For many, us included, you cannot get the real flavor of a destination without including visits to some of the local restaurants. Hannibal, Missouri has a distinct connection with the “Mighty Mississippi”, so we certainly wanted to experience the river town tastes that can be found there. Obviously, we would want some variety and knew that we would be dedicating our time to the downtown section of town. It is worth noting that our visit to Hannibal allowed us plenty of sights and tastes all within walking distance of their historic district.
Mark Twain Dinette
Driving into Hannibal from the north, one of our first views of downtown included a huge spinning mug. This iconic sign signals the presence of one of the oldest restaurants in town. Since 1942, Mark Twain Dinette has been serving locals and travelers alike. They are a member of the Maid-Rite family, which got its start back in 1926. Their specialty has been loose meat sandwiches, which were developed by a butcher named Fred Angell. Of course, each restaurant puts it’s own spin on the line and usually includes a few extras to boot.
River Town Tastes
The Mark Twain Dinette stands out from local competition with the addition of frosty mugs of homemade root beer. Man, it really hit the spot on a hot summer day. It was also the perfect accompaniment for our meals. We would rank the Dinette as a semi-fast food joint. Diners enjoy table service, but the menu is designed to get the meals to diners quickly. For those on the run, they also have car-side service outside. One visit is not nearly enough to really explore their vast menu. We hope to stop in again and check out their version of the “Horseshoe”. (This was a dish we discovered in Springfield, Illinois)
Due Amici Pizzeria
No matter where we are exploring, a slice of pizza always sounds good. As we were checking out the downtown shops, we spotted this hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Seeing that it was approaching lunch time, Due Amici Pizzeria sounded like the perfect fit. Stepping through the door, we found a lot of gangster-era décor. It was obvious that this was one of the newer restaurants in town, so we decided it would make a good contrast to our visit to the Dinette.
Pizza Gangster Style
The menu at Due Amici is pretty simple, as all pizzerias should be. Since we both love pepperoni, the Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti was the perfect choice. They describe it as “Tommy Gun rounds of pepperoni” and we would have to agree. While we waited for our pie to bake, we checked out some of the photos that hung around the joint. We know that the Midwest was a haven for many of the gangsters of the 1920s. We have even stayed in a hotel used as a hideout by Al Capone. We just didn’t realize that Hannibal had its own dealings with the mob, but we can understand that they were probably wanting some river town tastes for themselves.
No self-respecting Kansas Citians would pass up an opportunity to check out the local BBQ scene. It seems like there are a few barbecue options in Hannibal, but we decided to sample the dishes at Wayne BBQ. What started as a food truck has morphed into a brick-and-mortar that features plenty of smoky choices. Stepping inside, we were intoxicated by the smell of hickory and sauce. It smelled a little like home. We loved that they played off of the historic brick walls of the old downtown buildings. They have even incorporated it into their décor design.
Midwest is the Best
When taste-testing a new BBQ joint, we appreciate that they offer a variety platter of some type. Wayne’s does one up with four meats and two sides. You can add a couple of additional sides for a small charge, and it really helps to get a true vibe for their cooking style. It was hard to say which of the meats we liked the most, as each has it’s own good qualities. Having plentiful amounts of smoked turkey, beef brisket, pulled pork, and ribs meant that we could really get the full experience. You can imagine how difficult it was to stop eating, even though we knew we were already full. That is why we always take a cooler on our trips, so we can bring home some local treats.
Eating Our Way Through Hannibal
As you can see, we only scratched the surface of the dining options in downtown Hannibal, Missouri. With so many river town tastes to experience, we would have to stay for a month to make a real dent. Hopefully, you will clue us in on some of the ones you have discovered in Mark Twain’s home town. The city has so many historic sites to explore, that it will surely leave you hungry for sampling some local eats. Just be sure to leave a little for our next visit. Bon Appetit!