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Where to Eat in the Lake of the Ozarks

Meet the must-try restaurants in America's ‘Redneck Riviera'
Best Lake of the Ozarks Restaurants
Photo: Ken Goodman

If tales of murder, money laundering and Mexican drug cartels are your cup of tea, then you've probably binge-watched Netflix's hit series, Ozark. Starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, the show follows a Chicago financial advisor who relocates his family to the Missouri Ozarks after plans go awry with one of the world's most dangerous drug cartels.

Although the area gets a bad rap in the show (including the less-than-desirable nickname of "Redneck Riviera"), it's actually a stunning region brimming with diverse wildlife, outdoor activities and lazy lakeside towns perfect for exploring. In total, the Ozarks cover approximately 50,000 square miles across multiple states, spanning parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois and Kansas. So, to celebrate the recent announcement of the show's renewal for a sophomore season, we've tapped the locals and rounded up the must-try restos dispersed throughout.

Start Your Day the Stewart's Way

 

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Begin your day on the right foot at Stewart's Restaurant in Lake Ozark, Missouri. The classic diner features vintage vibes, and although it serves a robust menu of traditional American fare all day long, locals swear by the unbeatable breakfast. Indulge in Southern specialties, such as biscuits and gravy, or satisfy your sweet tooth with one of the colossal homemade cinnamon rolls. The food is so good, rumor has it even the Ozark writers and producers couldn't stay away.

Finger-Lickin' Good Barbecue

 

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Good old-fashioned barbecue is a specialty in the Ozarks region. But with so many contenders, which pitmaster reigns supreme? Look no further than Wobbly Boots Roadhouse, located in the heart of Missouri's Osage Beach. Fan favorites include baby back ribs, smothered brisket and the catfish BLT. The restaurant has even racked up an impressive collection of regional and national awards. It's the perfect place to grab a bite, watch the game or take in local live music. 

Waterfront Family Fun

Franky & Louie's Beachfront Bar & Grill offers a quintessential summer escape that is adored by residents and seasonal visitors alike. Patrons can dock their boats at the waterfront bar and resto, and even fuel up onsite at the spot's brand-new gas dock—a detail reminiscent of Ozark's Blue Cat Lodge (don't worry, no spoilers). Tropical-inspired specialties include coconut shrimp, beer-battered grouper and grilled chicken salad with a homemade pineapple vinaigrette. The palm tree-lined beach even offers a private swimming area for guests.

All About the Oysters

Locals can't stop raving about the Lake of the Ozarks' newest restaurant, Tucker's Shuckers, located on the historic Bagnell Dam Strip. Oysters can be ordered just about any way imaginable: on the half shell, chargrilled, Southern fried, in shooter form, you name it. For anyone suffering from ostraconophobia, there are plenty of other non-shellfish American staples available. Beer lovers will also appreciate the 28 varieties offered on tap. The Ozark cast and crew were known to grab lunch here during Missouri filming days. 

An Elevated Experience

For a fancier affair, reserve a waterfront table at Baxter's Lakeside Grille. The award-winning restaurant sits on a bluff directly overlooking Lake Ozark and is revered for its warm atmosphere, attentive service and stunning sunset views. Working only with the finest and freshest ingredients available, the restaurant offers dishes like pan-seared sea scallops, grilled rainbow trout and filet mignon. Gluten-free and vegetarian menus are also available, along with an enviable wine list.  

Ian Centrone is a native New Yorker and freelance writer currently exploring South America. Follow his adventures at @iancentrone.   

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