You could look at tiny restaurants as cozy, personalized and quaint. They only handle so many customers at a time, so you are sure to have service tailored to the customer. On the other hand, a popular restaurant with very few seats may require a long wait or a reservation. Here are a few tiny establishments that we feel are worth the extra trouble.
1. LaBinnah Bistro, Hannibal
LaBinnah Bistro is a cozy 28-seat eatery in the Garden House Bed & Breakfast at 207 N. 5th Street. They serve delicious American dishes with an international twist. They offer a casual, laid-back atmosphere with attentive and personable service.
2. White Grill, Nevada
White Grill in Nevada is a local favorite that has been serving their signature hamburgers for 75 years. Credited with the invention of the “Suzie Q,” a mass of quarter inch strings of potatoes that are deep fried, White Grill’s burgers and Suzie Qs easily become an addiction, and it's definitely worth a stop.
Seating is limited to counter stools and 6 or 7 booths.
Location: 200 N Commercial Street
3. Nona’s Kitchen, Waynesville
Nona’s is a cute little place on historic Route 66 at 103 N. Benton Street in Waynesville. They serve delicious traditional American home-style food in a friendly, comfortable setting. Their daily special “All the Fixins” menu features favorites like meatloaf and chicken and dumplings with sides like corn bread and mashed potatoes. They also have sandwiches and flat bread pizza as well as a deli-case selling sides by the pound.
4. Gordon’s Stoplight Drive-In, Crystal City
Gordon's Stoplight Drive-In is a small diner, “Serving the best hamburgers in the world since 1948.” A “must-try” is their famous Jumbo burger, topped with slaw, chopped onions and barbecue sauce. Their old-timey atmosphere and friendly service, made to order fresh food, and hand-dipped milkshakes will not disappoint.
Although they only take cash, they do have an ATM in the building. In classic diner style they only offer counter seating on a first come first serve basis, but they do have a few tables outside and a walk up window for to go orders.
Location: 500 Bailey Road
5. Strawberry’s BBQ, Holcomb
Strawberry’s BBQ in Holcomb has been said to have the best Barbequed Pork steak you will ever eat. It is a little haunt in the middle of nowhere, with a small town feel and charm. You can also buy their spice rub to take home and add to your own favorite dish. It’s amazing to find such a place in a town of 600 people. You will also have a hard time choosing from the amazing sides like baked beans, okra and scalloped potatoes. They are located at 107 Main Street.
6. Cook Shack BBQ & More, Osceola
This cute little restaurant located at Truman Lake offers casual home cooked dining at great prices. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with a simple menu filled with traditional American dishes, barbeque, burgers, sandwiches and steaks.
Location: 8827 NE Hwy ZZ
7. Catalpa, Arrow Rock
Located in a cute little red brick house in the cute little historic town of Arrow Rock, Catalpa is a fine dining restaurant with an eclectic, seasonal menu. Arrow Rock is a village of 56 people located on the Missouri River at the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail.
Catalpa has only 8 tables in the dining room, one Chef’s Table in the kitchen and a screened porch and brick patio, utilized when weather permits. Produce and meats are all sourced locally whenever possible, and the menu varies with the seasons. A fun, relaxed atmosphere and great food make it a popular place, so given the size, reservations are required.
Location: 510 High Street
8. Emmet’s Kitchen & Tap, Fayette
Their Facebook page will tell you a visit to Emmet’s is “a pretty little drive to total satisfaction.” This small but charming pub and restaurant serves delicious food made to order. You’re never going to have a bad meal at Emmet's, but a local favorite is their catfish filet. You can get it as an entree, sandwich, or on a salad. Great service, a casual, friendly atmosphere and great food combine to make Emmet’s worth the drive. Look for the blue awning.
Location: 111 N Main Street
9. Butcher’s Inn, Raymore
This unassuming bar and grill in Raymore offers great steaks and seafood. Specialties include Alaskan King Crab, and other daily specials like Taco Tuesdays. Their homemade soups also cannot be missed. It is a local neighborhood bar that is small and a bit congested, but the food makes up for the lack of fancy ambience. If you are a fan of good food and a friendly atmosphere, give them a try.
Location: 422 West Pine Street
10. Ole Boy’s BBQ, Carrollton
Ole Boy’s BBQ is a small, locally owned restaurant that serves a variety of smoked meats, homemade sides, and various daily specials. Try their hand-breaded tenderloin accompanied by their delicious homemade French fries.
They have a large selection of barbecue options including sandwiches, dinner specials and ribs. You can get meat by the pound and family size sides through their catering service. A friendly atmosphere and great service complete the experience. They are located at 701 N. Mason Street.
11. Mugs Up Drive In, Columbia
Mugs Up, a local staple, is a family owned and operated drive-in restaurant. They feature original recipe chili, hot dogs and burgers, along with root beer that is made fresh on the premises. The chili cheese dog is a skinny dog in a skinny bun with onions and chili. Try one of their zip burgers. They are small, so order two. Fries are steak fries. Make sure to bring cash. They don’t accept credit or debit cards or out-of-town checks. They are located at 603 Orange Street.
12. The Eagle Drive-In, Joplin
This local burger joint is a Joplin favorite. Try Joplin’s Spiciest Burger or The Bo Peep Burger, a ground leg of lamb with mixed greens, tomato, feta, red onion, and tzatziki sauce. All of their gourmet burgers are 1/3 pound, ground in-house, and served on a whole-wheat roll with one gourmet side. The special eagle sauce is a must-try, and if you are feeling adventurous you can substitute meat with bison, elk or lamb for an additional $4.
Location: 4224 Hearnes Boulevard
13. Joan’s Drive-In, Marshall
This local favorite is a tiny 12-seat diner that is only open for breakfast and lunch. The burgers are made with fresh ground beef. They are located at 164 Court Street.
14. The Bruncheonette, Joplin
This tiny, hard to find restaurant, located on the north end of main street in Joplin, quickly fills up with hungry patrons. With items like the Benny Harper, consisting of an English muffin layered with crunchy bacon, tomato, and avocado with two poached eggs on top, and a generous amount of rich hollandaise sauce over all of it, you really can’t lose.
They actually feature four different types of Eggs Benedict, all unique, mouthwatering creations, along with the rest of the menu (pulled pork pancakes???). The only drawback to the Bruncheonette is its size, being so small that it fills up quickly.
Location: 424 N Main Street
Have you been to any of these places? What are some other small restaurants you like? We would love to hear from you!