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Downtown Columbia offers unique dining experiences close to campus

Thursday, July 26, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
John Marshall prepares burgers at Booches, a restaurant and pool hall on Ninth Street in Columbia in this Missourian file photo. Booches is one of several restaurants in downtown Columbia.

COLUMBIA — One of the more convenient aspects of MU is its proximity to downtown Columbia.

The campus' location makes it easy to find good food in the neighborhood, if you want to take a break from campus dining.

Listed below are some of the downtown restaurants that offer interesting, unique-to-Columbia dining experiences.

ADDISON'S AMERICAN GRILL

Addison's has a casual and comfortable atmosphere. It's almost always crowded, but the service is pleasant and the portions generous.

Location: 709 Cherry St. 

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight

Recommended:

  • Nachos Bianco 
  • Mojito chili fries 
  • Sweet potato chips and dip 
  • Marinated chicken Philly 
  • Mediterranean salad 
  • Blue steak wrap

BOOCHE'

This restaurant and pool hall was founded in 1884. Their cheeseburgers, which come on waxed paper, were named one of the 10 best in the country by USA Today in 2000.

It is cash only and is closed on Sunday, but no self-respecting Mizzou alum would come to town without making a stop.

Location: 110 S. Ninth St. 

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight; closed Sunday

Recommended: The burgers. Be advised that they're small – start with one, but you might want to order two.

BROADWAY BREWERY

This is an underground restaurant and brewpub that serves local produce and grass-fed meat.

Location: 816 E Broadway

Hours: Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to midnight; Monday, 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Recommended:

  • Hummus and pesto appetizer 
  • Lamb burger 
  • Thin-crust pizza (try spicy sausage pizza) 
  • Mushroom and manchego 
  • Sunday brunch.

CASABLANCA MEDITERRANEAN GRILL

This newer Middle Eastern cafe is decorated with exotic items and serves first-rate gyros, hummus and falafelf.

Location: 501 Elm St. 

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.  to 5 p.m.

Recommended

  • Hummus & pita
  • Dolma 
  • Appetizer sampler 
  • Gyros 
  • Shawarma 
  • Lamb shish-kabob

FLAT BRANCH PUB & BREWING

This restaurant is wildly popular.. Flat Branch has a huge patio for warm nights, uses local ingredients and brew its own beer.

Location: 115 S. Fifth St.

Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Recommended:

  • Chokes and cheese dip
  • Green chili chicken fingers
  • Smoked pork sandwich
  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • Smoked salmon and feta pizza
  • Smoked salmon pasta
  • Hand-crafted beer

LEE STREET DELI

This eatery is not downtown, but isstill close to campus. It has an 80-year history of making sandwiches.

Location: 603 Lee St.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also open from 1-3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Recommended:

  • Juicy burgers
  • Pepper turkey melt
  • Sandwiches (create your own)

ROOM 38

This romantic spot serves interesting food and drinks in a chic, urban setting. Conveniently, a city garage is on the opposite side of the street.

Location: 38 N. Eighth St. 

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Recommended:

  • Sweet butter soft pretzel bites
  • Surf & turf
  • Thai chili spare ribs
  • Seared duck spring rolls
  • Sesame-crusted Ahi tuna
  • Chopin martini
  • Cocktails
  • Fondue

SHAKESPEARE'S

This is a landmark restaurant for students and alums. The pizza, decor and utensils have classic college-town style. In 2010, Shakespeare's was voted winner in the "Best Bites Challenge: College Edition” on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Location: 225 S. Ninth St.

Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Pizza slices are served Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The bar is open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Recommended:

  • Pizza
  • Cheesy garlic bread

SPARKY'S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM

Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream is the place for creative, tasty ice cream in Columbia. In 2011, it made national news for making cicada ice cream during the bug invasion. Employees collected cicadas in their back yards, removed the wings and stirred them into vanilla ice cream.

Don't worry though – more standard flavors like vanilla and chocolate are always available, but look for the occasional bourbon banana cream pie, sriracha, mango lime sorbet, waffles and maple syrup, coffee and doughnuts and thin mint.

The shop allows customers to sample flavors before committing to one, so test a few out before you place your order.

Location: 21 S. Ninth St. 

Hours: Monday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The shop is typically closed from November through January – however, the period of closure is sometimes shorter or longer depending on the weather.

Recommended

  • White Russian
  • Coconut
  • Mocha java
  • Green tea
  • Salted caramel.

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