Road Trip Tips: Eats and Treats in the Show-Me State

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Cafe Berlin - Columbia
Cafe Berlin - Columbia
Red's Giant Hamburg
Char Bar - Kansas City
Char Bar - Kansas City

Nothing makes a road trip better than finding a great place to fuel up before heading further down the highway. And when we say fuel up, we mean food.

From Missouri’s famous barbecue and specialty burgers to homemade pie and ice cream, it’s not hard to find a mouthwatering meal or sweet treat in the Show-Me State. Here are a few suggestions located near Missouri’s most travelled routes.

Interstate 70

Kansas City: A southern-inspired smokehouse, Char Bar Smoked Meats and Amusements carries on Missouri’s legendary barbecue tradition – but with a modern twist. Offering a selection of smoked meats, as well as several vegetarian options, the restaurant affectionately refers to its customers as “Charbarians.”

Columbia: Café Berlin sources produce, meat and milk from local farmers for many of its breakfast and lunch offerings, including vegetarian and gluten-free choices. The breakfast menu has more than a dozen egg dishes, as well as pancakes and French toast. For lunch, try a burger, pulled pork, street tacos or a wrap filled with stir-fried vegetables, brown rice, tofu and fresh spinach.

St. Louis: Famous for its vintage juke box and soda fountain, Crown Candy Kitchen features the best of both worlds – candy and ice cream plus lunch and dinner. Opened in 1913, the store makes its own chocolate and ice cream. The lunch and dinner menu offers chili, soup and sandwiches, including the towering Heart Stopping BLT.

Interstate 44

Rolla: Soda and Scoops on Route 66 serves up premium ice cream, soda fountain favorites and old-fashioned candy. Specialty sundaes bear the names of classic Hollywood stars and characters, including The Lucy and The Lone Ranger, and Missouri’s only president, The Truman.

Springfield: Red’s Giant Hamburg lives again. The original restaurant – believed to be the first drive-thru diner in the country – opened shortly after World War II and closed in 1984. Twenty-five years later, it’s back, serving the same giant burgers, tenderloins, fries and onion rings.

Joplin: Head downtown where a hundred-year-old building is home to the Red Onion Cafe. Hand-cut steaks, chicken and pasta dishes, and freshly chopped salads with homemade dressings are served in a casual setting. Other specialties include the smoked chicken dip, bacon-wrapped shrimp and craft burgers.

Interstate 65

Sedalia: Dine in a vintage passenger rail car at Kehde’s Barbecue. In addition to smoked pork, beef, turkey and ham, the restaurant serves burgers, tenderloins, salads and Posh Potatoes stuffed with meat, vegetables and cheese. Top it all off with a slice of homemade pie or an apple dumpling.

Warsaw: Create your own sandwich on freshly-baked bread at the Common Ground Café, located in a historic hotel overlooking the Osage River. The restaurant also offers a selection of salads, soups and homemade desserts, including sweet potato pound cake, apple crisp and banana bread. Dinner specials, such as chicken Alfredo and beef stroganoff, rotate nightly.

Springfield: Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes is known for its creative burgers and shakes. The burger names – Don’t go Bacon My Heart, Bleus Brothers, and Jamaican Me Crazy to name a few – speak for themselves. Shake flavors include Elvis, Strawberry Fields Forever, and P.B.J.

Branson: Your sweet tooth is in for a treat at Sugar Leaf Bakery and Café. The bakery boasts an assortment of delectable pies, cobblers, cookies, cupcakes and more. Sandwiches, soups, salads, quiche and other savory items are available for breakfast and lunch. 

Written by Liz Coleman