A friend of mine had taken a motorcycle vacation down to the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri last year and he sent some pictures via Facebook from a place he was at in Osage Beach - Wobbly Boots Roadhouse. I'd seen the signs for Wobbly Boots going through Osage Beach on my trips between Jefferson City and Springfield, MO a few times over the past couple of years and often wondered how the food was there. When I saw my friend after he got back from his motorcycle road trip, I asked him out Wobbly Boots was. "You haven't been there," he asked incredulously. "I figured that as many times that you go down that way that you'd been there a couple times before." Nope, I'd never been but on a subsequent trip between Jeff City and Springfield late this past year, I stopped into Wobbly Boots for lunch.
The brother duo of Mark and Brian Barrett are the owners of Wobbly Boots. They've been in the restaurant business in the Osage Beach area for over 20 years running popular restaurant/bars such as Dog Days on the Lake and Shorty Pants Lounge. In 2002, the brothers bought out J-J Barbecue and the recipes of John Hangley who also owns the Dickie Doo Barbecue in Sedalia, MO. Using J-J Barbecue as the basis of Wobbly Boots, they eventually closed that restaurant and opened Wobbly Boots in the summer of 2012. Tom Livingston is the pit master for Wobbly Boots, which opened an Iowa location in Clive, a suburb of Des Moines, in late 2014.
The Wobbly Boots in Osage Beach opened after the new Highway 54 Bypass opened in 2012. Before the bypass, travelers had to lurch through Osage Beach passing shops, hotels and restaurants. Now with the bypass, it shaves as much as 20 minutes of the travel time it took to get through Osage Beach to Camdenton - sometimes longer during the height of the vacation season in the Lake of the Ozarks. In order to let travelers know that Wobbly Boots existed, the Barrett brothers had a plan - they put up Wobbly Boots billboards in both directions coming into Osage Beach on the new bypass. It's those billboards that piqued my interest over the past couple of of years of traveling through the area.
Getting off the bypass onto the Osage Beach Parkway just before the bridge, I had to double back to get to Wobbly Boots. (see map) It was around noon during the week when I stopped and the large parking lot was half full of cars. Entering Wobbly Boots, I was greeted by a hostess and I asked if I could just sit at the bar which was part of the main dining area. She gave me a menu and I took a seat at the bar. Amy was the bartender that day and I saw that they had Schlafly beers on tap. I got a Schlafly Pale Ale while I looked through the menu.
In addition to barbecue at Wobbly Boots, they also feature a number of appetizers - award winning chicken wings, brisket quesadillas, and bacon-wrapped shrimp stood out on the menu. They also have a number of burgers, wraps and sandwiches, as well as rib-eye steaks, a brown sugar teriyaki salmon dinner, and prime rib that is sold on Friday and Saturday nights.
But barbecue is their big draw and they feature baby back and spare ribs, barbecued chicken, brisket, pulled pork, turkey, ham and smoked sausage. I ended up getting the two meat combo plate - pulled pork and brisket. I had a choice of one side to go along with the meat and I got the baked beans. Had I gotten two choices I also would have the Texas fries along with the beans.
The pulled pork - in my estimation - was great. It was moist, tender and had a slightly-smoked pork flavor. The brisket - though not as good as the pulled pork - was also very good. It, too, had a subtle smoky taste to the beef. The barbecue sauce that was given to me was robust with a bit of a spicy bite on the back end. It went well with the pulled pork and brisket, which, quite actually, were very good on their own without the sauce.
Usually, I feel a need to zip up baked beans at most barbecue places with some of the sauce. But the baked beans at Wobbly Boots were very good on their own. They were thick and sweet with chunks of pork mixed in. This was some pretty darned good barbecue in my book.
I really didn't know what to expect with the barbecue from Wobbly Boots, but I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised with both the brisket and especially the pulled pork that I had. The baked beans were good, as well, and the sauce was adequate. It was a lot of food for the combo plate and I was definitely full when I finished. The Osage Beach location of Wobbly Boots more than acquitted themselves admirably in the world and ways of barbecue. With a number of barbecue places to choose from in the Lake of the Ozarks area, I don't think you can go wrong with Wobbly Boots.