CoMo Cheap Eats

Whether we eat to live or live to eat, a good dining deal is reason to get excited. And the dozens of dining deals you’ll find in Columbia means the excitement can last for many meals to come.

Our collection of CoMo cheap eats starts out with some offerings that cost next-to-nothing — treats and meals for less than $5. There are even more deals that hover in the cheap range, with prices less than $10. “Cheap” is a relative term, though, and we’ve discovered some great values in the $10 to $20 range as well. Some of these higher-priced offerings are still great deals because of the large portion sizes — bring a friend to help tackle these dishes — while others are fine dining steals.

CoMo is dishing out great flavor at great prices. It’s time to eat up!

$5 Or Less: Pocket Change Eats

Bur Oak Brewing Co.
8250 Trade Center Drive; 573-814-2178;
The Deal: Free beer samples
The Delicious Details: Take a free tour of Bur Oak Brewing Co. and enjoy free samples of local beer. Try Trail Bender, a crisp, refreshing beer, and Lily Ale, a craft beer that tempts wine and cocktail drinkers with its notes of orange, raspberry and lavender, plus a number of other samples.

220 S. Eighth St.; 573-445-1965;
The Deal: Cookies, 79 cents each or $8.49/dozen
The Delicious Details: Choose from snickerdoodles, chocolate chip with pecans, and oatmeal raisin. All of the cookies are made in the kitchen with common ingredients and recipes. Dough is made as needed, and the cookies are baked at least daily to be fresh.

Midway One Stop Diner
6401 U.S. 40 W.; 573-445-6542
The Deal: Half-order biscuits and gravy, $1.69
The Delicious Details: The gravy is made from seasoned sausage, fried in butter and flour to make a roux. The cooks slowly add milk and more flour until the gravy reaches just the right thickness, just like Grandma’s. The half-order is one biscuit; full order is two biscuits for just $3.49. The diner is open 24 hours, and biscuits and gravy is on the menu all day and night.

El Tigre
10 W. Nifong Blvd.; 573- 442-2983;
The Deal: Tacos, $2.99
The Delicious Details: Made with well-seasoned shredded chicken or ground beef, these tacos feature a homemade crunchy taco shell, unlike any you ever had. They are topped with fresh lettuce and tomato and plenty of shredded cheese. During happy hour, this good deal becomes a true steal at $1.

Günter Hans
7 Hitt St.; 573-256-1205;
The Deal: Homemade bretzels, $2.99
The Delicious Details: Made from scratch using a recipe from Munich, Germany, this signature item is baked fresh every time you order. With thinner arms and a thicker center than its American counterpart, the bretzel blends the best of both worlds — a freshly baked bread that is both chewy and crispy. Order a liter of beer (the equivalent of two pints) and get one bretzel free!

Booches Billiards
110 S. Ninth St.; 573-874-9519
The Deal: Booches’ Burger, $3.50
The Delicious Details: The famous Booches’ Burger is a quarter-pound of juicy, beefy goodness. For 25 cents more, make it a cheeseburger, with a melted combo of American and Swiss. Another favorite at Booches is the chili, made fresh daily. At $3.25 for a bowl (add a quarter for cheese), the not-too-hot, not-too-mild, but seasoned-just-right chili is a popular side to the burger, and the whole meal is just $7.

G&D Steakhouse
2001 W. Worley St.; 573-445-3504;
The Deal: Lunch specials, $4.69 to $6.49
The Delicious Details: Available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Super Value Lunch Meals include a hamburger and fries for $4.69, or a cheeseburger and fries for $4.89. For a little more change, you can get a double cheeseburger and fries for $5.99, or step up to the new Tantalizing Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich — served with grilled onions, peppers, cheese and fries — for $6.49. With prices that low, dessert is in order, and the baklava — a piece of Grecian heaven made from Momma Elly’s recipe — is just $2.99.

El Rancho
1014 E. Broadway; 573-875-2121;
The Deal: Burrito Supreme, $4.95
The Delicious Details: Seven lunch combo specials are in the $5 range; nearly everything on the menu is under priced at less than $7. This beef burrito is topped with cheese sauce, lettuce, sour cream and tomatoes.

Las Margaritas
10 Southampton Drive; 573-442-7500;
The Deal: Lunch Tostaguac, $4.99
The Delicious Details: A flat, crisp tortilla is covered with ground beef, refried beans, lettuce, guacamole and sliced tomato, and served with Mexican rice and beans. This is just one of 12 lunch offerings in the $5 range, and there are another five items — including fajitas — between $6 and $8.

Main Squeeze
28 S. Ninth St.; 573-817-5616;
The Deal: RBS, $5
The Delicious Details: A humble bowl of rice and beans is a high-protein, flavorful, low-fat dish — the perfect meal when you want a lot of nutrition and a full belly for just $5. Organic whole-grain brown rice and seasoned organic beans loaded with organic onions, garlic and spices are topped with house-made organic salsa and organic green onions. Add cheese or avocado for $1 more, or flavor it up with a selection from the condiment bar for free.

709 Cherry St.; 573-256-1995;
The Deal: Nachos Bianco, $5
The Delicious Details: Normally $9.95, these nachos drop to $5 during happy hour. The dish starts with a foundation of wonton chips, topped with mozzarella and Asiago cheese sauce. After they’re baked until crispy, the nachos are topped with tomato, olives, green onions and banana peppers, plus your choice of chicken, chorizo sausage or black beans. It’s a unique take on the traditional Mexican-style nachos, guaranteed to please.

Billiards on Broadway
514 E. Broadway; 573-449-0116
The Deal: Burger and fries, $5.50
The Delicious Details: Normally $6.50, the burger and fries offering drops $1 during lunch, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Made with one-third pound of fresh Midwestern ground chuck, the burger comes with green leaf lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles on a toasted sesame seed bun. Choose from several cheeses — from American to bleu — for just 79 cents more.


$10 Or Less: Pretty Darn Cheap

Jamaican Jerk Hut
Mobile Food Truck; 573-694-6086;\JerkHut
The Deal: Jerk wings, $6
The Delicious Details: Extra-large chicken wings seasoned with traditional tropical jerk spices and marinated overnight are slow-grilled over a charcoal/pimento wood flame. The 12-spice dry rub includes pimento berries and Scotch bonnet peppers. It’s a sweet but spicy blend, not too hot to enjoy, and the meat melts in your mouth.

Peggy Jean’s Pies
3601 Buttonwood Drive, Suite E; 573-447-7437;
The Deal: 5-inch baby pie, $6 to $7.25
The Delicious Details: Baby pies are offered in more than 40 different flavors, with cream pies costing $6, fruit pies $6.75 and nut pies $7.25. Peggy Jean’s starts pies from scratch each morning using recipes that are more than 100 years old. The pies are made with real ingredients and no preservatives. Baby pies are about the size of 1½ slices and make a thoughtful gift — for someone else or yourself!

Broadway Diner
22 S. Fourth St.; 573-875-1173
The Deal: Daily lunch special, $6.45
The Delicious Details: Available Monday through Friday, the daily lunch special does not follow a weekly schedule but always includes an entrée — such as chicken strips, meatloaf or roast beef — plus a potato of the day, plus a fresh vegetable, plus soup or salad, plus Texas toast, plus a beverage — and it all adds up to full satisfaction, always for $6.45.

Cat’s Kitchen
1802 Paris Road; 573-443-0991
The Deal: Lunch special, $7 to $9
The Delicious Details: The lunch specials at this classic American diner change daily and include meatloaf, smothered chops, chicken and homemade noodles (dumplings), pork roast, catfish on Friday and fried chicken on Sunday. None of the specials are on the menu — that’s what makes them special! —and all are $7, except the catfish and fried chicken, which are $9.

Sub Shop
209 S. Eighth St., 2105 W. Worley St., 212 E. Green Meadows Road, 601 Business Loop 70 W.; 573-449-1919;
The Deal: Lunch special, $7.30
The Delicious Details: Every weekday has its own sandwich, and the deal always comes with a half-sub, chips and a 24-ounce drink. Subs are made-to-order on fresh homemade bread — choose between white, wheat or rye — and sent through the oven to create the perfectly toasted creation. All of the ingredients are fresh and never frozen. The roast beef is slow-cooked in-store and sliced thin, and the sauerkraut (featured in the Sausage ’n’ Kraut Sub) is hand-squeezed and mixed with a special recipe.

Perche Creek Café
6751 U.S. 40; 573-446-7400;
The Deal: Hand-breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, $7.49
The Delicious Details: The café’s signature item, the pork tenderloin, uses local pork from Patchwork Family Farms. It’s hand-breaded in a secret breading and fried until golden brown. This tenderloin is huge, juicy and delicious. The sandwich comes with chips for the regular price, or add a dollar for fries or another side. There’s also the option of a Pork Tenderloin Dinner, which comes with two sides and Texas toast for $8.99.

Café Poland
807 Locust St.; 573-874-8929
The Deal: Pierogies, six for $7.50
The Delicious Details: The owners of Café Poland are originally from the Polish city of Swinoujscie, near the Baltic Sea, and their menu is full of homemade Eastern European goodness, including hunter’s sauerkraut stew, goulash and stuffed cabbage. The pierogies are handcrafted Polish dumplings and come in three varieties: meat (mixed pork and beef), potato and farmer’s cheese, and mushroom and sauerkraut. They are served with fried onions and sour cream, for a combination of sweet, savory flavors.

Ranch House BBQ
1714 Lindberg Drive; 573-814-3316;
The Deal: Thursday lunch special: BBQ Brisket Melt, $7.95
The Delicious Details: This popular lunch special is not on the regular menu; it’s available only on Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Topped with a sweet house-made barbecue sauce, melted cheddar and grilled onions, this beef brisket has tantalizing flavor, and the deal comes with one side. Other lunch specials include a hamburger, cheeseburger or pulled pork sandwich, plus fries and a drink, for $6.95, Tuesday through Friday.

Coley’s American Bistro
15 S. Sixth St.; 573-442-8887;
The Deal: Bistro tacos, $8
The Delicious Details: Made from scratch with fresh ingredients, these tacos feature pork that is slow-cooked until it falls apart. Coley’s adds black bean and corn salsa with a cilantro vinaigrette, plus fresh cilantro and salsa roja, and wraps it up in a corn tortilla. Bistro tacos are a relatively healthy and clean way to eat out at a restaurant, and with three to an order, they are a filling meal — or great for sharing.

Playing With Fire Wood Fired Pizza
Mobile Food Truck; 573-579-1192;
The Deal: Margherita pizza, $8
The Delicious Details: This 10-inch personal pizza is a classic example of the Neapolitan-style pizza. It starts off with handmade, naturally leavened dough that has been cold-fermented for 48 hours to develop flavor. PWF tops the dough with the house sauce — which consists of only Italian San Marzano tomatoes and salt — followed by fresh mozzarella. The finish is fresh basil grown on Drummond Farm in Boone County and a drizzle of Italian olive oil.

800 E. Broadway; 573-874-8090;
The Deal: Thai Beef Kabob, $8
The Delicious Details: This small plate or appetizer features four ounces of tender beef filet, marinated and grilled, and served with a house-made spicy peanut sauce. While 4 ounces of beef filet for $8 is an amazing deal, sometimes you will find this kabob on the bar menu during happy hour. Grab it then for a mere $4!

Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co.
Mobile Food Truck; 573-999-9323;
The Deal: Chicken-fried chicken biscuit sandwich, $8
The Delicious Details: Each sandwich is made-to-order and begins with award-winning buttermilk biscuits made every morning from scratch, with love. All-natural chicken breast, sourced from local farmers, is covered in seasoning and fried until golden and crispy. A soft egg and locally sourced, simmered collard greens top the chicken; finishing off the lip-smacking goodness is Patchwork Family Farms pork sausage sawmill gravy.

The Heidelberg
410 S. Ninth St.; 573-449-6927;
The Deal: Pork loin sandwich, $8.99
The Delicious Details: A ’Berg tradition, this sandwich is huge — so big two people can share it. Locally sourced pork is hand-breaded in the restaurant, fried and placed on a Kaiser bun from The Upper Crust. Lettuce, tomato, pickle and mayo are the standard toppings, and some diners like to add onion. The sandwich comes with fries or another choice of side.

Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ
3301 W. Broadway, Business Park Court, Suite A; 573-256-6450;
The Deal: The Ultimate Pig Out Sandwich, $8.99
The Delicious Details: This customer favorite has layers of pulled pork, Caldarello sausage, ham and bacon for a savory combination of flavors, served on a giant Kaiser roll. All of the meats are prepared in-house with a special dry rub and then smoked for hours to tender perfection. The sandwich is served with a choice of side.

1839 Taphouse
212 E. Green Meadows Road; 573-441-1839;
The Deal: Beerdough Pizza, $9 to $12 for 12-inch medium
The Delicious Details: This pizza begins with made-from-scratch dough created with Taphouse Ale, an Abbey Dubbel brewed by Crown Valley Brewing. Atop this gourmet dough goes made-from-scratch sauce. You choose from a list of quality ingredients for a super cheesy pie. Both the house ale and the Beerdough Pizza have won Inside Columbia’s Best of Columbia awards.

Carlito’s Cabo
12-A Business Loop 70 E.; 573-443-6370;
The Deal: Lomo Saltado, $9.60
The Delicious Details: This traditional Peruvian dish features flambéed Angus beef seasoned with a blend of spices, sautéed with red onions, tomatoes and Peruvian yellow peppers, and served over a bed of fried potato slices and rice.

Room 38 Restaurant & Lounge
38 N. Eighth St.; 573-449-3838;
The Deal: Mahimahi fish tacos, $9.50
The Delicious Details: Mahimahi fish, seared with fresh lime juice, gets topped with fresh mango salsa, vinegar slaw and orange honey chipotle sauce and served inside a grilled tortilla. Everything, including the tortilla, is made fresh in-house, giving these tacos delicious, vibrant flavor.

Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar
811 E. Walnut St.; 573-442-8220;
The Deal: Bleu Burger, $10
The Delicious Details: This gourmet burger offers 7 ounces of Missouri-farmed, hormone-free burger, topped with arugula, sun-dried tomato aioli, confit mushrooms and a choice of Muenster, cheddar, Swiss or Gorgonzola cheese, served on a potato bun with your choice of side.


$20 Or Less: Big Values

Babbo’s Spaghetteria
1305 Grindstone Parkway; 573-442-9446;
The Deal: Lasagna, $11
The Delicious Details: This is a fill-you-up, brick-sized portion of pasta with house-made marinara, Italian sausage, ground beef, ricotta, Parmesan and Romano cheeses. On Tuesdays, get the lasagna and a salad for $10 at dinner.

Shotgun Pete’s BBQ Shack
28 N. Ninth St.; 573-442-7878;
The Deal: BBQ Nachos, $12
The Delicious Details: One regular-sized order of these deluxe nachos can feed two people. Nacho chips are smothered with nacho cheese, barbecue beans, jalapenos, hot relish, slaw and meat of the customer’s choosing. There is also a large BBQ Nacho Platter for $22 that will feed three or four people.

B&B Bagel Co.
124 E. Nifong Blvd., Suite A; 573-442-5857;
The Deal: The Works, $12.69
The Delicious Details: This deal comes with 13 bagels and two cream cheeses, meaning you can feed 13 people breakfast for less than $1 per person. And B&B Bagel proudly declares it is the only place in central Missouri that makes real New York-style boiled and baked bagels.

Flat Branch Pub & Brewing
115 S. Fifth St.; 573-499-0400;
The Deal: Smoked Salmon With Potato Cakes, $14.99
The Delicious Details: In-house smoked salmon is crumbled atop two made-from-scratch panko-breaded, Parmesan-dusted potato cakes and topped with diced tomatoes and a rich béarnaise-style cream sauce. Steamed broccoli comes on the side.

CoMo Smoke and Fire
4600 Paris Road, Suite 102; 573-443-3473;
The Deal: Sunday buffet, $15.99
The Delicious Details: The offerings on this all-you-can-eat buffet include smoked ribs, pulled pork, brisket, smoked turkey, smoked ham, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, bacon cheddar ranch potato salad, mustard potato salad, creamy slaw, vinegar slaw, salad bar, cookies and brownies. All meats are slow-cooked to perfection and sides are all made in-house. Make just one trip to the buffet for $10.99, which also includes a soft drink.

La Terraza Mexicana Grill
1412 Forum Blvd.; 573-445-9444;
The Deal: Deluxe Molcajete, $15.99
The Delicious Details: This authentic Mexican dish combines grilled steak, grilled chicken, shrimp and chorizo (Spanish sausage), adds grilled onions, bell pepper and cactus, mixes in four sauces and is finishes with a generous topping of cheese. It gets its name from the traditional super-hot stone dish it is served in, a molcajete. One order can easily serve two to three people.

Grand Cru
2600 S. Providence Road; 573-443-2600;
The Deal: Free-Range Chicken And Waffles, $16
The Delicious Details: A house-made cheddar cheese jalapeño waffle is topped with slow-cooked, free-range chicken and then covered in a house-made bourbon brown sugar syrup. It’s a different take on traditional chicken and waffles but still delivers that sweet and savory meal everyone loves.

Umbria Rustic Italian
904 Elm St., Suite 108; 573-447-862;
The Deal: Board and Bottle, $20
The Delicious Details: This special consists of a bottle of wine paired with the diner’s choice of either a fresh market board — which comes with artisan cheeses, freshly cut meats, bruschetta and more tasty temptations — or a homemade stone-fired pizza. This deal is good Monday through Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to close.

Shakespeare’s Pizza
Downtown: 225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454; West: 3304 W. Broadway, 573-447-1202; South: 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435;
The Deal: The Masterpiece, $31.25
The Delicious Details: A full meal for four, maybe five, this 16-inch large pizza weighs almost 5 pounds. Toppings include red onions, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, fresh mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, Italian sausage and lean ground beef. Forks are strongly recommended. This is the pie that won ABC’s“Good Morning America” “Best Bites Challenge: College Edition” in 2010.


Find Your Happy Place

Need a little pick-me-up after a long workday? Check out the food and drink specials at these CoMo happy hours…

709 Cherry St.; 573-256-1995;
Hours: 9 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday
Offerings: $2 pints of all draft beers (there are 17 on tap) and a late-night menu with many favorites, from salads to burgers to nachos, for $5
Must-Try: Nachos Bianco, $5 (normally $9.95)

B&B Bagel Co.
124 E. Nifong Blvd., Suite A; 573-442-5857;
Hours: Last hour of business, daily
Offerings: Half-price bagels and pastries the last hour of business
Must-try: Everything Bagel, 50 cents for one or $4.50 a dozen

Billiards on Broadway
514 E. Broadway; 573-449-0116
Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday
Offerings: $1 off all pints
Must-Try: Logboat Dark Matter Wheat Porter, $4 (normally $5)

Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar
811 E. Walnut St.; 573-442-8220;
Hours: 3 to 6 p.m.
Offerings: $3 wells, drafts, house wine and appetizers
Must-Try: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, $3 (normally $8)

CoMo Smoke and Fire
4600 Paris Road, Suite 102; 573-443-3473;
Hours: 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, plus 9 p.m. to close Friday & Saturday, all day Sunday
Offerings: 25 percent off all drafts, bottle beers and well liquors
Must-try: 22-ounce Logboat Snapper, $3.94 (normally $5.25)

El Tigre
10 W. Nifong Blvd; 573-442-2983;
Hours: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Offerings: $1 tacos and beer
Must-Try: Tacos, $1 (normally $2.99)

Flat Branch Pub & Brewing
115 S. Fifth St.; 573-499-0400;
Hours: 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close, Sunday through Thursday
Offerings: $1 off pints, $5 pizzas and 25 percent off all appetizers
Must-Try: Chokes and Cheese, creamy artichoke dip served hot in a bread bowl with fresh carrots, broccoli and celery on the side, $7.49 (normally $9.99)

Grand Cru
2600 S. Providence Road; 573-443-2600;
Hours: 5 to 6 p.m., daily
Offerings: Buy one, get one half-off all drinks on the drink menu. All beers on draft are buy one, get one free.
Must-Try: Scottish Ginger (made with Bowmore Scotch, ginger beer, Fee Brothers cherry bitters, orange zest and maraschino cherry syrup), first one $9, second $4.50

Günter Hans
7 Hitt St.; 573-256-1205;
Hours: Different each day
Offerings: Examples include $2 off all pints on Tuesday, a free cheese plate with any bottled wine purchase on Thursday, and an $8 waffle bar from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday

The Heidelberg
410 S. Ninth St.; 573-449-6927;
Hours: 3:30 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday (except home MU football game Saturdays), and 8 to 11 p.m. Sunday
Offerings: Buy one, get one free on all appetizers, discounted beers and other drink specials
Must-Try: Marty’s Seasoned Wings, two orders for $7.99 (normally one order for same price)

La Terraza Mexicana Grill
1412 Forum Blvd.; 573-445-9444;
Hours: 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday
Offerings: $2 off all combo platters and $1 off all quesadillas and burritos
Must-try: Burrito Spinacho, filled with beans, grilled chicken, sour cream and spinach con queso, $8.99 (normally $10.99)

9th Street Public House
36 N. Ninth St.; 573-777-9782;
Hours: Tuesdays, all day and all night
Offerings: All CoMo brews — Logboat, Bur Oak, Rockbridge and Broadway Brewery — are $2 for a pint.

Room 38 Restaurant & Lounge
38 N. Eighth St.; 573-449-3838;
Hours: 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
Offerings: Half-off all sharing plates, half-off draft/craft/import beers, $3 call cocktails, $4 select wines by the glass
Must-Try: Jalapeño Crab Rangoon Sticks, which come with a sweet Thai chili dipping sauce, $4.50 (normally $9)

Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ
3301 W. Broadway, Business Park Court, Suite A; 573-256-6450;
Hours: 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday
Offerings: $1 off Logboat drafts and specials on wings and beer
Must-try: Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ Smoked Wings. Get 10 wings and two bottles of beer for $15 (normally $16)

800 E. Broadway; 573-874-8090;
Hours: 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 6 p.m. Friday
Offerings: Half-price for everything on the bar menu, which changes daily and has ranged from chicken-fried duck wings to empanadas. The discount puts most offerings between $3.50 and $6.50. Specials include a happy hour red wine, white wine, beer and specialty cocktail.