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Cheese TrayCourtesy of Keeter Center
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It’s the perfect destination for foodies, says Linda Kissam, a board member for the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association. “Trendy, urban, flavorful, and innovative come to mind when I think about Columbia,” she says. ” It’s definitely the type of place foodies love. This hip, small city has a strong sense of self, emphasizing ‘local matters,’ especially when it comes to culinary offerings. It’s worthy of your time.”
Visit the Producers
To start, we've got a bounty of farms. , ’ .
The friendly farmers at Chert Hollow Farm an organic vegetable farm just north of Columbia, and Pierpont Farms, a small family farm, pride themselves on growing food people will love. Both farms, which are happy to host visitors, produce quality ingredients for Columbia’s restaurants, and Pierpont Farms even has a successful partnership with Boone Hospital. Patchwork Pork , a group of 15 family hog farmers, raises hogs the traditional way, without antibiotics or growth hormones and with plenty of access to fresh air and sunshine. Their pork products are sold in locally owned natural food stores, and Columbia’s best chefs create delightful dishes with Patchwork Pork meat.
But that’s not all! Columbia offers scrumptious locally produced goods. Patric Chocolate , a craft chocolate company, has been churning out sinful batches of handmade chocolate bars since 2006. Even Food & Wine magazine recognized Patric Chocolate as the “Best New American Chocolate” in 2010. Another chocolate contender is The Candy Factory a Columbia favorite since 1974. The Candy Factory makes small-batch confections such as chocolate-covered strawberries and gourmet truffles. Our city even has its own coffee roaster. Lakota Coffee Company hand roasts small batches of coffee beans every day, offering up the freshest coffee possible.
Columbia’s also got gourmet cheese and honey. Goatsbeard Farm crafts artisanal cheeses from its herd of 50 goats. Try the fresh rounds of creamy goat cheese or try the Walloon variety, an aged hard cheese with a nutty flavor. Walk-About Acres is a small farm outside of Columbia that produces and sells honey and honey ice cream.
Visit the Markets
Then you can buy all this great locally grown food at farmers markets and locally owned natural food and specialty stores!
The Columbia Farmers Market has more than 90 vendors selling local meats, vegetables, fruit, canned goods, and more throughout the week.
Clovers Natural Market sells organic produce and gourmet local goods. In the North Village Arts District, Root Cellar (Facebook: Root Cellar) provides a diverse selection of Missouri products.
We also have a selection of ethnic food stores such as Chong’s Oriental Market (701 Locust Street), which sells specialty Asian ingredients, from meat and seafood to produce and dried goods. For Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare, check out the Olive Café and Food Store (21 N. Providence Road). This charming market/café combo serves up freshly prepared meals and also sells packaged goods from the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Visit the Restaurants
But the best way to discover Columbia's food treasures is by tasting them!
In Columbia, it’s not just our high-end restaurants using fresh, local ingredients it’s our cafes, diners, and brew pubs too!
Café Berlin ( is a favorite breakfast spot known for its organic menu sourced locally from Pierpont Farms, Uprise Bakery, Patchwork Family Farms, Lakota Coffee Company, and more. Try the “Butch” Jones, a small pancake burrito stuffed with apples and sausage, a mixture of apples, garlic, red onion, local Patchwork Andouille sausage, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Or head to Lucy’s Corner Café (522 E. Broadway), which serves up Patchwork Pork alongside pancakes the size of a dinner plate. Fresh bread is baked daily at Uprise Bakery (Facebook: Uprise Bakery), but you’ll also find soups, salads, and sandwiches worthy of your attention.
For healthy food to feel good about, try Main Squeeze Natural Foods Café . Here you’ll find organic, vegetarian fare sourced from more than a dozen farms from 50 miles around Columbia. Try the Buddha Bowl full of rice, tofu, cabbage, broccoli, carrot, scallions, sesame seeds, and sprouts. If you are in the mood for pizza, head to Red and Moe a gourmet pizzeria that sources its ingredients from local farmers.
At Murry’s , the extensive menu includes delicious sandwiches such as the Philly Cheese Steak and juicy hamburgers made with Show-Me Farms beef. Locals like Mom’s Onion Rings, thinly sliced and fried, and Brock’s Green Pepper rings, battered green pepper topped with powdered sugar.
If it’s beer you are looking for, you’re in luck! Columbia has two brew pubs. Broadway Brewery is a local favorite, and it’s no surprise why. The brew pub has a rotating seasonal menu that uses ingredients from local farmers to craft dishes such as Pulled Pork made with slow-smoke Patchwork pork, Goatsbeard cheese, and house barbecue sauce. Plus, you’ll find a variety of house-brewed beer from the Pale Ale and Wheat Beer to the Extra Special Bitter and Porter. Flat Branch Pub & Brewing brews craft beer such as Katy Trail Pale Ale, Honey Wheat, or Oil Change Stout. The beer is always fresh, and the food is always good!
Though Sycamore doesn’t brew its own beer, its beer menu is refined and extensive, and the restaurant offers multi-course beer dinners. Sycamore is committed to crafting culinary creations from local and wholesome food. Sycamore prides itself on serving seasonal, market-driven food, providing local produce, cheese, meat, and other products from the Columbia area. 44 Stone Public House, an English gastropub, also hosts beer dinners, and its beer list offers a plethora of domestic and imported craft beers. The food at this pub is more refined than pub food it’s high end and uses local ingredients.
For wine lovers, nothing beats an evening at the Bluffop Bistro at Les Bourgeois Vineyards. Dishes such as the hand-rolled orecchiette pasta with lamb sugo, almond lamb sausage, herb whipped feta, and braised kale, or the gorgonzola cheesecake pair beautifully with Les Bourgeois’s own Missouri wines. Norton is a favorite robust red, and the LaBelle is a crisp white wine. The real winner is the Brut Sparkling Wine, a 2011 gold winner at the Tasters Guild Wine Competition. You’ll enjoy a candle-lit dinner at the Wine Cellar & Bistro, another wine-inspired gem in Columbia. With more than 1,000 bottles of wine in house, the Wine Cellar & Bistro serves a market-inspired menu using local ingredients whenever possible.
Try Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar for your next special occasion, or for any night of the week! Though Bleu has an inventive, upscale menu that is sophisticated and the atmosphere is big city, you’ll find the restaurant to be approachable and casual as well. Columbia is tasty! From our farms to our markets, and especially through our restaurants, we define ourselves through fresh food, produced locally with care and attention.
Find your own food treasure!