Something from Column A. An item from Column B. Next thing you know, you’ve traveled the world, tasting some of the best food there is to offer. All, within a 15-minute drive. This is the culinary world of Pulaski County in Missouri. A taste of Asia. A dabble of Europe. And who can pass up a meal from a restaurant or two along the old Route 66?
Lisa and I enjoyed our first Korean meal at Saint Robert’s Café Korea. John and Chong Moore opened the restaurant in 2010. Chong is the head cook.
Café Korea is a popular stop among the military stationed at nearby Fort Leonard Wood. Soldiers often travel to South Korea for tours of duty or temporary assignments. As with a lot of soldiers, they fall in love with the food of the country they’re stationed in. When they return stateside, they miss the food. Café Korea fills that need.
The restaurant includes military décor. Table tops have military unit designs and insignias.
The food is outstanding. We started with an appetizer of Yaki Mandu, a dumpling. It tasted excellent. As we were finishing our appetizer, our server brought over six small plates of food. We thought she made a mistake. We asked about it. She explained the plates were Banchan (side dishes). The dishes included cucumber kinchi, pineapple, scrambled egg squares and fermented cabbage. All were delicious.
The entrees included Korean and Chinese plates. Lisa went with Chicken Teriyaki. Very brave of her to try something new (LOL). I had Beef Bulgogi – a beef and rice dish. The beef is marinated in gravy. The meal reminded me of a dish I lived on for 30 days while visiting The Philippines six years ago. It was delicious.
Paradise Delicatessen and Ursula’s Schnitzelhaus
Let’s take a quick trip to Germany, home of the best bratwursts in the world. Actually, we’ll stop in Waynesville, where Ursula Davidson runs Paradise Delicatessen and Ursula’s Schnitzelhaus. The restaurant is located along the Old Courthouse Square.
The food is wundebar (wonderful in German). Unfortunately, we caught her on an early closing day, because of a local celebration. My dream lunch of chicken cordon bleu was out the window. It sounds weird that I’d go to a German restaurant for a French-sounding meal, right? But, that is one of my fondest memories of serving in the old West Germany.
Bratwursts were a close second, so there was still plenty to choose from. They had a special featuring three wursts and German potatoes. I added some pickled cabbage as an additional side. My eyes were bigger than my appetite. I finished one bratwurst and sampled the other two.
I had a great flashback to my days at Spangdahlem Air Base, as Ursula and two other women sat a table speaking in Deutsche. I loved it!
Oh, and then Ursula “pushed” us into having fresh cheesecake as a dessert.
Di Trapani’s Italian Bistro
Let’s head to southern Europe for a little Italian pasta. Di Trapani’s in Dixon has to be one of the best authentic Italian ristorantes in America. From appetizers to salad to entrée to dessert, this place rocks.
We started with a small order or ravioli. It was tasty.
The dinner salad was the best we have ever had. The topper was the salad dressing. We’d been told we would love the dressing. Lisa even knew a person who posted a picture on Facebook of her Di Trapani’s dressing bottle.
Di Trapani’s offers diners a beautiful view of the Gasconade River valley. The river is the longest in Missouri.
Our entrees were delicious. Lisa went with Chicken Marsala. I chose Chicken Parmesan. We agreed that each of our chicken breasts was moist and perfectly prepared.
We topped our evening splitting a dessert of Crème Brulee. We felt like we had to waddle out of the place at the end of the night. Oh, and ended up leaving with a bottle of the salad dressing.
As we bid farewell to our international dining options, our cuisine tour returns to the United States, where we sample traditional American fare.
Our first stop is at Hoppers Pub in Waynesville. Jake and Ursula Lebioda opened the restaurant and bar in 2010, right along Route 66. The name is a spin off on the famous frog rock that greets passers-by on Route 66 between Waynesville and Saint Robert.
You MUST try the frog legs appetizer at a place called Hoppers, right? Indeed, you do. And, so we did. They were pretty good. They taste like chicken (cue the laughter). They actually come to your table as legs of frogs. I apologized to a certain Muppet and then sampled my share. Lisa has had frog legs before, as she lived in Cajun country in Louisiana.
Lisa had a quesadilla as her entrée. I went with the Jam Burger. Topped with Pepperjack cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato, the burger is tasty. Add the sweet and spicy jam to it, and it’s a WOW burger! It was an impressive burger.
Guess how many beers the bar has on tap. Sixty-six. As in Route 66. The bar actually has 66 beers on tap. And they’re good. I actually tried one the following day. My favorite beer was the Black Walnut Wheat by Piney River Brewery.
Route 66 Diner
Our last day in Pulaski County had a fitting location for breakfast – the Route 66 Diner. We met new friends there for a “quick” breakfast. A couple of hours later, we all decided we should get to the places we needed to get to.
In the meantime, we enjoyed good food and company. The diner has a 1950s theme, with old-time music playing in the background. A jukebox is positioned just inside the door.
People can dine at the counter, in booths or at tables. The food is excellent and reasonably priced.
The food and people in Pulaski County are wonderful. We made some new friends and tasted some of the best food in the country. We recommend sampling the restaurants we dined at, or enjoy discovering your own dining destinations when visiting.
For additional information on Pulaski County restaurants and attractions, please visit www.visitpulaskicounty.org.
Disclaimer: Thank you to the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau, Hoppers Pub, Café Korea and Di Trapani’s for the complimentary visits. However, all opinions and views are ours.