Full, foamy pints pour from the 22 taps at McGinty’s Pub amid the clatter of pool cues and shuffleboard pucks. Glasses not being pressed to walls by eavesdropping secret agents fill with domestic drafts such as Bud Light ($2) and craft brews such as amber-hued Boulevard Chocolate Ale ($6). Other on-tap picks average $3.50 a pint and include classics such as Blue Moon, Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Bells Two Hearted Ale.
Freezing Missouri winter winds howl outside Tropical Liqueurs' fogged-up windows, but inside, the atmosphere is decidedly beach-like. Palm trees and nautical knickknacks decorate the lively interior, but the true stars of this tropically themed watering hole are the frozen-drink dispensers, which churn with colorful, fruity potations. Bartenders load large styrofoam cups with potent slushies made from creative combinations of juices, liqueurs, and fruit purées. They rotate drink selections regularly, spotlighting a toasted-almond concoction one week—packed with coffee liquor, amaretto, and vanilla ice cream—and a daiquiri with fresh strawberries the next. Icy potations in hand, visitors turn their attention to games of pool or flat-screen televisions, which broadcast local sports games or horror movies where local sports games come to a temporary halt when the mascot turns out to be an actual tiger. During warmer months, visitors loll in the sun out on the wooden patio and enjoy the beverages that Inside Columbia hailed as a "Columbia staple" when it dubbed Tropical Liqueurs the Best Place for a Girls' Night Out in 2012.
Midway One Stop Diner's staff takes its homestyle comfort cuisine seriously, especially when it comes to the Big 70 challenge. This platter of seven biscuits, four slices of bacon, two servings of hash browns, and 70 ounces of creamy sausage gravy is so hearty that it has only been finished by three people. Not to worry, though—the majority of visitors who aren't up to the task have a range of diner classics to choose from, all of which are served 24 hours a day. Three-egg omelets and hot cakes are crafted fresh throughout the day and night alongside platters of grilled or fried pork, steak, or chicken. Another signature dish is the monster burger, a 1-pound patty smothered in cheese and other toppings.
At Sideshow, people dance to music from DJs and live acts, sip from glasses filled with one of more than 20 beers, and play games such as pool. Sideshow's daily specials fuel merrymaking and include such deals as the Saturday Friction dance party, with $5 A.B.C. doubles and $4 long island iced teas, $2 Tuesdays, a celebration of the traditional start of weekend with $2 well drinks and domestic bottles, and Ladies' Night on Wednesdays. Twist and wheel across the open dance floor to a wide variety of DJs and live musical guests, with upcoming performers including gypsy rockers Vagabond Swing on December 1 and the indie group Scouts on December 9. Guests reserve relaxing time-outs in the VIP Blue Ribbon Room lounge, or challenge each other's ability to clobber shiny spheroids at one of the pool tables.
Campus Bar & Grill feeds crowds of ravenous sports fans and wandering tigers from a menu stocked with sandwiches, salads, wraps, wings, and more. Throw the kickoff punt with an appetizer of spinach-artichoke dip ($7.99) before flattening hunger beneath the Bruin burger, a half-pound patty with grilled red and green peppers, mushrooms, and provolone, contained by a kaiser bun and served with a choice of cottage fries, waffle fries, side salad, cup of chili, or soup of the day ($6.99). Bread-shunning diners can opt for a wrap, such as the spicy chicken, with honey, barbecue, mild, hot, or unbearable sauce, mixed greens, diced tomatoes, black olives, red onions, and cheese ($7.99), and light eaters can visit the green with an assortment of salads ($2.99–$6.99).
Hawgs & Dogs' friendly wait staff pours a cascade of 10 draft beers and slings a menu of hearty pub fare in a casual sports-bar setting. Guzzle a bottled brew of Miller ($2.50) or Heineken ($3.50) while noshing on the legendary country fried steak, a 6-ounce steak smothered in homestyle peppered gravy ($10). Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue chicken platter barrel rolls in Ray's eponymous barbecue sauce ($8), delivering a tangy slap to zoned-out taste buds. Hawgs & Dogs' roadhouse chilidogs stake out a slab of stomach real estate with two quarter-pound, all-beef hot dogs, doused in a roadhouse-chili cornucopia of ground beef, diced tomatoes, pinto beans, corn, mild green chilies, fiery jalapeños, and microscopic fire extinguishers ($8).