The old mulberry tree at the top of Noboleis Vineyards—the same creature that graces the estate's wine labels—symbolizes the endurance of Robert and Lou Ann Nolan in pursuing their dream to own a vineyard. After purchasing a 74-acre expanse of Augusta farmland in 2005, the Nolans planted their first grapes: chambourcin, traminette, norton, and vignoles. Initial growth indicated high yields, but a late frost in 2007 claimed most of the chambourcin crop. Adversity struck again in 2011, when a tornado tore through part of the vineyards and lifted sections of roof off of the winery.
But between these setbacks, the Nolans built a steady string of accomplishments. Their first vintages claimed multiple awards at the 2010 Missouri Governor's Cup, and what had started as plain farmland grew into an estate encompassing an onsite winery, tasting room, cafe, and wine shop. The Nolans now lead tours and host tastings so that visitors can get an up-close look at how Noboleis's wines—such as the barrel-fermented vidal blanc—are produced without tickling the grapes. The indoor and outdoor grounds also regularly host events that range from weddings to live music performances.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
A'mis Italian Restaurant garners compliments from area natives and transplants for its kitchen's mastery of regional pizzas ranging from hand-tossed New York–style pies to Chicago–style pizzas baked in a deep pie dish. St. Louis pizzas sport a thin-crust base that's sprinkled with a blend of provel cheese and mozzarella. All pizza dough is baked fresh every day in a brick oven. Entrees also include steak and pasta dishes, as well as lighter dinner options, such as grilled chicken or poached cod, that give diners fewer calories and grant increased aptitude for speaking in fishtongue.
Rotten Apple Pub & Grill invites patrons to “eat, drink, and be rotten” with its slate of frothy brews and pub-style bites such as housemade potato chips and fried pickles. Diners tackle half-pound burgers topped with chili or deep-fried jalapeños and pull bottles from ice-filled buckets on a patio beneath a green, pitched roof. Indoors, laughter and live-music licks fill the air as Rotten Apple hosts bands, bingo nights, and William Tell look-alike contests.
Since the first store opened in 2010, YoMyGoodness has brought its low-fat yogurt and unlimited toppings bar to five locations throughout the state. With active probiotic cultures and about 100 calories per serving, Yo My’s yogurt makes for a healthy dessert treat. The offerings can vary between locations and change from day to day, but there are always 12 flavors of yogurt—each made locally—and over 25 self-serve toppings.
Grandma's Cookies’ bakers craft succulent cookies and cupcakes using time-tested recipes originated more than 30 years ago by grandmotherly founder Charlotte Thompson. Dough disks abound in traditional flavors such as chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, or oatmeal raisin or, depending on the season, sugar sprinkle or ginger spice ($0.60 each). Order a cookie a la mode to pair a lucky sugar circle with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream, or stock up with a dozen cookies ($6) before attempting for barter with fur traders. Grandma's shrink-rayed cakes come in a triad of mouthwatering, seasonally rotating flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry ($0.95/each, $9.50/dozen). Glasses of freshly brewed iced tea and lemonade wash down sweet treats or fill the moat around a freshly constructed cupcake castle.