Backstage Pass: Model Victoria Henley cooks up some advice for Branson’s eateries

Branson is home to not only some of the finest shows and attractions you’ll find anywhere, but also some of the most delectable dishes, chef prepared confections and creatively crafted spirits that are sure to impress even the most discerning of “foodies.”

I scouted the city for the best of the best dining options, ranging from fine dining, sports bars, cultural cuisine, and everything in between.

(Lynn of @lynnhenleyphotography, and my grandmother, Ramona, also joined in the fun to help sample of the most delectable food and drink Branson has to offer.)


Conveniently located just off from the iconic “76 Country Boulevard”, Crazy Craig’s Treehouse offers a festive, lighthearted atmosphere, impressive menu variety and a staggeringly extensive list of custom cocktails that you can only find at the Treehouse.

The upper deck features a pool table and intermittent live DJ Music, with late night hours that make this bar and grill the premiere standard nightlife option in town.

The lower level serves as the main restaurant and bar, featuring several flat screen TV’s and varieties of Crazy Craig T-Shirts and merchandise available for purchase.

The menu offers endless enticing options; therefore, selecting only a few items was impossible, but below are our top recommendations to try on your next visit to Crazy Craig’s Treehouse:


Treehouse Punch: Real McCoy rum, melon liquor pineapple juice sour mix and Sprite)


Cheeky Monkey: Fresh blend of Cruzan mango, guava, coconut, and banana rum with a splash of all your favorite tropical juices.

Tipsy Toucan Martini: Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, Orange and Raspberry Schnapps, fresh squeezed lemon, and raspberries, shaken over ice and stirred to perfection.

Toucan Twist: Makers Mark twist on an old fashion, muddled bing cherry, simple syrup, mandarin oranges and Orange bitters.



Dart Frog Dip: This starter is made from mashed chickpeas, seasoned with garlic tahini oil, topped with fresh olive tapenade, and diced tomatoes. Served with pieces of crispy Naan bread.



Chicken BLT Salad: Grilled or crispy. We ordered ours crispy– chicken, blend of crispy romaine and spring mix lettuce, crispy bacon, fresh diced tomatoes, and Colby jack cheese. Served with choice of dressing.



Each served with a choice of house garlic Parmesan fries, homemade coleslaw or house pasta salad. You may substitute macaroni and cheese, house mixed greens, or Caesar salad for $2.50.

CUBANO CLASSIC: Ramona’s Choice: Pulled Pork, Ham, Zesty Pickles, Stone Ground Mustard, and creamy melted Swiss on crispy panini bread.

TURKEY PESTO: Sliced smoked turkey, spring green mix, fresh pesto, sliced tomatoes and Swiss cheese on crispy panini bread.



Garlic Parmesan Fries: Crispy fries, fried to perfection, tossed in garlic with mouthwatering Parmesan cheese. Served with signature Amazon Yum Yum sauce.

Spring Mix Salad: The quintessential healthy accompaniment to any main dish, this garden-fresh salad includes everything you would hope and expect from a traditional side salad: fresh greens, crisp slices of cucumber, diced tomatoes, carrots and shredded cheese.

Special thanks to our incredibly skilled and knowledgeable bartender, Brooke.


PHONE: (417) 334-7003’streehouse


Crazy Craig’s Treehouse was also the unofficial after party location for the Branson Star Theater’s post Terry Music Awards celebration, where we all danced and enjoyed drinks on the top deck under the stars late into the night.


As its name might elude, Crazy Craig’s is a quirky watering hole, with a rotating line up of live DJ’s, pool tables, a full bar, and a menu offering a delicious and an unexpected take on traditional “Bar Food.” Known for its festive atmosphere and loyal local fan base (extremely popular with tourists, and perfect for biker groups), Crazy Craig’s doesn’t take itself too seriously, but obviously takes its food and beverage offerings quite seriously.

Below are our top recommendations:

We started off our experience with a sample of Monkey Fuel (featuring a beautiful, bright blue hue with Clear Springs Lightning-190 Proof Hiram Walker Peach Schnapps, Blue Hawaiian Punch, Mountain Dew and Sour.

Walla Walla Bing Bang (or order it by its real name if you dare. Do Ee Op Ah Ah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang Monkey Pint): Cruzan Black Cherry Rum, Cruzan Strawberry Rum, Blue Curaco Cranberry Juice, citrus soda and pineapple juice.

Monkeys Uncle: Svedka raspberry vodka, Svedka mango pineapple vodka, cranberry juice, sour and a splash of citrus soda.

Monkey Colada: Refreshing pina colada with Cruzan coconut rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and Dekuyper blue curado, topped with whipped cream and cherry treat.



NOTE: All the food options are grilled or smoked in the smoker onsite.

Cheeky Nachos: A generous portion of crisp tortilla chips, pulled high with fresh cut tomato, diced green peppers, black beans, chicken and pulled pork, with sour cream, jalapeños, and traditional salsa served on the side. Your choice of chicken, pulled pork, or ground beef. We highly recommend the pulled pork option, as the combination of flavors creates a scrumptious and unique take on nachos.

Quesadillas: Your choice of chicken or pulled pork: We chose chicken. Tender meat and a variety of cheeses including rich mozzarella that melts in your mouth.

Half Rack of Ribs: This freshly smoked half rack is fall-off-the-bone tender and every bite was lean and flavorful. Each BBQ entree is served with a choice of two sides, and we chose Agave Nectar Coleslaw and BBQ Baked beans.

Special thanks to the co- owner Craig, our server Ryan for taking excellent care of us, Jared the Cook, Brittany on serving staff, and the entire Crazy Craig’s team for their hospitality.

PHONE: (417) 335-2620



Located inside Branson’s landmark IMAX Entertainment Complex, McFarlain’s Family Restaurant serves up generous helpings of artfully prepared down home country classics in an atmosphere filled with antiques and southern charm. As its name suggests, McFarlain’s is perfect for the entire family and offers an upper level well-suited for buses and large parties McFarlain’s is a popular dining destination for large groups; therefore, be sure to call ahead if you plan to bring a large party.

Here are our top selections:



Vegetable: perfect for a fall day: carrots, potatoes, corn, green beans, and green peas in a delicious broth with tender meat.

Chicken Noodle: This quintessential “Comfort food” soup comes with lean grilled chicken, carrots, celery, and tender noodles in chicken broth with crackers on the side.


Fried Green Tomatoes: Tangy slices of green tomato, hand breaded and fried to a golden-brown perfection, served with house made ranch dressing.



Served with famous Honey Cornbread, a unique and delicious hybrid between classic cornbread and cake, topped with “frosting,” a sweet, whipped honey butter spread, all made in-house.

McFarlain’s Legendary Chicken Half a chicken. Four juicy pieces-breast, thigh, leg, and wing-brined, seasoned, and breaded…Fried golden brown, just like Grandma McFarlain did. Served with your choice of two sides. We chose sweet potato fries with McFarlain’s signature dipping sauce, and steamed broccoli.

Pork Chop Dinner a plump, bone-in, sugar cured pork chop grilled over an open flame to juicy perfection. Served with your choice of two sides. Ramona chose creamed corn and coleslaw.

Chicken Pot Pie Chicken with peas and carrots, covered in a delicious gravy, and topped with a flaky homemade crust. Served with your choice of two sides. We chose green beans and mashed potatoes with a hearty white gravy.


Blackberry Cobbler with added vanilla ice cream Exquisitely made flaky crust, encasing plump, sweet berries and hot blackberry filling.

Branson Traffic Jam Strawberries, rhubarb, cherries, and cranberries…a McFarlain’s specialty.

Chocolate cream pie Smooth as silk chocolate, topped with fluffy whipped cream and a rich dark chocolate drizzle.

PHONE: 417336-4680



Named and themed to honor heroes in all walks of life, including service members, teachers, farmers, first responders, nurses, doctors, firefighters, and police officers just to name a few, Heroes Tastes and Taps offers a menu of both traditional favorites and trendy plates, sure to satisfy the entire family.

Known for its wide array of beer selections and house-made specialties, choosing only a few items to try from Heroes’ expansive menu was certainly a challenge, but listed below are our prime selections:



To maximize your experience, we recommend trying a beer flight, where you can select four craft beers for a customized experience.

Lost Signal Smoked Pecan Porter: Made with Mississippi grown pecans, just a kiss of smoke, and a nice, nutty sweetness.

Four by 4 Parkside Pineapple: Flavor is Pineapple Sweet, followed by IPA bitterness in the finish.

O’Fallon Smooth, Clean, Wheat Beer: With a touch of peach. Refreshing and crisp.

Boulevard Tank 7: Fruity aromatics and big grapefruit hoppy notes to a dry, peppery finish.


APPETIZERS or “First Responders” 

The Farmer’s Cheesy Cauliflower Dip: A hot, cheesy, house made dip of riced cauliflower, pimento cheese, and chorizo sausage. Served with crispy fried wonton chips…take our word for it: some of the best you will ever eat.


ENTREES Or Armed Forces 

Anchors Aweigh Shrimp and Grits: Perfectly seasoned and grilled shrimp served with smooth creamy cheddar grits and sautéed julienned mixed vegetables. Served with a drizzle of Heroes’ Sweet Heat.

Grandpa’s Fried Fish Plate: Two large, battered & seasoned fish fillets, deep-fried to a golden brown. Served with tartar sauce, our very own 3-cheese mac & cheese and your choice of side. We chose slaw, which was the perfect traditional accompaniment to this delectable fried fish dinner.

Pioneer Porkchop: A marinated and seasoned bone-in pork chop, grilled to perfection. Served with cinnamon apples, creamy white cheddar mashed potatoes and your choice of side. We chose fresh asparagus.



We selected Heroes’ the spectacular specialty sundae, featuring creamy, rich vanilla ice cream, sandwiched between two crisp Belgian waffles with whipped cream and a thick, fruity coulis on top.



PHONE NUMBER 417 334-2766


One of very few upscale eateries in Branson where you can experience fine, Italian food and Tuscan- inspired atmosphere, FLORENTINA’s Ristorante Italiano offers varieties of authentic fare such as fan favorites: Penne Alla Vodka and Linguini Del Mare to a more westernized take on the Italian Genre eg: Nachos Italiano, a FLORENTINA’s specialty, as well as traditional spaghetti.

Below are our top choices from this beautiful restaurant’s extensive menu:



Luscious Red: A sparkling and sweet red wine, with a gorgeous ruby red hue and sweet, fruity finish.


Zappa Toscana Soup: Vegetables, sausage and chicken in a creamy tomato broth. Available by the cup or bowl.



Each entree is served with house-baked bread and a delightfully flavored dipping sauce with a bottle of olive oil, which you can pour yourself.

Salmon Trattori: A grilled salmon fillet, lightly seasoned and topped with succulent grilled shrimp and parmesan alfredo sauce served with penne pasta with marinara, alfredo or tomato cream sauce. We chose fresh green beans and roasted potatoes as this dish’s accompaniment.

Chicken Marsala: A tender, breaded chicken cutlet, sautéed and topped with Marsala wine sauce, rosemary and sliced mushrooms.



Enjoy a 10″ x 15″ thin crust pizza topped with an old-world style sauce and the best cheese blend of fontina, mozzarella, parmesan and provolone. Baked in an authentic brick oven.

A very impressive list of pizza options is offered at FLORENTINA’s, but we went with the “Build your own” option: Caramelized onions, red and green peppers, mushrooms, Kalamata olives and fresh cut tomatoes.


PHONE: 417-337-9882


Conveniently located in the beautiful Branson Landings, Garfield’s Restaurant and Pub gives an unexpected revamp to traditional pub fare, for a casual dining experience like no other. Enjoy breathtaking views of the beautiful Lake Taneycomo from your seat on the patio or choose to dine indoors and enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant. Generous portions, flavorful food and unexpected not to mention fabulous cocktails all come together to make Garfield’s an experience you’ll remember long after your vacation. Better yet, Garfield’s has numerous locations, so check their website to see if there is a restaurant near you, so you can keep the fun going after your trip.

Below are some of our highlights:



Rum Bucket Featuring a grapefruit-colored hue and light, sweet, fruity punch flavor. Cruzan rum and fresh fruit are added for a tropical beverage that feels like a getaway in a glass… or make that a bucket that you get to keep.



Deep Fried Mac N Cheese Bites delicious crispy fried Mac N Cheese nuggets, bursting with flavor and served with a side of house made ranch dressing.



Minestrone: Garden fresh veggies with shell pasta, in a savory, comforting broth.

Loaded Baked Potato Creamy Potato soup, with hearty chunks of potato, cheese, and bacon bits



Big Fav Platter The perfect combination. Baby Back Ribs, Chicken Tenders, Chicken Quesadilla, fire strings and kettle chips. Best described as an entree sized appetizer, this features some of the freshest cut chicken and most tender ribs you’ll find anywhere. They don’t call it the “Big Fav” for nothing. This entree is always a crowd pleaser.

Pasta Alfredo: Penne pasta tossed with a creamy garlic Alfredo sauce. Topped with Parmesan cheese and parsley. We chose chicken ($9.99) or you can opt for shrimp ($11.99)

Tilapia filet: Seasoned tilapia filet– grilled, blackened, or fried. We opted for grilled. Served with seasonal vegetables and savory rice.



PHONE: 417 335-3701


Typically, one can always pinpoint an excellent restaurant by taking note of how many locals dine there, and after speaking with an overwhelming number of Branson locals who cited Pickin Porch Grill as their favorite dining spot, I knew we were in for a real treat. A down home country BBQ restaurant nestled in the back of the popular Branson Craft Mall, The Pickin Porch is owned and operated by Presley’s Country Jubilee performer and serial entrepreneur, Mark Pearman who toured for over 30 years as a musician for some of the biggest names in country music including, Roy Clark.

Pickin Porch offers live music every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sat from 5-6:30 p.m. by Mark’s wife, Kathy an extremely talented musician who has hit the Top 40 three times.

Enjoy fall off the bone, fresh smoked BBQ, a free show by one of the greatest live bands around, then browse the wears of talented local craftspeople in the adjacent mall after your meal.

You won’t want to leave without picking up a box of the famous Branson Fresh Fudge and various confected nuts, all available onsite at the Pickin’ Porch.

Below are our top “Picks:”



Pulled Pork Fries: A pile of fries covered with melted Jack/Cheddar cheese, pulled pork, baked beans, jalapeños-which can be requested on the side if you prefer your dish less spicy-, green onions, and sour cream.



NOTE: All plates are served with baked beans, coleslaw, French fries and a fried roll.

Grilled Chicken Plate: Charbroiled, tender, chicken, served with a side of homemade dipping sauce.



Catfish Tacos: Fried 100 % farm raised catfish piled on three corn tortillas, topped with fresh shredded lettuce and a house-made avocado sauce that makes this dish burst with flavor.

WEBSITE: click the tab in the left corner on the website, then select “Pickin Porch Grill” as the second drop down option.

PHONE: 417-334-1223 Ext: 108


Robin McCallister, resident co- chef at Sips, a favorite hangout spot of the Branson celebrities and musicians, is much more than merely a chef. She is a true artist, paying keen attention to every specific detail of the food she creates, both in taste and overall aesthetic. During an era of “Instagram Worthy” food trends, you would be hard pressed to find a more skilled artisan than McCallister, who masters the rare combination of creating uniquely beautiful, masterful food that is beyond delicious.

Her menu is diverse enough to appeal to even the most discerning of “Foodies” or “Food Snobs” as well as those who simply enjoy a well-prepared dish. Branson can get quite busy during peak tourist season and getting into your favorite restaurant may set you back a couple of hours out of your day, so let Robin create and prepare a customized meal for you and your family to enjoy in your condominium, hotel or vacation rental.

Chefs are often portrayed or perceived to be fussy of difficult to work with; however, you will not find a more humble and down to earth chef than Robin, who will collaborate with you to create just the right menu, no matter how big or small.

This Master chef also creates custom wedding cakes, cake pops, and beyond, so be sure to reach out for all your catering, party, wedding, and general special event needs, as McCallister is trained to work in a variety of genres of foods.

Lynn and I received a special treat of a private, exclusive tasting onsite at Sips, where we sampled carefully curated, hand selected menus by Robin, which had us absolutely awestruck, in both beauty and flavor:

Cupcake bouquet: Seven cupcakes with dark chocolate and vanilla bean cupcakes decorated in whipped frosting roses and daisies.

Made from scratch Dark chocolate brownies with pecans and white chocolate chips drizzled with caramel sauce on top

Mini French vanilla bean wedding cake with cream cheese icing with gold and silver accents and handmade flowers on the top, gold flake accent, topped off with “Mr. and Mrs.” sign.

Mini red velvet three-tier butterfly cake with blueberry filling and cream cheese icing

Red velvet white chip cake pops, dipped in a white chocolate with shimmering sprinkles on a gold “lollipop” stick.

Coconut macaroons: Sweet meringue mix with coconut cooked to crunchy/chewy deliciousness.

Chocolate eclairs with diplomat cream filling and chocolate ganache on top.

Pate a Chou buns filled with grape chicken salad.

Brownies garnished with whipped icing flowers and edible whipped icing ribbons.

Robins cookie fries sugar cookie fries and cream cheese frosting that resembles ketchup

Robin McCallister Direct Booking Info

WORK CELL: Text or Call 417 217-3165



Backstage Pass on IHeart Radio/ FCB Radio Network and the CTFashion Magazine “Must See” exclusives is brought to you in part by the Impossibilities Magic show in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Nestled in the Iris Theater, located inside Gatlinburg’s highest peak, The Gatlinburg Space Needle, Impossibilities blends an exciting, eccentric mix of classic and contemporary magic, zany comedy antics, sleight of hand card tricks, and of course, the mind blowing mind reading skills for which Master Mentalist, Erik Dobell, has become world renowned. Dobell is also available for private parties and corporate events, so be sure to connect with him on your favorite social media platform and tell him Victoria with Backstage Pass sent you. Tickets in this intimate theater book up quickly, so be sure to reserve your seats well in advance and be sure to listen to my exclusive interview with Erik, wherever you get your podcasts.


PHONE: 888 482-3330

Instagram: @impossibilities_show


Victoria Henley is on IHeart/FCB Radio and can be found at