Joplin, Missouri is known for a few things, including a few notable restaurants. Historically, it is probably best known as the place where Bonnie and Clyde holed up in a residential garage, leading to a shoot-out that left two police officers dead. In more recent years, sadly, it was the location of the EF5 tornado that killed more than 150 people and injured more than a thousand more in 2011.
And, for those who love the Mother Road, it is a stop along old Route 66. Because of that, and its location sort of central to everywhere, Joplin has invested heavily into creating a city worth visiting, with interesting restaurants and close proximity to a few historic sites.
If you are heading that direction, here are some places to think about. First, the notable sites, with food to follow:
It’s a small, but pretty, waterfall just outside of Joplin. Nice for photos or even a picnic.
George Washington Carver Park
If you think he was a peanut farmer, this place will enhance your knowledge of this agricultural scientist and inventor. It’s interesting to walk through the small museum and do the short hike to see the stream, and it’s all free.
Cunningham Park is where the City has established a memorial for the tornado victims. It’s both sobering and peaceful, and serves as a reminder that life is fragile.
Bonnie & Clyde’s hide-out: Note that you can’t go in, so it’s really just a drive-by, but still interesting history. Read more about their escape and the camera left behind that led to their eventual arrest.
And, as mentioned, Route 66 runs through there – check out possible routes/intersections at the link.
As for restaurants, Red Onion Cafe is on the list because consistently good. It’s a Joplin staple and is the one restaurant locals seem to recommend.
When you are in Joplin, it’s one of those must-have experiences to eat at Fred and Red’s. They are known for their Spaghetti Red (spaghetti noodles with chili), but we can recommend the chili dog.
Students consider Babe’s a staple for hamburgers and onion rings. If you eat at both Fred & Red’s and Babe’s on the same day, don’t hold us accountable!
Then, there is Chicken Annie’s and/or Chicken Mary’s. These two places, about 20 miles outside of Joplin in Pittsburg, Kansas, are worth the extra drive if you love fried chicken. The story goes that these two (sisters or cousins, depending on who’s telling the story) had a falling out at the original restaurant, and Mary opened the second one to compete. Turns out there are enough chicken lovers to keep them both known for their lines-out-the-door.
We also found that Granny Shaffer’s Restaurant right in Joplin has some good home cookin’, as they say, complete with friend chicken that might hold its own with Annie’s or Mary’s if you don’t want to drive the extra miles.
One more, if you’ll forgive a small chain being on the list. Jefferson’s has some pretty good burgers. If you like battered and fried pickles, the pickle burger (pictured) will be a pleasant surprise.
That’s enough for a nice weekend’s visit, or at least a drive-through on your way across country. Here’s a helpful website if you are looking for more about Joplin, Missouri, as your next destination.