Columbia’s lunch and dinner places may be the eateries that get the most recognition in town but — well-known chefs and handcrafted beer notwithstanding — breakfast in CoMo is an epicurean delight. Whether your tastes run to made-from-scratch pastries or diner food, the most important meal of the day is waiting for you at one of these Columbia establishments.
B&B Bagel Co.
124 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-442-5857, www.bbbagel.com
Ask owner Brad Newkirk why he thinks B&B Bagel is so popular, and you’ll get a simple answer: “We have good bagels,” Newkirk says with a laugh.
It’s true. B&B prides itself on selling real, New York-style bagels, which are boiled and baked. Newkirk says “it’s hard to find” that type of bagel “in the entire state, let alone a city the size of Columbia.”
But true B&B fans know there’s more to this joint than bagels. Great customer service and familiar faces are a plus for those who like a certain ambience with their morning meal. Employees often work there for years; B&B also tends to hire the siblings of past employees.
“We have very low turnover,” Newkirk says. Because of this, the staff at B&B gets to know the regulars, such as the Rock Bridge High School students who often stop in for breakfast or lunch. There’s a true feeling of family at B&B; Newkirk even attended the funeral of a regular customer in November.
The service and the bagels aren’t the only lures; customers flock to B&B for the bagel sandwiches. Newkirk says B&B’s signature breakfast item is the egg’wich with sausage on an “everything” bagel. Another perk is B&B’s drive-thru, a good option for breakfast lovers in a hurry.
22 S. Fourth St., 573-875-1173
Why you live in Columbia has a big impact on how you see the Broadway Diner. If you’re a longtime Columbia resident, you probably go to Broadway Diner in the morning for the nostalgic diner experience where the customers know the servers and the servers know the customers.
If you’re a college student, however, you probably see the diner as a nightspot, after you’ve had enough of the bars and you’re ready for a snack or a full-on meal. Since “The Diner,” as it’s commonly known, is open all night on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, it often fills up with hungry — and often inebriated — students after the bars close.
Whatever your view of the Broadway Diner, it is clearly a Columbia staple. Its signature dish is The Stretch — a pile of hash browns, scrambled eggs, chili, green peppers, onions and cheese. It’s an easy way to satisfy CoMo’s hunger pangs, whether they come at 7 a.m. or 2 a.m.
220 N. 10th St., 573- 441-0400, www.cafeberlincomo.com
Previously located at the corner of Providence Road and Walnut Street, Café Berlin moved to its current location at 220 N. 10th St. in 2009. Owner Eli Gay says he made the move to be closer to downtown and the up-and-coming North Village Arts District.
“I think we’ve become a great spot for breakfast in Columbia just for caring about breakfast,” Gay says. “Everyone goes out for lunch or dinner but we really like to focus on breakfast, which until we opened in Columbia, was mainly greasy diner food.”
Café Berlin’s menu shows how much Gay cares about the food his business serves. There are the typical breakfast staples such as buttermilk pancakes and scrambled eggs, but the draw to Café Berlin comes from the different types of dishes, such as their signature entrée — Apples and Sausage. The dish includes spicy local andouille sausage cooked with apples, red onion, garlic, butter, chili powder, cinnamon, brown sugar and maple syrup. “It’s really good on a pancake, too,” Gay says “Or French toast. Or a waffle.”
Café Berlin is known for its use of organic and local ingredients. Even the ketchup is organic. “I really believe in simple ingredients and real ingredients,” Gay says. “Real food for real people, really.”
1005 E. Walnut, 573-874-7804, www.erniescolumbia.com
There are Columbia breakfast places and then there is Ernie’s. In business since 1934, Ernie’s is a CoMo favorite. The line out the door on weekend mornings is a testament to its popularity.
Ernie’s doesn’t change, and that’s a good thing. No matter when you go, the scrambled eggs always taste the same. The pancakes maintain the same fluffiness. The hash browns are always fried the same. You can always count on buckets of gum and mints by the cash register, and pages of the Columbia Daily Tribune strewn across the counter before the place gets too busy.
There are many options for breakfast at Ernie’s, but for a little taste of everything, try the Breakfast No. 11 — your choice of bacon, ham or sausage; pancakes or French toast; plus eggs and hash browns. It’s a meal you could get almost anywhere, but it’s always good at Ernie’s. As one diner recently put it, “Why does breakfast taste better here?”
3100 W. Broadway, 573-447-0133; 25 Conley Road, 573-442-7703; 405 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-442-8595; www.hy-vee.com
Known to most as a grocery store, Hy-Vee is also a gathering place for many breakfast fans. The West Broadway location is a particularly popular breakfast venue, serving from to 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. (Breakfast also starts at 6 a.m. at the Conley Road and Nifong Boulevard locations.) The breakfast sandwiches are popular, as well as the biscuits and sausage gravy. The menu also features oatmeal, omelets, a breakfast burrito and more.
The restaurant at Hy-Vee is a great choice for people watching, as you’re sure to see someone you know, either at breakfast or while grocery shopping. Although Hy-Vee is a chain, its breakfast scene is evidence that even as Columbia continues to grow, it still maintains its small-town charm.
600 Business Loop 70 W., 573-442-4773, www.facebook.com/JJsCafe
Located on Business Loop 70, JJ’s Cafe is most convenient for north Columbia residents, but it’s also worth a drive across town. The spot has a large menu filled with popular breakfast fare bearing Columbia-themed names, such as the Hungry Tiger or the Mizzou Scramble. One of the most popular orders at JJ’s Cafe is the Country Fried Steak, which consists of hand-breaded round steak, topped with JJ’s homemade sausage gravy, two large eggs, hash browns, toast and jelly.
JJ’s Cafe also has a great small-town feel with coloring book pages on the walls clearly colored in by kids, and a lot of Mizzou apparel, worn by both the customers and the waitresses. JJ’s is a great option if you’re looking for somewhere off the beaten downtown path, but not too far off.
Lucy’s Corner Café
522 E. Broadway, 573-875-1700
While the college kids dine at Broadway Diner and Ernie’s, the locals head to Lucy’s Corner Cafe. The downtown eatery is known for its hearty breakfast options; Lucy’s is not a place for calorie counters.
There are many places to get diner food in Columbia, but Lucy’s sets itself apart in a few ways, such as the seating. “The place is huge compared to other similar restaurants,” says Christopher Martin, a native Columbian and real estate agent for Reece & Nichols Mid-Missouri. “Not everyone has the luxury to wait in line for an hour to eat. If the food is going to be similar if not better, who wouldn’t go for the place that always seems to get a table open for you?”
Lucy’s is another Columbia establishment that thrives on consistency, as regulars know they can always get a full breakfast at a good price.
“They have a meal with two hotcakes, two eggs, hash browns and bacon that I tend to get every time,” Martin says. “That way I cover all my favorite breakfast staples.
Midway Family Restaurant
6401 Highway 40 W., 573-445-6542, www.midwaytruckstopusa.com
The Midway Truck Stop & Travel Plaza is now reality-show famous, thanks to “Truck Stop USA” on the Travel Channel. But the truck stop — and its restaurant — has always been a well-known breakfast hangout for Columbians, especially for those who live on the western fringes of town.
Midway’s most popular breakfast dish is the biscuits and gravy. The menu also features waffles, a breakfast burrito, omelets and more. The great thing about Midway is that it serves breakfast 24 hours a day, so you can indulge whenever you want.
Perche Creek Cafe
6751 Highway 40 W., 573-446-7400, www.perchecreekcafe.com
Located at Midway Little General, it’s easy to drive by Perche Creek Cafe if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The cafe is attached to the convenience store and gas station, but you shouldn’t let its small appearance turn you away. The spot has a fairly large dining room, and a big menu that includes egg sandwiches, pancakes and omelets. Biscuits and gravy fans will appreciate the homemade sausage gravy.
3304 Broadway Business Park Court, 573-445-1669, www.trumansbar.com
As a place that’s known to most as a bar, the Trumans breakfast menu is impressive. Breakfast is served all day, every day, and features such dishes as the Trucker Combo and the Farmboy Combo. If you can’t eat the full portion, many of the breakfast entrées come in half-sizes.
On Saturdays and Sundays, Trumans offers an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. Mimosas and Bloody Marys are half-price on Saturdays. The second Wednesday of each month, March through November, Trumans puts on a free breakfast buffet for all active or retired military.
The Upper Crust
904 Elm St., Suite 108, 573-874-3033; 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-874-4044; www.theuppercrust.biz
The Upper Crust is the closest you’ll come to a French café in Columbia. Owned by entrepreneur and former magician Adam Guy and his wife, Caroline, The Upper Crust is a Columbia staple. For breakfast, employee Kenzie Smith says the Eggs Benedict is the most popular order, but the Breakfast Burrito, the quiches and the Crème Brûlée French Toast are also popular options.
The Upper Crust built its reputation with pastries. If you’re in the mood for a quick breakfast, Smith says the Pecan Roll is one of the most popular. The good thing about The Upper Crust is it has two locations — the original at the Green Meadows location and the one downtown — so you can satisfy your Upper Crust cravings in more places than one.
10 Hitt St., 573-256-2265, www.uprisebakery.com
Uprise Bakery isn’t open 24 hours a day but it feels like it is. Open at 6:30 a.m., it doesn’t close until 1 a.m. Because of its hours, the business has several “phases,” says owner Ron Rottinghaus, including a usual breakfast crowd that loves coffee, reading the newspaper and enjoying a fresh pastry.
Uprise has been around since 2001 and in its current location since 2008. The bakery is known for its fresh food, including its breads and pastries. The scones, croissants and more are “made totally from scratch with bowls and spatulas and rolling pins,” Rottinghaus says. There are usually three bakers who come in at 10 p.m. and work through the night baking for the next day. A pastry maker comes in between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.
Rottinghaus thinks the natural way of preparing the treats is part of Uprise’s success. “I believe our scratch baking ethic — making pastry as you would at home if you had the time — without pre-mixes or machines or pretension, leads our customers to trust us and feel good about their choice,” Rottinghaus says.
The Brunch Club
These six brunch spots make Sunday the best day of the week.
If you’re not an early riser, brunch is the best part of the day. Featuring soak-up foods and savory fare, brunch combines the best of breakfast and lunch in delectable, oversized bites. Treat yourself to our buffet of local brunch options in Columbia — you deserve it.
410 S. Ninth St., 573-449-6927, www.theheidelberg.com
Must-have item: Home-Fried Potatoes
Best brunch cocktail: Mimosa
Served: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays
Price: $8.49 for adults, $4.49 for children
For college students and nostalgic alums, The Heidelberg has been serving excellent fill-you-up food for more than 40 years. On Sunday mornings, the ‘Berg transforms into a smorgasbord of brunch favorites at a hearty all-you-can-eat buffet. Featuring a to-order omelet station, fried chicken, pancakes and more, The Heidelberg welcomes brunch lovers who are looking to indulge.
Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar
811 E. Walnut St., 573-442-8220, www.bleucolumbia.com
Must-have item: Shrimp & Grits
Best brunch cocktail: The Bloody Mary
Served: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays
Price: $15.95 for adults, $9.95 for children
For an elegant brunch option, Bleu serves opulent dishes that combine home-style comfort with contemporary sophistication. The buffet features a carving station showcasing cured ham, crave-worthy French toast casserole and hearty duck hash. “No matter what your tastes are for brunch, we have something,” says owner Travis Tucker. “If you’re a sweets lover, you can get your sweet fix with our waffles, pancakes, French toast or pastry selection. Or if you love savory like me, we serve delicious carved meats and eggs.”
816 E. Broadway, 573-397-5154, www.broadwaybrewery.com
Must-have item: Bread Pudding
Served: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Best brunch cocktail: Any of Broadway’s beers
Price: Up to $18
It’s not even 11 a.m., but at Broadway Brewery you can order a beer, buttermilk biscuits and a BLT quiche. It’s a place without judgment or limitation. Start your meal with Country Corn Griddle Cakes or a Grilled Pork and Bacon Scrapple served with cherry-apple compote. Then, enjoy one of the Brewery’s distinctive breakfast platters that feature epic flavor profiles, such as the Farmer Benedict — a serving of poached eggs over a biscuit, choice of spinach or country ham, hollandaise, sliced tomato and home-style potatoes. It’s noteworthy.
44 Stone Public House
3910 Peachtree Drive, 573-443-2726, www.44stonepub.com
Must-have item: Steak & Eggs
Best brunch cocktail: Irish Coffee
Served: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Price: Up to $21
44 Stone Public House’s English pub fare and brunch menu takes every Sunday morning over the top. Start your brunch with a $3 mimosa and strong, bottomless coffee. Then, hop across the pond and order 44 Stone’s classic take on the English Breakfast. The dish offers an array of house-made pork, apple and sage sausage, grilled tomato, baked beans, toasted bread, cider-cured Berkshire bacon, two eggs over easy and herb-roasted crimini mushrooms. And did we mention … the bacon? The gastropub’s dedication to serving the best-quality meats ensures that diners will love some of the best bacon in mid-Missouri. Be inspired!
3915 S. Providence Road, 573-874-8009, www.sophiascomo.com
Must-have item: Bacon and Spiced Walnut Pancakes
Best brunch cocktail: Mimosa
Served: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Price: Up to $23
For a European-inspired brunch option in Columbia, Sophia’s offers a variety of delectable savory and sweet bites. The brunch’s inclusive menu features American favorites served with an international flair. To satisfy your sweet craving, try the Tiramisu French Toast featuring batter-dipped and grilled Vienna bread served with a rich tiramisu filling. No sweet tooth? Munch on the savory Sophia’s Frittata Benedict Mornay of house-made biscuits topped with a seasoned egg frittata, prosciutto ham and Dijon Mornay sauce. A variety of specialty appetizers starts any meal off right.
Columbia’s coffee shops are ready to rev you up.
For thousands of Columbians, the trip between home and office percolates through one of our locally owned coffee shops. With offerings that range from strong and hot to cold and frothy, these shops offer the get-up-and-go we need to make it through the morning … or afternoon … or evening. Here’s a handful of the most popular shops in caffeine-loving CoMo.
915 Alley A, 620-755-8759
Frequency Coffee has the feel of a New York City coffee shop that only the locals know about. Tucked away in a hallway-like space in Alley A, Frequency boasts sleek, utilitarian décor. A Chemex and a Hario V60 drip cone rest atop the counter alongside bags of Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso and other coffee paraphernalia. The food is sparse: Here, it’s all about the drinks. The boys behind the bar are anything but pretentious, though. They crack jokes with the customers and sometimes even take a break to play a game of cards on the piano bench.
11 N. Ninth St., 573-449-8215,www.columbiacoffeezone.com
Moroccan lantern light fixtures hang in rows from the ceiling of Coffee Zone. They all seem to point to the shelves of baklava in the pastry case and the roasted coffee beans along the bar. It’s a place where food and drink share the spotlight, and rightfully so. When a coffee shop’s house blend is known as Rocket Fuel, you know you’re in for a good caffeine buzz. The infamous dark roast served at Coffee Zone is just one among many customer favorites. For those with a bit of a sweet tooth, the Vietnamese coffee — a cold brew mixed with condensed milk — is another.
Fretboard Coffee Inc.
1013 Walnut St., 573-227-2233, www.facebook.com/FretboardCoffee
Located in the North Village Arts District, Fretboard Coffee Inc. is home to modern buzzwords “organic,” “fair trade” and “local.” The front wall of the small space is a brown garage door that’s half windows. Natural light spills through and illuminates a coffee roaster that looks somewhat reminiscent of a miniature steam engine. Three coffee pumps behind the bar house the day’s selection, always freshly ground and French pressed in the morning. The Kenya Kichwa Tembo, a very dark roast, doctored up with simple syrup and half-and-half from Ozark Mountain creamery, is a house favorite.
Vida Coffee Co.
812 Hitt St., 573-449-8812, www.vidacoffeeco.com
You won’t see many customers walking through the door of Vida Coffee Co. without a backpack slung over one shoulder. Located in the center of the University of Missouri campus, Vida is a hub for students who need that caffeine jolt to start studying. A chalkboard wall framed in a tiger-stripe border is the focal point of the space. It serves as an outlet for customers’ random musings and drawings throughout the semester. As for the drinks, a good ol’ cup of black coffee will do for many customers, but the caramel mocha is also a popular choice.
Lakota Coffee Co. & Roasters
24 S. Ninth St., 874-2852, www.lakotacoffee.com
It might be the aroma of freshly roasting coffee that first draws you into Lakota Coffee Co., but it’s the cozy ski lodge atmosphere that will make you stay. The warm brick walls and worn log-framed chairs play host to myriad caffeine addicts — from college students and outdoor fanatics to professors and business people. Lakota’s house blend is a light roast from Central and South America that’s easy to drink at any point of the day. For a sweeter sip, the Dirty Chai — a chai latte with a shot of espresso — is a house favorite.