Family Friendly, Food Fun Trip to Jefferson City, MO

by Becky Davenport, Budget TravelingMom

Posted March 3, 2016

If you want to starve on vacation, do not go to Jefferson City, Missouri – because the residents like to feed you! But seriously those who enjoy local flavor, great hospitality, and tasting more amazing food than you can stand to eat, pack your bags for a family friendly, food fun trip to Jefferson City, Missouri.

Get your Foodie On in Jefferson City, Missouri

The majestic Missouri River and tree lined bluffs frame Jefferson City. I’ve always loved the beauty — and surprises–when visiting Midwest towns with their natural landscape, historic buildings, and special landmarks tucked away into the quiet yet charming small towns. Recently I took my family on a short road trip to Missouri’s capital city via Amtrak. While I have always loved these small town destinations, I enjoyed watching my kids fall in love with them, too. And we were all pleasantly surprised by the family friendly, food fun trip to Jefferson City, Missouri.

Feast at Madison’s Café 

Located in the heart of historic downtown Jefferson City, Madison’s is casual yet elegant, northern Italian fare at its best.  I have eaten Italian before. In fact, I have eaten at Madison’s Cafe before. Yet, this is the kind of restaurant you can go over and over and try something new every time. Our family is on a mission to sample new dishes, step outside our comfort food world, if you will, so we ordered mussels!

It’s been years since I had sampled mussels, and little D (the 8-year-old) had never even seen them.  With some coaxing from the owner Rob, we had mussels and we liked them – we liked them so much that our little belly pooched out and we couldn’t eat our meal.

Madison’s serves authentic Italian food, but the food can never compare to the service!  Eat, Drink, and Be Merry – if you are not merry when you arrive the staff will make sure you are before you leave!  They greet you will smile, spoil you with Italian food, and even the owner makes his rounds to check on his guest – I dig that!

Madison’s could be considered upscale, but I felt right at home with a 12-year-old and 8-year-old in tow, casually dressed after a train ride to Jefferson City.

Old Fashioned Diner Breakfast at Towne Grill 

Departing our hotel in Downtown Jefferson City, I said “we will stop at the first place that looks good.” As we entered the tiny diner, a few locals informed us that the food at Towne Grill was worth the wait .  With seating at maybe 30 people, we have to agree, it was was worth it. (Travel tip: Always ask the locals where to dine!)

Best pancakes all around, Lesse (my 12-year-old) said she had never tasted pancakes so light and fluffy.  I skipped the pancakes and enjoyed a Western Omelet – it was delicious!  However, the best food on the menu must have been the Gravy N Biscuits, because the 8-year-old licked the plate clean!

Ah Sweet Dessert from Central Dairy 

No visit to Jefferson City, Missouri is complete without a few bites of Central Dairy.  Central Dairy is a locally owned and operated dairy – that alone is fascinating, but the marvelous part is their ice cream.  Local tradition and local favorite, the ice cream is like no other.

Hand scooped, dozens of choices, and a family environment.  We highly suggest asking to taste several flavors before you make your selection and grabbing a handful of napkins once you have made your selection.


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