Monday, July 20, 2009
“Um, no…we’re not Jayhawks. Why do you ask?”
As Kelly and I were planning a weekend getaway to scenic Missouri wine country, it hit me. “We’re driving right by Columbia,” I thought. “Hot damn -- I’m finally going to get to go to Booche’s.”
For years Mizzou graduates have been talking Booche’s up to me, saying how ridiculously addictive the burgers are, and usually mentioning a few of the place’s quirks. “The burgers come out on wax paper!” “No fries!” “The grill is small, so be ready to order or you’ll be waiting a half-hour minimum!”
I couldn’t wait to check it out. Besides the fact that Booche’s was ranked by USA Today as one of the top ten burgers in America, our itinerary called for us to get there at about 10:30 a.m., which meant we had a decent excuse for morning beers. Not that it takes much of an excuse.
Arriving right on schedule, we sat down and ordered a couple of Michelob Lights, one of the only two beers that Booche’s has on tap. For the record, the other one is Boulevard Wheat.
Since it was just us and the regulars, the wait wasn't going to be a problem, which was good because we needed a minute to look at the big menu mounted up on the wall -- although that was a monster tip-off there were rookies in the building. The only way we could’ve been more conspicuous is if we’d worn KU shirts.
Kelly and I each ordered a hamburger ($2.75, tax included) and a cheeseburger ($3), both with everything -- ketchup, mustard, pickles and onions. Indeed, when the server brought them over, they were on tiny squares of wax paper.
Bigger than a slider but smaller than your usual full-size burger, the burgers at Booche’s are totally scrumptious. They’ve got a taste all their own, something I’ve heard attributed to the flavoring that’s built up on the grill over the years. Just the right amount of greasy, too.
One burger is a snack. Two is a meal. I get the feeling that after a few beers I’d be ordering them by the half-dozen. It may be all for the better that I didn’t go to Mizzou.
As for Booche’s itself -- it’s awesome. To the left when you walk in, there's a nice long wooden bar with floor-mounted stools, while beyond the seating area the majority of the place is taken up by pool tables, snooker tables and a billiards table. Makes me want to watch "The Hustler" with Paul Newman again.
Dating back to 1898, there's some serious history going on at Booche's. Go read the story of the perpetually reserved table called X Land. I love a bar that’s chock full of tradition.
On another note, I think I’m going to have to learn how to play snooker.
110 South Ninth Street | Columbia, MO 65201