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Campus-area restaurants offer good eats and good deals

Thursday, July 30, 2009 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:44 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 30, 2009

The economic downturn doesn’t need to spell the end of eating out. Here's a sampling of places to eat – and some good deals – you can find downtown near MU.

Hours and more

Shakespeare’s Pizza

225 S. Ninth St.

449-2454

Open 11 a.m. to "past your bedtime" seven days a week.

shakespeares.com

Felini

700 E. Broadway

256-5025

Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Booche’s Billiard Hall

110 S. Ninth St.

874-9519

Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday.

El Rancho

1014 E. Broadway

875-2121

Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday

Main Squeeze Natural Foods Café and Juice Bar

28 S. Ninth St.

817-5616

Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

main-squeeze.com



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Shakespeare’s Pizza

The first line of Shakespeare’s mission statement — "It's pizza, stupid," — says just about everything you need to know about this restaurant. 

Behind a bench plastered with children’s drawings of pizza, the chefs roll dough, sprinkle toppings and lug pizzas in and out of the oven.

You pay a base price for pizza here, said employee Tony Kerr. Each topping costs extra.

“But,” he is quick to add, “you get the same amount of each topping so it piles really high.”

Shakespeare’s markets its specials on Twitter, where 1,198 people follow frequent messages such as “lunch slices $1.50 (buck off). Today only."

“During lunch we do pizza by the slice,” Kerr said. “It is really thick and really big.” One slice generally costs $2.50; if that isn't enough to satisfy your appetite, Kerr said, “two will definitely take care of it.”

Shakespeare’s also has 8-, 12- and 16-inch pizzas. Most range between $5 and $30.50. Salads are available for about $4.95 and garlic bread for $5.49. A 22-ounce soda cup, refillable per visit, is $1.95.

If you choose to eat inside the restaurant, you sit among an array of iconic advertising signs. Outside, a patio holds tables within a black iron fence.

Located near the north border of campus at Ninth and Elm streets, it is only a short walk back to class.

Felini Greek Restaurant

Women in traditional dress smile down at you when you enter Felini, and romantic pictures of Europe hang above the counter. You can find the restaurant behind the brown-and-white-striped awnings at 700 E. Broadway.

Greek food here costs between $5 and $20, but there are numerous specials.

Sitting in his chef whites, Ilir Canhasi, the head chef and owner, explained: “We do an all-you-can-eat soup and salad for lunch on business days. It costs $5.99.”

Their dessert special runs every day of the week. “You can buy one and get one free,” Canhasi said. All desserts are homemade and cost around $5 each. “And if you can’t eat it here,” he said, “you can take it home.”

He also recommends the meat at his restaurant. “It is really fresh,” he said. “Not many places have meat of this kind in Columbia.”

Booche’s Billiard Hall

“No smoking! No credit cards! No spitting! No cursing! No lying! (fishing stories excepted),” is scrawled on a chalkboard in the window of Booche’s, 110 S. Ninth St.

If you accept these conditions and walk inside, you will find a dark, narrow building filled with pool tables, cues, chairs and old baseball photos. It smells like burgers here and probably has since the hall opened in 1884.

Today, Booche’s burgers are renowned across the nation. In 2005, Jerry Shriver, a reporter for USA Today, called them "one of the best bargain burgers in the country." He listed them among the top 25 American dishes.

While the price of burgers varies, most range from $2 to $5.50.

Booche's is perfect for a late-night snack. North of campus, Booche's is open until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. A sign on the front door announces that the restaurant is closed on Sunday; "see you in church" instead.

El Rancho

The smell of sizzling meat and spices hits you when you open the door into El Rancho, 1014 E. Broadway. Underneath a blue neon sign, this Mexican restaurant is decorated with murals and streamers. A bright Mexican tune plays in the background.

“We have a lunch special here between 11 and 3:30,” said employee Cassidy Shearrer. “One that is really popular is the Speedy Gonzales – it is an enchilada, rice or beans, and taco.” 

This special, and others like it, will set you back between $4 and $10.

But, Shearrer said, El Rancho is best known to MU students as the only place open until 3 a.m. downtown.

El Rancho is open until 3 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 p.m. Sunday.

Main Squeeze Natural Foods Café and Juice Bar

Nestled between 9th Street Tattoo and Subway at 28 S. Ninth St., Main Squeeze offers Columbia residents a vegetarian alternative. There are also vegan options.

“We have three main focuses,” said Atticus Taylor, a manager of Main Squeeze Natural Foods Café and Juice Bar. “We are vegetarian first and foremost, we are health-conscious and we get as much local produce as we can.”

Taylor said the restaurant is also conscious of prices.

“Main Squeeze is a way to get a good meal and do it on the cheap,” he said. “We do what we can to make sure of that.”

A light meal will cost around $5, and a more filling one costs $9.

Smoothies cost between $4 and $5. With names like Curious George, Strawberry Manilow and Berry Berry Good, who could resist?

 


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