Eat & Be Merry

Best Appetizer

If you haven’t tried the Nachos Bianco at Addison’s, a heapin’ helpin’ of Italian pasta chips covered with tasty toppings and Asiago cheese sauce, you’re missing out. The plentiful portion is piled high with tomatoes, scallions, Kalamata olives, banana peppers, mozzarella cheese and your choice of chicken, black beans or chorizo sausage. This amazing app comes in two sizes: big and bigger. The “small” order is quite substantial and makes a great entrée if you’re not in the mood to share.
Addison’s, 709 Cherry St., 573-256-1995,

SILVER: Brock’s Green Pepper Rings, Murry’s
3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, 

BRONZE: Smoked Wings, D. Rowe’s
1005 Club Village Drive, 573-443-8004, 


Best Barbecue Restaurant

This family-owned-and-operated barbecue restaurant will have you licking your chops — and your fingers. Como Smoke and Fire offers fresh smoked meats done daily, served as entrees or in sandwiches, along with mouthwatering homemade sauces. As the owners like to say, “When you’re here, it’s never a disgrace to have sauce on your face!” Try the pulled pork, burnt ends or smoked turkey, tackle the Big Texas brisket sandwich or the Cuban, and don’t forget the grilled mac and cheese. Como Smoke & Fire, 4600 Paris Road Suite 102, 573-443-3473, 

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

BRONZE: Buckingham Smokehouse Bar-BQ
3804 Buttonwood Drive, 573-449-1490,


Best Food Truck 

There’s a trick to baking the perfect biscuit — all flaky, golden goodness — and Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co. has it down pat. But don’t expect some dainty little dish from this well-established and popular food truck. Signature staples like The Boss Hog or Chicken Fried Chicken are a real meal. Even if you opt for a basic biscuit, it’s definitely not basic. It’s served with sweet cream butter and house-made preserves. Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company, 573-999-9323,

SILVER: Just Jeff’s Street Food
701 Business Loop 70 W., 573-673-8741

BRONZE: Jamaican Jerk Hut


Best Cocktail

It’s no wonder Columbians long for Houlihan’s Long Island Iced Tea. Houlihan’s version is a carefully crafted concoction that’s not shy on spirits. This liquor-filled libation is so popular that its recipe has been the subject of many a Google search. Guess you could say it suits its impressed imbibers to a “tea.” Houlihan’s Restaurant and Bar, 2541 Broadway Bluffs Drive, 573-815-7210,

SILVER: Bloody Mary, Flat Branch Pub & Brewing
115 S. Fifth St., 573-449-0400, 

BRONZE: Passion Punch, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen
1010 I-70 Drive S.W., 573-441-0617,


Best Dessert 

Gooey Butter Cake is known as a traditional St. Louis treat, but the city with the arch has nothin’ on Murry’s. The ooey, gooey goodness of Murry’s version of this delectable dessert is beyond debate. It’s a veritable slice of heaven! Don’t take it for granted because it sits amid 26 rotating desserts on the Murry’s menu — it’s a standout. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’d butter get on it! Murry’s, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, 

SILVER: Crème Brûlée Bread Pudding, Flat Branch
115 S. Fifth St., 573-449-0400, 

BRONZE: Harold’s Doughnut Sundae, Barred Owl Butcher & Table
47 E. Broadway, 573-442-9323,


Best Fries 

A popular downtown offshoot of 44 Stone Public House, 44 Canteen serves up a lot of fare with south of the border flair, and the Disco Fries are no exception. Every order is a plentiful pile of house-cut fries smothered in queso sauce, with chicken chorizo, chipotle sauce, sharp cheddar, pickled jalapenos and cilantro. Not a meat eater or chorizo fan? You can substitute pinto bean pico de gallo for the chorizo at no charge. 44 Canteen, 21 N. Ninth St., 573-777-8730,

SILVER: Bout Died Fries, Billiards on Broadway
514 E. Broadway, 573-449-0116, 

BRONZE: Cajun Fries, Five Guys Burgers & Fries
2703 E. Broadway Bluffs Drive, 573-777-4568
233 N. Stadium Blvd., 573-777-4564,


Best Mexican Restaurant 

Affectionately known as “Las Margs,” the go-to Mexican mecca Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant was voted Best Mexican Restaurant for the fifth straight year. It serves up flavorful and filling Mexican fare, such as its famous Tacos El Pastor, in a fun and festive atmosphere. Its colorfully painted chairs might just be the sturdiest (and heaviest!) around. If you haven’t dined lakeside on the patio, make it a point to snag a table on the next sunny day. It makes sipping one of Las Margs’ margaritas all the more magical. Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, 10 Southampton Drive, 573-442-7500, 5614 E. St. Charles Road, 573-228-6700,

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

BRONZE: Agave Mexican Restaurant
901 Safari Drive, 573-256-5611, 1000 I-70 Drive SW, 573-397-6769,


Best Outdoor Dining Area 

Few things are as enjoyable as dining al fresco on Flat Branch Pub & Brewing’s popular patio. Shaded by trees and umbrella’d tables, it’s the perfect space to relax and dine during spring’s warming weather, the dog days of summer or well into the fall. Whether you’re enjoying one of Flat Branch’s house-brewed beers and some appetizers or a full meal, it’s delightful. Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. Fifth St., 573-449-0400, 

SILVER: Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant
10 Southampton Drive, 573-442-7500, 

BRONZE: The Roof
1111 E. Broadway, 573-875-7000,   


Best Place to Cater Your Next Event

Folks love the D. Rowe’s Restaurant & Bar catering menu with its smoked beef brisket and other mouthwatering meats, and sides such as baked beans, coleslaw and mashed potatoes. You can order the smoked meats by the pound, and choose the sides separately, or order using the per-person pricing option that includes two meats and three sides along with buns or rolls and barbecue sauce. The regular menu is also available for weddings or larger receptions. D. Rowe’s Restaurant & Bar, 1005 Club Village Drive, 573-443-8004,

SILVER: Como Smoke & Fire
4600 Paris Road, Suite 102, 573-443-3473,

BRONZE: Hoss’s Market
1010 Club Village Drive, 573-815-9711, 

Best Place to Get a Burger 

Ah, Booches. It’s a true original and a real slice of Columbia history. Don’t expect any frills at this burger joint/billiard hall. Or obsequious service. Just a yummy burger served on a square of waxed paper with a napkin on top. Want a cheeseburger with everything on it? Ask for a cheeseburger E. Want chili? Ask for “a bowl of red.” Want fries? Don’t you dare ask! Booches doesn’t do fries. And remember to bring cash, ‘cuz plastic’s not fantastic here. Booches Billiard Hall, 110 S. Ninth St., 573-874-9519 

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

BRONZE: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing
115 S. Fifth St., 573-449-0400,


Best Coffee Shop

Situated at the corner of Ninth and Cherry, Kaldi’s has been caffeinating Columbia since 2007. It’s a popular place for a study session, casual business meeting, or low-key coffee date. The delicious, freshly brewed, sustainably sourced coffee never disappoints, whether you’re enjoying a cup in the comfy surroundings of the shop or taking a cup o’ joe to go. No wonder Kaldi’s has a javalanche of devoted drinkers! Kaldi’s Coffee, 29 S. Ninth St. #1, 573-874-2566,

SILVER: Lakota Coffee Co.
24 S. Ninth St., 573-874-2852, 

BRONZE: The Grind Coffee House
4603 John Garry Drive, Suite 1, 573-447-3333,


Best Asian Restaurant

There’s no better place in town to “Thai” one on than Bangkok Gardens! This downtown mainstay has been serving authentic Thai food since it opened in its original location on Ninth Street in 1995. Enjoy an enticing array of traditional Thai dishes, including appetizers such as spring rolls and satay, and entrees such as Green Curry Lo Mein and Pad Thai. If you like things spicy, try the fiery seafood soup, Thom Yum Ghung, and remember, you can always have the kitchen dial up the spice. Bangkok Gardens, 811 Cherry St., 573-874-3284,

SILVER: House of Chow
2101 W. Broadway, 573-445-8800,  

BRONZE: China Garden
3420 Clark Lane, 573-814-0007,


Best Place for Breakfast

Whether for weekday breakfast or weekend brunch, quirky Café Berlin definitely delights. The crowd is as eclectic as the café’s mismatched mugs, with scores of students plus young professionals and families, and older couples, too. Enjoy a cup of coffee or one of the café’s coffee drinks. Try one of the delicious juice blends, or a mimosa with fresh-squeezed OJ. Savor the original breakfast dishes such as the Schyler Sandwich or Starving Artist. Vegetarian options abound, too. Café Berlin doesn’t take reservations; it’s strictly first come/first served, so aim for early! Café Berlin, 220 N. 10th St., 573-441-0400,

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

BRONZE: Ernie’s Café & Steakhouse
1005 E. Walnut St., 573-874-7804,


Best Place to Get Sushi  

It’s not surprising that Osaka Japanese Restaurant copped the top spot for favorite sushi place. After all, it has a rich history. Debuting in 1996, it was the first restaurant in Columbia to offer sushi. The chefs take great pride in creating and presenting the finest sushi, using the freshest and highest quality ingredients. From sea eel to sea urchin, yellowtail to mackerel, Osaka is the place to go when you’ve got a yen for sushi. Osaka Japanese Restaurant, 120 E. Nifong Blvd. A, 573-875-8588,

SILVER: Kampai Sushi Restaurant
907 Alley A, 573-442-2239, 

BRONZE: Jina Yoo’s Asian Restaurant
2200 Forum Blvd. #108, 573-446-5462, 


Best Place to Get Fried Chicken 

Winner, winner chicken dinner! Or, chicken lunch. Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken is the place our readers are pickin’ for chicken. And with good reason. Lee’s chicken is never frozen, and it’s hand-breaded, honey-dipped and pressure-cooked for crispy golden goodness every time. Lee’s has been cooking up its legendary chicken since 1966. Opt for personal snacks and meals when it’s just you, or pick up a family meal when you’re feeding a full house. Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, 2316 Paris Road, 573-474-5337,

SILVER: Ms. Kim’s Fish & Chicken Shack
1416 Hathman Place, 573-256-5467,

BRONZE: Claysville Store
5650 E. Claysville Road, Hartsburg, Missouri, 573-636-8443  


Best Place to Get Ice Cream Frozen Yogurt Custard

Andy’s Frozen Custard has been serving up frozen favorites such as the Tiger Streak since 2005, and few things can compete with a concrete, one of the shop’s signature creations. Try a custom concrete, made with vanilla frozen custard blended with the topping of your choice, or choose one of Andy’s popular options, like the Pretzel Caramel Crunch Concrete.  Andy’s Frozen Custard, 610 Cooper Drive N., 573-442-8866, 2661 Trimble Road, 573-777-7759, 

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

BRONZE: Randy’s Frozen Custard
3304 W. Broadway Business Park Court, 573-446-3071 


Best Happy Hour 

Columbia’s original brewpub has been serving thirsty customers since 1994. Conveniently located near lots of downtown businesses, Flat Branch Pub & Brewing has become a go-to happy hour haunt. With an impressive array of brewed in-house beers, a fully stocked bar, ample bar area seating, and a fresh, diverse menu, plenty of Columbians find Flat Branch a flat-out perfect spot for end-of-the-day drinks. Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. Fifth St., 573-449-0400,

 The Heidelberg
410 S. Ninth St., 573-449-6927, 

Houlihan’s Restaurant and Bar
2541 Broadway Bluffs Drive, 573-815-7210,


Best Place to Get Steak

A perennial favorite among Inside Columbia readers, a CC’s City Broiler steak is hard to beat. C.C.’s is a cut above, offering wood-fired prime steaks that are always on point. Whether it’s a traditional chef’s cut filet mignon, or Steak Sinatra, the perfectly prepared steaks at CC’s have been pleasing patrons for nearly 20 years. Just as proprietor Scott Cleeton intended, C.C.’s City Broiler is the epitome of an old-world steakhouse. CC’s City Broiler, 1401 Forum Blvd., 573-445-7772,

SILVER: Texas Roadhouse
2005 W. Worley St., 573-445-5910,  

BRONZE: G&D Steak House
2001 W. Worley St., 573-445-3504,

Best Place to Get Doughnuts 

Nobody makes doughnuts like Harold’s Doughnuts. Harold’s is inventive, with creations as pretty as they are tasty. You can choose from delicious delights such as maple bacon and cranberry orange cake, or an apple fritter or cinnamon roll. Harold’s doughnuts are divided into four categories: classics, craft, creations and Harold’s Bakery. And the shop isn’t shy about sharing: Harold’s offers doughnut-making experiences where you can learn how to make the raved-about round offerings yourself. Harold’s Doughnuts, 204 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-447-7555, 114 S. Ninth St., 573-397-6322,

SILVER: Dunkin Donuts
3100 S. Providence Road, 573-514-7020, 821 Elm St., 573-476-6341,

405 E Nifong Blvd., 573-442-8595, 25 Conley Road, 573-442-7703, 3100 W. Broadway, 573-447-0133,


Best Italian Restaurant 

Sophisticated yet approachable, Sophia’s offers upscale Italian American dining. Enjoy a variety of appetizers and tasty tapas, as well as creative salads, gourmet pizzas, entrees and pastas such as Smoked Chicken Carbonara and Ravioli Aragosta. The restaurant offers an extensive wine list, with more than 100 different choices, along with a reserve wine list for special occasions. Sophia’s, 3915 S. Providence Road, 573-874-8009,

SILVER: The Pasta Factory
3103 W. Broadway Business Park Court, 573-449-3948, 

BRONZE: Babbo’s Spaghetteria
1305 Grindstone Pkwy. #115, 573-442-9446,  


Best Bakery

OK, so Harold’s Doughnuts doesn’t make cakes. It makes cake doughnuts and evidently, that counts. Our readers “hole”-heartedly picked Harold’s as the winner for Best Bakery, even though it’s not what you would consider a traditional bakery. Harold’s innovative doughnut offerings showcase owner Michael Urban’s dedication to “loving your craft,” and his creations are always taste sensations. It’s interesting to note that Harold’s has been catering a good number of weddings — something you’d expect a bakery to do! Harold’s Doughnuts, 204 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-447-7555, 114 S. Ninth St., 573-397-6322,

SILVER: B&B Bagel Company
124 E. Nifong Blvd., 573-442-5857,

BRONZE: Peggy Jean’s Pies
3601 Buttonwood Drive, Suite E, 573-447-7437,


Best Restaurant Opened in 2017

Fans of the original Bambino’s were thrilled to see Bambino’s Italian Café return. Now at 904 Elm St., the Italian eatery serves up hearty pasta portions, savory sandwiches and super salads, such as the antipasto. Try the Pasta Alla Bambino, cavatelli tossed in a hearty meat sauce topped with melted provel cheese, or the Pasta Alla Dianna, fettucine in a creamy alfredo sauce with shrimp, broccoli and mushrooms Bambino’s Italian Café, 904 Elm St. #108, 573-447-6400,

Potbelly Sandwich Shop
2500 Broadway Bluffs Drive, Suite 102, 573-554-1340,

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
132 S. Ninth St., 573-214-2851,


Best Place to Get Wings 

When the wing’s the thing, make D. Rowe’s Restaurant & Bar your call. There are no bad choices here, so you can opt for the Buffalo wings, which are deep fried and tossed with spicy Buffalo sauce, or pick the award-winning dry-rubbed wings seasoned with D. Rowe’s secret blend of spices then slow-smoked over hickory wood. The restaurant’s tender, meaty wings come 12 to an order, with ranch or bleu cheese for the Buffalo wings and ranch for the smoked ones. D. Rowe’s Restaurant & Bar, 1005 Club Village Drive, 573-443-8004,

704 E. Broadway, 573-442-7777, 

BRONZE: Como Smoke & Fire
4600 Paris Road, Suite 102, 573-443-3473,


Best Tacos

You could say Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant is the “taco” the town, now that the restaurant has won best tacos in our annual contest. The long-time Mexican favorite serves up a variety of tasty taco options, in both corn and flour tortillas. Try the Tacos Carne Asada Especiales or Tacos De Pescado. You can even order Cochinita Pibil, which is pork roasted in a banana leaf with achiote (a spice made from the red seed of the annatto tree). Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, 10 Southampton Drive, 573-442-7500, 5614 E. St. Charles Road, 573-228-6700,

SILVER: Walking Steak Tacos, 44 Canteen
21 N. Ninth St., 573-777-8730,

BRONZE: Steak Taco, Seoul Taco
1020 E. Broadway, 573-441-8226,


Best Place to Get Pizza

Founded in 1973, Shakespeare’s Pizza is quintessentially Columbia, with a vibe all its own. Its eclectic décor is as colorful as the toppings on its prized pies. Where else will you see a “Liquor, Guns & Ammo” sign? Where else can you get napkins that are actually washcloths? Fans adore the Masterpiece and Vegetablenarian, and the Meat Lover’s lives up to its name, delivering more than a pound of meat per large pie — and that’s after cooking! Beloved by students and pizza fans of all ages, Shakespeare’s now boasts three Columbia locations to keep us enticed with a slice. Shakespeare’s Pizza, 225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454, 3304 W. Broadway, 573-447-1202, 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435,

SILVER: G&D Pizzaria
2101 W. Broadway, 573-445-8336,   

BRONZE: Pizza Tree
909 Cherry St., 573-874-9925,  


Best Sandwich 

Along with our readers who nominated it, many Inside Columbia staffers wax rhapsodic about the steak sandwich at Murry’s. Truth be told, it’s more steak than sandwich — thanks to the succulent and perfectly seasoned and seared 8-ounce strip steak at its centerpiece. Served atop buttered and grilled crostini, this steak offering will satisfy the hungriest carnivore. Murry’s, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, 

SILVER: Brisket Mac and Cheese, Como Smoke & Fire
4600 Paris Road Suite 102, 573-443-3473,

BRONZE: Veggie Sub, Sub Shop
 209 S. Eighth St., 601 W. Business Loop 70 W., 805 E. Nifong Blvd., 2105 W. Worley St., 573- 449-1919,


Best Late Night Restaurant 

Whether your evening’s getting off to a late start, or you just want to keep the party going, Murry’s is your late-night destination. With live jazz, a bar that beckons with great bartenders making great drinks, and a broad menu, Murry’s took gold as best late-night restaurant. Open until 1:30 a.m., Murry’s welcomes well into the wee hours. Murry’s, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, 

SILVER: El Rancho Mexican Restaurant
1014 E. Broadway, 573-875-2121, 

BRONZE: Shakespeare’s Pizza
225 S. Ninth St., 573-449-2454, 3304 W. Broadway, 573-447-1202, 3911 Peachtree Drive, 573-447-7435,

Best Overall Restaurant 

Murry’s has been a Columbia institution since 1985, serving up good food and good jazz to patrons hungry for both. With an eclectic menu and an inviting atmosphere, it boasts legions of dedicated regulars and makes newcomers feels welcome, too. But Murry’s is more than food; patrons enjoy live jazz music in the evenings Monday through Thursday and Saturdays. Owners Bill Sheals and Gary Moore envisioned a place where you could get a great meal in shorts and a T-shirt. A casual eatery for any occasion or no occasion at all, where you can spend $20 or $120 if you’re so inspired. Based on the comfortably clad crowds at Murry’s, Sheals and Moore have succeeded. Murry’s, 3107 Green Meadows Way, 573-442-4969, 

SILVER: CC’s City Broiler
1401 Forum Blvd., 573-445-7772,  

BRONZE: Flat Branch Pub & Brewing
115 S. Fifth St., 573-449-0400,


Get your 2018 checklist here: 2018Checklist.pdf

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