If you spend any amount of time in Branson, Missouri, you’ll notice a few things about the restaurant options. One, there are A LOT of restaurants in Branson, but the majority of restaurants are chains. Two, “More is better” is a real thing here. And three, going off-the-beaten-path in search of food is worth the effort.
Disclosure: My trip to Branson was hosted by Branson Tourism, though most meals were on my own dime. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
Branson was one of our stops on the Great Ozarks Road Trip! We stayed two nights, so we didn’t have a ton of time to dine out. Luckily, I’ve been to Branson several times before I was a mom, so I have some firm opinions on restaurants already.
Home of heaping servings
Billy Gail’s is an institution in Branson. It’s one of the oldest restaurants, if not the oldest. The waitstaff is pretty friendly. Quirky country decor and road signs on the ceiling make it a fun stop, as well as filling.
But the most memorable thing is the portion sizes. If you Instagram your food regularly, get ready for Billy Gail’s. And get your table one of their 14-inch pancakes to split.
Yes, split that bad boy. No one should eat all of that on their own. After all, you’re probably also ordering one of the five-egg omelets, aren’t you?
They’re well-known for their fried catfish, which you can get even at breakfast.
Kids menu? Yes.
Branson’s hidden gem
There aren’t a whole lot of locally-owned restaurants in Branson, and even fewer that aren’t a diner, bakery or barbecue joint. A refreshing change of pace was a meal at Casa Fuentes, a little Mexican restaurant on Highway 76 (though on the outskirts). Still-warm tortilla chips, fresh chopped peppers in the fajitas, and flavorful street tacos come to mind when I think of our lunch.
Had it been warmer, the patio looked inviting.
Kids menu? Yes. My kids ordered chicken quesadillas and didn’t like the salty cheese, so maybe, if you have picky eaters, steer clear of the cheese. The rest of our orders were delish.
Dinner and a show
There’s nothing quite like Dolly Parton’s Stampede. It’s as if a rodeo married a Branson stage show and had a huge reception where silverware was optional. So my kids loved it.
Everyone is served the same thing, even the kids (unless you marked yourself vegetarian). That meal? First, it’s cream of vegetable soup that you start slurping until they drop a hot biscuit on your plate and then you’re dipping that.
Then, the server drops a whole Cornish game hen on your plate. Just when you’re thinking you’ve had enough, the sides start coming. There’s a half-roasted potato and corn on the cob. And then for some unfathomable reason, a slice or two of roast pork.
While you eat, there’s an entire show going on, with music, horse tricks, pig racing, dog racing, and comedy. It’s a standout among dining experiences and shows in Branson. There is only one other Stampede location, and it’s in Tennessee.
All told, it’s an experience, not quite a restaurant. Though you will be really, really stuffed by the end of it.
Kids menu? No, kids are served the same meal as adults (but their tickets are much less than adults’).
A restaurant with a view
I try my hardest to avoid chain restaurants when traveling but sometimes it’s not gonna work out. We had such a weird eating schedule that when it was time for lunch, most restaurants were closed until dinner time, so one day, we ended up at Branson Landing. The large, outdoor shopping center with a lot of familiar chains as well as some bigger name places that you won’t find elsewhere in the Midwest (maybe in Chicago).
We settled on LandShark Bar & Grill because its patio had direct sunlight and if it’s 60 degrees in March, you just have to sit outdoors. If you indulge in it, a beer on this patio is sublime.
The menu is a mix of burgers, salads and seafood. We left satisfied and maybe a little tanner.
While LandShark is not unique to Branson, its location is worthy of a mention. The restaurant overlook the Taneycomo Lake and its patio has a view of the Branson Landing Fountains (shows are hourly).
Kids menu? Yes.
Farm-to-table & healthy dining
There aren’t an abundance of healthy eating or farm-to-table dining options in Branson, though most restaurants will have at least one lighter option. So, if you do want a restaurant that’s serving up seasonal foods and, in particular, vegetables that aren’t French fries, head to Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks.
It’s a bit out of the way, but totally worth making a reservation to visit. The food is prepared by and served by culinary arts students and it’s superb. On a previous trip to Branson, they managed to accommodate our large group, too.
Kids menu? Yes
Your turn: I’d love to hear your recommendations for Branson restaurants. What are your favorites?