Food & Drink Category

Photos by L.G. Patterson

Drum roll please, the Best of Columbia food and drink winners are… Passionate Columbians have cast thousands of ballots… and now, those ballots have been tallied. Inside Columbia is pleased to present this year’s top vote-getters. Thank you, Columbia, for voting for your favorites!

 

Chokes ‘n Cheese from Flat Branch Pub & Brewing

Best Home-Style Cooking Restaurant

Whether it’s shepherd’s pie, mac & cheese or a meatloaf sandwich, Flat Branch Pub & Brewing serves up food as good (maybe better?) than home cooking. Combine the vittles with one of 13 craft brews, a busy bar scene, relaxed family dining and a gorgeous patio and you’ll understand how Flat Branch consistently pleases Columbia’s collective palate. 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com

SILVER: Broadway Diner, 22 S. Fourth St., 573-875-1173

BRONZE: Cafe Berlin, 220 N. 10th St., 573-441-0400, www.cafeberlincomo.com

Best Breakfast Place

On a recent Sunday morning, kids were playing with hula-hoops on the patio while hungry adults anticipated their hearty breakfast. The Columbia community embraced Café Berlin for this happy atmosphere and family-friendly surroundings, demonstrating its support after serious vandalism devastated the café in January. Patrons, neighbors, staff — even competitors — came together to help clean the mess and restore the equipment. “We were there for each other,” said Kitchen Manager Jamie Davis. “We were able to open that same night for a music show.” 220 N. 10th St., 573-441-0400, www.cafeberlincomo.com

SILVER: Ernie’s Café & Steakhouse, 1005 E. Walnut St., 573-874-7804, www.erniescolumbia.com 

BRONZE: Broadway Diner, 22 S. Fourth St., 573-875-1173

 

Best Place to Get Brunch

Café Berlin is the brainchild of owner Eli Gay, who opened the restaurant ten years ago on Providence. It has been open for five years in its current location on N. 10th Street. Gay said music is integral to the café, and the new location provided space for a stage. Mornings find crowds of diners enjoying its expansive menu that features locally sourced ingredients. Nighttime crowds come for the music, but they may enjoy beer, wine or a breakfast-themed cocktail such as the Flapjack, too (bourbon, maple syrup, orange juice and bacon). Café Berlin worked its way to the top of the “Best of Columbia” list through “solid teamwork and good communication among staff,” according to Kitchen Manager Jamie Davis. 220 N. 10th St., 573-441-0400, www.cafeberlincomo.com 

SILVER: Glenn’s Cafe, 29 S. Eighth St., 573-447-7100, www.glennscafe.com

BRONZE: Sophia’s, 3915 S. Providence Road, 573-874-8009, www.sophiascomo.com

 

Best Place to Get a Cup of Coffee

The Grind Coffee House opened in May 2016 and has quickly built a loyal following for owner Aucky El-Tayash’s fresh take on quality and customer service. It starts with his main fare, coffee, and extends to friendly staff and spacious, comfortable surroundings. The Grind’s signature drink, the “Aucky,” (named after guess who) has a double shot of espresso, a bit of sugar and steamed half and half. “It’s in between a latté and a cappuccino and it’s delicious.” The Grind stays open 24 hours a day during finals week. A conference room, available for meetings, turns into a study room at night. Comfortable seating, wi-fi, a study bar with iPad holders and chargers attracts a diverse clientele, and Aucky says he gets lots of compliments on his playlist. “I love the Oldies. I have lots of Sinatra.” 4603 John Gary Drive, Suite 1, 573-447-3333,  www.thecolumbiagrind.com

SILVER: Kaldi’s Coffee, 29 S. Ninth St., Suite 1, 573-874-2566, www.kaldiscoffee.com

BRONZE: Lakota Coffee Company & Roasters, 24 S. Ninth St., 573-874-2852, www.lakotacoffee.com

 

Best Place to Get Doughnuts

Can you really bake love into every doughnut? Michael and Karli Urban, owners of Harold’s Doughnuts, and their many loyal customers believe you can. See, even the name — Harold’s — is a love note to Michael’s grandfather who loved doughnuts and loved serving customers at his Western Auto store in east-central Missouri. And then there’s that motto: “Love Your Craft!” emblazoned everywhere you look. A consistent winner in Best of Columbia, Harold’s serves up a changing array of craft, made-from-scratch doughnuts. Try the apple fritter, maple bacon, peanut butter chocolate cake or any other exotic or plain doughnut — you’ll love it. 114 S. Ninth St., 573-397-6322, www.haroldsdoughnuts.com 

SILVER: Strange Donuts, 1020 E. Broadway, 573-499-3663, www.strangedonuts.com 

BRONZE: Dunkin Donuts, 33100 S. Providence Road, 573-514-7020; www.dunkindonuts.com

 

CoMo Smoke and Fire

Best Barbecue Restaurant

You’ll find business suits and high heels mixed with tractor caps and flip flops at Columbia’s most popular barbecue restaurant, CoMo Smoke and Fire. The barbecue is unique — not Kansas City or St. Louis — but features special sauces to suit everyone’s tastes. Owners Matthew, Patrick and Christy Hawkins opened CoMo Smoke and Fire to provide a family atmosphere that showcases their unique and delicious barbecue. “Our family always had a vision of a restaurant we wanted to open, and we dreamt that someday we would make it a reality,” said Christy. “We even brainstormed and taste-tested recipes at our family gatherings. CoMo Smoke and Fire is our second home and we hope it will become yours, as well.” 4600 Paris Road #102, 573-443-3473, www.comosmokeandfire.com 

SILVER: Buckingham Smokehouse Bar-B-Q, 3804 Buttonwood Drive, 573-499-1490, www.buckinghamsmokehouse.com

BRONZE: Lutz’s BBQ, 200 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-443-4227, www.lutzbbq.com

 

Best Outdoor Dining Area

Flat Branch Pub & Brewing may as well change its name to “Pub, Brewing and Botanical Garden” from spring through fall, when lush plantings lure its patrons outdoors. Part-time employee Paul Weiss maintains blooming plants for Flatbranch’s expansive patio. He finds exotic varieties that bring color and life to the patio and surrounding walks. Twenty-five tables cater to heavy demand for outside seating during Columbia’s balmy days and nights. 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com

SILVER: Les Bourgeois Vineyards A-Frame, 14020 W. Hwy. BB, 573-698-3401, www.missouriwine.com 

BRONZE: The Roof (The Broadway Hotel), 1111 E. Broadway, 573-875-7000, www.thebroadwaycolumbia.com

 

Best Catering

Mmmm, smell those ribs as the aroma wafts from your kitchen. What? You didn’t spend all day over the barbecue? Oh, you must have figured out that D. Rowes offers the best catering in Columbia. An expansive catering menu combined with attention to detail pushed the popular southwest Columbia restaurant to the top of the catering list this year. 1005 Club Village Drive, 573-443-8004, www.drowesrestaurant.com 

SILVER: Hoss’s Market, 1010A Club Village Drive, 573-815-9711, www.hosssmarket.com

BRONZE: Bleu Events and Catering, 1000 W. Nifong Blvd. Building 3, Suite 220 B, 573-442-8220, www.mybleuevents.com

 

Best Place to Get a Steak

How to prepare and serve an exceptional steak, according to CC’s City Broiler? Step one, procure the highest quality beef available. Step two, grill to customer’s taste over live oak coals. Step three, serve it up in an atmosphere of quiet elegance along with a glass of good merlot and thoughtful conversation. Result? Gold for “Best Place to a Get Steak in Columbia.” 1401 Forum Blvd., 573-875-2282, www.ccscitybroiler.com 

SILVER: G&D Steakhouse, 2001 W. Worley St., 573-445-3504, www.gdpizzasteak.com

BRONZE: Chris McD’s, 1400 Forum Blvd., 573-446-6237, www.chrismcds.com

 

Best Place for a Business Lunch

General Manager Lance Wood attributes the popularity of Flat Branch Pub & Brewing for business lunches to ample parking, booths that provide private seating for conducting business and the sheer longevity of this Columbia destination. Flat Branch launched in 1994 when owner Tom Smith’s beer-making hobby got out of control. It was the first brewery to operate in Columbia since 1841. 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com 

SILVER: Addison’s, 709 Cherry St., 573-256-1995, www.addisonsgrill.com

BRONZE: Coley’s American Bistro, 15 S. Sixth St., 573-442-8887, www.coleysamericanbistro.com

 

Tacos al Pastor from Las Margaritas

Best Tacos

And the gold goes to Tacos al Pastor from Las Margaritas. Tacos al pastor hail from Central Mexico where they were introduced by Lebanese immigrants who specialized in spit-grilling meat, shawarma-style. The tacos’ Middle Eastern roots make them a close relative to kebabs and gyros. The cooking style imparts a crispy, smoky heartiness to the meat that pairs well with taco toppings, fresh tortillas and this restaurant’s namesake drink. 10 E. Southampton Drive, 573-442-7500, www.lasmargaritascolumbia.com

SILVER: Feaux-Rito Pie Tacos (44 Canteen), 21 N. Ninth St., 573-777-8730, www.44canteen.com 

BRONZE: Adobo Braised Pork Tacos (Flat Branch Pub & Brewing), 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com

 

Best Mexican Restaurant

Now at two locations in Columbia, Las Margaritas’ reputation for consistently good food and drinks is spreading. The restaurant is a family-magnet for reasonably priced food and is also a favorite watering hole for after-work happy hour. Try a top-shelf margarita and amazing tacos al pastor – they will fill you, body and soul. 10 E. Southampton Drive, 573-442-7500, www.lasmargaritascolumbia.com 

SILVER: 44 Canteen, 21 N. Ninth St., 573-777-8730, www.44canteen.com

BRONZE: El Maguey, 901 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-874-3812

 

Best Vegetarian Dish

Shakespeare’s veggie pizza is a hearty and possibly healthier take on the traditional pie. The veggie is composed of extra cheese, red onions, mushrooms, black olives and green peppers. (Make it your own by adding pineapple or broccoli, but don’t ask for celery because they don’t have any.) 225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454; 3304 Broadway Business Park Court, 573-447-1202; 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435; www.shakespeares.com

SILVER: Avocado Spinach Mac ‘n Cheese Bowl (Nourish), 1201 E. Broadway, Ste. B, 573-818-2240, www.nourishcafemarket.com

BRONZE: 9th Street Veg (Main Squeeze), 28 S. Ninth St., 573-817-5616, www.main-squeeze.com

 

Best Italian Restaurant

Columbians get to enjoy sleek surroundings and a reasonably priced menu at Sophia’s. From the interior’s David Spear murals to the lushly planted patio, the atmosphere at Sophia’s is elegant yet accessible. Sophia’s provides global cuisine, featuring appetizers, tapas, gourmet pizzas, pasta and specialty entrées, plus a generous list of wine, beer and specialty cocktails to celebrate every occasion. Ciao, baby. 3915 S. Providence Road, 573-874-8009, www.sophiascomo.com

SILVER: Babbo’s Spaghetteria, 1305 Grindstone Parkway, 573-442-9446, www.babbosspaghetteria.com

BRONZE: The Pasta Factory, 3103 W. Broadway #109, 573-449-3948, www.thepastafactorymo.com

 

Kampai Sushi Bar & Restaurant

Best Sushi Restaurant

Kampai Sushi Bar & Restaurant was one of the first businesses to open on Alley A, tucked just south of Broadway between Ninth and Tenth streets. It opened in 2014, when half the dining adventure was just finding it. Now well established on a busy pedestrian thoroughfare, Kampai continues to satisfy Columbians’ yen for sushi. Try the “Como,” for example: tuna, avocado, pickled radish and smelt roe, or the “Kampai,” a luscious combination of tempura shrimp, avocado and smelt roe topped with spicy tuna. 907 Alley A, 573-442-2239, www.kampaialley.com 

SILVER: Osaka Japanese Restaurant, 120 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-875-8588, www.osakacomo.com 

BRONZE: Jina Yoo’s Asian Bistro, 2200 Forum Blvd., 573-446-5462, www.jinayoos.com

 

Best Takeout

Put this number on your speed dial right now: 573-449-2454. (That’s Shakespeare’s Downtown; you’ll have to look up their other two numbers yourself.) Let’s say you’re coming home after a day’s work in Jeff City, or you’re headed to Columbia after a Cardinals’ game in St. Louis, or you’re a bone-tired mom after a hectic day. All you want is dinner, fast and delicious. Now call that number. You’re welcome. 225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454; 3304 Broadway Business Park Court, 573-447-1202; 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435; www.shakespeares.com

SILVER: Como Smoke and Fire, 4600 Paris Road #102, 573-443-3473, www.comosmokeandfire.com

BRONZE: Peking, 212 E. Green Meadows Rd, 573-256-6060

 

Best Happy Hour

Addison’s believes the happiest times are those wind-down hours before midnight. That’s when this downtown destination offers up its happy hour menu, complete with its famous nachos bianco, wings, sweet potato chips, calamari and other treats. Enjoy drink specials like 20 craft beers for just $2 a glass and wine for just $4 a glass while rubbing elbows with people you know … and people you’d like to know. 709 Cherry St., 573-256-1995, www.addisonsgrill.com 

SILVER: The Heidelberg, 410 S. Ninth St., 573-449-6927, www.theheidelberg.com

BRONZE: Room 38, 38 N. Eighth St., 573-449-3838, www.room-38.com

 

Best Place to Get Seafood

Finding fresh seafood in landlocked Missouri can be a challenge, but CC’s City Broiler General Manager Jim Price says most of the seafood served there is flown in fresh from the Gulf from a company in Hollywood, Florida. It is never frozen. “They buy it on the docks, pack it in ice and put it on a plane,” said Price. Scallops and swordfish are sourced this way. Salmon is probably the most popular fish on the menu, though, according to Price. It is served stuffed with shrimp and lightly baptized with a beurre blanc sauce. 1401 Forum Blvd., 573-875-2282, www.ccscitybroiler.com 

SILVER: Jazz, 217 N. Stadium Blvd., 573-443-5299, www.midmo.jazzkitchens.com 

BRONZE: Chris McD’s, 1400 Forum Blvd., 573-446-6237, www.chrismcds.com

 

Nachos Bianco from Addison’s

Best Appetizer

… And Nachos Bianco from Addison’s takes the gold! Here’s the recipe for success in Inside Columbia’s Best Appetizer competition: Place an ample portion of Italian pasta chips on a plate. Top with Asiago cheese sauce, tomatoes, scallions, Kalamata olives, banana peppers, mozzarella and chicken, black beans or chorizo sausage. Heat and eat. Or you can just go to Addison’s for your daily recommended dose of the best appetizer in town. 709 Cherry St., 573-256-1995, www.addisonsgrill.com

SILVER: Chokes and Cheese (Flat Branch Pub & Brewing), 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com 

BRONZE: Fried Green Pepper Rings (Murry’s), 33107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, www.murrysrestaurant.net

 

Best Salad

The house salad at CC’s City Broiler comes with every order, and its presentation is what makes it stand out from the crowd. A thin slice of cucumber secured by cherry tomatoes encircles seasonal greens spiked with peppers, red onions, feta and a smattering of blue cheese. You can choose from three dressings, but the balsamic vinaigrette is considered the “house dressing.” Its eye appeal is exceeded only by its taste appeal. 1401 Forum Blvd., 573-875-2282, www.ccscitybroiler.com

SILVER: Brewhouse Salad (Flat Branch Pub & Brewing), 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com 

BRONZE: Pit Salad (Buckingham Smokehouse BBQ), 3804 Buttonwood Drive, 573-499-1490, www.buckinghamsmokehouse.com

 

Best Local Dive

What’s not to love about a place that serves its hamburgers on a napkin? Ya know? It’s that “because it’s there” attitude that makes Booche’s Columbia’s best local dive/pool hall/sports bar. It’s because it’s there — right on Ninth — am I right? Always has been, always will be. See you there. 110 S. Ninth St., 573-874-9519

SILVER: Billiards on Broadway, 514 E. Broadway, 573-449-0116, www.billiardsonbroadway.com 

BRONZE: Mug’s Up, 603 Orange St., 573-443-7238

 

Best Comfort Food

What makes comfort food comforting? (Hint: it’s not butter and cream, but that helps.) You know it’s comfort food if it makes you nostalgic for home, if it sticks to your ribs and if it’s best shared with someone you love. Columbians said Flat Branch Pub & Brewing’s Chokes and Cheese appetizer is the best comfort food in town. Sure enough, it meets all the criteria. 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com 

SILVER: Brisket Mac & Cheese Sandwich (CoMo Smoke and Fire), 4600 Paris Road, #102, 573-443-3473, www.comosmokeandfire.com

BRONZE: Cheeseburger (Just Jeff’s), 701 Business Loop 70 W, 573-673-8741

 

Best Place to Get Gyros

Let’s get something straight: it’s pronounced YEE-ros, without the “g.” In 1970, “Grandpa” Gus Aslanidas opened G&D Steakhouse, and it has been in the Aslanidas family ever since. In those 47 years, they’ve learned a lot about pleasing Columbia palates. Their gyros sandwiches are a savory concoction of beef and lamb, topped with onions and tomatoes, wrapped in fresh pita bread. Relish one with a baked potato or fries and follow up with a piece of Momma Elly’s baklava. 2001 W. Worley St., 573-445-3504, www.gdpizzasteak.com

SILVER: International Café, 26 S. Ninth St., 573-449-4560

BRONZE: Arris’ Pizza, 1020 East Green Meadows, Suite 102, 573-441-1199, www.arrispizzaonline.com

 

Barrel Aged Midwest Manhattan from FlyOver

Best Restaurant Opened in 2016

Good news, Columbians! We now have two new top-rated restaurants in town. Flyover nudged out Barred Owl by one vote. Flyover offers a wood-fired oven, innovative menu, amazing cocktails and an atmosphere that epitomizes down-home comfort. Owners Adam Wells-Morgan and Dan Dethrow built their first bar and restaurant in an unlikely venue — a garage. They both have bar and restaurant pedigrees: Dethrow is the son of Jerry Dethrow, owner of Booche’s, and Wells-Morgan went to work at age 17 at the late (and much-missed) Trattoria Strada Nova. Both went on to hone their skills and vision for a venue that brings cooks, servers and customers together in good food, conversation and community. 212 E. Green Meadows, Suite 9, 573-825-6036, www.flyovercomo.com 

SILVER: Barred Owl, 47 E. Broadway, 573-442-9323, www.barredowlbutcher.com 

BRONZE: West Main Pizza 2, 923 E. Broadway, 573-777-7711, www.westmainpizza2.com

Best Place to Get Fried Chicken

Columbians welcomed owner Kim Perry back into the restaurant business when she opened Ms. Kim’s Fish & Chicken Shack in 2015. Former owner of the Mississippi Fish Shack downtown, she took a break to care for her mother before returning to business, opening her venue now located on Hathman Place. The Shack is a family enterprise; several of her 21 side dish recipes came from her grandmother in Kentucky, and her three children are all partners in the restaurant. “It’s nothing fancy,” she said. “Just good, down-home cooking.” 1416 Hathman Place, 573-4256-5467, www.mskimsshack.com

SILVER: Claysville Store, 5650 E. Claysville Rd, Hartsburg, 573-636-8443

BRONZE: Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, 2316 Paris Road, 573-474-5337; 2200 W. Ash, 573-445-6650, www.showmelees.com

 

Best Place to Get Wings

You can meet at CJ’s in Tiger Country to enjoy a pound (wimp!) or 85 pounds of wings (that’s more like it!) to be shared with all your bros. Enjoy the big game on a humongous screen in the side room while feasting on wings and quaffing quenching brews. CJ’s offers boneless chicken wings, too — just ask for Jayhawk wings. 704 E. Broadway, 573-442-7777, www.cjsintigercountry.com

SILVER: D. Rowe’s Restaurant & Bar, 1005 Club Village Drive, 573-443-8004, www.drowesrestaurant.com

BRONZE: Truman’s, 3304 W. Broadway Business Park Court, 573-445-1669, www.trumansbar.com

 

Best Asian Restaurant

For the second year in a row, Columbians chose Bangkok Gardens as the Best Asian Restaurant. Competition is fierce in our multicultural city, but this popular lunch and dinner destination has earned the distinction by serving up fine Thai fare since its opening in 1995. To celebrate spring, roll in for a spring roll, sa-tay or samosa appetizer and follow it up with one of the delicious entrees — from mild to spicy — that keeps Columbians coming back. 811 Cherry St., 573-874-3284, www.bankgkokgardens.com 

SILVER: House of Chow, 2101 W. Broadway, 573-445-8800, www.houseofchow-como.com 

BRONZE: Kampai Sushi Bar & Restaurant, 907 Alley A, 573-442-2239, www.kampaialley.com

 

Best Restaurant for a Romantic Date

Candles are lit and a soft glow emanates from the window into the kitchen, where you can watch chefs grill your steak over oak coals. The menu is extensive and the atmosphere exudes Old World luxury. Scott Cleeton created CC’s City Broiler 20 years ago to be a place to bring people together. First housed in an abandoned downtown bus station, it has moved to a sleek new space on Forum Boulevard. Diners looking for a lasting relationship may pick up on a commitment vibe here: servers and cooks alike tend to show their loyalty through longevity. “It’s not a side job for them,” said General Manager Jim Price. “They have worked their way up through the ranks. They know the details and they tend to stick with it for the long-term.” 1401 Forum Blvd., 573-875-2282, www.ccscitybroiler.com

SILVER: Les Bourgeois Vineyards Blufftop Bistro, 14020 W. Hwy. BB, 573-698-2300, www.missouriwine.com 

BRONZE: Murry’s, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, www.murrysrestaurant.net

 

Steak Sandwich from Murry’s

Best Sandwich

Not only did Murry’s steak sandwich win top honors for the best sandwich in Columbia, it came in second in the best entrée category. What makes this menu standard stand out from the crowd? Murry’s takes a great cut of meat, charbroils it and serves it with bread — but not too much bread. Savory, delicious and almost paleo. 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, www.murrysrestaurant.net 

SILVER: Veggie Sub (Sub Shop), 209 S. Eighth St.; 601 W Business Loop 70; 212 E. Green Meadows Rd; 2105 W. Worley St., 573-449-1919, www.subshopinc.com

BRONZE: Hobgobbler (Flat Branch Pub & Brewing), 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com

 

Best Overall Restaurant

Murry’s has been a Columbia fixture for food and jazz since 1985. Co-owners Bill Sheals and Gary Moore have seen its success grow year by year, and they are quick to attribute it to loyal customers and great help. Some of their chefs and servers have been with the restaurant for 25 years. “They have homes and families here,” said Sheals. “They’re professionals and we treat them as such.” The restaurant uses local ingredients to the extent possible. Though Sheals said their guiding philosophy is not to have a guiding philosophy, Murry’s website proclaims, “Keep it simple and make it good.” 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, www.murrysrestaurant.net 

SILVER: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com 

BRONZE: 44 Stone, 3910 Peachtree Drive, 573-443-2726, www.44stonepub.com

 

Best Entree

Goldilocks would have found the filet mignon “just right” at CC’s City Broiler. She can choose the size of the savory beef cut, from 6, 10 or 12 ounces of succulent tenderness. The restaurant sources its beef from barrel-cut tenderloins, well-marbled and grilled to your taste. Owner Scott Cleeton hails from a restaurant background, originally from Mexico and Moberly. When he opened his first restaurant here 20 years ago, loyal patrons drove to Columbia from those distant towns to see Scott and enjoy entrees like the filet mignon. 1401 Forum Blvd., 573-875-2282, www.ccscitybroiler.com

SILVER: Steak Sandwich (Murry’s), 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, www.murrysrestaurant.net

BRONZE: Burnt Ends (CoMo Smoke and Fire), 4600 Paris Road, #102, 573-443-3473, www.comosmokeandfire.com

 

Best Dish to Share With a Group

Columbia is lucky to have a great selection of pizzerias (perhaps we have our vibrant student population to thank for that) and luckier still to have Shakespeare’s continue to set the standard for the ubiquitous pie. Columbians said there is no easier way to please a crowd than to open a few boxes of hot Shakespeare’s pizza. Ask them to cut it “party style” for finger-food appetizers that will satisfy hearty appetites. 225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454; 3304 Broadway Business Park Court, 573-447-1202; 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435; www.shakespeares.com

SILVER: Nachos Bianco (Addison’s), 709 Cherry St., 573-256-1995, www.addisonsgrill.com

BRONZE: Chokes and Cheese (Flat Branch Pub & Brewing), 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com

 

44 Stone’s Disco Fries

Best Fries

Disco fries at 44 Stone are hand-cut potatoes, fried and served hot with spicy mayo, ale mustard aioli or lime aioli. Is your mouth watering yet? You can also ask for it “sloppy.” That’s when 44 Stone dresses it up with chile queso sauce, chicken chorizo, chipotle sauce, sharp cheddar cheese, pickled jalapeños and cilantro. They come with extra napkins, too. 3910 Peachtree Drive, 573-443-2726, www.44stonepub.com 

SILVER: ’Bout Died Fries (Billiards on Broadway), 514 E. Broadway, 449-0116, www.billiardsonbroadway.com

BRONZE: Mojito Fries (Addison’s), 709 Cherry St., 573-256-1995, www.addisonsgrill.com

Best Place to Enjoy a Cocktail

The Roof opened on top of the Broadway Hotel in 2015 and has since been carving out an iconic presence in Columbia. Where else can you get a 360-degree view of Our Fair City while enjoying a drink, tapas and the occasional jazz band? Even brisk evenings in spring and fall bring Columbians to the outdoor portion of The Roof to enjoy the warmth and romance of fire and sky. 1111 E. Broadway, 573-875-7000, www.thebroadwaycolumbia.com

SILVER: Murry’s, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, www.murrysrestaurant.com

BRONZE: The Vault, 23 S. Eighth St., 573-875-8888

 

Best Place to Enjoy a Glass Of Wine

Let’s list the ingredients for an evening out, Napa Valley-style: manicured vineyard on a rolling hill, beautiful view, great food and wine, attentive servers, elegant but relaxed atmosphere. Now you understand how Les Bourgeois Vineyards earned a gold in this category — not in Napa Valley but right off I-70, enroute to Rocheport. From the beautiful stroll down the hill from the parking lot to the striking architecture of the restaurant to the breathtaking view of the Missouri River, this place sets the stage for sipping great wine in lovely surroundings. 12847 W. Hwy. BB, 573-698-2716, www.missouriwine.com

SILVER: Top Ten Wines, 111 S. Ninth St., Suite 160, 573-442-2207, www.toptenwines.net

BRONZE: The Wine Cellar and Bistro, 505 Cherry St., 573-442-7281, www.winecellarbistro.com

 

Logboat Brewing Comany

Best Place to Get a Beer

As soon as Logboat Brewing Company opened the doors of its cool new building off of College, it attracted an audience young and old. Kids and pups scamper on its expansive lawn while crowds grow deep around the interior bar. Logboat’s commitment to Columbia shows in its charitable engagement with non-profits and worthy causes, pushing its name recognition while providing its popular, thirst-quenching brews. 504 Fay St., 573-397-6786, www.logboatbrewing.com 

SILVER: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com

BRONZE: 44 Stone Public House, 3910 Peachtree Drive, 573-443-2726, www.44stonepub.com

 

Best Late Night Restaurant

Murry’s co-owner Bill Sheals said he and Gary Moore made the commitment to stay open late when they opened the venue in 1985. (The kitchen serves until midnight; the bar stays open until 1 a.m.) He said that commitment resulted in loyal patrons who know they’ll find good food and friendly faces when other places have closed. “A lot of restaurant people come in late, after their shifts have ended,” Sheals said. “Everyone is welcome here, whether they’re in shorts, blue jeans or three-piece suits.” 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, www.murrysrestaurant.net 

SILVER: Broadway Diner, 22 S. Fourth St., 573-875-1173

BRONZE: El Rancho, 1014 E. Broadway, 573-875-2121, www.columbiamomexicanfood.com

 

Best Sports Bar

D. Rowe’s is a magnet for Columbia sports fans. Don’t feel like tailgating? Meet up at D. Rowe’s instead. Want to catch the big game? Name the sport, and you’ll find it broadcast at D. Rowe’s expansive bar or dining room, where you can also order their famous “big portions of great food.” 1005 Club Village Drive, 573-443-8004, www.drowesrestaurant.com 

SILVER: Truman’s Bar & Grill, 3304 W. Broadway Business Park Court, 573-445-1669, www.trumansbar.com 

BRONZE: Shiloh Bar & Grill, 402 E. Broadway, 573-875-1800, www.shilohbar.com

 

Best Place For A Big Group

What is it about Columbia and parties? Everywhere you look, someone’s having a party: wedding parties, birthday parties, bridge parties, you-finished-your-dissertation-parties and so on. And chances are, they’re having it at one of three Shakespeare’s locations, where you don’t have to pay extra for a festive atmosphere. Did you know you can even have a “Shakesperience”? That’s when you and five of your besties get to roll up your sleeves and make pizza with Shakespeare’s chef. 225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454; 3304 Broadway Business Park Court, 573-447-1202; 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435; www.shakespeares.com

SILVER: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400, www.flatbranch.com

BRONZE: The Roof (The Broadway Hotel), 1111 E. Broadway, 573-875-7000, www.thebroadwaycolumbia.com

 

Squirrel Goes Nuts cocktail from Barred Owl

Best Specialty Drink

One of Columbia’s newest and most fêted restaurants and bars is the Barred Owl, where regular and seasonal cocktails spike a menu of mostly locally sourced appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches, entrees and desserts. The “Squirrel Walks into a Bar” drink is composed of toasted pecan and walnut infused whiskey, Benedictine, honey syrup and black walnut bitters. Ask the bartender for the rest of the joke. 47 E. Broadway, 573-442-9323, www.barredowlbutcher.com 

SILVER: Maple Bourbon Sour (DogMaster Distillery), 210 St. James St., Suite D, 573-777-6768

BRONZE: Barrel Aged Midwest Manhattan (Flyover), 212 E. Green Meadows, Suite 9, 573-825-6036, www.flyovercomo.com

Best Soup

When Columbians choose a British-style gastro-pub’s East Indian tikka masala soup as the Best in Columbia, you know we’re on the multi-culti map. This delicious concoction at 44 Stone is made of tomato, coconut milk, onion, ginger, garlic, basmati rice, cilantro and spices. It simultaneously soothes and warms, and will cure what ails you. 3910 Peachtree Drive, 573-443-2726, www.44stonepub.com 

SILVER: Gumbo (Jazz), 217 N. Stadium Blvd., 573-443-5299, www.midmo.jazzkitchens.com

BRONZE: Tomato Basil Bisque (Pickleman’s), 2513 Old 63 South, 573-886-2300; 3103 W. Broadway, 573-875-0400; 1106 E. Broadway, 573-875-2400; 304 S. Ninth St., 573-474-0008, www.picklemans.com

 

Best Sandwich Shop

“Best buns in town!” the sign proclaimed, and after stepping indoors at Sub Shop to an aroma of baking bread, you’ll have to agree. You might be hard-pressed to make a sandwich selection from the extensive menu, but you can’t go wrong here. Top quality ingredients, speedy service and a delectable sub make Sub Shop a satisfying stop for lunch, dinner or in-between. 209 S. Eighth St.; 601 Business Loop 70 W., Suite 203; 212 E. Green Meadows Road; 2105 W. Worley St.; 573-449-1919, www.subshopinc.com

SILVER: Pickleman’s Gourmet Café, 1106 E. Broadway, 573-875-2400; 2513 Old 63 S., 573-886-2300; 3103 W. Broadway, Suite 105; 573-875-0400, www.picklemans.com

BRONZE: Uprise Bakery, 10 Hitt St. 573-256-2265, www.uprisebakery.com

 

Best Dessert

St. Louis may lay claim to inventing gooey butter cake, but Murry’s takes the dessert to new heights. Its descriptive name helps, but goes only so far to express the utter deliciousness of this confection. In an exclusive interview, Murry’s co-owner Bill Sheals revealed that the secret to its palate-pleasing success is the “gooey” that goes into it, but he refuses to divulge what goes into the “gooey.” 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, www.murrysrestaurant.net 

SILVER: Chocolate-Covered Strawberries (The Candy Factory), 701 Cherry St., 443-8222, www.thecandyfactory.biz 

BRONZE: Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie (Peggy Jean’s Pies), 3601 Buttonwood Drive, 573-447-7437, www.pjpies.com

 

Best Milkshake

Andy’s Frozen Custard lets you design your own milkshake (or its cousin, the more solid “concrete”) by choosing custard flavor — chocolate or vanilla — and custom add-ins. Or, they will serve up one of their own recipes, such as choc-o-rocko, cherry bash, jitterbug, jackhammer or the James Brownie funky jackhammer. The latter, for example, is composed of chocolate or vanilla custard blended with creamy peanut butter and brownies, then filled with hot fudge. You could jackhammer all day long with that concoction under your belt. 610 Cooper Drive N, 573-442-8866, www.eatandys.com 

SILVER: Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream, 21 S. Ninth St., 573-443-7400

BRONZE: Steak and Shake, 3004 Clark Lane, 573-886-8535, www.steakandshake.com

 

Best Ice Cream/Custard/Frozen Yogurt Shop

It’s a warm day, the lawn is mowed, the kids are hot and hungry. A little ice cream from Andy’s Frozen Custard is all you need for a mid-day break to keep you going strong. John and Carol Kuntz opened the first Andy’s Frozen Custard in Osage Beach in 1986. Son Andy and his wife, Dana, grew the business, based on a commitment to quality and service. Andy’s now has 50 stores in nine states. A new location on Trimble Road in Columbia is scheduled to open this year, joining their flagship store at 610 Cooper Dr. N., which opened in 2005. 610 Cooper Drive N., 573-442-8866, www.eatandys.com 

SILVER: Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream, 21 S. Ninth St., 573-443-7400

BRONZE: Randy’s Frozen Custard, 3304 W. Broadway Business Park Court, 573-446-307, www.centraldairy.biz

 

Best Place to Get Cookies/Cupcakes

Corey Rimmel opened Hot Box Cookies in 2008 and built its brand to become a “Best of Columbia” favorite. Rimmel attributes its success to high-quality cookies and other treats, and their delivery service, which provides surprise or late-night gifts to happy, hungry friends and loved ones – or yourself. 1013 E. Broadway, 573-777-8777, www.hotboxcookies.com 

SILVER: Uppercrust Bakery, 3919 S. Providence Road, 573-874-4044, www.theuppercrust.biz 

BRONZE: Fluffybutt Cookies, 4821 Aztec Blvd., 573-881-0902