Where does a family go to eat when visiting the Lake of the Ozarks? While most people plan a vacation to the lake and ponder where to dock their boat, I wonder about food. So, here’s my story about the hunt for the best restaurants in the Lake of the Ozarks for families. I’ve got a post of our entire Ozarks road trip itinerary, too!
Disclosure: Our visit to the Lake of the Ozarks was hosted by the Lake of the Ozarks Visitors Bureau. Some restaurant meals were comped, and some my family paid out-of-pocket. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
Breakfast in Lake of the Ozarks
We only had two days in the area, so I didn’t do a whole lot of breakfast comparisons. But, I had a clear favorite, and I’m pretty sure my whole family would agree with it.
Rusty Rooster Cafe is a cute cafe with a farmhouse interior look going for it. You’ll find standard cafe fare, plus some healthier options like egg white frittatas and power bowls.
But the memorable item? Ginormous cinnamon rolls. Seriously. I saw a family of seven order one and they didn’t finish it.
There is a kid’s menu but my kids were ravenous that morning so they ordered, respectively, a huge puffy pancakes AND omelet, and a giant Belgian waffle.
Rusty Rooster serves breakfast and lunch.
Our other breakfast option was at our hotel, JB’s Boathouse. Unless you’re staying at Margaritaville Lake Resort, I doubt you’ll find it worth seeking out. What it has going for it is a lakeside view and a nautical decor that hints at the chill spirits of Jimmy Buffet without overdoing it.
We were hangry when we arrived to the restaurant, so rather than thinking hard on what to order, we oped for the buffet. If there’s a next time, we’ll order from the menu.
It’s not that the buffet was bad — I enjoyed the pastries and yogurt parfait — but it was rather pricey for what my kids ended up eating. And me. I should’ve just ordered that yogurt parfait and saved a few bucks.
Anyway, there is a breakfast menu and it’s more reasonable, especially the kid’s prices.
When the weather’s nice, keep this place in mind for the outdoor seating with a view. And it’s not just for breakfast. They have lunch and dinner menus.
1. Rusty Rooster, 3247 Bagnell Dam Blvd., Lake Ozark
2. JB’s Boathouse, inside Margaritaville Lake Resort at 494 Tan Tara Estate, Osage Beach
Related post: Things to do on a rainy day in Lake of the Ozarks
Lunch and dinner options around the lake
OK, I think of fish when I think of lakeside dining. Don’t you? Maybe catfish or something.
Oysters? Maybe, maybe not.
Well, I tried oysters when I went to Lake of the Ozarks. And they were good. (The cooked kind)
We had a late lunch at Tuckers Shuckers Oysters & Tap. I imagine at the peak of boating season, it’s a little wilder, but for early March, there was our family, a second family and one couple dining. It was a pretty chill place with a great selection of beer on tap.
Tuckers is the place for oysters, the cooked kind, at least. I recommend the freshly shucked chargrilled oysters. They’re topped with garlic butter and parmesan cheese and tasty enough to almost fool my kids into liking oysters.
The kids were pretty happy with their meals: Fish and chips for one, and buffalo chicken wings for the other.
This place wins for the most decadent dessert: Fried turtle cheesecake.
You’ll find plenty of pizza options in the area. We stopped in a town north of the lake called Versailles for some pizza at Bees Knees Brewing Co. It’s a bit of a drive but still considered fringe of the region.
Tip: It’s pronounced Ver-sales
I enjoyed the pizza, and hopefully, when you visit, you’re able to order the kind you want. We were there on a Sunday, so it was buffet-only. If you aren’t a fan of doughy crust then maybe it won’t be as big of a hit with your family.
It is a brewery, yes, but totally family-friendly. They do have a kid’s menu, but again, I can’t vouch for it since it was a Sunday (busy with the post-church crowd, too).
I tried one of their staples, a honey blonde ale, and it was a great light beer for a summer afternoon.
I didn’t anticipate eating as much barbecue as we did (I mean, we weren’t in Kansas City after all). But, you’d be surprised by the number of locally-owned barbecue spots around the lake. So we tried two places: Wobbly Boots Roadhouse and Barn-B-Que Smokehouse.
Wobbly Boots is best described as hybrid barbecue. Their smoked meats blend flavors and styles. They’ve racked up a lot of awards, both locally and nationally, and they’ve been recognized in publications Southern Living, Golf Magazine, Golf Weekly, and the Kansas City Star. They have enjoyed several years in a row of “Best of the Lake” for BBQ, bar food, wings and more.
There is a kid’s menu, and little appetites can get a taste of the ‘que and order a kid’s pork sandwich with fries. Kids menu prices are $7-$8.
I ordered a Carolina pork sandwich that was pretty tasty. My dad loved the smoked chicken.
Comparing the baby back ribs at Wobbly Boots with the next place, both kids said they preferred Wobbly Boots.
Barn-B-Que Smokehouse wins for uniqueness in interior and exterior. Yes, it’s a barn. And it’s got a good lake view.
Most of the table ordered ribs after enjoying the ribs from Wobbly Boots. I was the oddball and got the brisket bowl. And worth noting, the tots are good here.
The kid’s menu is $6-$11, and includes a brisket slider.
3. Tuckers Shuckers Oysters & Tap, 1339 Bagnell Dam Blvd., Lake Ozark
4. Bees Knees Brewing Co., 106 W. Jasper St., Versailles
5. Wobbly Boots Roadhouse, 4717 Osage Beach Parkway, Osage Beach
6. Barn-B-Que Smokehouse, 14 Ravenwood Drive NE, Lake Ozark
Snacks and treats around the lake
My kids spent 60% of our time at Osage Beach reminding me that our resort had an ice cream shop. There is no shortage of treat and dessert options in Osage Beach and the nearby towns, so you won’t have to look for.
So yes, you’ll find ice cream at Margaritaville Lake Resort, as you will find it at many other places that annually bring in many summer visitors. We missed out on ice cream, though (off-season store hours…it’s a sore subject, don’t bring it up with my kids).
We did enjoy the creamery butter fudge from the Shops on the Boardwalk inside Margaritaville, though.
If you want a savory treat, I recommend the gourmet popcorn from Osage River Popcorn Co. located at the Osage Beach Outlet Marketplace. For sweet and salty, try the Osage Mix of caramel and cheese popcorn.
7. Shops on the Boardwalk inside Margaritaville Lake Resort at 494 Tan Tara Estate, Osage Beach
8. Osage Beach Outlet Marketplace, 4540 Osage Beach Pkwy., Osage Beach