The Best Restaurants in Springfield, Missouri

Springfield, Missouri, has an increasingly exciting food scene
Springfield, Missouri, has an increasingly exciting food scene | © JTGrafix / Getty Images
Photo of Tessa Cooper
24 December 2019

Despite its modest size, Springfield’s collection of unique independent restaurants compares favorably to many larger cities. Culture Trip has picked the best restaurants in the so-called ‘Queen City of the Ozarks.’

With a population of roughly 170,000 people, Springfield’s food scene certainly rings true to quality over quantity. The city’s affordability allows entrepreneurs and chefs the freedom to explore ideas and open new establishments, with an audience that is receptive to even the most outlandish flavor combinations. “Like many small cities in America, we’re seeing more exciting food and restaurants than we have before,” says Drake Tillman, who hosts a pop-up dining series through his business Margot. “I think things are moving forward because we have room to grow and room for trial and error, and I think that’s never a bad thing.” These are some of the best restaurants in the city.

Embrace the cheesiness at Druff’s

Restaurant, American, Fast Food
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Try grilled cheese sandwiches with inventive fillings at Druff’s | © Tessa Cooper / Culture Trip

Even with a menu built on bread and cheese, Druff’s doesn’t serve your run-of-the-mill grilled cheese sandwich. Instead, you’ll find sandwiches with creative fillings that contrast in all the right ways. For example, the Uncle Tatey comes piled high with goat’s cheese, slightly spicy pulled pork, fresh strawberries and a strawberry balsamic reduction spread, all served on wheat bread. The menu also caters to those with gluten and dairy intolerances, with offerings such as the quinoa salad with zesty lime, green onions, black beans, tomatoes and olive oil. The casual downtown restaurant in a turquoise building on the corner of Park Central East and Jefferson provides affordable food in an elevated diner setting with marble-top tables and glass pendant lights.

Good bites and glamour at The Order

Hotel Restaurant, American
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A rotating seasonal menu highlighting new American cuisine is on offer at The Order | © Tessa Cooper / Culture Trip

Conveniently located in the lobby of the boutique Hotel Vandivort, The Order serves up a rotating seasonal menu highlighting new American cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. Start your meal off by getting a taste of Springfield’s claim-to-fame dish served on a skewer, cashew chicken. Then, taste flavors straight from the Ozark region of the US, such as the pork steak from Missouri cattle farmer, Circle B Ranch. The restaurant includes a full bar that serves traditional drinks, such as the smoked old fashioned, and signature cocktails, like the walnut & tonic with sage-infused vodka, black walnut liqueur, tonic and simple syrup, which appears on the menu seasonally. Before you leave, grab your phone and head downstairs to the bathrooms; they’re famous in the area for their optimal selfie lighting.

Indulge in carrots (yes, carrots) at Progress

Restaurant, American
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Progress offers upscale dining in Springfield, Missouri | © Tessa Cooper / Culture Trip

Visit Springfield’s southside for an upscale dining experience at Progress. Here, imaginative murals and sophisticated furniture mirror the food’s artful plating and timeless flavors. Although the menu changes with the seasons, there are a few beloved dishes that have earned their permanent status on the menu. One of these is the fan-favorite charred carrots roasted in beef fat and served with carrot honey, goat’s cheese, smoked yogurt and spiced carrot crumble. Progress also offers large plates prepped with thoughtfulness in advance, such as the aged-in-house prime New York strip. The drinks menu includes an extensive wine list, so be sure to ask for a pairing recommendation.

Dine al fresco on Tea Bar and Bites Bakery and Cafe’s patio

Bakery, Cafe, Restaurant, American, $$$
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Find this Spanish Revival-style home-turned-restaurant in Springfield’s Rountree neighborhood | © Tessa Cooper / Culture Trip

It’s hard to miss this historic Spanish Revival-style home-turned-restaurant when driving down Pickwick Street in Springfield’s Rountree neighborhood. For more than 15 years, Tea Bar and Bites Bakery and Cafe has been offering soups, salads, sandwiches as well as daily quiches and other specials. Start with an appetizer like the Mediterranean platter with pita bread, hummus, feta, olive tapenade, tzatziki and a salad. Then, get a taste of several of the café’s classics with the Tea Bar Sampler, which comes with a generous scoop of curried chicken salad or albacore tuna salad on a lettuce leaf and your choice of two daily sides with a baby scone. End your meal with one of the 35 flavors of tea on offer, but make sure to reserve your dessert from the front display case before someone else does.

Spice things up at Team Taco

Restaurant, Mexican
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Every day, Team Taco slings out street tacos packed with tangy and spicy flavors, all topped with either shredded cheddar or cotija cheese. The menu features five signature tacos and one weekly special. The meat line-up for the tacos includes grilled chicken, smoked pork belly, braised beef brisket and ground beef. But fear not vegetarians – Team Taco also serves a veggie taco made with roasted carrots and zucchini. The vivid red building sits fittingly on Cherry Street in Springfield’s Rountree neighborhood, and although it measures roughly 500-square-feet (46 square meters), the restaurant features white walls and bold-patterned floor tiles, making it feel equally spacious and memorable.

Go Dutch at Van Gogh’s Eeterie

Restaurant, Dutch, American, $$$
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Dutch-style cooking is on the menu at Van Gogh’s Eeterie | © Tessa Cooper / Culture Trip

When you step into this spacious restaurant with oversized Van Gogh prints and wooden clogs on the wall, it’s easy to forget that you’re on Springfield’s Historic Commercial Street and not on one of Amsterdam’s foodie streets. On the menu, you’ll find unique meat offerings like beef shoarma (shawarma) and Dutch meatballs. Van Gogh’s Eeterie also serves vegan meals, including a sandwich on vegan wheat bread with beet hummus, sunflower pesto, cucumber, pickled onions and arugula. Enjoy the restaurant’s traditional Dutch pancakes – with toppings such as goat’s cheese, apples and honey – for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Try Latin American food at Cafe Cusco

Restaurant, Cafe, South American, Central American, Cuban, $$$
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Latin American cuisine is on the menu at Cafe Cusco | © Tessa Cooper / Culture Trip

Experience the flavors of Peru and other cuisines from the Americas at Cafe Cusco on Historic Commercial Street. The café serves rice and pasta entrées, such as the lomo saltado with thin-sliced steak sautéed with peppers, red onions and roma tomatoes in garlic, white wine and tamari (Japanese soy sauce) and tossed with fries and fresh cilantro. The menu also features tacos, fajitas, salads, sandwiches and different meats like rabbit and goat. Those with a gluten allergy should notify their server, as the restaurant has a separate gluten-free fryer. Wash everything down with chicha sangrias (sangrias made with chicha, a Latin American beverage) and Cuban margaritas.

Get a taste of Greece at Greek Belly

Restaurant, Greek
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Greek Belly’s owner, John Tsahiridis, has brought an authentic Hellenic dining experience to Springfield | Courtesy of Greek Belly

With an interior inspired by the Greek village Valtonera and a menu chock-full of ingredients such as hummus, feta, tzatziki and olives, you can’t get more Greek in Springfield than Greek Belly. The downtown restaurant serves gyros with sliced, fresh rotisserie pork or chicken, as well as rice bowls and platters. Fresh pita bread is also on the menu with dips like melitzanosalata, which comprises roasted eggplant, parsley, mayo and onion. Owner John Tsahiridis, a Greek native, opened the restaurant as a way to provide an authentic Hellenic dining experience in Missouri.

Lose yourself in the international food options at The Wheelhouse

Restaurant, Mexican, Thai
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Wheelhouse
Food-truck-turned-restaurant The Wheelhouse serves multiple cuisines | © Tessa Cooper / Culture Trip

If you’re craving Mexican cuisine, but your food partner has a hankering for Thai, The Wheelhouse can appease you both. Located in the lobby of the Vīb Best Western Springfield, the food-truck-turned-restaurant serves a variety of international cuisines in large portions. The build-your-own nachos are a versatile option, with seemingly endless combinations, such as chicken with peanut sauce and sour cream or kimchi falafel with green mojo sauce and guacamole. The menu also includes fried rice, pad thai and Thai drunken noodle dishes. Unwind after a day of travel with a drink from the fresh juice cocktail bar – try the lemongrass mojito or the agave margarita.

Get your sandwich fix at Lucky Tiger Sandwich Co.

Restaurant, Thai, Korean, American
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Piled high with meats, spices and herbs, Lucky Tiger’s sandwiches are so substantial that they can even stand on their own as a dinner entrée. Fill up on the blackened shrimp sandwich with cajun spices, or the beef bulgogi, a Korean-style barbecue beef. For an appetizer or shareable side, get a little nostalgic with two American childhood favorites in one: tater tots topped with Cheez Whiz (and kimchi, green onion and sesame seeds to make it more adult, of course). Lucky Tiger also serves a vegan sandwich with falafel, Thai basil, mint and garlic. If you’re feeling a little thirsty, you can order a wine or beer to go with your meal.

This article is an updated version of a story originally created by Oliver Griffin.

These recommendations were updated on December 24, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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