Springfield Area Chinese Food All-Stars!

All right, so in my quest for the best Chinese Food in Springfield MO, I've formulated a small list of the restaurants that make some the best individual menu items. If you agree or disagree, feel free to comment. After all, we're in this together, because it's not exactly easy finding good food in Springfield.

Best Wonton Soup
Golden Korean
1406 West Sunshine
Yeah, it's still surprising to me that a Korean place would have some of the best Chinese Food I've had in Springfield but it's true. Although China Wok at 4153 South Scenic is pretty good, if you wade through their lackluster customer service, it's Golden Korean's wonton soup that takes the title for best wonton soup in Springfield. While a lot of places in Springfield serve a somewhat soulless cup of wonton soup, Golden Korean's packs a flavorful punch and nearly is a meal in itself.

Best Egg Rolls
Shanghai Inn
1937 N. Glenstone Avenue
I tried Shanghai in on a whim. I was near there and I was in the mood for Chinese food (what else is new) and decided to try it. Like always, I got the General Chicken, as I do every time I try a new Chinese restaurant. It's sort of like the perfect barometer to test a Chinese place. Well, their General Chicken was okay, but it was their egg roll that really blew me away. They got the best egg rolls in town, hands down! They reminded me of these great egg rolls I used to get in New Hampshire at a place called Lun Hings. And like Lun Hings, Shanghai Inn's egg rolls are HOMEMADE! Take that, Springfield. I've been to about 30 Chinese restaurants in Springfield and Shanghai Inn is the first to have homemade egg rolls. You gotta go. You WILL taste the difference.

Best Crab Rangoons
Golden House
2744 West Chestnut Expressway
Basically, every Chinese restaurant in Springfield seems to serve the same crab rangoons. Nothing special. The only place that seems to single themselves out is Golden House. Their egg rolls are nice and crispy with just enough zing to put them over the top. They're especially good when you dip them in their spicy chicken sauce. Delicious!

Best Lo Mein
Shanghai Inn
1937 North Glenstone
This might take a little more research. It was down to three places but I gave the edge to Shanhai Inn. The other two places with great lo mein are Happy China at 820 East Battlefield and Chopsticks at 1128 South Glenstone. Chopsticks is an interesting little place. They seem to do things a little different, and for the most part their food is very good.

Best Sweet N Sour Chicken
Happy China
820 East Battlefield
I don't really get into this Springfield style Sweet N Sour chicken, with the ketchup and pineapple sauce mixture which is basically everywhere in Springfield. I prefer the deep red cherry, pineapple sauce, which is more common in other parts of America. And the closest to that in Springfield is Happy China, which is one of my favorite go-to Chinese restaurants in Springfield. They also have AWESOME Pepper Chicken, Boneless Spareribs, and Egg Foo Young.

Best General Chicken
Chinese Chef
3029 South Campbell
Quite a while back, I devoted an entire post to my quest for the best General Chicken in Springfield. Since then, the top restaurant, Lotus Inn, has closed. Mainly, in my opinion, because they served a buffet that wasn't very fresh. If they would have had fresher food on the buffet it might have worked. Because they definitely had some good food. Also, since I've made this list a new place has stepped up to vie for tops on the list; namely, Bao Bao at the Chesterfield Village. Still, I have to give the edge to Chinese Chef, since, when their General Chicken is fresh, it's very hard to beat. Other honorable mentions for General Chicken would have to be Golden Korean and China Wok, again if you can wade through their lackluster customer service.

Mexican Villa and other Mexican Places - Is It Possible To Find A Salsa WITHOUT Cilantro In Springfield, MO?

In the last decade or so, I've tried like a bazillion Mexican Restaurants in Springfield. And yeah, there really are like a bazillion Mexican Restaurants. Unfortunately, I can separate them into two groups, Mexican Villa or Not Mexican Villa.

Group 1: Mexican Villa

The main reason why Mexican Villa deserves to be in a group by itself is basically because it's different from every other Mexican restaurant in Springfield. Not necessarily better, just different. MV's food seems more influenced by Texas style Mexican food rather that regular Mexican food. MV would definitely be considered Tex-Mex.  

Mexican Villa is hugely popular in Springfield, MO. There's no way around it. And I have to admit, I like it too. In fact, when I moved away some ten years ago and then moved back like three years ago, MV, or more specifically MV's Sancho, was the only food I missed from Springfield, MO. I can't really vouch for anything else on MV's menu. I love the Sancho, I like the burrito, I like the cheese sauce, the guacamole is quite good, and I especially love the mixture of the three sauces (hot, mild, and sweet). The interesting thing about MV is how much all the locals love it, while many of the newcomers to Springfield are repelled by MV, including my family. I've exhausted about ten family members, trying to find someone who will go with me to MV, and after all this, only my Dad, who will eat just about anything, will go, and my Aunt will go just to appease me. Everyone else refuses. Luckily my girfriend is totally fine with MV. I gotta get my Sancho on!

Just to be clear, this article isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of Mexican Villa. MV definitely has its issues. Even though I love the Sanchos and three sauce mixture, there are times when even the Sancho isn't that great. I've probably had a couple hundred Sanchos in my life, and I'd say about 1 out of 50 is simply NOT good. As if it's old or something. Also, MV isn't known for the greatest service in the world. I'd say most servers are good, far too many are just plain awful, so you should tip accordingly. 

Group 2: Not Mexican Villa

I've tried just about every other Mexican Restaurant in Springfield, MO, and I have to tell ya, they're all basically the same, and all basically overpriced. I get so annoyed by this. Every single time someone convinces me to try another one of these Mexican Restaurants, I'm totally put off by how similar the food is and definitely how similar the salsa is. Especially the cilantro. Is it possible to find a salsa WITHOUT cilantro in Springfield, MO?

Is it possible to find a salsa WITHOUT cilantro in Springfield, MO?

I have to get this off my chest. I HATE CILANTRO. After going to yet another Mexican Restaurant in Springfield and finding yet again, the same old bland salsa, presented in the same old way (a chilled bottle with two empty bowls), with the same old cilantro mixed in. Ugh! I can't stand it. I spend most of the time picking out the minty little leaves. Who wants a minty flavor in their food? It's like eating toothpaste casserole. I've even started asking various people at these restaurants if this is how they make salsa in Mexico, and they usually say no. They say most Mexicans don't like the cilantro in the salsa. I'm thinking, then why do you subject us to the stuff? Why is it that EVERY Mexican restaurant in Springfield serves it like this? Except of course for Mexican Villa, which is entirely a horse of a different color.

Here is a list of all the Mexican Restaurants I've tried that serve their tired flavorless salsa the same exact way and marred with cilantro leaves: El Charro, El Sombrero, La Hacienda, Cielito Lindo, Los Portales (now closed), La Mision, Los Vaqueros, El Puente, Las Margaritas, Maria's, and El Maguey. I told you it was a bazillion.

Here is a list of all the Mexican Restaurants that show some decency by NOT denigrating their salsa with cilantro leaves. Mexican Villa (although MV doesn't really have salsa but more like hot sauce, and it's incredibly hot so be careful!) and Chili's (although Chili's isn't really a Mexican Restaurant, I'm mentioning them because basically, they have the BEST SALSA IN SPRINGFIELD, MO!). A considerably shorter list, huh?

Good Food In Springfield, MO (It Could Happen) Results
This is a collective review of Mexican Villa, taking into account about 200 visits in the past 15 years. I've also included a side review, if you just get the Sancho, the best thing on the menu.
Let's Do Again!

Bambino's - Seriously, Why Would Anyone Go To Olive Garden, When They Can Go To Bambino's?

Bambino's Cafe
1141 East Delmar
Springfield, MO 65807

Seriously, why would anyone go to Olive Garden, when they can go to Bambino's?

Now, I've been going to Bambino's for over a year now, and also during that time, I've been going to Olive Garden. But seriously, why even bother with the latter?

Well, for me, I love the soup, or Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden. Or at least I used to. It hasn't been good for a couple years now. It's really strange. A couple years ago, when I used to get the Zuppa Toscana, with the spicy sausage, potatoes, kale and delicious broth, everything was fresh and perfect. It looked good enough to eat, and I that's exactly what I did. And lots of it. I mean, it is my favorite soup on the planet. However, the last like eight times I've gone to the Olive Garden here in Springfield, the Zuppa Toscana has looked plain awful. Like it was the bottom of the barrel, with chewed up sausage sediments, mushy potato, no kale, and all of this floating in an oily orange mess. Just like it was the other night. Yeah, I was in the mood for soup, and just like the other eight times, the Zuppa Toscana was barely passable.

As for Olive Garden's pasta, well, after finding Bambino's over a year ago, Olive Garden's pasta seems somehow soulless. Olive Garden's pasta is like an uninspired microwaved mess, devoid of even an ounce of honest or authentic flavor. I didn't order any the other night, but sneaked a sample of my girlfriend's ziti and yeah, it was that same blah taste and tired old consistency.

It's kinda funny, Olive Garden's overall presentation hasn't changed a bit. They still give a good show, with the nicely dressed waitstaff, complimentary sample wine, free breadsticks, soup or salad with your entree, and the mint chocolate at the end. And yet, nobody seems to notice how much the food has faltered. Or perhaps, it never was that good. But that doesn't stop Olive Garden from raising their prices seemingly every year. No sir. In the last fifteen years, I would guess that Olive Garden's prices have ballooned 30%. It's ridiculous.

Which brings me to my original question, why on earth would anyone go to Olive Garden, when they can go to Bambino's? Obviously this only applies if you live in Springfield. But I'm sure, no matter where you live, your town has a place like or at least close to Bambino's. You know, a smaller, Mom and Pop type Italian Restaurant with food that absolutely makes Olive Garden look like neatly packaged microwave meals with a 500% markup.

I went to Bambino's tonight and like always, Bambino's food was a revelation, absolutely delicious. I got the Nona, which is linguini with alfredo sauce, mixed with chicken and diced red peppers. For an appetizer, we had garlic bread with the spinach and cheese sauce. So creamy. So scrumptious. So much more evolved than the ridiculousness of Olive Garden food. At Bambino's everything tastes homemade. Real. NOT microwaved! The prices are very reasonable. The portions are more than abundant. From what I've been able to find, Bambino's is the best Italian place in Springfield. Period.

So, it really is a no-brainer. If you are in the mood for Italian food, find Bambino's. It's a smaller place, so there might be a wait. But the wait at Bambino's is only about a 1000 times more worth the wait than Olive Garden's. I guarantee it.

Good Food In Springfield, MO (It Could Happen)
Let's Definitely Do Again!

For Olive Garden (Just For The Heck Of It)
Let's Only Do Again If We Have To