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Frank About Food blogger lists "best choice" restaurants in Jopl - KOAM TV 7

Frank About Food blogger lists "best choice" restaurants in Joplin

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The local food scene in Joplin has changed drastically in recent years.

One long-time resident keeps up with the current dining trends as he reviews locally-owned restaurants in an online blog.

What does a food connoisseur look for when it comes to writing a review of a restaurant?

We met with local food blogger Frank Reiter, over brunch, to find out.

Reiter may seem like your average customer indulging in the Kaleujah special at The Bruncheonette.

However, unlike those around him, his experience provides a little more food for thought.

"I'm always thinking about food and always had ideas," Reiter said.

In December of 2011, Reiter began his blog, "Frank About Food."

From recipes and culinary news, to local restaurant reviews, Reiter exhibits the expertise of a true epicure.

"Food is definitely a passion of mine," Reiter said.

That's why he's dined at nearly every locally-owned restaurant in town.

Some of which, he features more positively on his blog.

Reiter says there's more than one key ingredient to winning a good review.

"Atmosphere, service, food, I'm all about supporting local, but if it's not good, it's not good," he said. "You can't force that."

Restaurant managers say online blogs and reviews can have a direct impact on their business.

"It's the way it is," said Chas Flannigan, co-owner of The Bruncheonette. "You've got to think of every aspect and online is definitely one of them."

What scores the most points in Reiter's book?

Taking chances.

Chances those with the best reviews take daily.

"We try to stay in a fun, competitive spirit with it all, try to press the bounds of what people are used to, and try to do adventurous and fun things that I don't think chains can necessarily pull off," said Jeremy Canada, kitchen manager at Joplin Eagle Drive In.

Not all of Reiter's reviews are positive.

"I have a couple blog posts about a couple local places that I may have gotten horrible service at, but I'm honest in it," Reiter said.

Frank's frankness is what keeps readers coming back for more. 

"I think absolutely having a local blogger that knows a little bit more as opposed to a traveler coming through town, somebody that knows their way around, knows the food, knows the people, I think that would be definitely advantageous," said Bradd Watts, Joplin resident.

Having eaten at nearly every local restaurant in town, we put Reiter to the test and asked him to break down the Joplin food scene as he sees it, or tastes it, rather.

"There's plenty of places I'd be proud to take someone that comes to visit now," he said.

The first category, "best meal under $50."

"For under $50, if you wanted to eat out with a date or something, Red Onion," Reiter said.  "You might be getting a little bit close, but for the quality of food you get with drinks and dessert, if you split a dessert and appetizer, you can get in and out of there under $50."

And as for those gearing up for Valentine's Day-

"Best date place, I would say Club 609," Reiter said.  "It has kind of an urban, casual vibe to it.  If you're wanting to go special occasion, I would go more Wilder's Steak House because it's that old-school steak house feel. What they're doing with the cuisine there is to actually start to bring it more modern, but you can still get your classic thick-cut steaks with your cream spinach kind of thing."

Best dessert goes to Sweet Caroline's and Cupcakes by Liz.

"Sweet Caroline's is really, really good with the ice cream," Reiter said. "Cupcakes by Liz is always packed and hopping on Friday and Saturday nights."

As for the best sit down, gourmet burger, Reiter recommends the Joplin Eagle Drive In.

"We kind of took the greasy spoon burger joint to another level and put a gourmet twist on it," Canada said.

"I had an exquisite chili burger and it's better than anything I've had in town," said Irving Davy, Miami resident.

"They have bison burgers, lamb burgers," Reiter said. "If you're not into meat, they have the falafel burgers."

Best meal for kids, Reiter chooses The Kitchen Pass, which offers several "kids free" nights throughout the week.

"That's one of those hidden things because a lot of people still think that Kitchen Pass is just a bar, but they've really changed up with the no smoking," Reiter said.

Other favorites on Reiter's list include-

"Best seafood around Joplin, local of course is Crabby's," he said.  "Best lunch spot, probably Red Onion Espressoria, because they have a lot of wraps, salads and sandwiches. If you're vegan or vegetarian, Instant Karma. They run a lot of vegan and vegetarian specials."

Reiter also chooses Instant Karma as one of the "most unique to Joplin" options.

"That's really the best place to grab a creative craft beer and food because he's got multiple taps," he said.

If you're feeling cocktails rather than a beer, he points out Infusion Boaka Bar, which just opened across the street from Instant Karma last month.

The Bruncheonette wins best breakfast.

And as for overall "best choices", Reiter recommends any of the restaurants mentioned as a safe bet.

Many patrons agree.

"It gives you something different, off the beaten path than what you're typically used to," Watts said.

"We have a lot to offer here," Canada said.

"Try them all," Reiter said. "Eat local, keep the money in the community."

Reiter's Frank About Food blog includes other reviews, along with some recipes for those looking to be more unique and creative in your own kitchen.

BEST CHOICES:

Best meal under $50: Red Onion Cafe

Most romantic: Club 609

Best special occasion: Wilder's Steak House

Most unique to Joplin: Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs; The Bruncheonette

Best dessert: Sweet Caroline's Cream and Coffee; Cupcakes by Liz.

Best gourmet burger: Joplin Eagle Drive In

Best meal for kids: The Kitchen Pass; Mojo Burger Co.; Cafe Del Rio

Best seafood: Crabby's Seafood Bar and Grill

Best lunch spot: Red Onion Espressoria

Best vegetarian/vegan specials: Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs

Best breakfast: The Bruncheonette

Best coffee: Joplin Avenue Coffee Company

Best pizza: Blackthorn Pizza & Pub; Woody's Wood-Fire Pizza

Best happy hour: Crabby's Seafood Bar and Grill

Reiter also lists M&M Bistro as a best choice.
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