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Embark on a Flavorful Global Adventure Without Leaving Columbia

By Inside Columbia
Las Margaritas, global eats feature

Photos by L.G. Patterson

Take your taste buds on a trip around the world while staying in Columbia. From the flavors of Kenya and India to tasting the delicacies of Italy, we have put together the perfect map for you to taste the diverse culinary landscape of the world while staying at home. So, gather your favorite foodies and go on this global feast with us. Enjoy!

pasta la fataPasta La Fata
Italian Restaurant
1207 Rogers St., suite 106

Growing up surrounded by fresh Italian food and eating pasta five days a week, Michelle La Fata, the owner of Pasta La Fata knew she wanted to bring fresh, whole-ingredient Italian food to the Columbia area. “Our specialty is handmade fresh pasta, so everything we are doing here takes a lot of time,” she says. “We don’t take any shortcuts.” What started as a pop-up in 2017 has now grown into a well-known, loved restaurant in Columbia. “I was just serving handmade food made by myself and I really wanted to feed the community, so I became a vendor at the farmers market,” she says. “Then I realized the demand was so high here, and since opening my doors we have seen what is considered exponential growth.” Whether you are looking for a grab-and-go option or want to sit down and enjoy Italian delicacies, La Fata wants you to know she is dedicated to serving genuine, whole ingredients that the body can identify and appreciate. “Pasta La Fata is the antithesis to the standard American fast diet,” she says. “While you can get something quick, it took time to make.” This culinary gem not only provides a delightful dining experience but also serves as a platform for exploring rare pasta traditions and sharing creative, inspired dishes with the community. “I am interested in learning about traditions that people don’t know about here and sharing it with the community,” La Fata says.

Abbey’s Swahili DelightsAbbey’s Swahili Delights
Swahili Cuisine
14 Business Loop 70 E

Abbey Mitchell, the owner of Abbey’s Swahili Delights, uses local ingredients to offer Swahili cuisine from Mombasa Kenya to the people of Columbia. “It’s similar to Indian, Arabic and Portuguese foods, but I try to make it my own in a way, cooking with coconut and all-natural spices,” she says. Mitchell uses inspiration from her mother and grandmother, combined with her own recipes to create this little slice of Swahili right here in Columbia. Mitchell has it all, whether you want to try her favorite creations, biryaniand samosas, or some customer favorites, including naan bread, creamy coconut lentils or beef stew. While Mitchell currentlyoperates out of the CoMo Cooks Shared Kitchen making all the food herself, she hopes to have her own space one day. “My dreamis to have an African restaurant in Columbia.”

jina yooJina Yoo’s Asian Bistro
Asian Restaurant
2200 Forum Blvd., suite 108

Nestled in the heart of Columbia, Jina Yoo’s Asian Bistro stands asa culinary haven, offering a diverse and flavorful journey throughAsian cuisine. From the artistry of sushi to the bold flavors of Asian fusion, each dish at Jina Yoo’s Asian Bistro is a masterpiece. Jared Meisel, the head chef, says no matter what, there is something each customer will enjoy. “We have a little bit of something for everyone,” he says. “Whether you are adventurous or like to stick to simple things we have what you’re looking for.” While you will find classic sushi, Meisel also mentions Jina Yoo’s is well known for its unique menu items, including the appetizer Jina’s balls, which has spicy tuna, crab mix, rice, Jina’s citrus hollandaise and Yoo sauce. They also have the chicken nachos, which is “an Asian twist on nachos,” he says. With wonton chips, grilled chicken, avocado, corn tomato salsa, black bean aioli, house pickled jalapeno, mozzarella and pepper jack cheese. Jina Yoo’s is truly ago-to destination for those seeking a memorable and delicious Asian culinary adventure in Columbia.

The Syrian Kitchen
Middle Eastern Restaurant
600 Business Loop 70 W

The Syrian Kitchen offers an authentic taste of Middle Eastern cuisine for the Columbia community to enjoy. Ahmad Alkadah, the owner and head chef, says he prides himself on offering several vegan and vegetarian options. “A lot of our food is vegan and vegetarian.” The falafels, made of fried seasoned chickpeas, garlic and parsley, are particularly a crowd favorite in the vegetarian community. While he masters the meatless choices, he says he most enjoys making lamb kebabs and kibbeh, which is a dish made of ground beef combined with bulghur wheat, then deep fried. “Many customers come back for the lamb kebabs and meat pie,” Alkadah says. One of Alkadah’s main goals is to provide fresh, local food for his customers to enjoy. “We make everything from scratch.” So, whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast of Syrian cuisine or a newcomer eager to explore, TheSyrian Kitchen promises a delightful and culturally enriching culinary adventure.

Como Arepas
Venezuelan Restaurant
1009 N. Providence Road

Como Arepas brings the vibrant and flavorful taste of Venezuela to the heart of Columbia. Specializing in arepas, a traditionalVenezuelan dish made with corn patties, filled with the protein of your choice, empanadas, which are flaky golden pastries filled with your choice of cheese, beef or chicken, and many other traditional dishes, Como Arepas offers a unique and satisfying dining experience in Columbia. Jose and Yumivia Rojas, the husband-and-wife duo and co-owners, moved from theCoMo Cooks Shared Kitchen into Aroma Coffee House at the end of 2022, now offering a space for events, catering options, drive-thru services, outdoor seating options and more. The power couple is continuing to focus on serving diverse flavors and good service to the Columbia community. “They bring a student-focused, community-driven approach to sharing a slice of their native homeland through Como Arepas,” the web-site says. Como Arepas is all about its three founding points, which are community, culture and connections. According to the website, Jose Rojas wants, “to keep on projecting happiness and good times with family and friends that are larger than life within our community.”

Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine
Indian Restaurant
601 Business Loop 70 W., suite 20

Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine combines a delightful blend of delicious dining and convenient takeout options to create a cornerstone in Columbia. Widely recognized for its Indian cuisine, the restaurant has become a beloved establishment in the local community. One employee says while they have a variety of dishes on the menu the community gravitates towards the butter chicken, which is shredded tandoori chicken cooked in a creamy sauce of onions, tomatoes and spices, and the chicken tikka masala, which is boneless, broiled chicken cooked with onions, tomatoes and ground spices in a cream sauce. “It’s all the Indian spices in it that make it special,” she says. “The people like it because it is creamy, and the chicken is cooked well.” The insistence on using only high-quality, fresh ingredients ensures that every dish is a testament to the authenticity and richness of Indian flavors. Whether dining in or opting for takeout,Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine provides a memorable and flavorful experience for those seeking a taste of India in Columbia.

cafe polandCafe Poland
Polish Restaurant
807 Locust St.

Tucked away in downtown Columbia, stands Cafe Poland, a family-owned Polish restaurant, offering authentic, homemade Polish cuisine. Robert Burlinski, the manager of Cafe Poland, says they serve the most important Polish dishes. “People say the food is very original,” he says. “You can’t find this food anywhere else.” Burlinski says the community loves the crepes, which you can get sweet or savory, lecho, which isa spicy bell pepper stew, golabki, which is stuffed cabbage with beef and rice in tomato sauce with potato and, of course, the pierogies, which are traditional Polish dumplings. “I like crepes and pierogies the most, but it’s a different thing because this is my everyday food,” Burlinskis ays. His mother opened Cafe Poland in 2013 after looking for jobs in the area. Now, after recently celebrating eleven years in business, the family duo is continuing to provide traditionalPolish food to the Columbia area. “All the food is made from scratch,” he says. “The food tastes like exactly what you would eat in Poland.” Whether you are a seasoned eater, or looking to try a new kind of food, Burlinski says Cafe Poland is for all.“Everyone can find something here.

las margsLas Margaritas Mexican Bar and Grill
Mexican Restaurant
5614 E. St. Charles Road suite E
220 S 8th St.
10 Southampton Drive

Las Margaritas Mexican Bar and Grill is the perfect stop when you are craving Mexican cuisine in Columbia. The establishment in theCorporate Lake development not only has a large patio with a lake view but also offers a wide range of authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes that are sure to curb any craving you might have. Whether you are yearning for camarones a la Diabla, which is a dish featuring tiger shrimp or if you come in with a big appetite and try the gigantic burrito Gonzalez, which is stuffed with steak or chicken, onions, bell peppers and beans, you will find there is something for every-one at Las Margaritas. “Our mission is to serve freshly prepared food and drinks each and every time you join us,” the website states.And if you come in with a sweet tooth, Las Margaritas as an extensive menu with several dessert options. “Indulge in xango, a creamy cheesecake wrapped in a pastry tortilla that is fried and served with ice cream, sopapilla, a flour tortilla deep fried and topped with butter, honey, and cinnamon or Flan, which is baked fresh daily and is served in the traditional Mexico City style with creme caramel,” the website says. You know when you come to Las Margaritas you will find, “Great food, great people and a great atmosphere.

bangkok gardensBangkok Gardens
Thai Restaurant
811 Cherry St.

Bangkok Gardens is the place to be if you are looking to taste the flavors and delicacies of Thailand. John Pham, chef and owner ofBangkok Gardens, took a leap of faith when he was asked to takeover as owner after working while attending school at the University of Missouri. “It was out of passion and necessity,” he says. “So I dropped out of college to pursue this endeavor.” Now, Pham uses fresh ingredients and traditional spices while keeping the American midwestern palate in mind to create a one-of-a-kind experience for his customers. Pham says the most highly requested dish is the phat Thai, which consists of rice noodles cooked in a sweet and sour sauce with cabbage, bean sprouts, diced onion and egg. The dish is then garnished with peanuts, green onion and fresh lime. “If you have never had your taste buds blown away and challenged, give us a try,” Pham says. “You won’t be disappointed.” Pham even says if the dish is not what your taste buds are craving, he will give you another dish to try free of charge. It’s time to immerse yourself in the warm hospitality and distinctive dishes at Bangkok Gardens for an unforgettable dining adventure in Columbia.

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