Jefferson City, Mo. – Kansas City is famous for barbecue . . . St. Louis has toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake . . . and cashew chicken was first created in Springfield. While those cities certainly have food-related claims to fame, the Show-Me State has a wide variety of signature tastes and settings.
People interested in stimulating their minds find brain food aplenty at Wimpy’s Sandwich Shop on Jefferson Street in Washington. Pull up a chair at Wimpy’s and ask for the deep-fried brain sandwich; it’s breaded, deep-fried pork brains served on a bun and with plenty of “fixins.” This tasty treat is said to be a local favorite.
If pork brains don’t sound appealing, try something a little higher up the food chain: Alligator. There are a few places around Missouri where alligator is on the menu, including Broussard’s Cajun Cuisine in Cape Girardeau, which is noted for its signature, marinated gator tails. They are coated with Cajun seasoning, fried and served with Broussard’s cocktail sauce. Also, alligator, served as either an appetizer or a meal, is on the menu at PC’s Elkhorn Steakhouse in downtown Chillicothe.
Another interesting meal choice is found at the various Syberg’s Restaurant locations, where the menu features a “shark chunks” appetizer, made from mako shark, along with the Syberg shark steak. Sybergs has several locations around the St. Louis area, including those on Dorsett Road, Gravois Road and Market Street.
For a unique twist on classic American foods, try Sammy’s Beach Bar and Grill, located at the Harrah’s St. Louis Casino. Sam Roy “Sammy” Hagar, known as “The Red Rocker,” is an American rock singer, guitarist, composer and solo artist. At Sammy’s, the menu is inspired by recipes and advice the rock legend has received from friends and well-known chefs alike. Unique menu items include the ahi tuna sliders (three small burgers topped with, among other things, honey teriyaki glaze), and Big Kahula fired up chili, which includes habanero and chili peppers and green onions.
Silver Dollar City, Branson
For a distinctive taste of the Ozarks, look no further than Silver Dollar City in Branson, where harvest skillet meals are cooked in mammoth, six-foot skillets on outdoor grills. The meals include Silver Dollar City’s well-known Ozark Succotash, with okra, corn and chicken. The meal is so popular that 30,000 pounds of breaded okra are served annually.
Just as unique tastes are found around Missouri, so are unique settings. The city of Troy is home to one of Missouri’s more unique pizza-eating environments. Stefanina’s Pizzeria, Banquet Center and Tea Room is in what formerly was the Sacred Heart Catholic Church; the site features the original stained glass windows and the lobby is adorned with pictures from weddings that happened in the church.
Lula Belle’s Restaurant and B&B, Hannibal
Travel an hour north of Troy to Hannibal, whose most famous resident, Mark Twain, likely would have written (or said) something extremely entertaining about Lula Belle’s Restaurant, which is housed in a former bordello. Lula Belle’s is known for its fine food and wine selection, but the fact the building was constructed with the intent of being a bordello, and the fact it operated into the 1950s, surely would have gotten Twain’s attention.
Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q, Cuba
Travelers looking for a good barbecue meal on Route 66 near Cuba, Mo., find what they’re looking for, and a unique country setting, at Missouri Hick Barbecue. This restaurant features a water wheel on the outside, and the interior décor is such that it gives the feeling of a rustic old barn.
Another Route 66 city, Springfield, is home to Casper’s, a quirky restaurant known for its chili and odd décor. Oh, it’s inside an old Quonset hut and might possibly be the oldest restaurant in the city.
Undercliff Bar & Grill, Tipton Ford
An hour west of Springfield (and about 12 miles southeast of Joplin) is the community of Tipton Ford, home to The Undercliff Grill and Bar. This establishment literally is tucked into a cleft of a large rock wall.
Other Missouri restaurants with unique settings can be found in:
- Jefferson City, home of Prison Brews, a brewpub where the décor features a prison theme, including an area sectioned off with prison bars, and craft beers such as “Go To Jail Ale.”
- Excelsior Springs, where the award-winning Wabash Barbecue serves up its highly regarded ribs and chicken in what formerly was the city’s railroad depot.
- Maryville, a college town with an air-travel themed restaurant and movie theater, The Hangar. There quite literally is an airplane punching through a wall, and there are parachutes hanging from the ceiling. The entire building has a curved, steel airplane hangar look. Eat at the Bomb Shelter or dine in the Observation Deck.
- Independence, Harry S. Truman’s hometown, has the Italian themed Café Verona, which features a massive, wall-sized mural of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.
- Fenton, where Sisters Tea House can be found in the Navajo Hotel, a historic building in Olde Towne Fenton. This establishment offers a limited menu but features more than 20 flavors of tea.
As you can see, Missouri is rich with unique eateries and dishes; this is just an appetizer of all the great places to grab a meal in Missouri.
For more information about restaurants in Missouri, please log on to www.VisitMO.com. To order your free copy of the Official Missouri Travel Guide, please call 800-519-4800.
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Broussards Cajun Cuisine, www.BroussardsCajunCuisine.com
Sammy’s Beach Bar and Grill, www.harrahsstlouis.com/casinos/harrahs-stlouis/restaurants-dining/sammys-beach-bar–grill-detail.html
Silver Dollar City, www.SilverDollarCity.com
Stefanina’s Pizzeria, Banquet Center and Tea Room, www.stefaninas-troy.com/
Lula Belle’s, www.lulabelles.com/index.html
Missouri Hick Barbecue, www.MissouriHick.com
Undercliff Grill and Bar, http://undercliff.net/
Prison Brews, www.PrisonBrews.com
Wabash Barbecue, www.WabashBBQ.com
The Hangar, http://hangar1.com
Café Verona, www.cafeveronarestaurant.com/
Sisters Tea House, http://sistersteahouse.com/
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Missouri Division of Tourism