In Branson there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, but only a select few are part of the group of Branson MO restaurants locals rave about. Check out my top picks the next time you visit the Ozarks.
Billy Bob’s Dairyland
1901 W 76 Country Blvd.
This retro diner specialties in burgers, onion rings and milkshakes, and after doing it for decades, they have a local following unlike any other. I’ve been coming here for years and have my order down: bacon cheeseburger with all the fixings, side of crinkle cut fries and strawberry milkshake. I prefer to sit at the counter, so I can see the diner action first hand and see (and smell) the burgers sizzle on the grill. All made fresh, the burgers are grilled to order, the fries crispy, and the shakes are thick yet easy to sip through a straw. The portions are also huge; if you dare to order the double cheeseburger be prepared for full belly overload. Part of the charm is the size of the diner, seating about 30, so sometimes there is a wait but it’s worth it! Note that Billy Bob’s accepts cash only but there is an ATM on site.
Billy Gail’s Café
5291 Hwy. 265
What I can I say, Billy Gail's knows Branson food! This café is famous for its breakfast and the lines out the door prove it. Open from only 7am to 2pm daily, the owners know what their customers like and haven’t changed the menu for years—for good reason. Their famously large “hubcap” pancakes are bigger than a dinner plate; the Billy’s Belly Buster Breakfast is a feat to eat; and the gravy is homemade just like mom used to make. In keeping with their massive portions, the omelets are made with four eggs and concoctions like the stuffed French toast is filled with sausage, egg and cheese. I’ve tried a little bit of everything at Billy Gail’s Café. My go-to order, though, is the sloppy biscuit. Take biscuits, eggs, cheese and sausage, then top it with hash browns and gravy. Delicious! The restaurant, which is a renovated gas station cabin, has limited parking and only accepts cash. Arrive early to avoid the lines.
Danna’s Bar-B-Que & Burger
963 State Highway 165
Danna’s Barbeque & Burger Shop has three locations in the Branson area, but the easiest one to access for most visitors is on Hwy 165 near the Welk Resort Theatre. The family-owned café hasn’t been around as long as the previous two mentions, but in the 15 years they’ve been operating locals have fallen in love. Juicy, smoked meats are covered in a secret rub, smoked for 12-14 hours, and paired with a secret barbeque sauce that’s sweet yet savory. That’s just the start of the reason for their success. Danna’s menu has something for every taste: fresh-made burgers, seasonal strawberry pecan salads, barbeque nachos, catfish, and more. I should mention the Memphis Rolls, too, as they’re kind of the best thing ever. Take a fried sour dough roll, then add a melted butter center for a roll so decadent it’s almost a doughnut. But, you get it with dinner! Yep, that’s the best.
Thai Thai Cuisine
1615 W 76 Country Blvd.
You might not think Branson would be an optimum place to eat Thai food, but think again. Thai Thai Cuisine, located near the Dixie Stampede, is an authentic ethnic experience with a diverse menu. I seem to come here for lunch more often that dinner as they’ve got great lunch specials. Two of my favorites are the Spicy Noodles and Pahd Thai. You get to choose from chicken, pork, beef or tofu to accompany your dish, with shrimp available for an extra $2. A crispy yet light spring roll, paired with a citrusy sauce, adds the perfect crunch. The setting is quiet and ideal for conversation. Try to get a table by the backlit waterfall, but if not you can still admire the artwork and ornate statues found throughout the restaurant.
Level 2 Steakhouse
200 E. Main St.
Branson doesn’t feature many fine dining options. That said, Level 2 Steakhouse, located at the Hilton Branson Convention Center, covers the scene nicely. As one of the Branson MO restaurants locals rave about, this is where you go for a romantic night or adult night out. You have to try the award-winning steak. Thick yet tender, it pairs nicely with sides like sweet onion rings, garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. Of course, nothing goes better with steak than a cabernet which is why Level 2’s wine list is extensive. If you can, save room for dessert. The signature Missouri Butter Cake, topped with bourbon caramel sauce, fresh berries and vanilla ice cream, is a sweet end to the night.
3200 Gretna Rd., Suite #100
Locals flock to Vasken’s Deli for lunch. Even with a recent expansion, the lines can get long and tables hard to find. There’s a reason, though: Vasken’s serves the best authentic Mediterranean food in Branson. I’ve ordered just about everything from their menu, and can vouch for them all. That said, I do have some favorites. The Famous Gyro has flavorful lamb and tzatziki sauce (add feta cheese for an extra kick); the Reuben has piles of pastrami and sauerkraut, sandwiched between lightly buttered rye bread; Rosa’s Mediterranean Turkey combines pita, garlic mayo, turkey, fresh veggies, and provolone; and their pizzas are one-of-a-kind Mediterranean specialties.
These are the Branson Mo restaurants locals rave about. Do you have a favorite I missed? Tell me about it in the comments.