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Dinner recommendations for Rolla, MO area?

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Looking for dinner recommendations for the Rolla, Missouri area for Saturday. I am driving from St. Louis down to the area on Friday night for a weekend float trip and I will be stopping in Rolla for dinner.

I have never been to Rolla, but I'm assuming since it is a college down there are some ok eats down there? I'm super open, I pretty much like everything, just someplace good and/or fun and not too expensive.

I don't mind dives or out of the way places, I'd just like to eat somewhere that is not an Applebee's :-)

Since I'm driving down from STL on 44 -- I will also take recs for Cuba or Steelville etc.

Thanks Chowhounders.

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  1. a LOT of fast food chains. a LOT. there is a Mexican place on the 63 business spur that looks intriguing. and a few BBQ shacks, honestly I don't spend enough time there to be of much help. locals seem to think Zeno's is a special place but I was underwhelmed. I'd like to try the 2 Japanese places, but I'm always with folks who'd never darken the door.
    and in a pinch you can always hit Imo's.or one of the few remaining Maid-Rite diners

    4 Replies
    1. re: hill food

      Hill food is dead-on about the chains...LOTS of those little suckers, but there are limited options otherwise. I frequently meet my cousin in Rolla, and we've been mostly underwhelmed by the dining choices. Two recommendations I can make are Alex's Pizza Palace on 8th (in the old downtown area), which makes the best feta cheese & tomato pizza (in the summertime, of course) and A Slice of Pie, which is in a truly bizarre location next to a laundromat on Kingshighway (just up the the hill from the big Kroger store). A Slice of Pie has a limited menu, but the food is good in a mom's-cooking kind of way (I had a slice of chicken pot pie there that was as good as anything I've ever made, and I make awesome chicken pot pie). The service is often a little odd, off-putting at first, but they seem to warm up once you've been there a few minutes. They have lots of varieties of pie available on any given day, and they're just beautiful. A slice and a cup of coffee is a nice way to get ready to face the road again.
      I attended UMR back in the eighties. We ate ramen noodles. And drank beer. Lots and lots of beer.

      1. re: tonifi

        are Slice of Pie's offerings savory and sweet? sounds interesting, I'd like to hear more.

        1. re: hill food

          Hey hill food, I think the pies at A Slice of Pie were all fairly traditional...fruit pies, cream pies, crumb pies, nut pies...the chicken pot pie was a lunch special (I actually had the very last piece).
          You will probably need cash, I don't think they take any kind of debit or charge card. The service is just bizarre...some days the ladies behind the counter are warm and welcoming, and sometimes they ignore you as long as they can and then snarl when forced to take your order. I find it best to just roll with it. I'm kind of charmed by the idea of 'real' pies, you just don't see too many places anymore that actually make their own... if you get a chance to visit, shoot me back your review, please? I'd love to know what you think.

          1. re: tonifi

            will have to try it, it's right by my parent's church. although usually when I go running for civilization I head into STL.

    2. Lewis Cafe-St Clair, Mo Hometown type of place great breakfast, hamburgers, pie Don't order a steak-http://www.dianasdiner.com/very thinly cut. they have there own cattle for the beef and make their own sausage too.

      Not sure if the hours would work out for this. In St. James- Diana's
      Diner
      http://www.dianasdiner.com/

      Sybil's in St. James is good but the "fancy" place in those parts. I'm not sure what people wear for dinner, but we had lunch and people were dressed casually. Can't imagine it is too dressy.

      I don't know if you will be anywhere near this place but I would try it if you can. I have not eaten here but it really intrigues me and I can't seem to be in the area when they are open. I have heard good things about it.

      http://www.thetravelerstable.com/

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      Diana's Diner
      103 N Jefferson St, Saint James, MO 65559

      1 Reply
      1. re: wekick

        Wow, that Traveler's Table at Davisville or Dillard , Mo, whichever it is, looks fabulous! Looks like delicious innovative food in a beautiful setting in the Mark Twain National Forest. Thanks for the heads-up, wekick! That's why I love Chowhound because I woud've never heard of this place otherwise. Now if I could just convince my hubby to drive all the way there from Columbia. Probably not gonna happen anytime soon, unfortunately.....:(

      2. Rolla: Alex's House Of Pizza. very tasty.

        1. We didn't find anything which looked interesting in Rolla - so we drove on south to Salem and ate at Stephens Family Steak House, 1 South Main, Salem (573-729-4822) and had an enjoyable buffet dinner. Very reasonable prices and better than we expected buffet food.

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          Stephens Family Steak House
          1 S Main St, Salem, MO 65560

          1. in case anybody dredges up this thread for future reference,

            I finally got the Fussy-Pants (I swear, you'd think they were 6-year-olds with AARP cards) to give Kyoto on Bishop by campus a try. I was skeptical, I mean Japanese, in Rolla? I didn't order the sushi, although I should have tried it for perspective.

            I was pleasantly surprised. with the place I was expecting the usually miso, but we were served a gentle and fragrant chicken broth with onion and a bit of seaweed (coulda used more seaweed IMHO) the obligatory salad had a gingery dressing that was more considered than most places I recall, so often it's seems like a doctored Russian or French, but not here, I had the chicken katsu and mixed tempura combo (hey I felt like fried food) both breadings were done right. I've tried to make tempura on several occasions and know it can be difficult) the vegetables were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and the 2 shrimp were were the same, that is to say just right. Mr. Fussy-Pants had the tonkatsu and had nothing negative to say which if you know him means he really liked it. Mrs. Fussy-Pants had the salmon teriyaki and while at first she was sort of picking at it and I'm thinking, great we're stopping at Steak and Shake on the way out of town, first Japanese place I've coaxed them into into in 20 years and here it's the last, but she ended up eating the entire generous portion and wondered if she should eat the skin (heh) I said sure, some do, but she demurred. what is it about rice, why does mine never get so nice and clumpy? I must be using the wrong type grain.

            service was quick, friendly. and discreet so I'll be back and try more. I wouldn't send anyone out of their way, but if one finds themselves along that stretch of I-44 and craving something that isn't served by somebody wearing 'flair' and wasn't supplied by Sysco and the profits aren't being funneled back to corporate HQ, then it fits that list very nicely. I think they have a sister location in St. James.

            3 Replies
            1. re: hill food

              Hill food, you may have just saved my life...or at least saved me a lot of perfectly awful meals during my semi-annual visits to Rolla to meet up with my cousin. (She lives outside of Springfield, I live in St. Louis...Rolla is a logical choice, but if we go to Golden Corral one more time I am going to kill myself.)

              1. re: tonifi

                yeesh GC? I'd sooner hit Lee's Fried Chicken. if you try the sushi lemme know, (I know fish is all flash frozen and shipped anywhere so Rolla is probably the same in quality as anywhere, but...) I should/will try it the next time whenever that is.

                1. re: hill food

                  coming back in to this trade-off, haven't been but noticed Lucky House on K'Hwy near the roundabout has bulgogi and kimchi on the sign board - Koreans at the wok? interesting...

                  and since then 2 new Japanese places have been noticed - Mottomo and Koi, on KHwy and Bishop respectively. and yes you're right Alex is pretty decent Greeky Pizza.

                  and International Market/Cafe (mostly Indo-Pakistani fare) on the South of Khwy sort of across from the Maid-Rite. great fresh naan.