This restaurant in a cave is a must-see

If you haven’t caught on, I’ve been writing about caves lately.

This is an ongoing series about caverns large and small, commercial and public (and maybe a few private) in our region. 

Some are well-known tourist attractions. Some are lesser-known. Some are publicly accessible and some are not.

Some have been converted into restaurants or shops. I plan to include representatives of all.

Because I like going against the grain most of the time, and doing the unusual, I think today I’ll share about a cave in the latter group I mentioned above.

The Cave Bar & Grill in Lanagan, Missouri, is a unique place to stop for a bite to eat. The fare is good and the prices reasonable, but the main thing is the environment, which is literally inside a natural cave.

The place is actually what locals still know as Truitt’s Cave, a longtime eatery and show cave first discovered in 1929 by John Truitt, the “Caveman of the Ozarks.” 

Truitt developed the cave for the next 11 years or so and then opened it to the public — as a restaurant. It was also a tourist attraction, though, and offered tours for 25 cents.

It continued off and on as a restaurant and show cave for most of its history. It finally closed in 2000, reopened in 2002, then closed in 2004. 

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The room of the cave traditionally called “the dining room” is what comprises today’s restaurant. But the cave actually goes back farther. 

If the current owners of the site have any plans to open that part up to the public for tours again, I don’t know.

If they ever do, cave enthusiasts of all levels of expertise should be excited because the cavern features some cool rock formations, according to old photographs.

It also features a natural flu that runs all the way up through the mountain and out the top.

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