Best of Columbia 2008

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BEST CITYWIDE EVENT Readers’ Pick: Roots ‘N Blues ‘N BBQ Festival Editors’ Pick: True/False Film Fest No one event has come to define Columbia quite like the annual True/False fest. For four days during leap-year weekend, downtown Columbia was transformed into every film fan’s dreamland. More than 35 films were screened and numerous concerts, discussions and parties took place to entertain the masses — and masses is an understatement. Organizers predicted more than 15,000 tickets were sold for viewings this year. Filmmakers in town for the event said it’s one of the most-talked about, important events in the film industry. But what makes True/False so important to Columbia is that despite its prestige and enormity, co-founders Paul Sturtz and David Wilson have worked to ensure that at its core, True/False still feels like a small-town community celebration.

BEST PIZZA Readers’ Pick/Editors’ Pick: Shakespeare’s There’s a reason Shakespeare’s goes home with this award almost every year. The pizza is excellent and the hippies behind the counter are the real deal and always friendly. Plus, they have that awesome bike-cab service that will minimize your aimless stumbling from the bars. We do have to offer an honorable mention to Southside Pizza; they have a killer happy hour and deliver ‘til 4 a.m., so check them out.

BEST KARAOKE Readers’ Pick/Editors’ Pick: Eastside Tavern We’re drunk. Really drunk. And we’re yowling along to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in public, but no one is judging us (we hope). This could only happen in one place: Thursday night karaoke at Eastside Tavern, where hipsters and barflies alike collect to drink everything and then live out their dreams of being Freddie Mercury for an electrifying three minutes on stage.

BEST DANCE CLUB Readers’ Pick: Tonic Editors’ Pick: Club Moe’s Heels avoid spilled queso while Soulja Boying, and lights flash on couples making out in booths filled with left-over Mexican food. If you have ever walked by Club Moe’s, heard the music blaring and not walked in, you are truly missing out on one of the most unique dance scenes in Columbia. Salsa intersperses with rap as drunk bar goers continue drinking with Hamm’s and PBR. Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Club, yes, Club Moe’s gets bigger every weekend. It’s up to about 15 people at any given time and gives Mexican food lovers an alternative to the overcrowded El Rancho.

BEST RESTAURANT (REGULAR PANTS) Readers’ Pick: The Heidelberg Editors’ Pick: Breadbasket Café After one sandwich from Breadbasket, you’ll wonder why any other sandwich shop even exists in CoMO. The cookies are better than our mom’s, and the lunch deal is worth every cent. We can’t buy this much deliciousness for five dollars anywhere else in Columbia.

BEST RESTAURANT (FANCY PANTS) Readers’ Pick: Addison’s Editors’ Pick: Murry’s Murry’s is one of those very few restaurants where the pleasant atmosphere critics and patrons alike would describe with words such as ambiance; bohemian or chic is not just making up for the lack of... well... taste. Skimping on neither quantity nor quality of food, the only thing that seems to be in low supply at Murry’s is the lighting, creating the cool vibes that have become the trademark of this Columbia jazz club and restaurant with all the class of a big city lounge and some of the best seven dollar sandwiches you’ll ever eat.

BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE Readers’ Pick/Editors’ Pick: Ragtag Cinema The Ragtag has become such a relevant slice of Columbia culture that it has achieved something very few venues can claim: It has become both simultaneously unique and cliché. Unique in the sense that 10 years later it is still unparalleled in terms of individual movie experiences in mid-Missouri. Cliché in the sense that it almost seemed like the obvious answer to this question. And with its recent expansion and additional viewing screen, as well as the vastly growing popularity of True/False, we can only assume it will continue to be a frontrunner for years to come.

BEST ETHNIC FOOD Readers’ Pick/Editors’ Pick: Bangkok Gardens Bangkok Gardens wins our bid for best ethnic food not only because of its willingness to expose the locale to different flavors and treats (Sticky rice, mmm.), but because of the courtesy that goes along with it. If you’re a newcomer to the world of spices, Bangkok is an excellent training ground as it does provide its patrons with a meter they can use to select what intensity of spice they would like in their entrée. As a Thai restaurant, it also wins with the sweet manner in which the tofu is prepared. Even the most devout meat-eaters would consider switching over to a green diet if Bangkok were available on the daily. Its oyster sauce, a signature ingredient in most of the entrées, is also vegan-friendly.

BEST BAR YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF Readers’ Pick: The Alley Bar/ The Hide-a-way Club (tie) Editors’ Pick: The Hide-a-way Club Aptly and literally hidden away from the rest of the city (unless you happen to have just stumbled off your bus at the nearby Greyhound station looking for a party), The Hide-a-way Club has all the charm, personality and trucker hats of an oversized dive bar with none of the intimidation factor. Some of the best pitcher prices in town and a reputation as one of the last of a dying breed of bars in this town to take their billiards seriously make this place a worthy branch out of your normal late-night destinations.

BEST LATE-NIGHT FOOD Readers’ Pick: Gumby’s Pizza/El Rancho (tie) Editors’ Pick: Gumby’s Pizza Certain foods just lend themselves better to drunken, ravenous gluttony. And it is our humble declaration that Gumby’s pizza, including and especially Pokey Stix, with extra marinara and ranch dressing, please, beats out all other contenders. (Sorry, El Rancho.) When you order Gumby’s, they bring it to your door. Late-night delivery combined with general deliciousness make Gumby’s the one drunk dial you won’t regret.

WORST BAND NAME Readers’ Pick/Editors’ Pick: Black$mith Black$mith should take a hint from Panic At the Disco and drop a certain misplaced punctuation mark from its name. The band’s questionable music and oddly sleazy songs like “I Just Wanna Spoon Ya Baby” aside, a name such as Black$mith isn’t likely to sell any records. So unless your name was formerly The Artist (Formerly Known As Prince), it’s just not worth including a random symbol into your name.

BEST ICE CREAM Readers’ Pick/Editors’ Pick: Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream In spite of what the mainstream ice cream industry would have you think, it’s not all that hard to think of ice cream flavors. The hard part is making them work. That gets a lot easier when you stick to fruit and candy or just throw chocolate chunks into something else. But Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream has crazy varieties the others would never touch. Lavender and honey? Carrot cake? Who does that? But like their neon-colored walls, Sparky’s makes it work. And they have another secret weapon against the ice cream giants: booze. What’s not to love?

BEST LIVE LOCAL BAND Readers’ Pick: Witch’s Hat Editors’ Pick: The Record Collector Witch’s Hat is energetic and a whole lot of fun, we’re not denying that. But we have to give it up for CoMO’s own supergroup: The Record Collector, a group of local musicians who get together every now and then to play some classic soul and Motown tunes. Listen to Shirelle C. Limes and the Lemons’ Shannon Diaz rip through the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” and you’ll know what we mean.

BEST CONCERT IN CoMO Readers’ Pick: Roots ‘N Blues ‘N BBQ Festival/Wilco/The Roots (three-way tie) Editors’ Pick: Girl Talk Pittsburgh mash-up artist Gregg Gillis may not be a deejay, but the man is a guaranteed good time. The electro-funk artist ended his Columbia show in a sweaty stupor, only to follow it up with an equally sweaty stint at a fan’s house. The results were, in a word, epic.

BEST HAPPY HOUR Readers’ Pick: The Heidelberg Editors’ Pick: Addison’s Dino nuggets. Smiley fries. Cheap beer. It doesn’t take much more than that to make for a great happy hour. The combination of Addison’s variety of cheap-but-tasty appetizers and cheap pints of a wide variety of beers makes it almost as insurmountable as the sound of your T-rex shaped nugget roaring while you play with it.

BEST HANGOVER FOOD Readers’ Pick: Gumby’s Pizza Editors’ Pick: Ernie’s The only thing better than eating Ernie’s hash browns is the conversation we find when we walk inside. If it’s crowded, we’ll find ourselves sharing a table with the girl we danced on the night before, and we can fill in the missing pieces of the night over the most delicious breakfast food in CoMO.

BEST VENUE Readers’ Pick: The Blue Note Editors’ Pick: Mojo’s The Blue Note might have more seating, better sound equipment and bigger names, but Mojo’s definitely has the superior environment. The stage is relatively small, and the crowd is right on top of the performers. With people compacted into the long, narrow hall and the bar easily accessible, hotty-hot dance parties are bound to break out (if Girl Talk returns to Mojo’s, you best not miss it). Plus, if the dance party gets too hot, Mojo’s has an outdoor patio to cool off. So, if you’re looking for good music and an even better time, Mojo’s gets our highest regards.

BEST COFFEE Readers’ Pick: Kaldi’s Editors’ Pick: Coffee Zone Amid the better part of a baker’s dozen caffeine contenders, Coffee Zone is the ruling espresso emperor. Any coffee shop can have a theme; Coffee Zone has an atmosphere. The Middle Eastern and Arabic cuisine match the array of specialty coffees, teas and drinks, which all feel more authentic amid a sea of novelty. It also has an amazing location, perfect for caffeine before a concert at The Blue Note next door or a late night walk through downtown. Plus, being one of the few places downtown where a tweaked out collegian can pick up a pack of smokes definitely doesn’t hurt.

BEST LOCAL DIRECTOR Readers’ Pick: Randy Prywitch Editors’ Pick: Todd Sklar

BEST BAND Readers’ Pick: Witch’s Hat Editors’ Pick: Bockman If Bockman were in MOVE’s high school yearbook, it would be the band voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” It’s CoMO’s arena-rock band - big on sound, big on energy and always super rad. Bonus points for the band’s willingness to toss in the occasional cover song from the rock opera “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Bockman’s prowess is rivaled in long-standing CoMO rock outfit Witch’s Hat, who is this town’s closest thing to a really great, innovative prog-tinged rock outfit. Like Rush, but sexier.

BEST BAND NAME Readers’ Pick/Editors’ Pick: Velociraptors Can Open Doors Frightening, true and the best band name in Columbia: Velociraptors Can Open Doors. This indie-pop trio clearly deserves the title. In a reference to one of the greatest pop culture occurrences of our time, Jurassic Park, elociraptors appeals to our imaginations and our hearts. And on top of all that, just by knowing the band’s name, the residents of Columbia can prepare for any ensuing velociraptor attacks. Frequent as they are.

BEST PLACE TO BUY MUSIC Readers’ Pick: Slackers CDs and Gifts Editors’ Pick: Happy Time Media Mike Kindelspire is no Rob Gordon. Although Happy Time Media operates somewhere between the world of High Fidelity and the chaos of Slackers, Kindelspire has created an aptly “Happy” home for record connoisseurs and laymen alike. Boxes of records line the walls, and even more line the back room, making Happy Time one of the best un-tapped record resources the city has to offer. The best part? Shaq records are included.

THING CoMO NEEDS THE MOST Readers’ Pick: White Castle Editors’ Pick: Laser tag Laser Tag faced some pretty steep competition. A zoo? I mean come on, who doesn’t love the zoo? But you can’t take out your pent-up anger with your friends at the zoo without the possibility of committing a felony. The black lights and sweet armor make it even better, and considering Joplin, Mo., has laser tag but Columbia doesn’t, it’s about time CoMO stepped it up.

BEST VINTAGE STORE Readers’ Pick/Editors’ Pick: Maude Vintage If for no other reason (and believe us, there are plenty of other reasons), Maude Vintage gets our vote for its costume rentals. We saw a couple find Santa and Mrs. Claus costumes, a SpongeBob SquarePants head, numerous Viking hats and more Catholic schoolgirl outfits than you can shake a stick at. We are saddened, however, by the loss of Maude employee Channing “MC Cat Genius” Kennedy, whose eclectic wisdom and random music recommendations (Congotronics is a must, y’all) were always welcome. Pour one out.

BEST BAR Readers’ Pick: Harpo’s Editors’ Pick: The Blue Fugue We never make an active plan to go to The Blue Fugue, but we always end up there anyway. It’s like a fun best friend, worn in, kind of dirty and always up for a loud, fucking ridiculous time. Plus, they have half-price Belgian Ales on Monday nights. As if we needed an excuse.

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