by | Mar 18, 2021

Even though Missourians may have been a little less mobile this past year, they sure haven’t forgotten the places they love throughout the Show-Me State. This year’s Best of Rural Missouri Readers’ Choice Contest ballots were chock-full of your favorite places to eat, shop, visit and play.

Just as we published last year’s contest, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and left many of the locations featured in the 2020 contest temporarily closed or with reduced service options. Here’s hoping you can visit as many of this year’s winners as possible!

Eighteen was the magic number this year as this is the 18th edition of the contest and it featured 18 categories showcasing the many unique opportunities available to Missourians all year long. Some categories — such as Best Restaurant and Best Barbecue — have been contest staples while others like Best Food Truck and Best Getaway Without the Kids were brand new. Some categories had clear runaways while others came down to just a few reader votes. Each category includes a first- and second-place winner along with an editors’ choice (EC).

Thousands of votes came pouring in both online and through the mail. All who completed a ballot in at least five categories were entered to win a $500 Visa gift card to use at whatever Missouri restaurant or destination they enjoy most. This years’ winner was Intercounty Electric Cooperative member Lois Boykin of Cabool.

In addition to highlighting this year’s winners here, online and on social media, in August we will display these pages in the Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives Building during the Missouri State Fair. Be sure to stop by and see us. So, without further ado, here are your 2021 winners!

Click through below to see all of this years’ winners!


1st: Lil’ Black River Cafe, Grandin
2nd: Fulton Cafe, Fulton
EC: Haven 55, Pineville

Food Truck

1st: Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co., Columbia
2nd: London Calling, Springfield
EC: The Jiggy Pig, Raymore

Outdoor Dining

1st: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, Columbia
2nd: Fernweh Distilling Co., Hermann
EC: Boondocks Kitchen, Phillipsburg

Ice Cream

1st: Central Dairy, Jefferson City
2nd: Ice Cream Factory, Eldon and Jefferson City
EC: Sara’s Ice Cream, Ste. Genevieve


1st: Billy Gail’s, Branson West, Ozark
2nd: The Kozy, Bloomsdale
EC: Cosmic Cafe, Warsaw

Pork Tenderloin

1st: Smith’s Restaurant, Clinton, Collins, Bolivar and Springfield
2nd: Rob & Kricket’s Tater Patch, Rolla
EC: Buddy’s Place, Lancaster

Fried Chicken

1st: The Landmark, Lowry City
2nd: Don’s Family Style Buffet, Huntsville
EC: Claysville Store, Hartsburg


1st: Wabash BBQ, Excelsior Springs and Chillicothe
2nd: Hercules Southern BBQ, Piedmont
EC: Rebel Pig Smokehouse & Grill, Palmyra


1st: CC’s City Broiler, Columbia
2nd: Matt’s Steakhouse, Rolla
EC: Hughes Bar X Ranch, Albany

Golf Course

1st: Top of the Rock; Ridgedale
2nd: Ste. Genevieve Golf Club, Ste. Genevieve
EC: The Watson 9, Maryville

State Park or Historic Site

1st: Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Camdenton
2nd: Elephant Rocks State Park, Belleview
EC: Echo Bluff State Park, Eminence


1st: Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, Springfield
2nd: City Museum, St. Louis/National World War I Museum and Memorial, Kansas City
EC: Walt Disney Hometown Museum, Marceline

Place to Take the Kids

1st: Silver Dollar City, Branson
2nd: Mark Twain Cave, Hannibal
EC: Powell Gardens, Kingsville

Getaway Without the Kids

1st: Hermann
2nd: Wilderland Glamping Cabins, Arcadia
EC: The Elms Hotel & Spa, Excelsior Springs

Fair or Festival

1st: Missouri State Fair, Sedalia
2nd: Old Tyme Apple Festival, Versailles
EC: Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival, Marshfield

Made-in-Missouri Product

1st: Burgers’ Smokehouse, California
2nd: Swiss Meat and Sausage Co., Swiss
EC: Cherry Mash, St. Joseph

Brewery or Distillery

1st: Sweetwater Distillery, Monroe City
2nd: Bee’s Knees Ale House, Versailles
EC: Good News Brewing, Defiance, O’Fallon and Augusta


1st: St. James Winery, St. James
2nd: Les Bourgeois Vineyards, Rocheport
EC: Black Silo Winery, Trenton

View the winners on our digital edition here.

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