Springfield, Missouri, has absolutely nothing to do with The Simpsons but is definitely the Queen of the Ozarks (because of its close proximity to the Ozark Mountains) and birthplace of Route 66. For those starting out on a roadtrip, Springfield is a great place to fill up at one of these must-eat places before hitting the road.
A bakery and restaurant combination, Bambino’s Café has been previously voted the best Italian restaurant in the whole of Springfield. Running from the former site of a local convenience store, Bambino’s offers a gentle space for diners to relax and enjoy a meal at a slow pace, as is the norm in Italy. The menu features a great variety of Italian dishes, such as toasted ravioli or bruschetta to start. Mains include balsamic glazed chicken with roasted vegetables, or the Maryland style crab cakes with angel hair pasta. The dessert menu is limited, but sumptuous cheesecake or tiramisu are available.
The Metropolitan Farmer is a restaurant that does its utmost to bring the principles of country living to the heart of the city. The Farmer supports the aim of buying locally available produce that is easy to source and protects the community. The team at Metropolitan Farmer whips up specialty dishes across their three menus for guests to enjoy at any time. The dinner menu includes roast pork chops with juniper berries, roasted apples and Brussel sprouts. On the other hand, brunch includes classics such as duck egg hash, or even filet steak and eggs.
The local, family run Big Whiskey’s American Bar & Grill has been serving food for just over 30 years; expect good, simple food in great quantities. Starters include wings, fried pickles, and even fries loaded with cheese and bacon. Main plates count steaks, burgers and seared salmon fillets, topped with an array of sauces and sides. The desserts on offer are also super rich, with a fried cheesecake topping off an already calorific meal.
A great sushi and grill venue, Haruno is located in the heart of Springfield. The restaurant originally opened in 1999 and features a luxurious sushi bar that seats six or seven people. Guests can watch as chefs prepare their sushi to order and maybe even get some inspiration for their own dishes. Haruno also features beef sashimi, squid tempura and duck gyoza on its menu.
The Aviary Café bases its menu on inspiration from music and art, and uses both of them to provide warm, wholesome meals for its guests. The ethos of the Aviary Café is built around sharing and eating in a communal setting. Savoury crepes include shrimp with vegetable. There are other options, too, but they are limited; this place really is for pancake enthusiasts only.
A fine dining restaurant at the heart of Springfield, Avanzare specialises in elegant Italian food, served in a sophisticated and charming environment. Running for more than a decade, Avanzare specialises in food from the Tuscany region of Italy. For luxurious steak cuts, the best option is the bistecca rosemarino, which sees thick cut ribeye steaks served with gorgonzola cheese sauce and mashed potatoes. The menu also features a number of great seafood and vegetable dishes for those who are less carnivorous.
Not a chain, but run as part of a burgeoning restaurant empire, Ocean Zen features fusion Asian cuisine prepared to the highest standards. With food focusing on the Pacific Rim region, Ocean Zen is the brainchild of two brothers who have been working together for the last 10 years. Dishes are beautifully prepared and luxurious, but also a little expensive. Mongolian style lamb chops; crispy orange chicken and wok-seared filet mignon are just some of the fantastic main dishes on offer. Starters include seven-spice breaded calamari, as well as crab wontons and Mongolian BBQ ribs.
The Neighborhood Pizza Café is a quirky, independent and fun pizza restaurant that brings a touch of character to the Springfield restaurant scene. Run by a small and friendly team, in an appropriately intimate venue, the Neighborhood Pizza Café serves top quality thin and crispy style pizzas, as well as other deep pan varieties. Guests can expect all of their favourite toppings, although a few are interpreted slightly differently.
As a rule, South America is the place to go for steaks and beef. So it comes as no surprise that The Argentina Steakhouse is one of the best places to grab a steak in Springfield. Main dishes include pork tenderloin sautéed with Danish blue cheese and a bourbon sauce, as well as a variety of steaks. One Argentinian specialty is chimichurri, a mix of savoury herbs, tomatoes and vinegar; it is a sauce traditionally served with grilled red meats so be sure to order it if the opportunity arises. The menu also exhibits a selection of great light bites, making for a brilliant starter or tapas style meal.
Millie’s turn of the century café advertises itself as Springfield’s only casual urban café, giving a distinct big city feel to this part of Missouri. The café seats 275 people, and allows them to experience a communal dining experience that draws on dishes and cuisines from all over the world. The kitchen also happens to sit in the middle of the dining room, which gives diners the chance to watch as their food is prepared. Dishes include nachos with an Italian twist, featuring spicy sausages and mozzarella instead of chili, and prime rib (or griddled chicken) sandwiches for those who are particularly hungry.