Eat Up 30 CoMo Foods

The delicious food options in this city are endless, but some CoMo culinary concoctions show up on everyone’s list of must-haves. We went in search of a definitive list, talking to frequent diners, restaurant owners, chefs, college students and native Columbians to find the foods — and a few drinks — that no one should miss when dining out in Columbia. Here are 30 favorites.
The Masterpiece At Shakespeare’s Pizza
It’s one of Columbia’s all-time favorites ― the Masterpiece Pizza at Shakespeare’s Pizza. Satisfy your carnivorous side and indulge in Canadian bacon, pepperoni, lean ground beef, lean Italian sausage and lots of veggies including red onions and green peppers. This pie weighs almost 5 pounds, so it’s worth the $31.25 price tag. Just don’t forget the red cloth napkins. Shakespeare’s Pizza, 225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454; 3304 Broadway Business Park Court, 573-447-1202; 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435;

Tiger Roll At Osaka
Osaka’s Tiger Roll has everything a good roll requires. At its core lies a mixture of crabmeat, mussel and shrimp encased in seaweed. The entire roll then spends some time in the deep fryer before it gets a drizzle of spicy mayo topped with sliced green onions. The combination results in a salty, spicy, warm hunk of tender seafood. Coming in at $10.95, this roll is plenty big enough to fill you up, but you won’t want to share. Osaka Japanese Restaurant Sushi Bar and Hibachi Steakhouse, 120-A E. Nifong Blvd., 573-875-8588;
The Burger At Booches Billiard Hall
To many residents, tradition means the burgers at Booches Billiard Hall. Eat them plain or eat them with cheese, but it’s all about the meat and the grill the cooks have been using since 1976. The palm-sized patties arrive on waxed paper and have been served in the same billiard hall since 1884. Don’t forget your cash; steeped in tradition, Booches still doesn’t take credit cards. Booches Billiard Hall, 110 S. Ninth St., 573-874-9519

Tiger Paw At Tropical Liqueurs
The white Styrofoam cup and red straw are the Trops signature for CoMo summers. Blissful drinkers take to the patios of Tropical Liqueurs to sample and enjoy alcoholic smoothies. Although Trops rotates some of its flavors, Tiger Paw is always available. Peach Schnapps, Bacardi 151 rum, pineapple juice and orange juice combine to make one strong and delicious frozen drink. It’s best enjoyed in the damp heat of summer, but no one’s judging if you reach for Trops during a frigid winter. Tropical Liqueurs, 515 E. Broadway, 573-442-8098; 3805 S. Providence Road, 573-256-7141;
Avocado Margarita At La Siesta
Get out of your lime-on-the-rocks-margarita box with La Siesta’s avocado margarita. The beverage is one of the most popular drinks on the La Siesta menu. It goes down more like a smoothie than a margarita, but it’s a refreshing and yummy spin on the Mexican restaurant go-to. Pair with queso dip and chips before a meal to get the fiesta started. La Siesta Mexican Cuisine, 33 N. Ninth St., 573-449-8788;

Baby Back Ribs At Buckingham Smokehouse BBQ
Don’t avoid the baby back ribs at Buckingham Smokehouse BBQ because you’re afraid to get a little messy. Slowly and carefully smoked over wood, this meal is only as unkempt as diners make it. Buckingham focuses on the meat as it’s smoking, and doesn’t put sauce on anything; the choice to use sauce is left up to diners. Fixing up the ribs with Buckingham’s secret ingredients gives a hint of true sweetness with which no sauce could compete. Buckingham Smokehouse BBQ, 3804 Buttonwood Drive, 573-499-1490;
Free-Range Chicken & Pancetta Ravioli At Wine Cellar & Bistro

The Wine Cellar offers local, made-from-scratch food in a rustic, romantic atmosphere. The house-made ravioli is a CoMo favorite — stuffed with local, free-range chicken and house-cured pancetta-style bacon, it’s tossed with creamy basil pesto sauce, roasted tomatoes and baked cauliflower, and topped with shaved local Walloon cheese. Wine Cellar & Bistro, 505 Cherry St., 573-442-7281;

Buddha Bowl At Main Squeeze
Nearly all the items on the Main Squeeze menu have stories behind them, owner Leigh Lockhart says, and it’s no different for the popular Buddha Bowl, a heaping dish of brown rice, seasoned tofu, lots of veggies and a special sesame-ginger sauce. The organic, vegan and gluten-free dish was invented by the restaurant’s first chef, Sheila Johnson, a practicing Buddhist and the mastermind behind much of the initial Main Squeeze menu. Main Squeeze Natural Foods Cafe and Juice Bar, 28 S. Ninth St., 573-817-5616;

Gooey Butter Cake At Kaldi’s Coffee
If you’re looking for a little morning flattery with your hot tea or coffee, this sweet treat is sure to butter you up. The gooey butter cake at Kaldi’s can pass for a dessert or a breakfast treat, and it tastes divine with a latte. It’s a cake that can be eaten with a spoon, since the first layer is a custard-like, ooey-gooey mixture that sits atop yellow cake. Kaldi’s Coffee, 29 S. Ninth St., 573-874-2566;

Spicy Chicken Queso Dip At Room 38
The wait staff at Room 38 swears that almost every table orders the Spicy Chicken Queso Dip as an appetizer at the restaurant and lounge. After dipping a chip into this queso, you’ll understand why. Head chef and owner Jeremy Bowles doesn’t reveal the ingredients he uses in his signature global cuisine offerings, but the dip does include a mix of blended cheeses, fresh grilled chicken and the house-recipe hot sauce. That’s good enough for us. Room 38 Restaurant and Lounge, 38 N. Eighth St., 573-449-3838;
Deviled Eggs At 44 Stone
In gastropub style, 44 Stone Public House serves up its interpretation of a popular British snack: deviled eggs. This appetizer pairs well with one of the restaurant’s hand-selected beers, and at just $4.50, it’s a reasonably priced way to start off a meal. Each egg is topped with fresh, wild-caught, house-smoked salmon; the egg’s filling contains lemon, tarragon, chives, dill and capers for a rich, smoky taste. 44 Stone Public House, 3910 Peachtree Drive, 573-443-2726;
Anonymous Tacos At Café Berlin
Get festive and mix up your breakfast options with Café Berlin’s Anonymous Tacos. This dish consists of two scrambled eggs, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, jalapeños, cheddar and sausage all served on three open-faced corn tortillas. Topped with cilantro, salsa and sour cream, it’ll have you shouting “Olé!” before you’ve cleaned your plate. Café Berlin, 220 N. 10th St., 573-441-0400;

Chairman Of The Board Filet Mignon At CC’s City Broiler
CC’s City Broiler is almost everyone’s favorite Columbia steakhouse, so most local foodies have one of its menu items on their must-eat list. Our experts recommend an entrée that lives up to the restaurant’s powerful reputation, a main course aptly named the Chairman of the Board. This center-cut filet mignon is wrapped in double-smoked hickory bacon and grilled just the way you like it. CC’s City Broiler, 1401 Forum Blvd., 573-445-7772;

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies At Hot Box Cookies
It really doesn’t get much better than a fresh cookie still warm from the oven. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack, or you want to surprise a friend with a batch of tasty treats, oatmeal raisin cookies from Hot Box Cookies are the right choice. The perfect amount of oatmeal gives the cookies texture, with raisins delicately scattered throughout for a touch of sweetness. It’s a cookie classic, and Hot Box bakes it right and serves it up hot and ready with a glass of milk. Hot Box Cookies, 1013 E. Broadway, 573-777-8777;

Chicken Mudega At Sophia’s
Southern European cuisine is the specialty of the house at Sophia’s. Order the Chicken Mudega and savor the rich flavors that seep through the lightly breaded chicken breast to the bed of angel hair pasta beneath it. Atop the chicken lies a stew of sautéed button mushrooms, prosciutto and provolone cheese in a tarragon cream sauce. Sophia’s Restaurant, 3915 S. Providence Road, 573-874-8009;

Shrimp & Grits At Bleu
This Southern staple has been on the menu since Bleu opened in 2007. Rave reviews keep the orders coming for the sautéed black tiger shrimp served over chipotle & Gouda grits, with crispy shallots and lemon brown butter. Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar, 811 E. Walnut St., 573-442-8220;
BLT At Sycamore
You can spend your whole day at Sycamore enjoying fresh, seasonal food. With options from lunch to dessert, the restaurant’s offerings can relieve any palate fatigue. For lunch, enjoy a unique spin on an American classic, the BLT. Served on house-made focaccia, the bread adds a distinguished taste to the tried-and-true sandwich. When fresh, local tomatoes are no longer in season, the restaurant opts for a sun-dried tomato mayo that pairs nicely with the in-house smoked and cured bacon. Insider’s tip: Double up on the bacon. Sycamore, 800 E. Broadway, 573-874-8090;
Gorgonzola Cheesecake At Blufftop Bistro
It’s not quite ordinary, eating cheesecake before a meal. But Les Bourgeois’ Gorgonzola cheesecake is anything but ordinary. The vineyard’s Blufftop Bistro serves up this warm and savory appetizer, resembling a cheesecake in form but as more of a cheese spread that comes with toasted bread. It can be served with roasted tomato sauce and walnut pesto, or for a slightly sweeter take, a seasonal fruit compote and gastrique. Les Bourgeois Blufftop Bistro, 14020 W. Highway BB, Rocheport, 573-698-2300;
Ingrid’s Mussels At Trey Bistro
Mussels in Missouri? These special bivalves are harvested fresh in Maine and shipped overnight to Trey Bistro, where they’re sautéed in butter with garlic and chicken stock, and served with flatbread. Ingrid’s Mussels are found in upscale restaurants throughout the East Coast, and are named after their harvester, Maine’s legendary seafood supplier Ingrid Bengis. Trey Bistro, 21 N. Ninth St., 573-777-8654;
Dolma At Casablanca
You don’t have to travel to Greece to try some incredible and authentic Mediterranean cuisine. Instead, head for Casablanca on Elm Street and try the dolma. The appetizer, or meal if you want, consists of grape leaves filled with rice, beef, tomatoes and parsley on a bed of more rice. One local fan of the popular dish suggests dipping the dolma in the restaurant’s tzatziki sauce. Casablanca Mediterranean Grill, 501 Elm St., 573-442-4883;
Pork Dumplings At Jingo’s
Big flavor comes in small dumplings from Jingo’s, neatly packaged with pork, ginger, honey and garlic. Whether you order the pork dumplings steamed or fried, expect the sweet and savory appetizers to surprise your taste buds. Pair them up with one of the restaurant’s authentic Chinese entrées for an Asian feast worthy of any occasion. Jingo’s, 1201 E. Broadway, 573-874-2530;
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries At The Candy Factory
On Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the go-to spot in Columbia is The Candy Factory for one special item: chocolate-covered strawberries. The sweet shop won’t release how many they sell each year — it’s a “proprietary secret,” owner Amy Atkinson says — but the staff works around the clock for six days to ready the treats for holidays. You can choose from white, milk or dark chocolate, or a combination. Is there really a better gift for your sweetie or dear ol’ Mom? The Candy Factory, 701 E. Cherry St., 573-443-8222;
Chokes ’N Cheese At Flat Branch
The large food menu at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing is popular with locals and visitors alike. But before you attempt to conquer the pub’s fare, try the restaurant’s appetizing staple Chokes ’N Cheese. The popular appetizer has been on the menu since the brewery opened. The warm and creamy artichoke concoction is served in a bread bowl with veggies for dipping and is an ideal pair-up with house-brewed Katy Trail Pale Ale. Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. Fifth St., 573-499-0400;

Brock’s Green Pepper Rings At Murry’s
Appetizers are the way to begin an evening at Murry’s. Brock’s Green Pepper Rings feature fried green peppers dusted with powdered sugar, creating a melt-in-your-mouth flavor with crunch. The generous servings are good choices for the entire table. Murry’s, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969;
Crab Rangoon And Pork At Peking
Peking has perfected the art of the Asian cuisine standard, crab Rangoon. Cream cheese, crab, onion, salt and pepper are held together by a crunchy wonton skin. Each piece is cooked crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth good on the inside. In a hurry, but still craving the crunchy appetizer? Not to worry, because Peking offers carry-out options so diners can cure their cravings on-the-go. Peking Restaurant, 212 E. Green Meadows Road, Suite 4, 573-256-6060
Smoked Salmon At Chris McD’s
Once you’ve tasted Chris McD’s smoked salmon, you won’t want to try the other fish in the sea. The chefs coldsmoke the fourounce Atlantic salmon over applewood. They serve it with red chili mayonnaise, pineapple mango salsa, crostinis and California greens. Build your own bitesized crostini creation with any or all of the items served alongside the fresh fish. This appetizer is enough to share, and the freshness pairs well with any — or a flight — of the restaurant’s fine wines. Chris McD’s Restaurant and Wine Bar, 1400 Forum Blvd., Suite 6, 573-446-6237;

Mini Cake At The Upper Crust
Celebrate any occasion with an adorable and delicious mini cake at The Upper Crust. Hand-decorated at the restaurant and just larger than a cupcake, the mini cakes are one-of-a-kind desserts. Flavors are regularly rotated, ranging from white wedding cake and raspberrylaced vanilla to chocolate and Kahlua velvet. Ask your server what’s best today. The Upper Crust, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-874-4044;904 Elm St., Suite 108, 573-874-3033;
Veggie With Bacon Sub At Sub Shop
Sub Shop’s most popular sandwich isn’t just for carnivores or vegetarians; it’s for food-lovers in general. Piled high with ingredients from across the food pyramid, this anti-vegetarian sub calls all hungry stomachs. Onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, Swiss cheese, mozzarella, American cheese, mayonnaise, tomatoes and, of course, bacon are crammed between two slices of your favorite bread and toasted. Sub Shop, 209 S. Eighth St.; 2105 W. Worley St.; 212 E. Green Meadows Road.; 601 W. Business Loop 70, Suite 203; 573-449-1919,

Lavender Honey Ice Cream At Sparky’s
Sparky’s lavender honey ice cream is a delicious combination of smell and taste. Both calming and refreshing, this treat has spa-like effects. The sweetness of the honey balances out the herbal taste of lavender. And although Sparky’s often changes its flavors, the ice cream parlor is almost always dipping up this treat. Leave it to Sparky’s, home of the creative cicada ice cream, to turn a flower into a delicious dessert. Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream, 21 S. Ninth St., 573-443-7400

Breakfast No. 11 At Ernie’s
It’s almost impossible to decide what to order off the menu at Ernie’s, so just try it all with the Breakfast No. 11. A plate piled high with bacon, ham or sausage comes with your choice of a short stack or French toast, with two eggs served the way you like them and hash browns on the side. Insider’s tip: If you order before 10 a.m., Ernie’s offers a free drink to wash it all down. Ernie’s Cafe & Steak House, 1005 E. Walnut St., 573-874-7804