Sara Schafer

Contest reveals reader favorites in rural Missouri

(March 19, 2024) – For 21 years, the readers of Rural Missouri have been sharing their favorite places in the Show-Me State with the editors of the magazine. Thousands of entries in the annual Best of Rural Missouri Readers’ Choice Awards helped the staff highlight the best places to eat, shop, stay and relax. Winners in the 2024 edition of the contest were recently announced in the magazine’s April edition, with a first place, second place and editors’ choice award presented in 18 categories.

“Across the categories for the 2024 contest, you’ll see some first-time winners, as well as many return honorees,” says Editor Sara Schafer. “Missouri is such a great place in which to live and explore, and we are honored to highlight so many deserving people, places and restaurants.”

The following were selected by Rural Missouri readers as the best in 2024:

1st: Beks, Fulton
2nd: 1808 Public House, Doniphan
Editors’ Choice: Cole’s Hearth Room, Palmyra

1st: Brooklyn Pizza, Fulton
2nd: Pizza Glen, Clinton
Editors’ Choice: Firehouse 54, Eagleville

1st: Blind Hog BBQ, Tipton
2nd: Sweet Smoke BBQ, Jefferson City
Editors’ Choice: Strawberry’s BBQ, Holcomb

Onion Rings
1st: Pear Tree Kitchen & Bar, Macon
2nd: Anvil Saloon & Restaurant, Ste. Genevieve
Editors’ Choice: Ecco Lounge, Jefferson City

1st: The Catfish Cafe, Buffalo
2nd: Frank’s Fish Shack, Clinton
Editors’ Choice: Hyde-A-Way Catfish Inn, Broseley

1st: Koehn Bakery, Butler
2nd: The Rolling Pin, Glasgow
Editors’ Choice: The Little Clay House, Marshfield

Breakfast or Brunch
1st: Home Town Diner, Hermitage
2nd: Bourbon Cafe and Coffee Saloon, Bourbon
Editors’ Choice: Mary Jane’s Cafe, Warrensburg

Food Truck
1st: Mudcat Mobile, Oak Ridge
2nd: Atomic Hog BBQ, Clinton
Editors’ Choice: Zydeco’s Cajun Kitchen Food Truck, Moberly

Winery, Brewery or Distillery
1st: Stone Hill Winery, Hermann
2nd: Logboat Brewing Co., Columbia
Editors’ Choice: Holladay Distillery, Weston

Bed and Breakfast
1st: The Inn at Hermannhof, Hermann
2nd: School House Bed & Breakfast, Rocheport
Editors’ Choice: Hawkins House B&B, Eminence

Long Weekend Getaway
1st: Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale
2nd: Hermann
Editors’ Choice: Cape Girardeau

Roadside Attraction
1st: Uranus Fudge Factory & General Store, St. Robert
2nd: Osceola Cheese, Osceola
Editors’ Choice: The Big Pump, King City

State Park or Historic Site
1st: Elephant Rocks State Park, Belleview
2nd: Meramec State Park, Sullivan
Editors’ Choice: Watkins Mill State Park, Lawson

Kid-Friendly Attraction
1st: Appleton City Carousel, Appleton City
2nd: St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis
Editor’s Choice: Wild Animal Safari, Strafford

Event or Festival
1st: Apple Butter Makin’ Days, Mt. Vernon
2nd: Missouri State Fair, Sedalia
Editors’ Choice: Azalea Festival, Fredericktown

1st: Fantastic Caverns, Springfield
2nd: Meramac Caverns, Sullivan
Editors’ Choice: Stark Caverns, Eldon

Music Venue
1st: Ozarks Amphitheater, Camdenton
2nd: The Blue Note, Columbia
Editors’ Choice: Wildwood Springs Resort, Steelville

Boutique Shopping
1st: The Country Closet, Carl Junction
2nd: Red Door Boutique, Rolla
Editors’ Choice: Willow + Elm, Maryville

Best of Rural Missouri Hall of Fame

During the 21-year history of the Best of Rural Missouri contest, some restaurants, places and people have emerged as perennial favorites among readers. Last year we created a Hall of Fame for these top picks. The list below highlights those entries which have received five or more first-place wins during the history of the statewide contest.
We’ll include our Best of Rural Missouri Hall of Fame each year and hopefully we’ll add to the list. The Hall of Fame members are:

  • Missouri Hick Bar-B-Que, Cuba
  • Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Camdenton
  • St. James Winery, St. James
  • Silver Dollar City, Branson
  • Branson
  • Lake of the Ozarks


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