By John Messer, E23 Reporter

New to Columbia? Want to broaden your palate? Just want to see your favorite food places get some notoriety on a college website? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In honor of Restaurant Week, E23 has prepared a list of some of the best places to eat in Columbia. Whether you’re a fast food junkie, a too-busy college student or a Columbia epicure, this list should give you a good starting point for local cuisine.

The Kings of Delivery

Columbia is a college town. This designation comes with a plethora of blessings and curses, and lucky for us, one of these contributions comes in the form of food delivery. For anyone from a town that only has Pizza Hut for delivery, Columbia is like a wonderland. Here’s a brief list of options for the stay-at-home eater:

Wingin Out – Located near the corner of Broadway and 10th Street, Wingin Out offers both hot and mild chicken wings for dine in or delivery. They also offer milkshakes, fries and appetizers.

Insomnia Cookies or Hot Box Cookies – Both of these downtown locations offer premium cookies for takeout or delivery. Hot Box is located on Broadway near Hitt Street, and Insomnia is off Ninth Street, just south of Elm. Both are also known for being open far past midnight, and the debate rages on which cookies are superior! If you decide on delivery from Insomnia, ask for Melissa.

Shakespeare’s Pizza – A local favorite, Shakespeare’s has multiple locations around town that all offer delivery, ensuring citywide coverage. No reason to pass up at least trying the pizza pride and joy of Columbia.

Columbia Coffee

The only dietary supplement college students appreciate more than delivery is caffeine. Columbia is practically littered with espresso bars and cafes offering every permutation imaginable of the humble coffee bean. It even seems that every church and office has a built-in coffee counter ready to sell. Beyond the Kaldis and the Starbucks, there are a wide variety of local spots to choose from. Here are a few:

Cafe Poland – This Locust Street location, west of Ninth Street, is the definition of cozy and local. Family-owned, personal service and quality products are the hallmarks of this cafe. There’s also more than just excellent espresso and coffee, with pierogi, crepes, borsch and a wide variety of other traditional Polish dishes and beverages to choose from. This writer recommends the lecho stew with a blackberry tea.

Lakota Coffee – If a sit-down, conversational atmosphere is more your speed, Lakota fits in that niche comfortably. Located on Ninth Street between Cherry Street and Alley A, Lakota is a short walk from campus for coffee, sandwiches and pastries. It has comfy chairs, soft lighting, relaxing music and good food and drinks. It’s the best place to take some friends, get a warm drink, sit down and either study or chat for an hour.

Infusion – Can’t make it off campus? Quality coffee is just around the corner. Located in our own student center, Infusion is a reliable source of coffee, tea and some cafe staple foods. Neither the food or drink will blow you away, but the service is top notch, and the products are reliable. It’s also convenient that they accept Tiger Cash and are located at the center of student activities.

Sit-Down Spots

Whether you’re looking for the dinner portion of a night out or a nice lunch location, sometimes you’re looking for a place to sit down and eat. Columbia is rife with local eateries, many with long and valued traditions behind them. Here’s just a few:

Booches – What can be said about Booches that hasn’t already been ingrained into Columbia history? The historic bar is over a hundred years old and has been a landmark of downtown for longer than almost anything. They serve drinks but are known for two things: slider burgers and billiards. Booches is the premier pool hall of Columbia, and their sandwiches are famous across the Midwest. Check it out on Ninth Street, near Cherry Street.

The Heidelberg – If a bit fancier (albeit busier and pricier) kind of place is what you’re looking for, The Heidelberg is the swanky location for you. It has an “Americana” type of menu filled with potatoes, cheese, hamburgers and other sandwiches. The restaurant is an expert source of comfort food with a respectable dessert menu as well. Find it on Ninth Street, near University Avenue.

Sabai – Here’s another campus shoutout. Located near the Mizzou Student Center in Johnston Hall, Sabai is quite possibly the best food on campus (at least, the best place that accepts block plans). Home to Southeast Asian cuisine, it’s the go-to place for any Mizzou student looking for ramen, noodle bowls, stir-fry or curry. They also have pretty good music, and they compost waste!

Honorable Mention

No list would be complete without mentioning:

Harold’s Doughnuts – Harold’s is a landmark of downtown (bet you’re tired of hearing that by now, but it’s true!). Luxury donuts are handmade every morning, including everything from the humble old-fashioned to complicated concoctions of frosting and glaze. They have decent coffee too. They close at 2 p.m., so be sure to get in early as they also sell out fast. Check out Harold’s on Ninth Street, near Booches.

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