Ramblin’ Man

While I haven’t been doing a whole lot of writing, there has been a good deal of driving going on. Trips to Myrtle, Springfield, Kansas City and the Lake. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good:

Maple St. Grill – Buffalo, MO

The downtown are had the weathered, worn-out feel of so many other medium-size Midwestern towns. Too many Wal-marts and too little civic pride. Maybe it was the shuttered businesses guarding the town square, but I didn’t hold much hope for the Maple St. Grill.

Instead, it was a real treat. They smoke their own meats, make baked beans from scratch (ie, dried not canned) and fry onion petals for a side. All were excellent a match for the pretty drive down State 73.

Captain Ron’s – Sunrise Beach, MO

This is one of our favorite places at the Lake; heaven for anyone with a little (or lot) white trash in his blood. You can sit on lawn chairs and drink beer while the kids play on the “beach” a few feet away. Food’s good, there are cabins on the property, and naturally a volleyball court. I love it.

Arthur Bryant’s – Kansas City, MO

I’m not sure my first visit matched the hype, but the ‘cue was good and the atmosphere worth the trip. Ribs seemed lacking and the pulled pork was shredded and a little mushy for my preference. But the burnt ends were really, really good. Good place; you should do it at least once.

The Bad:

Some Crap Bar – West Plains, MO

At the end of a long day I found myself nursing a beer in a bar in West Plains. The Mexican place next door but the parking lot was packed. Naturally, it was for karaoke night – a chance for my sober self to do some serious people-watching. Barely halfway through my first Budweiser, one drunk, desperate middle-aged lady warbled her way through Heart’s “All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You.” I could decide if it was an advertisement or witless coincidence. Jesus, I still have the ending refrain – sung six times if I remember correctly – echoing in my skull. “All night long, all night long…”

If I’d had a buddy with me, or the wife, we could have shut the place down and never stopped laughing. Solo, it was aneurysm-inducing.

Breakfast in downtown Springfield, MO

Okay guys, you have a bunch of nice-looking coffee shops, and plenty of bars if I’d been there nine hours sooner. But where does one get breakfast in downtown Springfield? I must have driven fifteen minutes looking for a place – any place – that could promise more than a biscotti.

Taking recs for next time…

The Ugly:

Dairy Bar – Cole Camp, MO

Okay, this wasn’t truly bad, but my eggs were significantly overcooked and the place was pretty unkempt. Hashbrowns were good. Their downtown looked lively, with a number of German places and beer gardens. Too bad it was 8:00 am.

One interesting side note. I noticed Cole Camp’s population listed as 1,028; the next town down Highway 65, Lincoln, claims 1,026. “Boy, ain’t that something? They’re off by two people,” I thought to myself.

Not anymore: I heard later that day about Cole Camp’s horrible triple murder the week before. Yikes.

Camdenton Farmers Market – Camdenton, MO

Sure, I’m spoiled in Columbia. But this little gathering – of five vendors – is shoehorned into the elbow of Camdenton’s main stoplight. It’s unnerving, and doesn’t offer much to the few souls who stop. Two people selling plants, an Amish family with bread, two people with blueberries and one guy with some zucchini and tomatoes. Glad they’re there, was just hoping for more…we gave ’em some bidness and to be fair, the blueberries were out of this world.

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Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

8 thoughts

  1. You missed a treat!

    There’s a great place called Gaileys Breakfast Bar right in the heart of downtown on Walnut Street, just east of South Street.

    A new place opened up a few months ago, called Lill’s Diner, on Jefferson.

    There’s also a new Ziggies, at the corner of Walnut and S Campbell

    Did you ask anyone?

  2. Man, I must have just missed Gailey’s. I was there for a meeting in Park Central Square, and by the time I was done with that it was past breakfast time. I’d been winging it up to that point…next time.

  3. Next time, for better West Plains fare, check out TJ’s Hickory House on west Hwy 160 at the edge of the city limits. The steaks are even better than the BBQ.

    Also, have you checked out the pies at Cooky’s in Golden City, yet?
    Yep, the Pie Mecca of Missouri…

  4. Martha, very nice map…thanks for sharing. I’m sure I’ll be back in West Plains at some point. TJ’s is on the list.

  5. Go to Carrollton and get a beefburger and malt at the Dari-Maid and Burger Bar. I’ve known folks to drive hundreds of miles for this treat. It’ll set you back about four bucks.

  6. If you want to get the full West Plains zeitgeist, read some of the novels of Daniel Woodrell set in his fictionalized version of West Plains (Tomato Red, Death of Sweet Mister, Give Us a Kiss). Ain’t pretty but it is fascinatin’.

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