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SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI - Are there any good restaurants?

There are three farmer's markets that I know of, now. I frequent the one at Farmers Park, as it is very close to my house and has a pretty good selection. The market at Battlefield is still there, and I believe there is one on Commercial St., though I've yet to visit. Had some insanely good peaches recently - I do love the ability to get my produce each Saturday - I'll be sad when cold returns.

Aug 10, 2015
jhojati in Great Plains

Overnight in Des Moines

In addition to Bobfrmia's recs (though I find Dos Rios and Malo to be underwhelming)

1. Baru 66 – my favorite place in DSM. Fine French dining - - will require cab ride
2. Lucca – Italian, also open for lunch -
3. Table 128 (casual bistro – great cocktails) - - will require cab ride
4. Akebono – Japanese -
5. Wasabi Tao – Japanese -
6. Tacopocalypse (casual tacos) -
7. Zombie Burger -
8. A Dong – Great Vietnamese -
9. Smokey D’s (BBQ) – American Royal Grand Champions – very good -
10. Royal Mile – lots of Scotch -
11. Hessen Haus – German beer hall, das boot and all –

Jul 13, 2015
jhojati in Great Plains

SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI - Are there any good restaurants?

I've recently moved to Springfield from Chicago, and can certainly admit missing the dining scene in Chicago. With that said, I've had a few good to great things here in Springfield, and have listed them below.

- Steak at Flame - the steak here, when on, can rival any steakhouse in Chicago. When I'm in the mood for an aged piece of meat, this is absolutely where I'll go.

- Bulgogi and mandu at Soo's - this is a Sunday pleasure of mine. Banchan are fresh and delicious, beef is tender (though a bit too sweet, so we order it spicy), and the fried mandu are still delicate and not greasy.

- Banh mi at Pho Kim - banh mi are hard to find here, and both versions I had from Pho Kim were pretty delicious. Probably wouldn't stack up to ones I have had in Chicago, but very tasty nonetheless.

- Chili Chicken at 5 Spice - this is on their "Chinese Menu" and not on their standard menu. We crave the dry chili chicken from Tony Hu's Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown in Chicago, and this fits the bill when done properly. The first time we had it was stellar, but it was a bit sweet and soggy the second time, so consistency can be hit or miss.

- Cachete (beef cheek) at Tortilleria Perches - the cachete is quite tasty. I'd love to see them roasting some al pastor on a spit, but won't get greedy.

- Momma Mary's Navajo Tacos - I grew up eating Tasty Tacos in Des Moines, and to me nothing will ever compare, but these come pretty close. Fry bread tacos are delicious, and not very common. Moved out of their brick and mortar to the food truck park.

- Metropolitan Farmer - I just like the vibe of this place (but love the bar upstairs even more). I've been hot and cold on the food here, but I thought the shrimp cocktail was great, and if you sit at the bar and are female, your first glass of wine is free - my wife takes advantage of this often. The burger at lunch, I thought, was outstanding and one of the better burgers I've had in town.

- Casper's - there is a reason this place has a following - gourmet, it is not, but delicious, it is. Drown whatever you're ordering in chili, and you'll love it.

- Tong's Thai - the pad thai here was actually pretty good, though when I ordered it spicy it was not very.

- Haruno - I've yet to try Kai, but this is as good of sushi as you can get in Springfield from my estimation, which isn't saying's really not that good, but when speaking relatively and if you like sushi, Kai/Haruno are likely your safest bets.

Lucy's - the best place I've found for Springfield cashew chicken, IMO.

Prima's Glenstone - not for the food, but for the margaritas made by the very friendly bartender in the bar area. Don't skimp, go top shelf, and be happy with your beverage.

FD's Grillhouse - I wouldn't order steak here, but most other items are above average bar fare, and they also have a very good margarita (pre-batched, in case you're wondering)

Barley, Wheat and Rye - limited food menu, put may change. Cocktails are completely on point, though, and I am here at least 2x a week.

Scotch & Soda - food is actually quite good - I like the meat and cheese board, and the black bean hummus was also very satisfying. But, you go here for their craft cocktails, and the bartenders are very friendly.

Farmer's Gastropub - vibe and beer. Food has underwhelmed, though.

Galloway Grill - while the food is OK and the service is meh, this place is tucked away in Galloway and has a great patio.

Pizza - if I'm having pizza, it's either from Casey's, Brick Slicehouse, or The Big Slice. If I want deep dish or stuffed, I'll order frozen from Malnati's or Giordano's

Places that I've seen recommended that I was sorely disappointed in:
- Bourbon Street Blues Cafe in Nixa - calling this cajun is a travesty
- Touch - super overpriced, trendy place with dirty glasses and mediocre food
- Nakato - I know this is an institution, but you leave smelling like grease and smoke, and it's standard fare overcooked teppanyaki meat. But hey, you get sauce! To be fair, I think most of the hibachi places are underwhelming, and I have no idea how Hinode has 2 hour long waits.
- City Butcher - I have been only once, and that is because there was zero smoke on the "barbecue" I had. Perhaps a one-time problem, and I'll go back, but I was sad.
- ReRico - the worst churrascaria in the history of churrascarias.
- China King
- Leong's
- El Puente

Jun 30, 2015
jhojati in Great Plains

NYers excited for 4 nights in late July- feedback please!

Saturday night, when you're moving around from place to place in west loop, I suggest you stop in at Tete on the west end of Randolph and order a small charcuterie board and a cocktail. You will not regret it.

Jun 17, 2015
jhojati in Chicago Area

4 days in Kansas city end of June

I lived in KC for a while, and will also be returning not long after you. I did a lot of digging around, and the list I came up with for our trip includes the following restaurants and bars (I eat at Joe's every time I drive through, but would recommend it if you haven't been in 5 years):

El Camino Real
Vietnam Cafe
Le Fou Frog
Extra Virgin
Caspian Bistro
Woodyard BBQ

Harry's Country Club
Harry's Bar and Tables
Gram and Dun

Jun 17, 2015
jhojati in Great Plains

[UPDATE]- Vote for Your Favorite Restaurants in Chicago for "Best of 2014"

Tete Charcuterie - of the [close to] hundreds, it seems, that I've eaten or drunk here, only one item wasn't spectacular

Nov 24, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

One Dinner at the bar...cravings, please advise

I loved sitting at the bar at Celeste and eating the fried chicken, but I think they don't serve it until after 10 pm - I could be wrong, though. I've had a hard time finding a better bread accompaniment than is served at Bavette's, and while it can be crowded at the bar, I feel it's quite cozy.

One other option, a bit out of the way but worth the trip, is Owen & Engine, who regularly has some offal type dishes and various interesting desserts (though unlikely to have crudo). They also have some great bread selections on a daily basis. Sit upstairs where they have a fireplace blazing, wood paneled walls and leather seating, and it's pretty much heaven.

Nov 07, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Michelin Predictions for 2015

I'm guessing not given how young it is, but any chance for TÊTE Charcuterie? I've found them to be stellar, and was surprised to not see them receive a Bib Gourmand. I think with time they'd be, at a minimum, a strong contender, but wonder if they may get some love despite being around less than a year.

Nov 07, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Bohemian House?

Nearby is Celeste, where I've had really great cocktails and some dynamite food. And if you go after the show, you may be able to get some ridiculously good fried chicken, which is the complete antithesis of the restaurant otherwise. Skip the street level and head up to the 2nd level.

Sep 30, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Bohemian House?

I went the 2nd week it was open and really enjoyed the rabbit dumplings and pierogies. We sat at the bar and chatted with the managing partner, who was very friendly. I found cocktails to be a bit on the sweet side.

Beautiful space, with a diverse crowd (mix of typical River North crowd and older, food-focused crews).

All in all, worth a visit - order the pierogies.

Sep 29, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Magnificent Mile Hip Eateries

Not on this list, but also in West Loop (should you happen to find yourself there) and very friendly to bar seating for single diners would be La Sirena Clandestina, and my current favorite restaurant in Chicago - Tete Charcuterie. Both have outstanding cocktail programs in addition to great food.

Sep 26, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Twelve hours in Springfield, MO- tees, gifts, and delicious eats!

I found the pork verde at Tortilleria Perches quite good. Also liked the vibe of the mom and pop shop Momma Mary's for their Navajo tacos. Had great beer and good fish and chips at Springfield Brewing.

In Branson, a surprisingly good steak can be had at Level Two. I wish Candlestick Inn was still open, but Level Two is a good second fiddle.

If you enjoy craft cocktails, I recommend both Scotch & Soda and Barley, Wheat, & Rye in Springfield. Both are hipster-ific, but make a great cocktail and have friendly bartenders. Barley, Wheat & Rye had some delicious corn bread with bacon drippings from the restaurant downstairs.

Sep 25, 2014
jhojati in Great Plains

Private Dining Space, 60 people - River North

Check out the red room at Tortoise Club. I'm a big fan of the place in general, and that room has a bit of a wow factor.

Sep 25, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Des Moines Update

It may help if you could outline what specifically you're looking for. If you're looking for a craft cocktail, you'll have a hard time finding a great one in Des Moines (I've been trying for a couple years now, hoping for one to open). That said, the places that I think make the "better" cocktails in DSM are The Continental, Eatery A (had higher hopes for this place), Django, and Americana. George Formaro also looks like he's experimenting with some interesting things at Malo.

For martinis, I'd suggest Cosmopolitan Lounge at the Suites at 800 Locust.

Lots of great places for beer downtown Des Moines, from dives to microbreweries. My favorite places in DSM for that are any of the Full Court Press places - Royal Mile, Red Monk, Hessen Haus, El Bait Shop, and High Life Lounge.

Jul 22, 2014
jhojati in Great Plains


I also recommend Coalfire. Other options not suggested already are Pizzeria Serio (in Lakeview on Belmont) and Pizzeria del Mercato (in West Loop on Fulton St.)

Jul 10, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Scotch & Soda - Springfield, MO

We were in Springfield for a day, and I had a hankering for an old fashioned (cocktail). Typically, smaller markets don't have a lot by way of craft cocktail bars, so I was pleasantly surprised to find Scotch & Soda pop up when I did a quick Google search.

If you haven't been, go this place. Cocktails here are outrageously good, inventive, creative - whatever you want to call it. And the guy who owns it, Joshua, CARES about what you like, and cares about how you like what he provides you. The cocktails here rival any Chicago cocktail bar - I even spoke to the owner about Chicago and it seems that he (and often his staff) travel up to Chicago for inspiration at some of the cocktail bars there.

We didn't eat, but the food menu looks interesting (predominantly small items that are bar friendly, but aren't typical bar fare).

YES, this attracts hipsters. YES, the owners may be hipsters. Who cares, when they're putting out a product as good as they are. Go here - you won't regret it.

May 30, 2014
jhojati in Great Plains

Dinner recommendations

I had a great meal at the bar of Baffo at Eataly just recently, not but a 2 minute walk from your hotel. Perfect for solo dining, as I found the barman engaging and the menu is absolutely pescetarian friendly.

I also cannot recommend The Berkshire Room enough, either.

Apr 03, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Anniversary Dinner Saturday for 2 - <$125 PP

I would also recommend both Naha and The Berkshire Room.

Also, a cozy cocktail at the bar/lounge at Sepia or at the bar at Blackbird are two of my favorites, with Avec next door if you want to be a little livelier.

Finally, multiple Brendan Sodikoff outposts would provide great options, with Maude's, Bavette's, and Gilt Bar all offering very good cocktails and wine lists in addition to swanky vibes (with Gilt Bar being the least swanky) and would easily fit within your budget

Apr 02, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

Breakfast PIzza

There is no breakfast pizza like Casey's General Store breakfast pizza, in case that's what you're looking for (see here:

Whole Foods does breakfast pizza and I think is the only other restaurant I know of that does it early - relatively bland in my opinion, but you can add toppings as you please to add flavor

Apr 02, 2014
jhojati in Chicago Area

October business trip - suggestions?

Another data point....of the $280 in food we ordered, $120 was for the steak.

Oct 30, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

I prefer no water at all, and most craft cocktail spots in chicago make it with no water (usually Demerara syrup or the like), but it's merely a preference. Didn't really detract from my experience.

Oct 30, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

Shoot, I forgot to mention! Went to Seven Grand our first night (Sunday). Had an old fashioned, and then two more :) While I don't like that they put soda water in their OFs, I enjoyed that place immensely and appreciated the pool tables and eclectic band that played.

At Bestia, we ordered two bottles of wine (4 people) that added up to $200, and the total bill came to about $120/pp before tax/tip. So without wine or cocktails, could get out of there for under $100 pp after tax/tip.

Oct 30, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

We had a couple of tweaks to our plans, but a brief review of our trip below:

Sunday: Father's Office - I really liked the vibe here, and the beer list was good. The flavor of the components of the burger were great, but the burger was unevenly cooked (perfect med rare in parts, well done in others). I can see myself coming here quite a bit if I lived in the area, but I wouldn't take this burger over my favorites in Chicago. Still a great place.

Monday Lunch: Drago Centro: This place was great. Decor, ambience, and food all were very good, and I didn't find it stuffy at all. The garganelli was a dish I'd drive an hour for. Lasagne also good, although a pretty basic lasagne. The one disappointment was the special, a pasta with dried tuna, which lacked any flavor whatsoever. I didn't get too upset, however, as the other dishes were great, and the pasta itself had a great texture.

Monday Dinner: Ink: I was actually kind of disappointed with this place. I thought the cocktails were a bit too "unique" (trying to be nice), and the food had several misses. We ordered the charred avocado (awesome), little gems (not great in separate parts, but very good all together), hamachi (way too sweet), la quercia berkshire ham (can't go wrong with la quercia, so this was also good. beets very well prepared), corn (the doritos were an afterthought, but the corn was well executed, although not that impressive), gnocchi (very good when eaten with the mushrooms), cereal (i couldn't get my head around this - way aggressive flavors, but perhaps this was too late in the courses for me to enjoy it), branzino (thought this was a complete miss - dry, flavorless fish), and beef cheeks (good, but not great, although was a beautiful dish). I just didn't care all that much for it.

Tuesday Lunch: Rivera: A hiccup service wise with it taking 20 minutes for our cocktails, but other than that an enjoyable experience. The duck enfrijoladas was awesome - a huge portion that could easily be split, I'd order this again and again. Cocktails interesting and well balanced, for the most part. A bit of a downer vibe.

Tuesday Dinner: Bestia: Best meal I have ever had, and I've had some good ones. From the atmosphere, to the service, to the food, just hit after hit after hit. no misses at all. Ordered the salumi, veal tartare, margherita pizza, 42 oz. 28 day dry aged ribeye (bone in), cavatelli, plum crostata, chocolate budino, zeppole. Just an amazing meal. Lots of good looking people, energetic vibe, personable staff. Go here if you haven't been.

Oct 30, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

Our itinerary:

Sunday: Father's Office
Monday Lunch: Drago Centro
Monday Dinner: Ink
Tuesday Lunch: Rivera
Tuesday Dinner: The Gorbals
Wednesday Lunch: Langer's

Will report back.

Thanks all for your input!

Oct 27, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

Best sazerac?

Au Cheval, Bavette's, or Sepia all do a great Sazerac.

Sep 26, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area

October business trip - suggestions?

It just seemed that all of the suggested places were a bit outside of downtown. Will add Baco Mercat to the list, but my trip may be cut down to 3-4 days, so going to have to be very choosey!

I'm thinking Cole's and Langer's for lunches Monday and Tuesday - doable from the Los Angeles Convention Center?

Aug 15, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

This place looks perfect - it's on the list and will absolutely make it here.

Aug 15, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

October business trip - suggestions?

I'm heading to downtown LA at the end of October from Chicago. I've been many times before, but haven't really dug into the dining scene and would like to get into a couple of can't-miss places. I've listed some targets below - any guidance on them (would you skip it?) or something that's not listed? We'll have a car, and I'll be there from Thursday night through the following Wednesday night, so a lot of flexibility. We're at a conference at the LA Convention Center M-W and will likely try to sneak out for lunch.

Also, I'm looking for a well-made Old Fashioned - something that I know where and where not to go in Chicago, but have no clue about in LA.

Thanks in advance!

Son of a Gun
Father's Office
Pizzeria Mozza
Hinoki & the Bird
Taylor's Steakhouse
Raffi's Place (I've been to a dozen other Persian places, but never Raffi's)

Aug 09, 2013
jhojati in Los Angeles Area

Girl and the Goat - What to Order?

I second the pork shank, and also enjoy the fried oysters and whatever crudo they have at the time. Try the budino for dessert. Squash blossom rangoons were awesome as well, but I'm admittedly a sucker for fried, stuffed squash blossoms.

Aug 09, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area

White "cheese dip" in Chicago?

Jake, also have had this cheese dip in Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and it is indeed made from white American cheese at every single one of these places. I love it too, but chihuahua cheese it is not - it simply won't melt into the velvety cheese dip that you're speaking of.

I've not found anywhere that serves it in Chicago.

Aug 05, 2013
jhojati in Chicago Area