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Round up of Restaurants in Columbia, MO

My husband and I just moved to Columbia a few months ago, so I am anxious to hear about favorites in Columbia -- well known or not. :)

We live very close to Jazz and checked them out for Happy Hour the other day. We just samped the tasty fried food and beer -- both we great. But, I am guessing their "real" food is great too based on the number of cars in their parking lot each night.

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  1. There are several excellent restaurants in CoMo, many of which have been discussed in a couple recent threads.

    Downtown is a veritable smorgasbord. There is the excellent Sycamore -- their braised short ribs is one of the most luscious (and one of my favorite) Columbia dishes. Classy's is delicious and not very well known - if you can make it to the "early bird special" it is (or perhaps was, by now) only $7.95 and a bargain at twice the price. The Bistro and Wine Bar (is this the right name? used to be Cherry Street Wine Cellar) is great. Somewhat more casual but also worth trying are Addison's and Teller's. Go to Teller's bar late some weekend night and have a martini and eavesdrop on some almost certainly ridiculous conversations. Trattoria used to be excellent but by all accounts has been on a downward slide recently; the bar can be nice on weekends though, and usually not as jam-packed as its neighbor Teller's. Without a doubt acquaint yourself with Shakespeare's Pizza for some of the best pizza you have ever encountered. And don't forget about Booche's and its addictive (and adorable) little burgers.

    Away from downtown - I just had lunch at Sophia's which is always great. Chris McD's has been around for a while and is delicious. Murry's often has live jazz (and great food too, but it's not as "live").

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head ... I'm sure I have missed some great stuff... Enjoy ...

    1. These are my musings on good lunches in Columbia.
      Sycamore-what a quality deal this place is for lunch.
      Ernies-homemade soups, twin-chopped cow. Great old-time diner.
      Subshop-1/2 vegetarian on whole wheat (extra bacon), well done.
      International-soup and gyro special.
      Carlito's-carnitas six-pack.
      Buckingham's-smoked turkey sandwich with beans.
      Murry's-great salads, burger, steak sandwich. Eat at the bar.
      Wok Express-good pho's. Avoid the fake crab.
      Flat Branch-good wood-fired oven pizzas.
      Bullpen(on Friday)-catfish special.
      Booche's(busy at lunch)-cheeseburger, bowl of red and a frostie. Pool hall nirvana. Don't ask for fries, ever.

      3 Replies
      1. re: steveb

        We also like Mandarin Express on Broadway downtown by the Regency Hotel, strictly for their Korean food. We were afraid this place had closed, but looks as if it's back up and running again. They also serve Chinese food, but to be honest, have never tried that.

        Right beside Mandarin Express is the Thai Kitchen, inside the Regency Hotel. We like it better than Bangkok Gardens, mostly because the atmosphere is quiet and the service is better. Food is plentiful and tasty, too.

        For a new Middle Eastern experience, we liked Nikai Grill, almost catty-corner from the International Cafe. Very fresh and tasty, and have been wanting to head back there again soon.

        Sky-high Bar and Grill is a lot of fun, and their food is also good for a bar and grill type atmosphere. A little more upscale than most bars and grills. Their Cobb Salad is outstanding, as is their Rock Shrimp Po-Boy. Leave the calamari alone.

        We also like the Catfish Corner out on Route B for good catfish meals. Although their clientele is mostly families, old people, and fat people (I know which category I fall into), it sure is good eatin', and they have great desserts, too. Some people don't care for it, but we love it.

        Have to agree with all the other recs, and will add the Cherry Hill Brasserie for a great upscale meal at the Village of Cherry Hill. Sure hope this place stays open because it's in an out-of-the-way spot and unless you know where it is, it might pass you by. Absolutely one of the best fine dining meals we've had in Columbia. The salmon I had was excellent, and my hubby's strip steak was outstanding.

        As far as Jazz goes, we did not care for it, on the couple of occasions we have eaten there. The food was OK, but the service was sorely lacking. Maybe it has improved and we should try again. It seems as if it's trying too hard to be "authentic" with all the kitschy paraphernalia hanging around. As you can tell, we usually eschew the chains, and I understand that Jazz is part of a small regional chain.

        1. re: Christine

          Oh man, I was just wondering if there is any place around here to get some fried catfish and here are two recs! I have never heard of either Catfish Corner or Bullpen but I will investigate.

          Oh, and Cherry Hill Brasserie gets a thumbs-up from me, too.

          1. re: TexasSlim

            Speaking of catfish again, if you're willing to drive west to Boonville, there's a place over there that has HUGE catfish fillets (at least they were the time we ate there). It's called Mississippi Catfish Shack, and they used to be downtown, but I understand they have moved, or are in the process of moving, out toward I-70 by the Dollar General and Wal-mart. This new location will give them more room. Their breading is kind of spicy on their catfish; I prefer the more mild cornmeal breading at Catfish Corner. They also have buffalo fish and trout? Limited menu but it would be worth the drive for you to try if you like catfish. Like I said, the time we got catfish there, the fillets were huge, but the owner kind of acted like that varies from time to time? Me, I like strips better, don't ask me why.

      2. I don't know if anybody on this board has even mentioned McKenzie's but we enjoy it. It is a small restaurant off of Rangeline (Old Business 63 North). For those familiar with Columbia, it is in the complex with Jason's Custard and the Movie Gallery. They have half price appetizers from 4-7 every night I think and we had broiled rosemary shrimp skewers last night. I thought they were very good. I would say the entrees are in the $15-$25 price range approximately so it isn't just a casual type family place. Very cozy and intimate.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Velma

          Don't know McKenzie's but that reminds me - does anyone know anything about Churchill's? I've only known one person who has dined there and he says it is excellent.

          1. re: TexasSlim

            We have been to Mckenzie's once and really liked it. Understand it's a former chef from CC's City Broiler who started his own place. Everything is wood fire-grilled. Churchill's.... believe it or not, in my 20+ years of living in Columbia, I've never made it there, probably because it's located inside a hotel. However, I've never heard anything bad about it. I know it's very expensive, but if you go, post here and tell us what you think.

        2. My husband and I love the Cherry Hill Brasserie! We've been there for our Anniversary, Valentine's Day, wine tastings, and just fun nights out with friends. My girlfriends and I also like to go there on Thursday nights for Ladies' Night with the half-price drinks and fabulous appetizers. (If you have tried the Mango-Chutney Shrimp you are missing out!)

          1. RE: Cherry Hill Brasserie: Absolutely THE best steak I've ever had! Meltingly tender - I could go on and on. My husband and I have dined there for our anniversary - the Chef's Tasting that night was outstanding! The wine pairings were almost magical. Wine tastings are fun, and if you stay for dinner, the tasting's free. And Ladies' Night? Melissa, you are sooo right! I can't get past that Chocolate Martini! Mike, the owner/chef has an almost spooky sense for what my palate is craving. Check it out!

            1. I suppose most Columbia CHs have read that Trattoria Strada Nova has closed.

              12 Replies
              1. re: k_d

                Uuuh, I think you mean that Cherry Hill Brasserie has closed.

                1. re: Christine

                  I read somewhere that they had both closed but, can't verify that for sure.

                2. re: k_d

                  Yes, Cherry Hill Brasserie, Trattoria, and Classy's have all closed in recent months. All were great at one time. This begs the question: Are there new restaurants opening to fill this gap? It is my understanding that there will be another restaurant opening in Trattoria's old location but I am not sure about this.

                  What are some good restaurants which have opened in recent months? And are there any interesting sounding places which will be opening in the near future?

                  1. re: TexasSlim

                    Wow, sometimes I think I stay on top of things like restaurants opening or closing, but apparently, I don't. Duh! I didn't know about Trattoria Strada Nova or Classy's, just Cherry Hill Brasserie closing. I'm disappointed about Classy's, thought they had a good thing going. Unfortunately, TSN jumped the shark a few years ago and we hadn't dined there since that time. On a related note, I'm wondering if their sister kitchen (Cucina Sorella - literally sister kitchen) across the street is still open because it looked empty and closed when we drove by there last Sunday morning and that is a time they are usually open.

                    FWIW, my top 5 fave restaurants right now in Columbia are Murry's, Chris McD's, Village Wine and Cheese, Cherry Street Wine Cellar & Bistro, and Sycamore. Mackenzie's on the north side of town is also good, although with the trend of recent restaurant closings, it might be on the chopping block although I hope not. It is in a niche neighborhood like Cherry Hill Brasserie was, so not sure how many people know about it or go there to check it out.

                    We did check out Simma Down last Saturday evening and would say it is the most interesting new full-service restaurant in town. We had great sushi there (California roll and tuna maki) and hubby had a pastrami and swiss open face sandwich he liked, and I had tuna takaki for entree that was prepared just right: it was both slightly rare and slightly spicy. I highly recommend trying Simma Down for your next dining adventure.

                    1. re: Christine

                      Christine ... did you ever check out Jina Yoo's? The article I read about Trattoria indicated that Cucina was staying open, fwiw.

                      1. re: k_d

                        I dined at Jina Yoo's twice in the first few weeks they were open and was impressed. The menu skewed Korean, with short ribs, bulgogi, bibimbap and so forth (but had other things as well). Everything I had there was very tasty but the dinner menu was somewhat limited. I spoke with the owner and she said they were still fine tuning their menu, and this was a month or two ago. I definitely look forward to going back.

                        I like the sound of Simma Down.

                        1. re: TexasSlim

                          You know, we did try Jina Yoo's and thought it very good. We will go back, for sure at some point. We had the asian beef lettuce wraps for appetizers (delicious), and then two big salads, which we really didn't need, because the be bim bap is served on a big bed of greens. So filling. Hubby had the salmon and he deemed it excellent as well.

                          Definitely try Simma Down, we liked it a smoodge more than Jina Yoo's. Really just down the street from each other.

                          1. re: Christine

                            Thanks to you and Tex for the Jina Yoo updates. Tell me where Simma Down is. I'm a Jeff Citian, so don't always hear about Columbia developments (except here, of course!).

                      2. re: Christine

                        I enjoy MacKenzie's but his bread is sort of strange. He deep fries it and then serves it with a side of butter. I guess as far as I'm concerned, good bread should not need to be deep fried. The grease just pours out of it and it sure as heck does not need butter on top of all that grease. When they first opened, they would just set the bread on the table with the butter on a side plate. That is perfection in my opinion.

                        1. re: Christine

                          The news articles I read about Trat closing said that Cucina Sorella would stay open, but we tried to go there two weekends in a row for breakfast and it was closed. Did both restaurants close, or were we just in some sort of weird alternate universe?

                          I didn't know about Cherry Hill Brasserie closing, but I can't say I'm surprised. We ate there once and though the food was delicious the service was embarrassingly bad and the owner or manager or someone actually tried to prevent the hostess from seating us when it was our turn.

                          I'd love to try McKenzie's. I would guess that Cherry Street Wine Cellar has the best chance of stepping up in profile. They've been there for so long and they seem to do a great business, but I don't notice them getting as much attention as Trat did, or the Cherry Hill Brasserie received during its run.

                          1. re: rweater

                            I haven't heard anything about Cucina Sorella but perhaps if you tried the last two weekends, they were closed because of the special events in town? I'm just guessing but it is a really small place and maybe they were afraid they would be completely overwhelmed with customers.

                            1. re: Hooda_Guest

                              No, we were out of town the past two weekends. It was the two previous to that. Right when they announced Trat was closing and then the weekend after.