Columbia, Missouri is the cool middle sister that sneaks off with St. Louis’ sandwiches and KC’s BBQ and makes both her own. From classic subs to biscuit-bunned burgers, CoMo is coming up, starting with these 13 fantastic restaurants.
Best BBQ: Shotgun Pete’s BBQ Shack
28 N 9th St
Located at the site of an old hitching post, BBQ here has all kinds of style influence and takes cues from nearby KC, Memphis, and even South Carolina. You’ll be hard-pressed to choose between BBQ nachos, BBQ sundaes (brisket piled high in parfait glasses), rib tips, and sausages.
Best burgers: Billiards on Broadway
514 E Broadway
Although other sliders often rake in the accolades, CoMo’s real dark horse burger is a few blocks West. Try The Roomie (pepper Jack, jalapeños, and Frank's RedHot) or The Love Story (blue cheese, bacon, and ranch), and obviously order the hand-sliced sweet potato fries -- you’ll want to smear the spicy aioli that comes with them on just about everything.
Best meal on wheels: Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company
Devotees are known to stalk the truck as it relocates almost daily and it’s for good reason: the biscuits are amazing in the their own right, but new heights are reached when they’re paired with fried chicken, pulled pork, and cabbage slaw, or used as a vehicle for the cheddar burger with zucchini pickles. And by the way, the pecan pie is fried.
Best pizza: Pizza Tree
909 Cherry St
This place capitalizes on this town’s obsession with all kinds of pies (thin crust! Thick! Chicago-style!), by offering a variety of original pies like the bánh mì pizza with house-made kimchi, or the truffled crimini with mushrooms, smoked Gouda, and white truffle oil. But don’t fear: if plain ole pepperoni is more your thing, you'll find slices here all day, every day.
Best sushi: Kampai Alley
907 Alley A
Find it tucked away in one of the intersecting alleys Downtown. Nigiri and sushi rolls are obvious but the grilled Brussels sprouts in lemon chili sauce and fried green tea ice cream are standouts.
Best sandwich spot: Sub Shop
209 S 8th St
Offering the same classic subs -- meatball, sausage and kraut, and Italian -- on house-baked rolls since the '70s, it’s no wonder it’s one of the 33 best college sandwich shops in America.
Best fancy restaurant for when you’re not paying: Sycamore
800 E Broadway
Pork belly sliders, house-made gnocchi, flash-fried oysters, and rich, sumptuous treatments of duck, pork loin, and salmon make this place a rare treat... for your parents to pay for. But if they’re not, the lunch menu is surprisingly affordable and portions are generous. Treat yourself to the tuna salad sandwich with a side of Parmesan fries and feel like a million bucks without the bill.
Best Mexican: Carlito’s Cabo
12A Business Loop 70 East
If it’s not pollo a la brasa -- a day when the kitchen serves rotisserie chicken Peruvian style, a buffet of all-you-can-eat fries, and a salad bar -- go for the lomo saltado beef stir-fry and the carnitas tacos six-pack. The outside looks like a strip mall, but one thing’s for sure: this is the best Peruvian-influenced Mexican cuisine in a strip mall.
Best date spot: Les Bourgeois
14020 West Highway BB
Though a little outside the city limits, this vineyard with a bluff-top A-frame and bistro overlooking the Missouri River is well worth the drive (and the privacy). The French-inspired fare is both classic and adventurous (think frog legs with Sriracha remoulade), and the local prosciutto-wrapped trout and pork loin pair nicely with the label’s own inventory. Chicken and waffles make an appearance on the brunch menu, so if mimosas and slow mornings sound more romantic than wine over a candlelit dinner, you’re covered.
Best breakfast/brunch: Café Berlin
220 N 10th St
Expect no greasy spoon, as this cafe prides itself on serving fresh local fare. Favorites range from apples and andouille sausage to chilaquiles, homemade granola, and the Schuyler, a hard egg sandwich with jalapeños, red onion, bacon, and chipotle mayo on fresh-baked sourdough.
Best late-night food: Broadway Diner
22nd S 4th St
Satisfy the need for chocolate chip pancakes, biscuits and gravy, or The Stretch (a raucous mess of scrambled eggs, chili, onions, cheese, and hash browns piled together) until 2am, or come by late night for the Friday Night Burger Club, when a creative new burger is introduced after 11pm.
Best for watching sports: D. Rowes
1005 Club Village Dr
All things smoked, BBQ’d, and grilled (particularly the wings) are worth digging into, but don’t overlook other tasty options, like the fried catfish sandwich or classic Philly. Plates are overflowing, drinks are refilled often, and the staff knows that you might want to follow the Rams, Chiefs, and Blues all at once. It’s cool, they get it. And there’s a screen for all of them.
Best Thai: Chim’s Thai Kitchen at Cooper Landing
11505 Smith Hatchery Rd
Although Chim’s Thai has several locations scattered across the city, the Cooper’s Landing location wins for best food and best scenery. Bike the statewide Katy Trail right up to the campsite where Chim cooks out of a permanently parked food truck or drive right over; the chicken satay, pad Thai, Thai cucumber salad, and other daily specials will taste fantastic either way. Park yourself on a bench and watch the sunset over the Missouri River.
Sign up here for our daily MSP email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun the Twin Cities have to offer.
1. Shotgun Pete’s BBQ Shack28 N 9th St, Columbia
2. Billiards on Broadway514 East Broadway, Columbia
3. Pizza Tree909 Cherry St, Columbia
4. Kampai Alley907 Alley A. , Columbia
5. Sub Shop209 S 8th St, Columbia
6. Sycamore800 E Broadway, Columbia
7. Carlito’s Cabo12A Business Loop 70 East, Columbia
8. Les Bourgeois12847 W Hwy Bb, Rocheport
9. Café Berlin220 N 10th St, Columbia
10. Broadway Diner22 S 4th St, Columbia
11. D. Rowes1005 Club Village Dr, Columbia
12. Chim’s Thai Kitchen at Cooper Landing11505 S Easley River Rd, Columbia
This BBQ joint rests on the grounds of an old hitching post. It is authentic BBQ, inspired by a variety of southern states. Most of their menu items are delicious. Try the BBQ nachos, BBQ sundaes (brisket piled high in parfait glasses), rib tips, and sausages.
This pool hall in Columbia offers a variety of entertainment including, shuffleboard, pinball, and pool, of course. As far as the food goes, they are known for their burger. Try The Roommate (pepper-jack, jalapenos, and Franks Red Hot) or The Love Story (blue cheese, bacon, and ranch). Don't forget an order of sweet potato fries.
Pizza Tree has a fabulous, eclectic pizza selection. Of course, good ol' pepperoni is offered. But, if you want something different try their Banh Mi pizza with house-made kimchi, or the Truffled Crimini with mushrooms, smoked gouda, and white truffle oil.
This hide-a-way sushi spot is a great surprise in downtown Columbia. Sure, the sushi is a hit, but make sure to try the Brussel’s sprouts in lemon chili sauce and fried green tea ice cream as well.
Considered to be one of the best sandwich shops in America, this place has been keeping it real since the 70's. They serve up classic sandwiches, meatball, sausage and kraut, and Italian, on fresh rolls baked in-house.
This place has it all, including a less costly lunch menu for when you want the class, but don't have the funds. Menu items include Pork-belly sliders, house-made gnocchi, flash-fried oysters, duck, pork loin, and salmon. All the best things all in one menu.
Carlito’s Cabo is a gem in a Columbia strip mall. Come for Pollo a la Brasa, when they offer an all-you-can-eat buffet and Peurivian-style rotisserie chicken. Any other day, get the Lomo Saltado beef stir-fry or the Carnitos Tacos six-pack
This vineyard offers a French-inspired menu at their on-site bistro. The innovative menu features frog legs with Sriracha remoulade, local prosciutto-wrapped trout, and pork loin. All pair nicely with the local wine.
Cafe Berlin is a great stopover for breakfast or brunch. Try the Schuyler, a hard egg sandwich with jalapenos, red onion, bacon, and chipotle mayo on fresh-baked sourdough.
This old-fashioned diner is open 24/7. Try The Stretch (scrambled eggs, chili, onions, cheese and hash browns piled together) or satisfy a craving for a classic like biscuits and gravy. Those who come late on a Friday night can even get a specialty burger, only introduced on the menu when it's getting close to midnight.
D. Rowes serves up big plates of barbecued goodies and other southern comfort food. The wings are a must, but don't sleep on the fried catfish sandwich either.
Grab some Pad Thai from Chim’s Thai Kitchen at Cooper Landing and then take in the views of the nearby Missouri River. The restaurant also offers a killer chicken satay and cucumber salad.