- Anahit Behrooz
Used largely as a stopping point in the 19th century for those heading to Oregon Territory, St Joseph became a bustling city where pioneers could rest and gather supplies before continuing on their journey. Now one of the largest cities in Missouri, St Joseph has retained this busy community feel, and boasts some of the best locally owned restaurants in the area. Here we list the 10 best independent dining establishments in the city.
Bad Art Bistro
The Bad Art Bistro originally got its name from the collection of terribly executed yet oddly charming art works which covered its walls, from a close-up painting of Elvis to a slightly lopsided copy of the Mona Lisa. Under new management, the restaurant no longer exhibits the bad art, instead opting for more modern presentation; exposed brick walls and stripped floors show off the original 19th-century building, while low-hanging industrial lighting adds an edgy ambiance. The menu has been similarly scaled back, offering a small yet delicious range of appetizers and entrées which vary according to the season and local produce, and can be complemented with a glass from the extensive wine list or a freshly made cocktail.
Bad Art Bistro, 707 Edmond Street, St. Joseph, MO, USA, +1 816-749-4433
Barbosa’s Castillo is quite literally a landmark restaurant in St Joseph. Shaped like a castle, complete with turrets and parapets, the restaurant towers over the surrounding buildings, and immediately draws the eye of all who pass by. Its striking red-brick façade is only the beginning of a memorable evening; the restaurant specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine, and offers a rich and varied menu filled with Mexican classics, from enchiladas and quesadillas to tacos and spicy chili. A family-owned restaurant, all their dishes have a comforting, home made feel, and are freshly prepared with flavorsome ingredients and traditional techniques, guaranteeing a delicious dining experience.
Barbosa’s Castillo, 906 Sylvanie Street, St. Joseph, MO, USA, +1 816-233-4970
A charming local diner, Betty’s Café provides delicious home cooked food in a cheerful, familiar environment that remains largely unchanged since the cafe first opened. The establishment is perhaps best known in the local area for its excellent breakfast menu, offering an array of delicious breakfast items to suit all palates, from the savory, such as their famed biscuits and gravy served with optional eggs and bacon, to the sweet, including a number of different pancake options. Frequented by locals and filled with regulars for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Betty’s Café is the perfect place to people watch and soak in the local town culture.
Betty’s Café, 6307 King Hill Avenue, St. Joseph, MO, USA, +1 816-238-9847
Bleecker Street Deli Company
Founded by chef Andrew Clark, a St Joseph native and graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, the Bleecker Street Deli Company redefines the idea of a quick-fix sandwich through its emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and made-to-order sandwiches. The deli has a range of in-house smoked and roasted meats, salamis and cheeses sold by the pound, as well as home made potato chips and other delicious sides. For those with a more substantial appetite, the deli also offers more hearty fare, including their made-to-order Bleecker Burger, creamy Mac & Cheese, and a range of seasonal soups.
The Cabbage Roll
The Cabbage Roll serves authentic German cuisine in a quaint, cozy environment. The small, intimate restaurant has a buzzing, laid-back cafe atmosphere, with a number of charming German knick knacks and souvenirs decorating the walls, and flags of Europe hung up behind the counter. Where The Cabbage Roll truly excels, however, is in its cuisine. The eponymous cabbage rolls, made according to a traditional family recipe, are delicious, full of flavor, and the perfect meal when served alongside German fried potatoes. Other highlights from the menu include the meatloaf sandwich, the jäger schnitzel and the hamburger and fries served in the first week of every month. The Cabbage Roll also has a well-stocked dessert counter filled with cakes, pies and other tasty treats.
The Cabbage Roll, 2641 Lafayette Street, St. Joseph, MO, USA, +1 816-233-4444
For a unique take on classic American cuisine in a nostalgic 1950s environment, look no further than Crumbly Burger – St Joseph’s most unusual burger spot. As simple and delicious as it sounds, the restaurant specializes in ‘crumbly burgers’: ground beef seasoned and mixed with fried onions, and served with melted cheese and pickles between two bread buns. Burgers can be ordered with a side of thick-cut, crispy French fries, either classic and plain, or topped with chili, bacon, and cheese. For those who fancy something different, Crumbly Burger also has a number of non-burger options, such as their soft tacos and nachos. For the true 1950s diner experience, top off the meal with an extra-thick foamy milkshake or an ice-cream sundae.
Crumbly Burger, 2701 Frederick Avenue, St. Joseph, MO, USA, +1 816-387-8867
First Ward House
Reportedly the oldest saloon still surviving west of the Mississippi, First Ward House is brimming with local historical culture, a lively atmosphere, and excellent food. Boasting wood floors and a unique, old-fashioned bar, First Ward House manages to retain the old-world Western charm which makes it so popular, while still remaining very much up-to-date. The bar runs regular open mic and music nights, making it a great place to relax over a drink and some food with friends, and simply soak up the local atmosphere. The bar is well-stocked, with dozens of different bottled beers from various breweries; try a beer with the bar’s famed spicy smoked wings or a juicy burger.
First Ward House, 2101 Saint Joseph Avenue, St. Joseph, MO, USA, +1 816-273-0039
The Gothic House
Located in a stunning Victorian house, now on the National Register of Historic Places, The Gothic House offers an entirely unique dining experience filled with beauty and history. The interior is charmingly old-fashioned and decorated in a quirky, Gothic style, complete with elaborate wall sconces, candlesticks, tablecloths and porcelain tea sets. Guests can also dine outside on a patio overlooking a scenic, landscaped garden blooming with flowers between winding cobbled paths. The restaurant has a small but varied lunch menu, including rosemary crusted pork loin and a quiche de jour, as well as a large variety of specialty teas, coffees and hot chocolates on offer. For a truly special experience, call ahead early to request a traditional afternoon tea.
The Gothic House, 720 South 10th Street, Saint Joseph, MO, USA, +1 816-232-8115
One of the newest additions to St Joseph’s dining scene, Il Lazzarone has nevertheless quickly made a name for itself. The restaurant is the only pizzeria in the area to be certified as authentically Neapolitan by the American Delegation of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, a distinction that shines through in its crisp pizza bases, slightly charred crusts and fresh toppings. Il Lazzarone puts great emphasis on the process behind the finished product; all ingredients are freshly prepared and, when possible, sourced locally, while the restaurant features an open-plan kitchen where customers can watch their pizza being prepared. The mouthwatering menu, combined with the restaurant’s industrial yet warm decor, makes Il Lazzarone the perfect spot for a laid back yet special evening.
Il Lazzarone, 1628 Frederick Ave, Saint Joseph, MO, USA, +1-816-273-0582
J C Wyatt House
Located in a historic home dating back to 1891, J C Wyatt House is a feast for the senses. The interior features sumptuous decor; decadent chandeliers, richly hued Persian carpets and deep reds and golds abound, giving the restaurant an air of luxury and comfort. The cuisine adds to the fine-dining experience; the menu is changed four times a year to feature fresh seasonal choices made with the finest ingredients, resulting in delicious gourmet dishes to satisfy even the strictest gastronome. J C Wyatt house encourages guests to truly enjoy their food; reservations are mandatory and entrée selections must be made in advance, allowing guests to linger over and appreciate their meal instead of worrying over the menu.
J C Wyatt House, 1309 Felix Street, St. Joseph, MO, USA, +1 816-676-1004