1st: Lil’ Black River Cafe, Grandin; 573-593-4023
When Alan and Valerie Porter returned to Alan’s stomping grounds in south-central Missouri, they had one goal in mind for the Lil’ Black River Cafe: “Big-city quality at a small-town price.” In the process, they put Grandin on the map for diners who flock to the banks of the Little Black River for a diverse culinary experience be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Can’t decide which to have? Try a little of both with The Italian Breakfast comprising pasta piled high with farm-fresh eggs, vegetables, bacon and sausage gravy. Check for daily specials on the cafe’s Facebook page. Or take on one of Alan’s specialties — seafood — with catfish, served blackened or breaded three different ways.
2nd: Fulton Cafe, Fulton; 573-642-8444
Court Street in Fulton continues to be a hotbed for our contest. This year, Fulton Cafe became the third restaurant in one block to grace our contest. John and Iris Atkison serve up a combination of bona fide Cuban cuisine along with some American favorites. For the best experience, go with the Cuban fare that is reminiscent of Iris’ youth in Cuba. Start with a Cubano sandwich with a side of ham croquettes and a Cafe con Leche to drink
EC: Haven 55, Pineville; 417-223-2055
Located 2 miles from the Missouri-Arkansas border, Haven 55 serves up casual lunch fare along with upscale dinner entrees inside an old gristmill overlooking the Elk River. Burgers are the most popular item at lunchtime, featuring one-third pound of certified Angus beef grilled to order with a host of toppings available for that perfect bite. At dinner, opt for a steak cooked to your liking or the creamy shrimp pesto.
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