CoMo Outdoors: Hit the Decks
Columbia’s coolest patios, rooftops and sidewalk cafés.
Whether you seek a cosmopolitan al fresco dining experience with live blues or a cold-brew coffee with street-corner busker sounds, Columbia eateries have your outdoor-chilling needs covered. Given the sheer number and variety of the city’s rooftop decks, flower-filled patios and makeshift sidewalk cafés open in warm weather, you might run out of reasons to turn on the oven this summer.
Flat Branch Pub & Brewing
115 S. Fifth St.
Established in 1994, this microbrewery’s patio is one of CoMo’s most popular outdoor-dining locations, with a collective canopy of umbrellas creating a comfortably shady spot even on the hottest Missouri summer days. The pub occupies a brick warehouse that once housed a Hudson car dealership, inspiration for the beer name “Oil Change Stout.” Lush outdoor plantings and ivy enliven the hardscape, while the 12 house-brewed beers on tap enliven the patrons.
The Roof at the Broadway Hotel
1111 E. Broadway
At seven stories above downtown Columbia’s east end, The Roof offers a spectacular view of the city’s bustling main drag. The two-year-old venue boasts stylish fire pits on chilly evenings, huge high-definition TVs for keeping an eye on the Tigers, tasty small-plate fare and flatbreads, and sleek, modern décor. Comfortable lounge seating encourages happy-hour chats — often with fellow-alumni hotel guests. On Friday and Saturday nights the rooftop patio and adjacent indoor bar fill with revelers, and the night air fills with DJ-spun dance tunes or the swinging riffs of a live jazz ensemble.
North Village Arts District
Located in the northeast section of downtown Columbia, this trendy neighborhood offers multiple outdoor spots to nosh and imbibe. Ernie’s Café and Steakhouse (1005 E. Walnut) has been a CoMo breakfast favorite for more than 75 years, and right around the corner Café Berlin (220 N. 10th St.) provides “fresh rad creative dining.” Fretboard Coffee (1013 E Walnut St.) and Dogmaster Distillery (210 St. James St.) offer house-roasted java and handcrafted spirits, respectively — and each features a storefront garage door that’s open when the weather’s nice.
Ninth Street Sidewalks
Ninth Street between Walnut Street and University Avenue
When the weather warms up, Ninth Street businesses find a little extra space on their sidewalks for tables and chairs. Sip coffee and nibble on snacks outside Kaldi’s, Lakota, Coffee Zone or Starbucks. Try Mexican food from La Siesta or Mexican fusion from 44 Canteen. Sample Middle Eastern fare in front of International Café. Eat healthy soups and salads by Ingredient or Main Squeeze, or try rice and noodle dishes at Thai Express or Noodles & Co. After your meal, stop by Sparky’s for dessert, or hit Top 10 Wines, 9th Street Public House or International Tap House for a night cap.
220 S. Eighth St • 3304 W. Broadway
• 3911 Peachtree Drive
The iconic pizza parlor added locations to CoMo’s west side in 2003 and south side 2012. When owners announced on April Fools Day 2015 that the downtown restaurant at the corner of Elm and Ninth would temporarily relocate while the original building was razed and rebuilt, many locals thought it was a joke. After all, these are the same folks who concocted the “Found: Cat” spot in the Ad Sheet. The new “old” structure will reopen in August 2016 in the ground floor of a seven-story apartment building. Meanwhile, the downtown Shakespeare’s has settled into its temporary home one block west at Eighth and Elm. All three Shakespeare’s locations feature cozy outdoor seating.
29 S. Eighth St.
In the shadow of the Tiger Hotel, the metropolitan view from the sidewalk seating at Glenn’s Café might make you forget you’re in a college town. Since about 1939, the New Orleans-style restaurant has moved around — from a Highway 40 (now Business Loop) gas station; to the northwest corner of Ninth and Cherry (now Kaldi’s Coffee) to the Hotel Frederick in downtown Boonville, Missouri. In March 2015, the owners turned a pair of curbside parking spaces into the perfect place to enjoy the restaurant’s Cajun cuisine during lunch hour or Sunday brunch. In May 2015, the Tiger Hotel added to its west side The Industry, an outdoor patio and live-music venue for the after-dark crowd.