Meal with a View
By Christine Smith
Some people come to Lake of the Ozarks to boat. Others come to fish or to swim. Some may never even dip a toe into the water. Yet all of these people have one thing in common: just being near the water affects them—in a good way.
According to Psychology Today, scientists have found that proximity to water has measurable positive effects on our minds and promotes overall happiness. So imagine what would happen if you combined seeing a panoramic view of shimmering water with another pleasurable activity: eating. Why, it would be pure bliss.
Thankfully, there are many restaurants at Lake of the Ozarks where you can achieve this state of nirvana, where your eyes can feast on delicious views while your taste buds sing with delight.
Big, blissful views
Perched on a hilltop along a stretch of Bagnell Dam Boulevard, you’ll find several restaurants offering sweeping views of Lake of the Ozarks. Baxter’s Lakeside Grill is the crown jewel of these, serving fresh, classic-American fare in a jaw-dropping setting. Whether you are seated in the dining room or outside on the patio, nearly every seat at this restaurant offers a view of the lake.
Baxter’s caters to a variety of patrons: families, groups of friends, business associates and couples. My husband and I fell into the latter category, having come to Baxter’s to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
Since we had a little time to spare before our reservation, we found a spot in the bar and ordered Moscow mules: a traditional one for my husband, and the Orange Blossom variation for me, which was made with Absolut Mandrin Vodka, Cointreau and basil. The refreshing citrus and herbal flavors sparkled on my tongue, reminding me of the invigorating water that we dove into earlier that day at the lake.
As we settled into our seats on the patio, we gazed at the sky, captivated by the kaleidoscope of colors produced by the setting sun dancing on the sapphire water. The balmy summer air gently swirled around us, relaxing us so deeply that we nearly jumped when our server came to our table.
Baxter’s is known for its high-quality seafood, so I ordered the jumbo sea scallops, which were served with sautéed mushrooms, tender red potatoes, and fresh green beans, and then topped with a decadent champagne cream sauce. I tasted my husband’s grilled Alaskan halibut, which was finished with a mushroom-pancetta white wine sauce that nearly melted on my tongue.
No anniversary celebration meal would be complete without dessert so we split a piece of the rich and creamy Caramel Gooey Butter Cake, which was served with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. My husband did the honorable thing and saved the last bite for me. After all, it’s the little things that keep a marriage such as ours going strong for so many years.
Another fine dining experience on this stretch of Bagnell Dam Boulevard is JB Hook’s—located just a few doors down from Baxter’s. JB Hook’s specializes in seafood and steak, and offers sweeping views of the lake both from its patio, and from its stunning dining room, equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Little slices of heaven
If you are looking for a quiet place to spend an afternoon, visit Shawnee Bluff Winery. At this surprising little gem, two small wooden decks overlook the lake, inviting visitors to settle in with a glass of wine, listen to live music and enjoy the company of kindred souls. We ordered a red wine flight that was paired with different cheeses, and savored those with the glimmering lake as our backdrop.
Another little slice of heaven on the lake is Michael’s Steak Chalet. Housed in a charming Swiss chalet-style building from the 1930s, Michael’s offers Old-World charm on the outside and old-school charm on the inside. During dinner, Sinatra crooned softly over the speakers as we enjoyed the steak which was recently voted Most Romantic on the Lake by Lake Lifestyles. From our cozy table on the garden-like patio, we watched the golden sky grow dark over the lake. With tiki torches providing warm light around us, we stayed a while longer, savoring an after-dinner Copper Penny, a dangerously smooth frozen drink made with amaretto and creme de cacao.
A new view
Offering more than 60 craft beers from local breweries, as well as upscale casual fare, the Tap & Grill Lake Side Brew Haus brings an urban feel to lakeside dining. There’s a large patio area offering an expansive view of the lake, and you can even bring your swimsuit and sip on some brews at Tap & Grill’s swim-up bar. One dish that people rave about is the assorted egg roll trio appetizer, consisting of a steak, pepper and beer cheese eggroll, a Reuben eggroll and a chicken Philly and jalapeño ranch eggroll.
These Lake of the Ozark’s restaurants offer incredible meals and outstanding views of the water, views that—according to scientists—promote overall happiness. It’s no surprise that even after a full day of playing on the lake, visitors flock to get a bite to eat at these restaurants; they just don’t want that good feeling to end.
Discover more dining inspiration in Lake of the Ozarks.