Uncle Rooster’s on Highway 60, just east of Springfield, Missouri, is one of those restaurants that the discerning traveler may just drive right on past, never knowing the memorable experiences hidden behind that great big rooster on the side of the road.
The first clue that you might not want to stop is the big plastic rooster itself and the claim that they can do everything from Chicago-style hot dogs to Italian beef sandwiches, here in the Missouri Ozarks.
Where to Eat in the Missouri Ozarks
Now, that sounds just too good to be true, but in fact, it is true. There’s a huge selection of hot dogs and sandwiches on the menu, and although I chose a smoked chicken sandwich and my friend had fried catfish, several other diners were enjoying the hot dogs with a serious look of satisfaction.
When you walk in the door of Uncle Roosters, look down so as to not trip over other customers crawling around on the floor. Seriously. It’s a mess down there and people are everywhere you look.
- Here’s the story:
When she was a child, owner Bobbi Dunning and her sisters were allowed a small space on their bedroom wall where they could doodle without punishment from their parents. Writing their names with their boyfriends du jour was a favorite activity in their teenage years, which usually resulted in the wall being repainted when the boyfriend was no longer the love of their lives. With four girls, that happened about twice a day.
So when Bobbi was opening her first restaurant and trying to make decisions on how best to cover a concrete floor, instead of carpeting or linoleum or whatever, she decided to invest in a lifetime supply of Sharpie markers and let her customers do the work.
Bobbi is also a fan of brain teasers. Just about the time you’ve got your mouth full of the best baked beans you can imagine, she’ll come by with one that will drive you nuts until she comes back later with the answer.
But better than the brain teasers and the magic markers and the baked beans is Bobbi’s recipe for chocolate chip and pecan cookies. Actually it was her mother’s recipe and served hot with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, you’ll want to crow like that big plastic rooster outside.
Final little tip that will make you pull off Highway 60 here: Across the highway is a McDonald’s and if you look carefully as you drive through the parking lot, you’ll notice a hitching post. This part of Missouri is home to a large Amish community and while they don’t believe in many modern conveniences, like automobiles, they apparently believe in hitching up the buggy and heading to Mickey D’s on a Friday night.
These are the things you discover when you get off the beaten path and out in the middle of flyover country. And if you look closely on the floor in the main dining room of Uncle Rooster’s, about three feet back from the cash register, you may even find yourself a mojotraveler.