A travel journal
to Springfield by jwdorris
Quote: Springfield, MO, is the largest city in Southwest Missouri, the fastest-growing region in the state, and third largest city in the state. There are numerous recreational opportunities nearby, including Branson, world headquarters of Bass Pro Shops, and several nearby lakes. Springfield has numerous restaurants and dining opportunities.
Restaurant | "Nakato's Japanese Steakhouse"
The menu items include sushi, chicken, salmon, and steak. On this visit, I had the chicken and steak combination, and both were delicious. The waitress was very attentive and kept our drinks filled without having to be asked for refills.
Guests are seated around a table with a grill in the center. The chef comes to the table and cooks the meal in front of your group. The preparation of the food is entertaining, as the chef performs with his knife and spatula. While the food is delicious, the show that the chef puts on while cooking your food is the highlight of the meal. The sushi bar is in the center of the restaurant. When you order your sushi, it is placed on a small boat in a trough of water that surrounds the preparation area and is floated to you.
Everyone in our group had a great time and enjoyed the food.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 29, 2004
Nakato Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar
2615 S Glenstone Ave
Springfield, Missouri 65804
Restaurant | "Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar"
The decor is interesting,with different sections of the restaurant reflecting different themes. The entryway is dedicated to our local firefighters, with pictures of local heroes and fire-fighting equipment on the wall. One section is decorated with photographs, uniforms, and memorabilia of the high school nearest the restaurant. Another has the same type items from one of the five colleges in Springfield. Yet another section is dedicated to movie posters, especially those of Brad Pitt, who is from the nearby town of Nixa.
The food was excellent. It was served at the proper temperature, and the quality and quantity were perfect. I really enjoyed the Fiesta Lime Chicken. My friend had a Bourbon Street Steak, which is also an excellent choice.
Springfield has adopted a smoke-free policy in restaurants unless a certain percentage of the restaurant's sales are of liquor. Applebee’s meets the requirement and so has a section for those who choose to smoke. We chose the non-smoking section, and it is separated well enough from the smoking section that we were able to enjoy our meal smoke-free.
Overall, Applebee’s is one of our favorite places to eat in Springfield. We usually visit a couple of times per month and have never been dissatisfied with either the food or the service.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 7, 2005
Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar
2430 N Glenstone Ave
Springfield, Missouri 65803
The restaurant is small, with older tables and no booths. The chairs are not especially comfortable. The decor is sparse and consists of wall hangings of Japanese symbols and drawings and a few bamboo plants. The atmosphere is more that of a fast-food restaurant.
Service was quick and friendly. Our waitress kept our drinks replenished and was courteous and personable. Our food was delivered within 5 minutes of the time we ordered, making it nice for someone on a tight schedule. But that indicates that the food was premade and waiting to be served. However, the food quality was good and the food was tasty.
As long as one understands that this is basically fast food, it isn’t a bad place to eat. My recommendation to eat here would be to go ahead if you are in a hurry or on a budget. Little Tokyo isn’t bad, but it isn’t going to be on my favorites list.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 7, 2005
Little Tokyo Japanese Restaurant
1635 N Glenstone Ave
Springfield, Missouri 65803
As you enter the restaurant, on the left is a large, well-stocked bar and the main dining area, which is rather small. To the right is the banquet room, which is also rather small. Our group of 35 was seated in the banquet room and just about filled it to capacity. This restaurant obviously seeks to provide a quality dining experience rather than a high-volume business. The tables were immaculately set with fine linen tablecloths and napkins and crystal glasses. The walls were decorated with scenes from Italy and bottles of fine imported wine hung on racks on the wall.
Although my wife and I were with a group the evening we visited Gilardi’s, the service remained personal and attentive. Too often when with a group, when the waiter knows that the tip is guaranteed, the service is slower or less attentive, but that was definitely not the case. Our group had the banquet room in the restaurant reserved, but we still had several servers for the room, and the owner made a point to come to each table and inquire about the food and service before the evening was over.
The food was fantastic. The moment we were seated, we were offered drinks, and shortly after that, a large appetizer platter with portabello mushrooms, calamari, and several other items appeared on our table. All of the food on the appetizer platter was delicious. Since we were with a group, we were offered a choice of several entree items, all of which sounded delicious. My wife had mushroom and seafood-stuffed ravioli, which she said was delicious. I had a steak covered in a peppercorn sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. The food was cooked perfectly, and the portion sizes were just right as well. For dessert, we both had the flourless chocolate cake, which was so rich and delicious that it melted in your mouth.
While the food was outstanding, it was the personal service that really made the experience special. I was very impressed with the owner’s attention to detail and the friendliness of all the staff. Although Gilardi’s may not look like much from the outside, it is not to be missed when dining in Springfield. Quality food, outstanding service, attention to detail, and romantic atmosphere all combine to make Gilardi’s one of the best restaurants I have ever visited in Springfield.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 24, 2005
820 E Walnut St
Springfield, Missouri 65806
The atmosphere is fun and the restaurant is interesting. It is designed to look like an Old West saloon. The restaurant is decorated in ranch-style decor, with cowboy art, steer head and bison head mounts, and ranching implements on the wall. There are plants such as cacti that are commonly associated with western environments. The bathrooms are listed as Cowboys and Cowgirls with hand-painted signs. There are televisions scattered around the dining room for those wishing to watch TV while awaiting their food order. Some of the televisions in the restaurant were set to college basketball on ESPN and the rest to country music videos, so you could have your choice of what to watch.
In keeping with the Old West saloon atmosphere, the host or hostess starts the meal with a bucket of peanuts roasted in the shell bought to your table when you are seated. Guests can enjoy their peanuts while they wait to order and then wait for their meal. Shells are thrown on the floor, so I would hate to be on the cleanup crew.
The food was delicious and the service was good. Our waitress was attentive and kept our drinks and fresh roll basket filled. I ordered sirloin steak, and it was cooked as I ordered it and so good that I didn’t need or use steak sauce. The fried okra side and garden salad were both also very good. My wife ordered a half slab of barbecued ribs that she said were delicious. There is a kid’s menu with burgers, chicken strips, and smaller-sized portions for children.
Overall, I would rate this visit very highly. We got good food and were served in a fun environment, with good service for a reasonable price. This is why Colton’s is one of our favorite places to go for steak and/or barbecue in Springfield.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 24, 2005
Colton’s Steakhouse and Grill
2020 E Independence St
Springfield, Missouri 65804
There is no Tex-Mex here - the food is authentic Mexican with authentic seasonings and spices. The portion sizes are very large; there are usually enough leftovers to have for another later meal. A children’s menu has burgers, tacos, and chicken strips for the little amigos in your group.
On this particular visit, I brought my daughter here for lunch. She ordered one of the delicious combination platters with tacos, a burrito, and an enchilada. I had beef fajitas and a chili relleno, which has become my usual order here. Service was, as it always is, prompt, friendly, and efficient. In all the times we have eaten here, we have never gotten an incorrect order or food that was anything but delicious.
La Caretta has become one of our favorite places to eat in Springfield; we generally eat here at least two or three times per month. There are other Mexican restaurants in Springfield, but none so good as La Caretta, so when in Springfield, if it is authentic Mexican food that you want, La Caretta is the place to go. There is a second location at 3356 S. Campbell, which is just as good as the original location. The number for the South Campbell location is 417/890-0344.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 2, 2005
La Caretta Mexican Restaurant
631 N Glenstone
The atmosphere is a little noisy but inviting, and the delicious food more than compensates for the noisy atmosphere. The entire wall next to the bar is covered with a colorful, lighted outdoor scene. The walls are covered with plain boards, which gives the restaurant a rustic, down-home appearance. There are interesting photographs on the walls, and in the center of the restaurant, there is a fireplace that adds a cozy feel to the main dining area. There are numerous televisions scattered around the dining area, and each table has a speaker box with controls from which you can decide which television to listen to while you wait. The waiting area is small but comfortable, and the restaurant does a good job separating the smoking and non-smoking sections.
The food was excellent. My son and I had the half slab of barbecued baby-back ribs, and they were fantastic. The meat was tender and juicy; it literally fell off the bone. Both my son and I have healthy appetites, but the half-slab, along with the two side dishes that came with it, was plenty to fill us up. Meals are served with garlic toast (which was quite tasty) and your choice of two sides from a list including cole slaw, fries, baked beans, and steamed broccoli, among others. My wife had a barbecued chicken breast sandwich, and it looked and smelled delicious as well. They also serve steak, which I have had on other visits, and it is delicious, as well as a limited number of seafood items. There are salads and appetizers available, both of which are very good. They also serve desserts that look delicious, but I'm always too full to order dessert. A variety of soft drinks and a wide range of domestic and imported beers are available along with mixed drinks.
We visited on a Saturday evening, but we only had to wait for about half an hour, not because guests are rushed through but because the restaurant is large enough and well-staffed enough to handle a large volume of guests quickly and efficiently. Although it was busy, our waitress took our order promptly and arrived quickly with our drinks. My only complaint was that she wasn't the best at keeping our drinks refilled--one of my pet peeves when I eat at a restaurant. However, she was busy and did her best to keep up with several tables. Service was friendly and as good as possible with the number of customers that night. I don't want to give the wrong impression--the service wasn't bad, but on other visits, when the restaurant was less crowded, we have had better service.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 20, 2005
2040 E Independence Ave
Springfield, Missouri 65804
As one would expect, the decor is impressive. The Bass Pro organization doesn’t do anything half way; for them it’s all or nothing. The host and wait staff greet you in Hawaiian shirts with friendly smiles. Stepping through the front door is like stepping into the tropics. In this impressive restaurant, it is easy to forget that you are inside a massive sporting goods store. The sights of the wilder parts of the world instantly surround guests. The walls are decorated with mounts of exotic fish and wild game. Behind the bar is a 60,000-gallon salt-water aquarium filled with hundreds of beautiful tropical fish and turtles. Numerous photographs of Hemingway taken as he enjoyed the outdoor activities he loved adorn the walls of the restaurant.
As one would expect from the name, seafood is the specialty here, but for those who prefer other foods, there are dishes of pasta, chicken, beef, or pork as well. I’ve never eaten anything here that wasn’t delicious, but the best deal is the lunch buffet. For $8.50 you can enjoy all you want to eat of many delicious treats. Standard items on the buffet are carved beef, turkey, or ham, fried catfish, numerous kinds of salad, pasta, vegetables, and the best clam chowder this side of New England. The buffet itself is beautiful. At the center of the hot food area is a large bonze mermaid, and smaller bronze mermaid statues hold up the sneeze guards around the buffet area.
One of my pet peeves when dining out is to run out of my drink. In spite of the fact that the drink glasses are small, that has never been a problem here. The wait staff is always attentive and friendly, even when you choose the buffet. After a few visits, you realize that many of them have worked at this restaurant for a long time. Jim, our waiter on the visit that prompted this journal entry, told my son and I that he has worked here for 14 years, which showed through his knowledge of the products and his attentive service.
With its beautiful decor, impressive service, and delicious food, Hemingway’s Blue Water Café is one of the best places to eat in Springfield. It, along with the Bass Pro Shop store in which it is located, is a do-not-miss destination in Springfield, MO.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 23, 2005
Hemingway’s Blue Water Café
1935 S Campbell Ave
Springfield, Missouri 65807
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 29, 2004
Dickerson Park Zoo
3043 North Fort
Springfield, Missouri 65803
Reintroduction of the bald eagle into Missouri by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Dickerson Park Zoo has led to a resurgence of the eagle population in the state. With its large number of lakes and rivers with open water that seldom freezes in winter, Missouri has become the number-one location in the nation for wintering bald eagles, with nearly 3,000 eagles wintering in the state each year.
A joint project of the Department of Conservation and Dickerson Park Zoo, Eagle Days has become an annual event designed to increase awareness of conservation efforts of the bald eagle and to give people an opportunity to see eagles both in the wild and up close in an indoor program. The indoor program consists of a discussion of the history of the efforts to restore the bald eagle population and a video showcasing these magnificent creatures. Dickerson Park Zoo then brings out Phoenix, a 16-year-old female bald eagle that was one of the first group of eaglets brought to Missouri for release into the wild in 1989. Phoenix had lost her ability to hunt after being raised by humans, so she was brought back to the zoo, where she serves as an ambassador for her species. There is a question-and-answer time, and there are numerous exhibits in the nature center showcasing characteristics and abilities of the bald eagle. Those attending can then drive to nearby Springfield Lake, where spotting scopes are set up to allow viewing of wild eagles.
Coloring books, pictures, and the opportunity to see an eagle up close in a safe environment make this a great kid-friendly way to spend an afternoon. The event is educational, fun, and free. Other Eagle Day weekends are held in other parts of the state throughout the winter.
Fair Grove, Missouri