A piss-poor guide to the bathrooms of downtown CoMo

Urine for a treat here, folks.

My water bottle is my security blanket — I’ve almost always got it with me. But a collateral effect of my friendship with my Nalgene is that I’ve become something of a frequent urinator. When I need a bathroom, I often need to, as they say, go with the flow and find what’s closest. So, it’s nice to know what I’m getting into before I run to the urinal at top speed.

I spent several hours over a couple days venturing in and out of bathrooms. I visited over a dozen bathrooms in downtown Columbia, which left me feeling rather pooped. But I have a duty (lol) to you, dear reader, so I kept on pushing.

Here is my guide to the bathrooms of downtown Columbia. Enjoy the go!

Harold’s Doughnuts

The men’s bathroom in Harold’s Doughnuts is, as bathrooms come, a classy one. Nice faux-stone tiling covers the bottom third of the walls, and the panelling around the bathroom stall door is a nice, knotty wood.

So I don't mean to talk shit about this bathroom, but there’s one major, perhaps fatal, design flaw. In the men’s bathroom, anyway, there’s no dividing wall between the urinal and the sink. You can practically see yourself in the handwashing mirror while you pee. Urinals themselves are typically awkwardly close together, but being able to comfortably take care of business while someone washes his hands is disastrous and counterproductive.

Rating: 2 out of 4 rolls of toilet paper

El Rancho

Unsurprisingly, this bathroom was perpetually occupied. Entrance proved impossible.

Rating: Unrateable

Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream

Aesthetically, this is one of the most overwhelming bathrooms downtown, but it fits perfectly with Sparky’s. It’s not a relaxing experience, by any means. The walls are lime green and, like in the main shop, lined with wacky art.

There’s a counter in the bathroom that’s actually a vintage TV set, with a small piece of electronic equipment (a motor? A carburetor?) on top, painted the same color as the walls. The water, according to a small Post-it note below the tiled mirror, is “extra hot,” an allegation I can independently verify.

Sparky’s has also provided those in need with some light bathroom reading, including a small children’s book called “The Aliens Have Landed” and collection titled “Art in Vienna” of works from the mid- to late-1800s.

The highlight of the restroom art gallery is a painting of Jesus standing next to the U.N. Building, which is as tall as he is. He’s either holding his hand out to guide spiritually fallen bathroom-goers, or he’s poking the building, I can’t tell. Red letters in the sky proclaim, “Jesus appears at U.N. Building!” and “Jerusalem” and “6 6 6.” Quality content.

Rating: 4 out of 4 rolls of toilet paper

Kaldi’s Coffee

This is a restroom in an identity crisis. On the one hand, it wants to be a multi-person operation: In the men’s room, at least, there’s a partition wall between the urinal and the sit-down toilet (what do you even call that?). But on the other hand, it can only be a single-player game, because the toilet isn’t completely closed off.

They went a bit overboard with the partition walls, true, but at least there’s trendy abstract art on the wall and wavy metal around the mirror.

Rating: 3 out of 4 rolls of toilet paper

Shakespeare’s Pizza

The yellow brick road in this revamped historical CoMo pizza joint leads, as every good yellow brick road should, right to the bathrooms. You’ve got it all: bad pizza, “men’s” and “women’s” on wooden pizza-oven trays, partition walls that are Shakespeare’s Green, and a vintage metal sign between the bathrooms that says, ironically enough, “DEPOSITORS.”

However, the reason to go to the bathroom at Shakes (perhaps the only reason to go to Shakes?) is the toilet paper. It’s two-ply. Two, whole, extra-soft plies, folks. This is nice TP, some of the plushest in all downtown. This toilet paper had me feeling all … wiped out.

Rating: 4 out of 4 rolls of toilet paper


For all the bathroom connoisseurs out there, MidiCi, downtown’s new Neapolitan pizza joint, is the place to visit the loo in luxury. This European-style water closet is, hands-down, the nicest bathroom in the whole District. What I can only describe as “mood lighting” illuminates the textured metal wall across from the sinks, and you feel like restroom royalty the moment you step in.

Text on the mirror reminds you that “You are the best thing that can happen to anyone.” Around the room are tall green plants, a bench and a regal chair, in case you need to relax a little before returning to the real world. A small golden cart sits between the sinks and has succulents, decorative glass bottles and candles.

Overall, I feel I am not worthy of this washroom. But if you’re a lofty lavatory lover, MidiCi is for you.

Rating: 4 out of 4 rolls of toilet paper

Fretboard Coffee

Fretboard is a coffee shop in a garage in the North Village Arts District. They’ve got a sitting room off to the side that’s almost all exposed brick, and the bathroom is just as industrial. Some candles on a wooden ledge set the mood right when you walk in.

This bathroom has two sinks — a small hand sink that’s functional, and a larger washbasin that’s quite literally boarded up. The wood seems haphazardly cut and rotting, and cut-up burlap coffee sacks form a curtain for storage under it. There’s also a large storage unit made of wood and sacks that remind you you’re peeing in a coffee shop.

It’s a cool look that fits in with Fretboard’s aesthetic, and it’s one of the more unique bathrooms downtown.

Rating: 3 out of 4 rolls of toilet paper

Honorable Mentions

Coffee Zone — Average bathroom, but it sometimes smells like cigarettes. Clearly, the “Thank You For Not Smoking” signs aren’t doing much. You are not welcome.

Pizza Tree — The two bathrooms in downtown CoMo’s best pizza shop feature teal walls and artwork. You should be coming here for the pizza, not the bathrooms, anyway. Do it for the right reasons.

Ernie’s Cafe & Steak House — To access this bathroom, you have to go up a set of rickety stairs to an alcove above the diner. This bathroom is small, coated with graffiti and always freezing — quite frankly, pretty crappy.

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