Featured Hometown: Springfield, Missouri

What do cashew chicken, Brad Pitt and Bass Pro have in common? They all began in the lovely city of Springfield, Missouri.

Springfield, called Springvegas by some local residents, offers the feel of a vibrant, growing community without the expensive price tag. Springfield is a great place to visit – or live – because it can be easily molded to the experiences any individual wants to have.

One can find artsy, hipster coffee shops scattered across the city – but right around the corner, there might be an old-fashioned diner along Route 66.

Whether you’re visiting for a few days or staying for a lifetime, I have compiled a list of must-do’s when visiting Springfield.

Chinese Food

If you’ve ever met someone from Springfield it will probably be hard to go an entire conversation without them mentioning Chinese food. Unbeknownst to most, Springfield has a massive Chinese food network centered around Springfield-style cashew chicken – and no matter what anyone tells you, Springfield Chinese food is different.

While I will divulge my personal favorite Chinese food in Springfield, I have included multiple restaurants that each provide a different feel and dining experience.

Leong’s Asian Diner

I feel compelled to list Leong’s first as the owner of the restaurant, Mr. David Leong, was the inventor of Springfield-style cashew chicken. This has left a permanent impact on the community and changed Springfield for the better.

Leong’s definitely has a nicer feel to it than most Springfield Chinese food restaurants. It is a sit down meal and the prices are higher than most other Chinese food establishments.

However, I like to think of it as paying for the experience. One has the advantage of engaging in a nice meal, and most days Leong is present at the restaurant.

China Star

Personally, China Star is my favorite Chinese food in Springfield. It is super affordable – around $6 for an entire meal – and it is delicious.

China Star in Springfield. Image courtesy of James S.

China Star also offers one the authentic sketchy Chinese restaurant vibe. While it’s fun to eat inside, I’d recommend getting it to go – I think they definitely give you more food to go.

American Food

Black Sheep

Black Sheep is a relatively new burger and fries restaurant in Springfield that has taken off. It provides unique menu items and shakes made with Andy’s frozen custard – categorically the best ice cream around, please don’t question me on this.  

A shake from Black Sheep. Image courtesy of James S.

While Black Sheep provides all-natural, hormone free beef, they are better known for their menu. For example, one can order the Cowboy Carl (pictured below) that contains a beef patty, brisket, and onion rings. Or the springphilly which is a burger with a filet mignon as the second patty.

The Cowboy Carl burger. Image courtesy of James S.


Bass Pro

While there are other Bass Pro shops around the country, none compare to the original in Springfield.

This is the largest of the Bass Pro shops and it contains attractions to keep one entertained for hours. This Bass Pro houses things such as The NRA Sporting Arms Museum and The National Archery Hall of Fame.

Most recently, the Springfield Bass Pro became home to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

Wonders of Wildlife was voted America’s Best Aquarium the year it opened. This immersive museum is a great way to spend the day in Springfield.

Wonders of Wildlife. Image courtesy of James S.

Though tickets to the museum cost $40 for an adult one-day admission it is well worth the price.

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