Top 12 Places to Eat, Snack & Treat in Jefferson City
Wondering where to eat during your stay? We sat down and talked about our favorite places to eat, drink and hang out in the Capital City, and came up with a list we think you’ll like, too.
The list was developed based on (in no certain order) best food, best taste, best atmosphere/environment, best service and best ease of getting there based on staying at Parker’s Place. Basically thinking, “If I’m staying at Parker’s Place, where is the #1 place we’d like to go?” and worked backwards from there. Here’s our list, from amazing meals to scrumptious treats and some insider recommendations while you're there.
Honorable Mention – Schulte’s Fresh Foods Grocery Store Bakery
1904 Southwest Boulevard
Best doughnuts in Jefferson City, hands down. Great place to grab an easy, tasty breakfast and a gallon of milk. They open at 6 a.m., so get there early for the best selection.
Recommendation: It’s all good. They make extremely large cinnamon rolls and bear claws.
#12 Prison Brews
305 Ash Street (walking distance)
Many who stay at Parker’s Place come to Jefferson City to visit the old Missouri Penitentiary. Prison Brews continues that theme – it’s a microbrewery in town within walking distance. Prison Brews offers a bar food menu and their own craft beer, including Go to Jail Ale, or try a flight of their microbrews. The highlight is their pizza, perfectly made in a wood-fire pizza oven.
Recommendation: Our favorite is the Tomato, Feta & Bacon pizza.
#11 Sweet Smoke
127 E. High Street (walking distance)
Sweet Smoke has two locations in Jefferson City, and one is just five blocks from Parker’s Place. Sweet Smoke has a great following because of their great BBQ flavors for lunch and dinner. Everything is smoky good and tasty. If you like BBQ, you’ll love Sweet Smoke.
Recommendations: Make sure to order the jalapeno grits as a side – not too much heat, but a great twist on grits! Even those who don’t like spicy foods order them. All the meats are excellent as well as the BBQ sauces. The Carolina and KC Sweet are two of our favorites.
#10 Sawadee Thai
103 E. High Street (walking distance)
It’s the thinnest building downtown, one block from the Capitol. This excellent Thai restaurant offers meals that hold authentic and bold, spicy Thai flavors. The owners are lovely individuals as well, and they’ll ask for spice level, 1 through 10. If you decide to really push the spice level you may end up with your picture on the wall!
Recommendations: Fresh Rolls or Pot Stickers for starters. For the meal, our favorites are Chicken Pad Thai or Massaman Curry.
#9 Das Stein Haus
1436 Southridge Drive
Want authentic German food? This eclectic hidden gem on a side street in Jefferson City resembles an Austrian ski lodge. A neon sign on the front encourages ‘Dancing, Drinking & Dining,’ and Helmut, the original owner, backs it up with a tiny dance floor, disco ball and side pub. Helmut has been serving beef strudel here since the early1980s, and just visiting with him is a treat. If you visit long enough, he’ll bring you your nightcap and remind you, “It’s time to take your medicine.”
Recommendation: The Touch of Germany meal covers all the German flavors. Excellent wine list.
#8 Arris’ Pizza Palace
117 W High Street (walking distance)
Located right across the street from the Missouri Capitol, Arris’ has served up Jefferson City’s favorite pizza for the past six decades. An authentic thin crust pizza you can layer with all your favorite toppings and some you never thought of! You can also opt for gluten-free or cauliflower crust. Our friend George, 2nd generation owner of Arris’ Pizza Palace, has been making pies since he could walk. His father grew up near Mt. Olympus in Greece, and came over and started Arris’ in 1961. Arris’ is almost as famous in Jefferson City as the Capitol.
Recommendation: The basic hamburger and onion is excellent. If you like a little heat, the Apollo is a wonderful specialty pizza. The Greek salad is large and tasty.
#7 Paddy Malone’s Pub
700 W. Main Street
Oh the memories … dating back to being underage. Paddy’s is the perfect Irish Pub fit into 800 square foot of pure Ireland culture and lore. All the Irish brews are on tap and the food that arrive out of the kitchen is delightful. At two blocks west of the Capitol, it may be too far for a stroll. If you’ve arrived by bike on the Katy Trail, it’s an easy bike ride. The back patio faces the Missouri River, which is only one block away and directly off the Katy Trail spur. Alan, the co-publican, can usually be found there singing Irish songs with his Pub Dog, Fiona.
Recommendation: Our favorites? Paddy Malone’s Fish & Chips or the Meat Loaf Special. Favorite drink is the beautifully dark Smithwick's Premium Irish Ale.
#6 Whaley’s East End Pharmacy
630 E High Street
Here’s where to satisfy that sweet tooth! From Parker’s Place, walk one block down the southern hill to the corner of Lafayette and High Street to enjoy an old-fashioned soda fountain drink. Open Monday through Friday, Gil will make your favorite soda fountain concoction at the soda bar. Our favorite is the classic cherry Coke, with real cherry syrup and cherries. You can get popcorn and peanuts if you want some salty snacks, and there’s candy, too!
Recommendations: Cherry Coke and Root Beer Floats are our favorite. Grab a packet of Pop Rocks for the kids!
Hint: Order a cup of Central Dairy ice cream and ask to use the Hershey’s Syrup to make your own sundae.
#5 The Ecco Lounge
703 Jefferson Street
The Ecco Lounge originated in 1945, but don’t let the age fool you. This restaurant/bar has the coolest vibe in Jefferson City. The Ecco is nestled within Old Munichburg, the original German part of Jefferson City. With original decor and bar plus neon signs, great jukebox playlists and satisfying bar food, you can’t go wrong. Sally, the owner, and her staff make sure you have everything you need to feel at home. Annually voted best burger in town, everything on the menu is good.
Recommendation: The fresh mushrooms appetizer or onion rings are a great way to start the meal. The Kelly or Jason salads are tasty. And Sally’s milkshakes can’t be beat!
#4 High Rise Bakery
118 E. High Street (walking distance)
Jefferson City’s best bakery is downtown, a 10-minute walk from Parker’s Place. High Rise serves well-thought-out and hearty breakfast meals along with wonderful pastries and baked goods. Great food and great atmosphere. A great place to meet up for a meal. Could we say ‘great’ one more time?
Recommendation: KC Blend is our favorite coffee on tap. Favorite meals are Simple Breakfast and Avocado Toast.
#3 Yanis Coffee Zone
130 E. High Street (walking distance)
Our favorite Jordanian owns this place, Mr. Taisir Yanis. Walk in and he’ll be the one saying, “Hala, Hala.” Coffee Zone opens at 6:30 a.m., and by 8 a.m. most of the world’s problems have been solved. This is the community gathering place. Arrive early enough and you may bump into Missouri’s Governor, or a foreign dignitary, or any of the other individuals who work at the State House ordering a cup of Joe. You will certainly meet many of the locals who call this their favorite coffee house. Taisir has a faithful crowd, and with good reason. Excellent food, and great coffee. Tell Taisir hi for us when you visit.
Recommendation: Our favorite breakfast meal is #5 wrap, add spinach. The Infidel (used to be a secret, non-menu item) is now featured on the menu. For a real kick, get a cup of Rocket Fuel coffee.
#2 Central Dairy Ice Cream Parlor
610 Madison Street
At Central Dairy they say their ice cream is ‘Fresh As A Missouri Morning,’ and it’s true! For those who have been raised on this wonderful ice cream, there is none better. Take the time to visit this gem. The ice cream parlor, which has been in place since 1932, is a Jefferson City institution. Just watch your time and plan accordingly, they close promptly at 6 p.m. Everything on the menu is wonderful, and the selection is wide.
Recommendation: If you want to go all out, order the Banana Split but you’ll need to share. Favorite ice cream flavors: Bear Claw, Monkey Business, Extreme Moose Tracks - ask to sample as many as you like. And add yummy toppings like marshmallow, strawberry, walnuts or pecans.
#1 The Grand Cafe
107 E. High Street (walking distance)
Hands down the best restaurant in Jefferson City! Why? Ben and his staff do everything right. Beautiful atmosphere, amazing food, great wine list, wonderful service. The appetizers are delicious, the main course is scrumptious, the dessert is divine. There’s really nothing left to say other than be sure to call in and make reservations – 573-635-7842.
Recommendation: When making reservations, ask for Carrie as your server. They’re all amazing, but Carrie is our favorite! When’s the last time you had duck? It’s worth trying again. For appetizers the Charcuterie board is wonderful and so are the Steak Frites. For dessert, Gooey Butter Brownie or Flourless Cake … or anything else on the dessert menu.
Enjoy your time in Jefferson City, explore and see what our beautiful river town has to offer.