Best of Columbia 2013

You Inside Columbia readers are an active bunch. You’re out there every day, tasting the food, browsing the shops, greeting your neighbors, seeing the sights, and passing judgment on what you like best about your hometown. That’s why we decided that you, our readers, have the superior qualifications needed to judge the annual Best of Columbia contest.

We put an entire town full of judges to work in November when we asked you to submit nominees in more than 60 award categories. After we narrowed the field to the top nominees in each category, we rolled out the final ballot. Throughout December and into January, you took time to vote. When the voting ended (and after a few ballot-stuffers were vanquished), our staff tallied more than a quarter-million votes cast across all categories.

Here are your results, Columbia. You did such a great job, we’ve put your names on our list to judge again when Best of Columbia 2014 nominations open in November.



Best Overall Restaurant
And the winner is … Flat Branch Pub & Brewing. With a total of five medals for 2013, it’s clear that the Fifth Street favorite is serving up good food and great beer. It’s the Chicken Philly. No, it’s the Tomato Bisque Soup. No, it’s actually the World Famous Chokes ‘n Cheese. Or maybe it’s the extensive menu of comforting pub fare and brews on tap — that’s what keeps Columbians coming back for working lunches, happy hours and late suppers day after day.
115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400
Silver: Murry’s Restaurant, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969
Bronze: CC’s City Broiler, 1401 Forum Blvd., 573-445-7772

Best Alfresco (Patio) Dining
The sound of metal chairs dragging across the flagstone patio at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing is somehow comforting on a sunny day. Grab a corner table under an open umbrella, arrange your chairs, order an IPA and keep your sunglasses on. Flat Branch’s patio is your patio, and the order-whatever-whenever atmosphere encourages Oil Change and Honey Wheat lovers alike to stay a while.
115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400
Silver: Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar, 811 E. Walnut St., 573-442-8220
Bronze: Sophia’s, 3915 S. Providence Road, 573-874-8009

Best Barbecue
Tuck your napkin into your shirt and dig in. Buckingham Smokehouse BBQ retains the title of the Best Barbecue restaurant in Columbia for another year. Yes, the pulled pork is juicy and the beef brisket is thinly sliced. But the sides deserve some of the credit for this award, too. Spicy horseradish coleslaw, deep-fried corn on the cob and savory sweet potato fries are served up in generous portions with a side of hot sauce, barbecue sauce or ketchup.
3804 Buttonwood Drive, 573-449-1490
Silver: Lutz’s BBQ, 200 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-443-4227
Bronze: Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ, 4603 John Garry Drive, 573-256-6450

Best Breakfast Joint
Roll out of bed and head to Ernie’s Café and Steak House for breakfast, brunch and lunch. The ’50s-inspired diner is the premier place for a hearty, inexpensive breakfast beginning at 6:30 a.m. every day. Columbia’s best breakfast spot is only open until 2 p.m., though, and seating is extremely limited on weekend mornings. But the burgers, omelets, pancake varieties and vegetarian options make diners forget their 30-minute wait after their first bite.
1005 E. Walnut St., 573-874-7804
Silver: Café Berlin, 220 N. 10th St., 573-441-0400
Bronze: Broadway Diner, 22 S. Fourth St., 573-875-1173

Best Burgers
It’s the oldest restaurant in downtown Columbia, and it doesn’t serve a single item on plates. Booches Billiard Hall retains the throne of the best burgers in Columbia. And like the old billiard tables, some things at Booches never change. Booches still only accepts cash, the burgers are still served up on waxed paper and there’s still not a single french fry to be found. Our craving for Booches lives on.
110 S. Ninth St., 573-874-9519
Silver: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400
Bronze: Five Guys Burgers & Fries, 2703 E. Broadway, 573-777-4568; 233 N. Stadium Blvd., 573-777-4564

Best Coffeehouse
Sink into a chair, sip something hot and relax at Kaldi’s Coffee. For another year, Kaldi’s holds on to its title as Columbia coffeehouse champion. Kaldi’s wasn’t born here in Columbia ― the original store opened in Clayton, Mo., in 1994 — but the cozy couches, smiling baristas and oversized community bulletin board make it feel like home for local caffeine addicts. There are dozens of coffee varieties to explore or break out of your coffee habit for a day and sample a cuppa tea.
29 S. Ninth St., 573-874-2566
Silver: Lakota Coffee Co. & Roasters, 24 S. Ninth St., 573-874-2852
Bronze: Starbucks Coffee Co., 2500 Broadway Bluffs Drive, 573-442-4951; 304 S. Ninth St., 573-442-5802; 2901 W. Broadway, 573-445-0367

Favorite Frozen Treats
Pay no attention to the eclectic (some might even say creepy) paintings on the wall at Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream. The artwork isn’t what keeps patrons coming back; it’s the varieties of homemade, eccentric but delicious ice cream flavors. From Pumpkin Pie to Les Bourgeois Ghirardelli Chocolate to Butterbeer and everything in-between, the ice cream masters at Sparky’s scoop up the top ice cream spot for another year. That’s a load of bulldog love.
21 S. Ninth St., 573-443-7400
Silver: Andy’s Frozen Custard, 610 N. Cooper Drive, 573-442-8866
Bronze: Cold Stone Creamery, 904 Elm St., 573-443-5522

Favorite Asian Cuisine
Bangkok Gardens is heating up. The downtown Thai food palace once again wins the prize for serving the best Asian cuisine in Columbia. We know you’ve tried the Phat Thai, but have you tried the scrumptious (and meatless) Vegetarian Fried Dumplings? Have you ended a meal with an energizing iced Vietnamese coffee? Have you sipped on a bottle of Singha Thai beer paired with Street Side Sa-tay? Study the menu; the endless array of appetizing options at Bangkok Gardens makes every dinner a far-out Far East experience.
811 Cherry St., 573-874-3284
Silver: Osaka Japanese Restaurant Sushi Bar And Hibachi Steakhouse, 120 E. Nifong Blvd., Suite A, 573-875-8588
Bronze: Chim’s Thai Kitchen, 3907 Peachtree Drive, 573-777-8626; 210 N. 10th St., 573-355-9590; 11505 Smith Hatchery Road (Cooper’s Landing), 509-295-3810

Favorite Italian Cuisine
Stretch your palate beyond spaghetti and meatballs with the upscale, modern Italian cuisine at Sophia’s. From antipasti to dolcé, Sophia’s serves satisfying southern Italian fare with international flair. Menu options such as the Mediterranean-style hummus plate, Moroccan Spiced Shrimp, and the Ravioli Carne all come together like an Italian family: lovingly, with a bold personality for a memorable meal. Oh, and order a glass of wine or two. Italian food is best with great wine, and Sophia’s wine list is one of the best in Columbia.
3915 S. Providence Road, 573-874-8009
Silver: The Rome, 114 S. Ninth St., 573-876-2703
Bronze: The Pasta Factory, 3103 W. Broadway, Suite 109, 573-449-3948

Favorite Mexican Cuisine
Dollaritas for everyone at El Maguey! We’ll take a lime on the rocks to celebrate another year of El Maguey’s spot as the No. 1 Mexican restaurant in Columbia. The restaurant owes much of its community love to its drink specials, featuring all-day $1.50 lime margaritas Tuesday through Thursday every single week. To pair with your tasty tequila, start with chips and salsa, end with fried ice cream and somewhere in-between order a Chicken Enchilada or Fajitas de Camaron. Hasta pronto!
901 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-874-3812; 21 Conley Road, Suite U, 573-443-7977; 504 Business Loop 70 W., 573-449-6558
Silver: Agave Mexican Restaurant, 901 Safari Drive, 573-256-5611
Bronze: El Rancho, 1014 E. Broadway, 573-875-2121


Best New Restaurant Opened In 2012
Say it out loud: “Loots.” It rhymes with “boots,” and pronouncing the name correctly will keep you from sounding like a newbie at Columbia’s favorite new restaurant, Lutz’s BBQ. Already a mid-Missouri favorite at its Jefferson City location, Lutz’s opened last fall to rave reviews from local foodies and barbecue connoisseurs alike. Go for the barbecue, but stay for the homemade chips and satisfying side options. Sweet potato fries, two varieties of coleslaw, soups made fresh daily and sweet tea purchased by the gallon makes this barbecue joint a lot more than pounds of smoked meat. There still are pounds of smoked meat, and Lutz’s is happy to cater your next party.
200 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-443-4227
Silver: Texas Roadhouse, 2005 W. Worley St., 573-445-5910
Bronze: Cheddar’s Casual Café, 1010 I-70 Drive S.W., 573-441-0617

Best Place For Late-Night Dining
Slow down and skip the late-night fast food by visiting Murry’s Restaurant, the best spot for after-hours dining. Enjoy a late-night snack of Murry’s famous appetizers. Brock’s Green Pepper Rings are a satisfying combination of spicy, crunchy and sweet. The fried green peppers are topped with powdered sugar and named after a customer who had sampled something similar while in New York. Or try the Blue Chip’s Cheese Bread, named after patron who suggested the combination of blue cheese and shrimp featured in the popular appetizer.
3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969
Silver: El Rancho, 1014 E. Broadway, 573-875-2121
Bronze: Addison’s, 709 Cherry St., 573-256-1995

Best Place For A First Date
Since 1985, Murry’s Restaurant has been serving good food and good music on Green Meadows Way. The soft lighting and soft jazz, plus the imminently sippable wine list make this restaurant the best place to make a great first impression. Cozy up and split the fried oysters appetizer (scientists say they’re aphrodisiacs, after all). Order drinks and a sweet treat from Murry’s delectable dessert menu, featuring Gooey Butter Cake, Lucy’s Brownies and an assortment of must-have cheesecakes. If you don’t win a second date, you sure can’t blame it on Murry’s.
3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969
Silver: Ragtag Cinema, 10 Hitt St., 573-443-4359
Bronze: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400

Best Place For A Cheap Date
If you have more love in your heart than money in your wallet, take your date to Shakespeare’s Pizza. In all of Columbia, Shakespeare’s is the best place for a cheap date. Don’t think that Shakespeare’s inexpensive options aren’t lacking in high-quality ingredients, though. Each pizza is made-to-order, featuring the best provolone cheese and premium toppings. The pizzeria’s atmosphere encourages lingering conversation. Grab a pitcher from the bar, split a Masterpiece pizza with an attractive individual and get to know each other; Shakespeare would only want love stories in his joint. For tragedies, head to the chain down the street.
225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454; 3304 Broadway Business Park Court, 573-447-1202; 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435
Silver: Booches Billiard Hall, 110 S. Ninth St., 573-874-9519
Bronze: Murry’s Restaurant, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969

Best Place For Sandwiches
Dude, Sub Shop was voted the best place to get a sub in CoMo. The deli lays claim to the best buns in town, and Columbians agree. The way everyone raves about the Veggie Sandwich, whoa, you’d think everyone was a vegetarian in this town. But if you add turkey to it and top it off with a homemade brownie and a beer or two, Sub Shop is, like, the perfect sandwich-eating universe. Yeah. Totally.
209 S. Eighth St., 573-449-1919; 2105 W. Worley St., 573-442-7827; 212 Green Meadows Circle, 573-449-1919; 601 Business Loop 70 W., Suite 203 (Parkade Center), 573-449-1919
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
Bronze: Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, 1019 E. Broadway, 573-815-0043; 4008 W. Broadway, 573-256-1661; 212 Corporate Lake Drive, 573-499-4442; 912 Rain Forest Parkway, 573-256-7600

Best Place For Seafood
For seafood, Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen Restaurant is hitting all the right notes. Add some spice to your life with a cup of Cajun-certified Gumbo, Crawfish Étouffée, an Andouille Mamou Po’Boy or the Spicy Blackened Catfish. Don’t speak the lingo but cravin’ that Cajun shrimp? Pas de problem — Jazz’s menu features a brief Cajun culinary dictionary, and the helpful wait staff is eager to answer any questions about the somewhat exotic seafood menu. Bon appétit.
217 N. Stadium Blvd., 573-443-5299
Silver: CC’s City Broiler, 1401 Forum Blvd., 573-445-7772
Bronze: Chris McD’s Restaurant and Wine Bar, 1400 Forum Blvd., Suite 38, 573-446-6237

Best Sports Bar
Onion rings, beer and flat-screen TVs: D. Rowe’s Restaurant & Bar scores a home run by clinching the best sports bar top spot in this college town for another year. Serving up huge portions of classic American fare, the sports bar prides itself as being a regular place that serves up food the way your mom used to make it. Or if your mom was a terrible cook, it’s not the way she used to make it. Either way, just try the Texas Chicken … or you’re grounded.
1005 Club Village Drive, 573-443-8004
Silver: Truman’s Bar & Grill, 3304 W. Broadway Business Park, Suite D, 573-445-1669
Bronze: Shiloh Bar & Grill, 402 E. Broadway, 573-875-1800

Best Place For Sushi
Long name, amazing sushi. Osaka Japanese Restaurant Sushi Bar and Hibachi Steakhousemaintains its standing as Columbia’s favorite sushi joint for the fourth straight year. If you’re a purist sushi lover, dive into the seafood options available at Osaka, including the Shrimp Tempura Roll, the Spicy Tuna Roll or the eccentric Eel Roll. Craving more exotic flavors? Try the surprisingly sumptuous Sweet Potato Roll or the so-good-its-scary Spider Roll. The sushi is so delish, you might forget to drink your sake.
120 E. Nifong Blvd., #A, 573-875-8588
Silver: Jina Yoo’s Asian Bistro, 2200 Forum Blvd., Suite 108, 573-446-5462
Bronze: Kampai Sushi Bar & Restaurant, 907 Alley A, 573-442-2239

Best Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant
Columbia’s main squeeze for vegetarian fare is The Main Squeeze Natural Foods Café. The meat-free menu is so much more than salads. Try the hearty Hummus Wrap, or warm up in the comforting flavors of various hot dishes, such as the made-to-order Veggie Quesadilla or the popular Buddha Bowl. If you’re looking for a healthy snack on Ninth Street, try one of Main Squeeze’s signature 100 percent fruit smoothies. We recommend the Thunder Kiss ’65, a soothing and semisweet blend of orange, strawberry, pineapple and banana.
28 S. Ninth St., 573-817-5616
Silver: Café Berlin, 220 N. 10th St., 573-441-0400
Bronze: Bangkok Gardens, 811 Cherry St., 573-874-3284

Place With The Best Beer Menu
The best draught at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing is up for debate, but the quality of the restaurant’s beer menu isn’t. The Fifth Street brewery reigns as home of the top taps in town for another year. Featuring the comforting brews that are anything but flat — such as the Katy Trail Pale Ale, the spicy Green Chili Beer and the sweet Honey Wheat — what’s on tap is just the beginning for beer lovers at Flat Branch. Our advice? Order a sampler and a taxi — you’ll want to try one of everything.
115 S. Fifth Street, 573-499-0400
Silver: 44 Stone Public House, 3910 Peachtree Drive, 573-443-2726
Bronze: 1839 Taphouse, 212 E. Green Meadows Drive, Suite 2, 573-441-1839

Place With The Best Happy Hour
“Buy one/get one” never tasted so good. The Heidelberg offers happy hour specials nightly (10 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday, and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday) and from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday . Each happy hour features the famous buy one/get one free appetizer special, including the popular Bacon and Cheddar Skins, Nachos Pollo and you-gotta-try-this-really Breaded Mushrooms. And to drink? A Long Island at the ’Berg makes any bad day a little better. Or, try something a little bitter and sweet — the signature Sweet Tart is good. It’s not just a happy hour; it’s pure joy.
410 S. Ninth St., 573-449-6927
Silver: Houlihan’s, 2541 Broadway Bluffs Drive, 573-815-7210
Bronze: Truman’s Bar & Grill, 3304 W. Broadway Business Park, Suite D, 573-445-1669

Best Food Truck
Bold burritos and fast food — that’s why we love Pepe’s Taco Truck. Columbia’s favorite food truck is parked throughout CoMo every week, serving up tamales and good-in-every-language quesadillas. They call us amigos, take credit cards and provide consistently good, cheap eats — that’s why we keep coming back. To find out where they’re parked today, check out their frequently updated Facebook page., 573-268-4503
Silver: Jamaican Jerk Hut,, 573-694-6086
Bronze: Sunflower Waffle Co., @SunflowerWaffle, 573-777-0228

Best Lunch Spot
If your boss gets mad because you took a long lunch, whatever. Flat Branch Pub & Brewing is so worth it. Grab a quick scrumptious sandwich, like the savory Pub Dip, the flavorful and vegetarian Grilled Portobello or the comforting California Chicken Club sandwich. But they must be accompanied by the sweet potato chips; it’s a requirement. And if you order a pint of something that just happens to be on tap, delicious and alcoholic, we won’t tell your supervisor. Promise.
115 S. Fifth Street, 573-499-0400
Silver: Panera Bread, 102 S. Ninth Street, 573-442-4455; 3709 S. Providence Road, 573-449-6466; 2300 Bernadette Drive (Columbia Mall), 573-446-7374
Bronze: Murry’s Restaurant, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969

Most Kid-Friendly Restaurant
With the gaming consoles, pepperoni slices and cloth napkins, it’s really no surprise that Columbians votedShakespeare’s Pizza the most kid-friendly restaurant. Wooden high chairs are plentiful, loud noises are rather acceptable and call-ahead ordering decreases the wait time for impatient little ones. If there is a “Mom, I’m hungry” uttered, parents, rise from your seats and quickly order garlic bread, a satisfying appetizer that will arrive before your freshly made pie. Dinner is saved.
225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454; 3304 Broadway Business Park Court, 573-447-1202; 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435
Silver: Chuck E Cheese’s, 2003 W. Worley Road, 573-445-1728
Bronze: Going Bonkers Family Fun Center, 3812 Buttonwood Drive, 573-499-0366

Best Caterer
No one throws a party like Hy-Vee. At least that’s what the voters of Columbia think. The grocery store offers a slew of ways to cater your next event. From wedding dates to tailgates, the signature scrumptious platters, piles of savory chicken wings and variety of affordable catered meal options make us smile at every event they cater. And we hear their small cheese and sausage party platters are good for a last-minute finger food option, too.
25 Conley Road, 573-442-7703; 405 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-442-8595; 3100 W. Broadway, 573-447-0133
Silver: Hoss’s Market & Rotisserie, 1010A Club Village Drive, 573-815-9711
Bronze: The Upper Crust Bakery and Cafe, 904 Elm St., 573-874-3033; 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-874-4044


Favorite Newscaster
Emmy Award-winning KOMU-TV8 morning anchor Megan Murphy is a chatterbox. Seriously, she loves to chat, especially in the morning. And Columbians like what they hear, voting Murphy as their favorite newscaster. A St. Louis native and a diehard Cardinals fan (her first word was “Willy”), Murphy is also a University of Missouri Tiger, teaching at her alma mater in the Journalism School. She reaches into our mid-Missouri homes each morning with the necessary news of the day, and also works at Newsy as an anchor for Huffington Post, AOL and When she’s off the air, you can find her lending a hand in more than eight local charities. You cast a good one, CoMo!
Silver: Angie Bailey, KOMU-TV8
Bronze: Jim Riek, KOMU-TV8

It’s not easy to predict Missouri’s changeable weather, but it’s easy to predict the winner in this category. “Doppler” Dave Schmidt has been at KOMU-TV8 for nearly 24 years and he’s become Columbia’s favorite weathercaster. This Corvette enthusiast likes to forecast clear skies and warm, sunny days so he can put the top down on his black convertible ’Vette. But when the weather gets threatening, “Doppler Dave” keeps his cool and soothes us all with a voice that was honed on the radio before he broke into broadcast news. Watch Schmidt live at 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., nightly on KOMU-TV8.
Silver: Eric Aldrich, KOMU-TV8
Bronze: Sharon Ray, KMIZ-TV17

He may not have a great vertical leap or an impressive forward pass, but after 12 year as sports director for KOMU-TV8, Chris Gervino has become a local sports hero. A Tiger through-and-through, this University of Missouri Journalism School graduate loves pasta and golf, and plays host to a variety of local sports shows. Gervino also handles TV play-by-play duties for televised Mizzou basketball games, as well as Tiger baseball games on Fox Sports Midwest. As the Tigers roll through their inaugural Southeastern Conference season, Gervino is a friendly, audible reminder of hometown pride.
Silver: Mike Kelly, Tiger Radio Network
Bronze: Eric Blumberg, KOMU-TV8

Radio Personality
Whose voice comes out of your alarm clock? Chances are it’s Simon Rose, CoMo’s choice for best radio personality. This native of Manchester, England, first came to Columbia in 1981 to spend his junior year at Hickman High School. A lover of rock ’n’ roll and soccer (especially Manchester United), this avid cycler hosts the “BXR Morning Show” weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. on KBXR-FM, then co-hosts the “The Morning Meeting” with Renee Hulshof on KFRU-AM from 9 to 11 a.m. To Columbia’s ears, a Rose by any other name wouldn’t sound as sweet.
KBXR 102.3, KRFU 1400
Silver: Scotty and Cara, KCLR Clear 99
Bronze: Cosmo and Whitney, KTXY 106.1

As the man behind the popular sports blog, Behind the Stripes, Dave Matter is Columbia’s favorite columnist. Posting as the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Mizzou sports writer, this reporter is the matter-of-fact, local source for what’s happening with Mizzou’s football team. Can’t wait for Matter’s next column? Join his nearly 14,000 Twitter followers for hourly sports insights by following @Dave_Matter. As far as his fans are concerned, Matter’s column “… is goood!”
Silver: Justin Willett, Columbia Daily Tribune
Bronze: Bill Clark, Columbia Daily Tribune

Public Servant
Whether navigating river currents or current events, State Rep. Chris Kelly is always moving forward. A big fan of bow ties, this longtime Missouri resident and avid canoeist is a lifetime member of the American Whitewater and the Missouri Whitewater Associations. Kelly represents the 45th district of Boone County, and is an advocate for health care and state-funded universities, colleges and public buildings. He communicates regularly with his district through his website,; posting weekly updates, Kelly maintains a bridge between Columbia and the Capitol.
Silver: Mayor Bob McDavid
Bronze: State Sen. Kurt Schaefer

Solo Musician
Jazz pianist and all-around cool cat Tom Andes wears many hats around Columbia; one of them is favorite solo musician. An adjunct faculty of jazz at the University of Missouri, and an instructor in the music department at Stephens College, Andes is also the unofficial house pianist at Murry’s Restaurant. Andes isn’t one to take breaks — except maybe to play golf or write a ballet and musical. He might be working on a new CD or traveling to jazz festivals, concerts and private functions around the Midwest with the Tom Andes Trio. Andes must have found the perfect rhythm because Columbians are tuned in to everything he plays.
Silver: Clay Cumbie
Bronze: Raven Wolf

Favorite Visual Artist
A self-proclaimed regionalist, Columbia’s favorite visual artist, David Spear, is a man of many talents. Painting, drawing, printmaking, video work, teaching: Spear can do it all. The artist who arrived in Columbia as a drifter 13 years ago is now a local, and his work has become part of the fabric of this town. Addison’s, Sophia’s, True Media, the University of Missouri’s Student Union, the Wabash public transportation station and the traffic box at the corner of Ninth Street and Broadway are all colorful examples of Spear’s visually engaging painting style. And in case you were wondering, this proud father of three has only two shirts without paint on them.
Silver: Lisa Bartlett
Bronze: Jenny McGee

Local Band
With a folk-rock foundation and inspiration taken from numerous genres, Man In The Ring is a five-piece band that has taken Columbia by storm. While other bands may love their fans, Man In The Ring gives a little something back, donating 25 percent of its profits back to the community. After appearing at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, and at The Blue Note in Columbia, this group of great musicians is crossing bridges all over the place, literally and figuratively. Steely Dan, Robert Randolph and Jason Mraz all influence Man In The Ring’s constantly evolving original music and vocals.
Silver: Norm Ruebling Band
Bronze: Primitive Soul

Favorite Athlete
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! This year’s beloved local athlete, Carl Edwards, is no stranger to winning when it comes to racing or to the Best of Columbia. The hometown hero might race as No. 99, but he’s No. 1 in Columbia sports fans’ hearts. The upbeat driver for Roush Fenway Racing is ready to put himself in the fast lane for the 2013 racing season. Look out Columbia, we might have the 2013 NASCAR champion on our hands, but he’s already a winner in this town.
Silver: Phil Pressey, Mizzou basketball
Bronze: Laurence Bowers, Mizzou basketball

Favorite Bartender
The baton has passed from 1839 Taphouse co-owner and last year’s winner, Billy Cabral, to the current 1839 Taphouse bartender extraordinaire, Kat Prescott. With a steadily busy tavern atmosphere, a patio replete with fireplace, a game room, weekday happy hours and nightly drink specials, Prescott has her hands, and bar, full. And although the lifetime music lover and former booking agent commands 24 taps at the craft-beer destination, Prescott says her favorite drink is any sour beer or a margarita. With her Best of Columbia win, Prescott is raising the bar for what it means to be a bartender in Columbia.
212 E. Green Meadows Road, Suite 2, 573-441-1839
Silver: Kenny Townsend, McNally’s Irish Pub, 7 N. Sixth St., 573-441-1284
Bronze: Aaron Brown, Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar, 811 E. Walnut St., 573-442-8220

Favorite Chef
Business partner Dave Faron describes Columbia’s favorite chef’s leadership style, saying Chef Mark Sulltrop “directs his team with a philosophy of good culinary fundamentals, positive attitude and creative collaboration.” And that’s exactly what you get from Sulltrop’s food and the atmosphere at 44 Stone Public House: classic pub fare with a creative twist. For example, try the Bangers and Mash Pasty. The sausage is housemade with apples and sage and put in pastry casing with caramelized onion/hard cider gravy, all served with a side of Colcannon potatoes and a mushy pea puree. Bam! Sulltrop is turning up the heat and doing big things over at 44 Stone.
3910 Peachtree Drive, 573-443-2726
Silver: Chef Mike Odette, Sycamore Restaurant, 800 E. Broadway, 573-874-8090
Bronze: Chef Leslie Jett, Mizzou Hospitality Management, 115 Eckles Hall, 573-884-3485

Favorite “Do-Gooder”
While she does her job really well (and we mean really well), Peggy Kirkpatrick does good, and a lot of it. As the executive director of the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri, Kirkpatrick leads the food bank to help approximately 100,000 people each month, across all of the food bank’s agencies. That’s a lot of mouths to feed! When she’s not helping others, Kirkpatrick can be found shooting skeet and sporting clays. If you haven’t seen her around town, just keep your eyes open because these days it seems like Kirkpatrick is everywhere, getting donations, raising awareness and doing good.
The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri
Silver: Almena Crayton, PRIDE Missouri
Bronze: Cindy Mustard, Voluntary Action Center, Mustard Seed Fair Trade


Best Gift Boutique
Gift-giving Columbians chose Poppy as their No. 1 destination for heartfelt, one-of-a-kind gifts that really pop. Since 1981, Poppy has been giving its customers what they don’t know they need — which sometimes is the best gift of all. With a bright, welcoming interior and a constantly rotating selection of handmade, one-of-a-kind items, jewelry and art, Poppy is an enjoyable experience for both the gifter and giftee. We’ll put a bow on this category, and call it a wrap.
920 E. Broadway, 573-442-3223
Silver: Bluestem Missouri Crafts, 13 S. Ninth St., 573-442-0211
Bronze: Mustard Seed Fair Trade, 25 S. Ninth St., 573-449-6166

Best Place To Buy Wine And Spirits
With an extensive wine and spirits section, Hy-Vee is Columbia’s favorite place to pick up a nice red, or a cold one or two. Since 1930, store directors have run each location of the grocery chain autonomously. This means the selections available at Columbia’s Hy-Vee locations are specifically catered to suit local customers’ tastes and needs. No wonder Columbia’s first pick for wine and spirits is Hy-Vee; this grocery giant has earned a reputation for giving the people exactly what they want.
25 Conley Road, 573-442-7703; 405 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-442-8595; 3100 W. Broadway, 573-447-0133
Silver: Top Ten Wines, 111 S. Ninth St., Suite 160, 573-447-5637
Bronze: Arena Liquor, 3101 S. Providence Road, 573-443-3144

Best Grocery Store
There will be lots of smiles in those aisles because Columbians have dubbed Hy-Vee as its best grocery store. The original outpost of the one-stop shop opened in 1930 in Beaconsfield, Iowa. Hy-Vee has since grown to more than 235 retail stores across eight Midwestern states — and every store is employee-owned. A local store director, who knows what Columbians need and want from their local grocery store, runs each store.
25 Conley Road, 573-442-7703; 405 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-442-8595; 3100 W. Broadway, 573-447-0133
Silver: Schnucks Markets, 1400 Forum Blvd., 573-446-2800
Bronze: Gerbes, 1729 W. Broadway, 573-445-9433; 205 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-874-2939; 2900 Paris Road, 573-474-1427

Best Men’s Clothing Store
Stepping into Binghams Traditional Clothing might be like walking into a mid-Missouri man’s ideal closet. From the finishings to the offerings, Binghams is Old World style and service with contemporary energy — and that’s a good thing. With two floors of fine men’s clothing, made-to-measure suits, sportswear, dress wear and accessories, Binghams is a guys’ guy kind of a store. Binghams will take any man’s style straight to the top, and we’re not just talking about the in-store elevator.
827 E. Broadway, 573-442-6397
Silver: Dillard’s, 2300 Bernadette Drive, 573-876-8600
Bronze: JCPenney, 2301 W. Worley St., 573-445-7001

Best Children’s Clothing Store
Grass stains, juice spills, tears and rips: these are a few of a child’s favorite, albeit unintentional, things. It’s no wonder then, that Columbia’s favorite destination for keeping kid’s ready to play and explore is Old Navy. With fun, trendy clothes that keep the whole family on budget, the nearly 21-year-old brand continues to expand its shopping options. Old Navy offers durable, inexpensive children’s clothing that keep both a kid’s sense of style and a parent’s checkbook balance afloat.
207 N. Stadium Blvd., 573-445-4640
Silver: The Children’s Place, 2300 Bernadette Drive, 573-234-2880
Bronze: Little Owl Boutique, 27 N. 10th St., 573-442-3690

Best Women’s Clothing Boutique
Fun, affordable, forward-thinking fashion is what shoppers get from Elly’s Couture. Owned by Columbia native Elly Swetz Bethune, Elly’s is Columbia’s favorite women’s clothing boutique. Maybe it’s the awesome accessories, maybe it’s the stylish shoes, maybe it’s the fashionable shop girls … Columbia shoppers seem to think Elly’s is much more than its parts, and keep going back for more. Elly’s has something for everyone and every event.
914 E. Broadway, 573-499-4401
Silver: Britches Clothing, 130 S. Ninth St., 573-499-1401
Bronze: Swank Boutique, 913 E. Broadway, 573-256-4795

Best Pet Boutique/Pet Supply Store
Not only is it a fan favorite, but Lizzi & Rocco’s Natural Pet Market is Columbia’s pets’ favorites, too. Owners Jessica and Kyle Schlosser named their fun and friendly boutique after their lovable Yorkie Lizzi and her best friend, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rocco. The shop reflects Lizzi and Rocco’s loving owners’ dedication to giving their pets only the best in food, treats, supplements and supplies. If it’s not good enough for Lizzi or Rocco, it’s not going to be offered to your Fido.
503 E. Nifong Blvd., Suite J, 573-875-2288
Silver: PetSmart, 229 N. Stadium Blvd., 573-447-0145
Bronze: Award Pet Supply, 1610 I-70 Drive S.W., 573-445-8249

Best Place For Sports Gear
What began as a bait-and-tackle store in Binghamton, N.Y., in 1948, is now Columbia’s favorite destination for sports clothing, gear and accessories. Take a lap around the easy layout of Dick’s Sporting Goods(especially the clearance racks, which always have great finds) and suit up with gold medal prices. Stop by the putting green to unleash your inner McIlroy or Woods, or pick up a jersey and make like Yadi Molina. Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned veteran, Dick’s Sporting Goods has everything you need to get your game on.
227 N. Stadium Blvd., 573-447-1001
Silver: Alpine Shop, 1102 E. Broadway, 573-817-2955
Bronze: Play It Again Sports, 1206 Business Loop 70 W., 573-442-9291

Best Bicycle Shop
They may stock Big Brass Bells, but Walt’s Bike Shop just won the big gold for their extensive inventory, helpful and knowledgeable staff and great service. Biking is growing as a national phenomenon, and so is Walt’s Bike Shop. The starting gun went off in the 1960s, and ever since, Walt’s has been Columbia’s No. 1 source for cycling gear, clothing and accessories. Whether on the road or the trail, Walt’s has everything you need to complete a tour de Columbia.
1217 Rogers St., 573-886-9258
Silver: Klunk Bicycles & Repair, 211 E. Broadway, 573-874-0090
Bronze: Tryathletics, 1605 Chapel Hill Road, 573-447-2453

Best Place For Eyewear
Columbians are seeing through gold-colored glasses with Columbia Eye Consultants Optometry. The knowledgeable and experienced staff of Columbia Eye Consultants Optometry cares about their patients’ eyes and their overall well-being. From contact lenses, glasses and routine checkups to 24-hour emergency availability, Columbia Eye Consultants is ready for anything so you’ll worry about nothing. Perhaps that’s why Columbia voted it the best place for eyewear as far as the Columbian eye can see.
500 N. Keene St., 573-874-2060
Silver: In Vision Eye Care Center, 30 E. Southampton Drive, Suite 109, 573-874-3937
Bronze: Eyedentity Eyewear, 2200 Forum Blvd., 573-445-8780

Best Jewelry Store
While it’s entirely too ironic to make a good pun about a jewelry store winning gold in a competition, we’re going to go for the gold and make a golden promise that Buchroeder’s Jewelers is the best jewelry store for 2013. Too much? When it comes to jewels, it’s never too much. And Columbia agrees. The jewelry store shines in the heart of downtown Columbia, and it’s not just because of the wide selection of diamond jewelry, engagement rings and more. From a lifetime trade-in guarantee to a state-of-the-art custom ring design and build option, Buchroeder’s Jewelers is a shining example of excellence.
1021 E. Broadway, 573-443-1457
Silver: L.C. Betz Jewelers, 601 E. Broadway, #303, 573-449-1070
Bronze: Tucker’s Fine Jewelry, 100 N. Providence Road, #103, 573-817-1310


Best Dry-Cleaning Service
Tiger Dry Cleaning & Laundry really cleaned up in 2013 as the best dry-cleaning service in town. With seven locations in and around Columbia, and quick turnaround expedited by friendly customer service and prices, Tiger Cleaners maintains a standard of excellence. Can’t make it to any of their conveniently located branches? You can also trust these tigers to pick up and return your items free of charge — they aren’t lion.
126 S. Eighth St., 573-442-6107; 1608 Chapel Hill Road, Suite B, 573-234-2528; 3905 Peachtree Drive, 573-442-6613; 3302 W. Broadway, Business Park Court, Suite G, 573-445-5657; 3100 W. Broadway (Hy-Vee drop-off), 573-447-0133 (Hy-Vee drop-off); 405 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-442-8595 (Hy-Vee drop-off); 25 Conley Road (Hy-Vee drop-off), 573-442-7703; 901 Rollins St., 573-884-8526 (MU Student Center drop-off)
Silver: Robinson’s Cleaners, 2901 W. Broadway, 573-445-6712; 1204 Business Loop 70 E., 573-875-2568; 21 Conley Road, Suite O, 573-442-8621; 3601 Buttonwood Drive, Suite A, 573-442-8526
Bronze: The French Laundry and Alterations, 3910 Peachtree Drive, Suite D, 573- 442- 9274

Best Fitness Center
And Columbia’s favorite spot to get fit is … Wilson’s Fitness Center. No matter what kind of shape you want to be in, Wilson’s can help get you there. With a certified team of personal trainers, multiple locations and a variety of classes for members and nonmembers of all ages, there’s no excuse not to transform from yourself from rectangle to hourglass in any of Wilson’s beautiful facilities. No matter how you get in shape, you’ll always be a fitness star with Wilson’s.
2902 Forum Blvd., 573-446-3232; 2601 Rangeline St., 573-443-4242;111 Orr St., 573-777-6700; F.I.T., 2900 Forum Blvd., 573-449-2606
Silver: MizzouRec, the University of Missouri, Columbia, 213 Rothwell Gym, 573-882-2066
Bronze: The ARC (Activity and Recreation Center), 1701 W. Ash St., 573-874-7700

Best Yoga Studio
Has your karma run over your dogma? Don’t get bent out of shape, alleyCat Yoga is here to help. Voted the best yoga studio in Columbia, alleyCat Yoga offers a wide range of affordable classes and workshops, for kids and adults. For the third year in a row, alleyCat Yoga is the cat’s meow of Columbia yogis. The instructors are always ready and waiting to say welcome to their newest students.
23 S. Fourth St., 573-864-4132
Silver: Yoga Sol, 210B Saint James St., 573-356-0162
Bronze: Wilson’s Fitness Center, 2902 Forum Blvd., 573-446-3232; 2601 Rangeline St., 573-443-4242;111 Orr St., 573-777-6700; F.I.T., 2900 Forum Blvd., 573-449-2606

Best Hair Salon
The staff at the Clip Joint Salon & Spa is all tied up. And although they were voted best hair salon in Columbia, the Clip Joint Salon & Spa ponies up and tries to accommodate all of its clients needs. From skin treatments and nail services, to basic haircuts and extensions, the staff does it all — and with the best products available. Two convenient locations host stylists and technicians who are on the cutting edge of chic cuts, blowing out all your expectations.
1001 Cherry St., 573-443-8711; 1608 Chapel Hill Road, 573-445-3176
Silver: The Strand Salon and Spa, 1100 Club Village Drive, Suite 105, 573-875-3008
Bronze: The Marc Salon, 32 N. Eighth St., 573-449-7900

Best Nail Salon
Columbian’s favorite place to get their nails in shape? Varsity Nails in downtown CoMo wins the crown for best nail salon in Columbia for 2013. With straightforward pricing, trendy nail colors and brands, and a comfortably chic design scheme, Varsity Nails can transform even the bleakest hands or toes. For long-lasting results, try the Shellac or OPI Gel manicure. The capable technicians can help you decide which treatment is best suited for your nails. Varsity Nails puts on the polish with great service, a comfortable atmosphere and affordable prices.
904 Elm St., Suite 104, 573-449-3334
Silver: A Show of Hands, 1301 Vandiver Drive, 573-875-8756
Bronze: Lucky Nails, 2001 W. Worley St., 573-442-3464

Best Place For Facials
With more than 20 different kinds of facials offered, it’s no wonder Riversong Spa & Salon is Columbia’s favorite destination for facials and relaxation. Stressed out and dried out? Riversong’s staff is as passionate about your skin as you are and maintains an atmosphere designed to take you away from your worries and refresh you with relaxation. Services include the Non-Surgical Face-lift and Riversong’s popular signature facial, just two ways to make sure Columbia’s complexions are pore-fict!
2100 Forum Boulevard, 573-447-1772
Silver: DeSpain Cayce Dermatology Center and Medical Spa, 2011 Corona Road, Suite 207, 573-234-1000
Bronze: Salon Adair and Spa, 3301 W. Broadway Business Park Court, 573-234-1560

Best Chiropractic Office
Well, Columbians have something straight, even if some of their backs might not be. Voted best chiropractic office in town, Tiger Family Chiropractic and Wellness Center doesn’t crack under the pressure of their clients’ needs. Touting on-time appointments and making sure each patient is on his or her way to a healthy and rewarding lifestyle are Tiger Family’s priorities.
3600 I-70 Drive S.E., Suite A, 573-443-1414
Silver: Pressley Chiropractic Center, 315 S. Providence Road, 573-875-0203
Bronze: Focus on Health Chiropractic, 4200 Merchant St., Suite 105, 573-777-5900

Best Veterinary Hospital
Horton hears a woof, a meow and even an oink! Horton Animal Hospital, voted best veterinary hospital in Columbia, sees a variety of pets around the clock. From reptiles, birds, rabbits and pocket pets to small farm animals, cats and dogs, this animal hospital is Columbia’s favorite place to take the family pet for a routine checkup or an emergency. Horton’s experienced team is committed to providing health and wellness tips to make sure all of their patients are the healthiest they can possibly be. When a family’s best friend needs a helping hand, Horton Animal Hospital is paw friendly.
2200 Chapel Plaza Court, 573-446-3227; 2608 Paris Road, 573-474-9508; 1700 I-70 Drive S.W., 573-445-4466
Silver: Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of Missouri, 900 East Campus Drive, 573-882-6857
Bronze: Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital & Bird Clinic, 1003 N. Fairview Road, 573-445-1388

Best Computer Repair Shop
They’re the superheroes, out to save lost files and virus-ridden laptops. Columbia Computer Centertakes a no-nonsense, no-frills approach to customer service, and provides quality technical support when things either go wrong or terribly, terribly wrong. With two locations and a team of licensed technicians who can communicate effectively with technophobe clients about their broken computers, Columbia Computer Center is on this city’s speed dial — just in case.
1122 Lakeview Ave., 573-442-9445; 212 E. Green Meadows Road, Suite 7, 573-777-4746
Silver: MacXprts, 2001 Corona Road, Suite 205, 573-446-2775
Bronze: Nate’s Computer Repair, 555 E. Green Meadows Road, Suite 5, 573-777-6999

Best Auto Detailing
The guys at Tiger Express Wash should be shining up their gold medal with one of their signature $8.50 car washes. And it’s not that we don’t like the drive-thru, but we really love their detailing services — the Truman Wash features an exterior wash, interior deep clean, tire shine and a two-day, clean-car guarantee for $20.50 at the Sandman Lane location. And that new-car smell is definitely worth it.
3715 Sandman Lane, 573-449-3715; 2601 Grindstone Parkway, 573-256-2601; 212 Nebraska Ave., 573-256-5949
Silver: Gaines Car Detail, 1401 Illinois Ave., 573-499-4634
Bronze: Columbia Detailing, 4103 White Tiger Lane, Suite C, 573-268-3295

Best Family-Friendly Attraction
Take a couple of laps around Stephens Lake Park, Columbian’s favorite place to take their families. The ducks and geese are fun, but we prefer the three playground slides or the amphitheater. Plus, the 1.7-mile, hard-surface trail around the perimeter of the park is probably the best place in Columbia to go for a run, push a stroller, take a moonlight stroll or to get some fresh air. And if you’re not into exercise or “quality family time,” the entire park features free Wi-Fi.
2001 E. Broadway, 573-874-7460
Silver: Rock Bridge State Park, 5901 S. Highway 163, 573-449-7402
Bronze: MKT Trail, 3662 Scott Blvd., 573-874-7460

Best Golf Course
This golf course is tee-riffic: The Club at Old Hawthorne gets a hole-in-one as Columbia’s favorite golf course. Since 2007, the Club has providing opportunities for experienced golfers and the putt-putt faithful to try their clubs on a round of 18 challenging holes. Not a golfer? Not a problem. The clubhouse offers an exclusive, members-only restaurant with a very original name: The Club At Old Hawthorne. Well, the name might not be unique, but Chef Adam Wells-Morgan’s food is deliciously memorable. And that’s no bogey.
6221 E. Highway WW, 573-442-5281
Silver: Columbia Country Club, 2210 N. Country Club Drive, 573-449-4115
Bronze: Country Club of Missouri, 1300 Woodrail Ave., 573-442-1310

Best Local Festival
If victory had a sound, it would be the signature, bluesy beat of the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival. This festival that fills the community with barbecue, beer and blues maintains its high note as the top festival in town. But this musical weekend is so much more than a good time and good music. The festival includes a half-marathon/10K run, an army of knowledgeable volunteers and VIP areas at every outdoor concert. This year, the festival moves from downtown Columbia to new digs at everyone’s favorite green space, Stephens Lake Park.
Silver: True/False Film Fest,
Bronze: Art in the Park, Columbia Art League,, 573-443-8838

Best Place To Take A Tourist
Ah, the A-Frame. There really isn’t a better place to spend a lazy Saturday than Les Bourgeois Vineyards, just west of Columbia near Rocheport. Open up a bottle of locally grown LBV wine, munch on a cheese plate and enjoy the sunset over the Missouri River at this mid-Missouri winery. Or, take your winery experience to the next culinary level and explore the superb menu at the winery’s Blufftop Bistro. Excellent wine and great food always pair well together.
12847 W. Highway BB, Rocheport, 573-698-2133
Silver: The District,
Bronze: The University of Missouri campus, 573-882-2121

Best Taxi Service
Clean cars and customer service consistently sets Taxi Terry’s apart. Again this year, Terry’s is king of the road in Columbia. The considerate and knowledgeable drivers are prompt and positive while offering taxi fares at an affordable rate. If you’re feeling awfully important (or you actually are), call for a VIP taxi to ride in luxurious style. You probably deserve it.
1200 Wilkes Blvd., 573-441-1414
Silver: Tiger Taxi, 2203 Rangeline St., 573-474-3222
Bronze: Rick’s Taxi, 3100 Brown Station Road, Suite D, 573-449-6282

Best Mid-Missouri Small Town
1825 was a really good year. That was when the little trading post of Rocheport established itself as a town, and started on the path to becoming Columbia’s favorite neighbor. There’s history everywhere in the charming little town. From the General Store (which really is a general store) to the amenity-laden bed and breakfasts to the restaurants that have everyone raving, Rocheport is worth the 20-minute drive and a Saturday afternoon. Just head west on I-70; you can’t miss it.
Silver: Hermann,
Bronze: Boonville,