Chef Kevin McCowan isn’t afraid of making mistakes. 

“Usually our mistakes…we just eat them,” he jokes. As the executive chef at Dog Days Bar & Grill it’s through trial and error that he’s found a niche — providing unique and flavorful foods, not just typical pub fare. 

These days more and more people are rediscovering a new Dog Days after being in business for 25 years. It’s been a popular waterfront bar since it opened at the 19-mile marker in 1993 but lately it seems to be brining people back to find out what all the buzz is about.

In just a few short years there have been a number of renovations to the restaurant and changes to the menu. Both chef McCowan and general manger Luke Hagedorn have spent many years in the industry and that expertise is getting put to good use. 

Last year’s addition of two outdoor pools — one has a swim-up bar, the other is family-friendly — can be attributed for an increase in traffic. With that growth came the addition of a 3,000-square foot kitchen and an emphasis to add fresh and healthier options to the menu. Burgers and fries have their place but incorporating different ingredients with bold flavors are a top priority for McCowan. The proof can be found in items like the their Beach Bowls, which are a big hit. Even standard cuisine like nachos are made with a special touch. Tacos, burgers, appetizers salads, speciality sandwiches and signature entrées make up the menu. Each month a few new options are introduced to offer something different.

About the restaurant

Just a short distance from the Grand Glaize Bridge by land and the Lake of the Ozarks State Park by water, it’s location puts it right in the middle of all of the action. 

Besides a new twist on the menu, several amenities can be found around the pool this year. A rooftop bar just opened where many special events are held but it is also often used for general seating. 

While during the summer everyone congregates outdoors, inside you’ll find a bar, boutique shop, indoor stage for entertainment and seating with a view of the Lake. The expansive covered deck offers even better views to enjoy that meal alfresco. 

Dog Days is owned by Mark and Brian Barrett who also own two other successful Lake of the Ozarks restaurants, Shorty Pants and Wobbly Boots.

About the chef

Always cooking up something different in the food lab, McCowan came to Dog Days 2013. His background includes working at Cannon Smoked Saloon, Captain Ron’s and Old Kinderhook. A 1994 graduate of Camdenton High School, he spent 10 years working for Tan-Tar-A Resort. During his tenure, he traveled for Marriott and worked at the Marco Island, Fla. Marriott and The Westin Casuarina Resort in the Grand Cayman Islands. His experience there shaped him into using different flavor profiles and experimenting with food. 

Good-for-you ingredients like European seedless cucumber, tri-colored carrots, and fresh fruit makes a big difference when it comes to delivering quality and repeat business. 

“Adding just a little bit makes a nice dish,” McCowan says. 

What’s in store for next season? Another overhaul of the menu, says McCowan.

What stands out on the menu? 

The Avocado Relleno: Fresh avocado, cut in half, hand-breaded and fried until brown. They are stuffed with a sweet and spicy sautéed shrimp and Texas caviar, roasted tomato and jalapeño cream. You also have the option to keep it fresh, not fried.

The Vegan Bowl: Sautéed Kohirabi, Brussel sprouts, rainbow carrots, kale, spinach, quinoa, fresh herbs and garlic. 

Cabo Shrimp Bowl: Grilled shrimp, pickled onions, jalapeño, shoe peg corn, fresh avocado and wild rice and quinoa.