. Fast forward to a dozen years later, and my son's best friend happens to be the son of one of the Chinese chefs that worked in several Springfield kitchens so long ago - including the "Chinese" kitchen that "invented" Springfield-style cashew chicken. This man came to Springfield as an impoverished teenager directly from China, so he was certainly familiar with authentic Chinese food. I've talked with him so many times about that dish and its inception. Sure enough, it turns out that it was invented wholly and completely to appeal to a Midwestern palate that, for the most part, wasn't accustomed to, and wouldn't enjoy or, most important, BUY spicier dishes.
The first obligation any business owner has is to keep his/her doors open. Everything else comes second. That man could have had the best and most authentic Chinese food in six states but, if he has no business and has to close his doors, nothing else matters. Nobody has a job.
So, although that cashew chicken certainly doesn't appeal to everyone, and I'm definitely on that list, it has sustained the viability of a great many restaurants and their owners and employees for a great many years.
Now everyone in this particular story, the teenager that grew up to be a Chinese Master Chef, his son, my son, have all relocated to the San Francisco Bay area where the Chef and his son still serve cashew chicken when they are entertaining guests in their home.
But, just like Emeril, they definitely kick it up a notch. Actually, a lot of notches. A whole lot of notches. Spices and seasonings can cure a great many ills, and blandness is definitely one of them.
I think this necessity to appeal to the larger market affects most of the restaurants in Springfield. Unless you're located in a city big enough to support many palates, that's what you've got to do if you want to stay open. And I used to own a small business so I understand and forgive them for doing what they must to remain viable (although admittedly that's particularly difficult for me to do in the case of Mexican Villa because I love and value Mexican cuisine so highly; I mean, serve what you want, folks, it's made you wealthy and you can't argue with that kind of success, but do you HAVE to call it "Mexican"? What's wrong with: "Midwestern Villa That Serves a Few Dishes that We've Added a Small Bit of Chiles To and Decided to Call Mexican Because Nobody Here Knows the Difference"?).
And while we're on the subject of Mexican restaurants and Midwestern palates, often when you're faced with particularly bland dishes, all you have to do is to ask if there's something with a little more kick to it available. Many Chinese restaurants serve mildly-flavored food to tables full of Western faces but the Chinese customers all ask for the "Chinese menu" and get something completely different. You might not be able to read Chinese, but you certainly can ask your server what dishes are on the Chinese menu that might appeal more to you. An example of further "off the menu" inquiry is that salsa at El Puente... The first little bowl of salsa was more like a bowl of tomato soup or gazpacho or pasta sauce than a fiery Mexican salsa. The owners of that restaurant come from San Luis Potosi, a state in the center of Mexico that I've visited often, and I know their salsas pack plenty of punch, so I asked, and out came the good stuff.
I've found that to be the best approach when dining in restaurants offering spicier and more strongly-flavored foreign cuisines that have been "dumbed-down" for a local population that prefers milder fare.
We moved to rural Springfield about 7 years ago from the SF Bay Area. Our newest neighbors are from San Diego, New York, and Northern California. So, I do believe the restaurant choices will improve as more people move here from outside. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
We have learned to avoid anything claiming to be Mexican or Chinese food. They are nothing like the true ethnic cuisines. In fact, most of the Chinese places serve fried food and gravy, including the most-unChinese-Cashew-Chicken. A very far cry from Asian cooking- which tends to be fairly healthy.
But, here's what we do like...
Gilardi's, on Walnut St, for Italian.
Riad, in that ParkCenter square downtown, for hummus, tabouli, excellent lamb, middle eastern type food.
Clary's, for dinner (a little slow, just allow a little longer time)
Bruno's- Southern Italian
Bijan- good, maybe a little overrated.
By the way, if you like seafood, there is a market called the Crab Shack in Nixa where you can buy fresh seafood (well as fresh as it gets here) and fix it yourself.
We really miss authentic Indian and Asian food.
So my husband and I have learned to cook many foods ourselves, and we order some ingredients via the internet.
And when we travel, we try to hit good restaurants with all the things we miss.
"We have learned to avoid anything claiming to be Mexican or Chinese food. They are nothing like the true ethnic cuisines."
Oh so true, in my NorCal opinion.
I disdain, in general, the vast majority of Springfield's Mexican-type-self-declared-as-such and Chinese-styled restaurants, fast-food, joints and sundry dining establishments.
Sigh............ I have made allowances for the relative "out of the wayness" for this part of fly-over country.
A veritable "hillbilly heaven/haven well-stocked with a horde of folks lower down upon the pyramid-shaped socio-economic hierarchy.
I believe the presence of such a HUGE cohort of mental simpletons who revel in their ignorance and general anti-social behaviors has had a negative impact upon MANY aspects of the Springfield metropolitan statistical area.
And that impact includes dining quality, cleanliness, etc.
Due to many reasons, one being the need to enmesh myself into local society and dining offerings I have first; greatly minimized forays into local outside-the-shanty dining, simply concocting my own vittles and this ensuring maximum cleanliness and minimizing eating expenses.
Second; considering benefit-versus-cost ratios I have concluded that a lunch-time visit to Golden Corral off Glenstone Ave. is, for the price, the finest dining experience I have partaken hereabouts.
So MANY choices of decently cooked foodstuffs.
Cleanliness above the average.
Ample veggies and a multitude of choices.
But, alas, unable to find ANY offerings of my beloved scaloni, linguicia-topped pizza or lumpia in this nook/cranny in the midst of a continent increasing filling with uncivil and anti-social masses of the human herd.
Don't know if you're still checking this board. I'm originally from the Chicago area and I REALLY MISS all the great food in Chicago - especially Italian beef sandwiches and a Chinese soup called Sizzling Rice soup that NO ONE in Springfield makes, even with all the so-called Chinese restaurants here. With that said - try Thai Peppers or Thai House for decent Thai food. Century Buffet probably has one of the best Oriental buffets, especially if you like seafood. Mexican Villa is NOT Mexican food... try El Maguey (Glenstone and Chestnut) or Los Portales. Both are acceptable. I agree with the poster who suggested Hawg Wild in Aurora, but that's a long way to go for BBQ at $3/gallon for gas. You might have the ribs or pulled pork at Rib Crib. I make my own pulled pork and brisket these days, and my own Italian beef too. We had good bourbon chicken and burgers at Trolley's downtown. Good luck and welcome to Springfield, home of culinary mediocrity....
Unfortunately, some of the best BBQ is about 100 miles to the northeast in Jefferson City. Try Lutz's Famous BBQ. Usually the first time I go to a BBQ place I like to try a sample platter and was disappointed to see it didn't include a hot link - unusual, I thought. But they more than made up for that with the prime rib (not a typo) - equally unusual as I don't recall ever seeing prime rib at a BBQ joint. The homemade chips are worth the trip in themselves. I always acknowledge that BBQ is very much a preference thing once one gets above the 90% approval rating thing. It's always good to get a second opinion and in this establishment's case they have a couple of good ones. Their sauce won 1st place at the American Royal in Kansas City in 2006. I made certain to pick up a bottle. I also noticed a trophy for 1st place in Chicken category for the 2007 American Royal Invitational. The pulled pork was tender, flavorful and juicy. The pork loin was particularly good - juicy and tender. The ribs were also good although I always prefer those that fall off the bone. What these may have lacked in tenderness (in my opinion) they more than made up for in flavor. The rest of the menu includes the usual - chicken, brisket, etc. All were good with the brisket being exceptional. The homemade baked beans are also good with excellent smoke flavor and chunks of meat.
The place is the second half of a convenience store with seating for about 50 in a casual setting. I had to go touch the walls to find that they were painted rather than real brick. It is very clean with quick service facilitating a limited lunch time. The also have good fish (fried tilapia) if anyone in your group eschews BBQ. Now, if they only had a beer to go along with everything.....
"bbq" ? that is done in every backyard in the area is about 1/2 thick pork steaks sliced across a pork butt/shoulder.
It is grilled and liberally seasoned with a grocery store sauce that starts with M,maybe Marsh's.
The place across from Basspro,seems to be the locals' favorite
There is a KCBS comp team in town that might sell some rubs and sauces,but I don't think they cater,or vend.
Shoddy Hog is the team name and Gerry is pitmaster.
This is how the experts cook Springfield bbq.
Gerry: Haven't seen you in a while. I ended up cooking the pork Steaks St Louis style - grill them hot then simmer them in a pan of sauce. I really didn't want to do the simmer part, since they were fine after grilling. But, as they say, When in St louis do as the St Louis people do.
Tom, that is not BBQ! BBQ is SLOW-smoked meat, typically a larger cut such as whole briskets, pork shoulders, hams, turkeys, chickens, etc. Pork steaks cook more quickly on the grill. Grilling and BBQ-ing are not the same thing! There's a relative newcomer to the BBQ scene in Springfield: Whole Hog at Campbell & Sunshine. YUM. They are the best and have the trophies to prove it. Their pulled pork and brisket are excellent.
@Greg - "Springfield style" cashew chicken is NOT Chinese food. It's chicken nuggets with gravy. I have yet to find true, GOOD Chinese food in this town and I have been here 7 years. Triple 8's (888) on Kansas north of Sunshine is turning out some decent fare. But, I am still particularly hoping to find some authentic sizzling rice soup. Mr. Yen's makes a version of it in a red sweet/sour broth. Yuck. It wasn't even served very warm. If any Chinese restauranteurs read this, *please* add an authentic (chicken-stock based) version of this dish to your menu. It's sure to be a success. Also, start adding a few veggies to your friend rice. Chicken or shrimp fried rice that ONLY has chicken or shrimp in it is pretty bland stuff! Thanks.
So, bumping up old thread.
Want to add my personal favorite meals in Springfield.
First - the Basil Grouper at Tong's Thai. This is one of the best dishes I've ever had anywhere, and I'm including in Thailand. So for me, this is the best single plate in Springfield. It's not on the menu - you have to ask for it. Don't know if Tong's Thai has a website (I couldn't find one), so here's a link to Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tongs-thai-restaurant-springfield
Second - the bulgogi at Soo's Korean Restaurant. My husband lived in Korea for a year and he really knows, and loves, Korean food. Soo's is the real deal. Everything is wonderful but I particularly love bulgogi, so that's what I always get. http://www.yelp.com/biz/soos-korean-restaurant-springfield
I hear a lot of people talking about how there are no "good restaurants" in Springfield. So I ask them if they've ever been to any of the restaurants on this list. When they say, "no," which they usually do, I figure they just don't know what they're talking about. Yes, "good restaurants" do exist in Springfield. They just haven't bothered to adventure far enough off of the beaten path to find them.
Tortillaria Perches (small tortillaria; excellent home-made tortillas to take with you) http://www.tortilleriaperches.com/
Tamale King (mainly takeout; authentic Mexican; lots of Mexican workers eat here; I travel to the Mexican interior often, and the food here is reminiscent of the street taco carts in Mexico) http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g44926-d3685949-Reviews-Tamale_King-Springfield_Missouri.html
La Puente (excellent full-service Mexican-American restaurant; the salsa that routinely comes to your table is not very hot, but if you ask, they'll bring you some that's "mas picante"; what Mexican Villa should be and definitely is NOT) http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g44926-d1832814-r124779500-El_Puente_Mexican_Restaurant-Springfield_Missouri.html
BamBu Vietnamese (excellent Vietnamese; love the pho, love the spring rolls, and, yes, I've eaten Vietnamese food in Vietnam; this is comparable) http://www.springfieldbambu.com/home
Went to Bambu a couple of days ago and had the Pho with meatballs and rare beef. While the broth wasn't the best of the pho that I have ever had, it was flavorful and the meat, noodles, bean sprouts, and garnishes were very fresh.The staff was very friendly, as well. However, when I entered the restaurant, it smelled like stale smoke - I guess Springfield has not banned smoking in restaurants yet. I ordered the pho to go because of the odor. I will definitely go back and call ahead next time.
Thank you for the great review,will for sure go to tortilleriaperches on our next trip to Springfield,I must admit I have been amomg the nay sayer's on good restaurants in Springfield,we moved here from Miami 7 years ago and we are still looking,but also do still try new suggestion's our last place was the Santa Fe grill,even though our service was great some of the the food was not it had a funny off taste that we just could not put our finger on,so needless to say we won't be going back.
We love Chinese but can't get them to tell us from where they get the seafood from,won't eat seafood fromthe Asian countries,maybe you know of a good chinese restaurant,you seem to know your Restaurants have also followed your blog from Tulsa,love most foods so will trust your suggestion's.
I'll admit that Springfield is no Miami (assuming you're talking about the one in Florida, that is), but there are certainly some restaurants in Springfield offering tasty food - just not so many of them as there are in larger cities. So you have to work a little harder at finding them.