Unforgettable meals don't come in bags. They aren't grabbed from a drive-thru window, to be consumed while zipping down the Interstate. Instead, the best lunches and dinners are shared with friends and family at locations as memorable as the meals themselves.
Word of mouth goes a long way when it comes to good food. When you’re at the Lake, you'll always hear a buzz about t J. Bruner's. Whenever your travels take you to the Lake of the Ozarks region, be sure to stop by this Osage Beach steakhouse that has been serving legendary porterhouse steaks or Kansas City strips for 30 years. If you prefer fish to beef, try the decadent lobster macaroni and cheese or the deservedly famous batter-fried lobster tail. Leave plenty of room for something sweet from the dessert tray, and a dessert concoction from the bar—ice cream drinks like The Grasshopper and the Brandy Alexander cap off any meal in a satisfying way.
The sense of history adds to the appeal at Oscar's Classic Diner in Jefferson City. Oscar's is a redo of a famous 1950s Jefferson City roadhouse, serving plenty of home-style dishes, breakfast, lunch and supper. After your tour of the Capitol and the 1836 Missouri State Penitentiary, stop at Oscar's for a freshly prepared omelet or hearty chicken fried steak, served with a heaping side of nostalgia.
Friendly service is always found at Miller's Grill. This beloved Washington, MO, eatery serves everything from Reuben sandwiches to mahi-mahi, and nightly specials. During Lent, you'll find crab legs on the menu Fridays and Saturdays. They have three “all-you-care-to-eat” nights: Tuesdays, for ribs; Wednesday and Sunday, it’s catfish.
Home cookin' receives a fresh twist at The Peachtree in Lee's Summit, where the approach to down-home southern cooking is playful and utterly delicious. Begin with the collard green dip (a tasty knockoff on traditional spinach dip), and follow it up with fried or braised catfish. Whatever you do, remember to leave room for the sweet potato pie.
In St. Louis, a premium cafe called Bixby's gives new meaning to “historic dining,” thanks to its location inside the Missouri History Museum. Peruse the museum's latest exhibits, and enjoy lunch at this fine cafe. Take in great views of Forest Park as you nosh on expertly prepared cuisine like a trio of mini crab cakes or smoked chicken crepes. If you happen to be in St. Louis on a Sunday, treat yourself to Bixby's Champagne Brunch.
Speaking of treats, foodies flock to bluestem, a Kansas City bistro with a reputation for seriously good food using locally sourced ingredients. Starters include a “crudo” of hamachi and a poached-pear salad; the entree course presents such choices as hen “piccata” with roasted garlic gnocchi. Diners who want to sample the full range of dishes can order a three, five, seven or 12-course “tasting dinner.”
In Springfield, get a table at Touch for some fine American cuisine with Mediterranean influences. In addition to the regular menu, they have tapas and a late-night menus. The bar serves cocktails, beer and wine. Favorites include Mediterranean macaroni and cheese, and Persian lamb skewers.
Craving a classic pizza? You'll find pie paradise at The Brick Oven in Hannibal. Their Italian meats and fresh cheeses are sliced and grated daily; their pizza dough is handmade every morning from specially formulated flour to match the true Neapolitan traditions of Italy. In addition to delicious pizzas and calzones, they serve a range of pasta dishes and sandwiches. Everyone in your group is sure to find something to enjoy.