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Chew chew train

Get on board for great food in CoMo

Columbia Dinner Train

Shrimp cocktail appetizers whet the appetites of diners on their three-hour trip through northern Boone County.

One of CoMo’s best features is its gastronomic variety. Take a springtime stroll downtown and inhale an aromatic array ranging from Far East to Deep South to backyard burgers. But if you are looking for a literal culinary journey, try the Columbia Star Dinner Train, which boards at 6501 N. Brown Station Road. Whether it’s the elegant atmosphere, multicourse gourmet meal or a nostalgic notion of railroad dining, the experience induces a celebratory mood from the moment you are seated.

Offering dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, and brunch on Sundays, the 1950’s streamlined passenger train takes a two-and-a-half hour route through the countryside of north Boone County to Centralia and back. Live music, signature cocktails and friendly service complete the effect.

Many of Columbia’s favorite brick-and-mortar restaurants have also moved, as in relocated. They’ll likely stay put for a while. Several are listed below.

All aboard!

International Café 

26 S. Ninth St.

Owner Mohamed Gumati was born in Libya, but he taught himself to cook in St. Louis before opening the restaurant’s original CoMo home on Hitt Street 20 years ago. Now he has moved his mainstay gyros and tabouleh to a more prominent downtown location.

Red Mango 

1009 E. Broadway

This popular parlor boasts 100 percent natural ingredients and probiotic live and active cultures in its frozen yogurts and iced teas. The soft-serve frozen yogurt is sold by weight, and the toppings bar features fresh fruit and unexpected crunchy items such as Fruity Pebbles and organic granola.

Bambino’s 

10th and Broadway

Formerly tucked away at Hitt and Locust, the new location has transformed this affordable Italian favorite into a highly visible, bright and inviting café. The menu features the heartily portioned Pasta Al Poppa, with marinara, cream sauce, sausage and mushrooms, and the popular chicken-and-artichoke sub. “The Bam” delivers, too.

Shakespeare’s Pizza 

3304 Broadway Business Park Court

Internoshional

If you like crossing borders, check out Columbia’s menu of specialty food stores:

Root Cellar (Missouri foods) | 1023 E. Walnut St.

Chong’s Oriental Market | 701 Locust St.

Hong Kong Market | 3510 Interstate 70 Drive S.E.

Campus Eastern Foods | 408 Locust St.

Natasha’s Euro Market (eastern European) | 705 Vandiver Drive

Olive Café (Mediterranean, Asian) | 21 N. Providence Road

World Harvest (international) | 3700 Monterey Drive

Los Cuates Latin Store | 2908 Paris Road

Kea’s International Market | (includes Cambodian, Vietnamese), 705 Vandiver Drive

In many ways, CoMo’s original world-famous pizza joint represents a bridge connecting city to university at Ninth and Elm streets. The above location in western Columbia opened in 2002, and a third site out south at 3911 Peachtree Drive — 14,000 square feet with party rooms and a frozen pizza production area — could open as soon as spring 2012.

CC’s City Broiler 

1401 Forum Blvd.

Previously located in downtown Columbia, this grand grill made its name slinging generously sized, perfectly cooked slabs of beef before heading west in 2007. The restaurant still warrants consideration for the best steaks in town — snag a bone-in ribeye if you’re lucky — and the dark, romantic setting and professional service have gotten even better.

Arris’ Pizza 

1020 E. Green Meadows, Suite 102

Jefferson City Mizzou alumni grew up with the family-style pizza palace across the street from the Missouri State Capitol. The Columbia location opened in 2007, offering a lunch buffet, baked pasta dishes and its signature Greek salad.

Glenn’s Café 

501 High St., Boonville, Mo.

For those who remember the restaurant’s previous locations on Ninth Street or Business Loop 70, its new home in the riverside Frederick Hotel in historic downtown Boonville, Mo., might be an aesthetically pleasing upgrade. Where else in mid-Missouri can you get zesty shrimp creole, corn bread, gumbo and bread pudding with whiskey sauce or a good Angus steak and pork chops?

44 Stone Public House 

3910 Peachtree Drive

Columbia’s newest gastropub features English, Irish and Scottish fare, “but with contemporary American insight,” according to its website. Interesting menu items such as rarebit (Welsh rabbit) and flash-fried chicken livers coexist with an extensive beer list including everything from ale and barley wine to mead and stout.

Red and Moe 

21 N. Ninth St.

Restaurateur Tom Rippeto started as a 13-year-old dishwasher at The Pizza House, once located two doors down from his current pizzeria. Pizza House owners Paul “Red” Castle and Roland “Moe” Beland mentored Rippeto in life, and now Red and Moe’s seasonal menus feature artisan pizzas, unique salads and homemade desserts, all made with local ingredients when available.

Tony’s Pizza Palace 

17 N. Fifth St.

Not everyone knows about this casual family favorite, though it has been in Columbia for 50-plus years. Bring the gang and fill up on hot subs, salads, spanakopita, pizza and gyros.

The Pasta Factory 

3103 W. Broadway, Suite 109

Jason and Jennifer Johnson Dubinski, BA ’88, met as employees before getting married and purchasing the restaurant in 2001. The restaurant relocated in April 2011 from its downtown location, but it maintains the classic comfort of the old digs; the stained glass, retro wall ads, antique ceiling fans and affordable menu endure.

Casablanca Mediterranean Grill

501 Elm St.

Formerly a favorite on the south side of town, the handsome new location northwest of campus offers flavors from Greece, Morocco and Libya. Dinner plates feature homemade falafel, lamb and chicken kabobs. For sides, Casablanca offers a variety of authentic Mediterranean soups and salads.

Broadway Brewery 

816 E. Broadway

Only two-and-a-half years old, this hip brewpub nestled downstairs on the south side of CoMo’s main drag is already a mainstay for foodies and beer connoisseurs alike. The menu highlights local farms and seasonal items that pair perfectly with the handcrafted beer on tap. Try the butternut bacon pizza made with house bacon lardons, caramelized onions and Milton Creamery cheddar on a butternut squash puree. The Pizza Margherita with fresh mozzarella and basil, is served year round.

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