While in Jefferson City recently, I was able to dine at four different local restaurants (within the span of two days.) I was pleasantly surprised to find sushi, Greek-style pizza, and frozen yogurt, choices more commonly associated with big cities. Each restaurant was unique and catered to all tastes.
Love Sushi, an intimate Japanese restaurant located on Missouri Boulevard, brings a foreign flavor to Jefferson City. The interior decoration was in a fun, Asian style, but the best aesthetic feature was the colorful arrangement of the food on the serving platters.
Dark green onions next to the delicate pinks of shrimp and crab bordered with lime-colored wasabi and arranged in geometric patterns that spoke of a sense of order among the hodge-podge of ingredients.
Seated at the sushi bar, I had fun watching the artistic plates go out to diners as I studied the menu. After perusing dozens of options ranging from the familiar California roll to eel, I decided on the Dynamite roll. While waiting for my order one of the chefs offered me a small, complimentary salad of what appeared to be thin sliced seafood and vegetables.
I was not able to identify what they were, but that only added to the exotic quality. Whatever it was, it was tender and delicious. Adding to the fun was the act of eating with chopsticks.
I may not have started in the most eloquent manner, but determination won out and I left the restaurant full. The service at Love Sushi was very friendly throughout the whole experience. This Jefferson City restaurant definitely rivals any of the sushi places in Kansas City.
A few miles west of Love Sushi, also along Missouri Boulevard, is a local favorite, Lutz’s BBQ. Decked out with red-checked tablecloths and pig figurines, the interior precisely reflected the down-home country menu.
My favorite was the homemade chips. Sliced thin in a spiral, they resemble a delicate potato blossom. Thinner than the homemade chips I’ve had at fairs and festivals, they were a perfect blend of crispy and chewy.
Located in Jefferson City’s historic downtown area, a short stroll from the Capitol, is a Jefferson City landmark. Arris’ Pizza, on High Street, serves Greek-style pizza, pasta, and salads. It began in Jefferson City, but now has spread to four other central Missouri cities.
The owner is originally from Greece, and makes his pizzas using a family recipe. Since I was limited on time, I opted to do the carry-out buffet and selected slices of cheese and sausage pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and green salad. I gathered more than I was sure I could eat to try a wider variety, but ended up finishing everything because it was all too delicious to let waste.
The crust was thin and crispy, with a perfectly blended sauce, the meatballs were flavorful, and the salad was fresh. My only regret was that I was unable to sit and enjoy the décor and the atmosphere in this iconic restaurant.
Less than a block away from Arris’ is the perfect place for dessert. Yo Yums, a locally owned “mom and pop” frozen yogurt shop, offers soft serve yogurt, shakes, smoothies, and frozen beverages.
Toppings such as pineapple, candy, crushed cookies, miniature marshmallows, blueberries, graham crackers, brownies, not to mention all the sauces, are on display to entice you.
In all, there are eight different flavors of yogurt and forty different toppings. After struggling to make a decision for a few minutes, I went for the Alpine Vanilla milk shake blended with chocolate chips. The idea was it would be something I could eat in the car, but by the time I reached the car it was pretty much gone. The shop also offers “tie-dye parties,” where each person in the party can tie-dye their own T-shirt, and receives a large bowl of yogurt with choice of toppings. The service at Yo Yums was very friendly and attentive.
It’s wonderful to check out the local cuisine when visiting another city. The only bad thing is once you return home, all that delicious food is too far away to enjoy whenever the craving hits you!
Written by Sally Anton, supervisor of the Official Missouri Welcome Center in Eagleville
Arris’ photo courtesy Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau