More than a few things are changing for Columbia's restaurants. One of them is a return to serving food on plates instead of takeout boxes.
There's something to be said for food out of a box, though, which is why Vox compiled the ultimate outside-the-box meal with offerings from four Columbia restaurants.
All of them will make you full, and one could make you famous:
Appetizer: Sloppy Disco Fries (44 Canteen)
House-Made Seasoned Fries, Queso Sauce, Chicken Chorizo, Smoked Chile Sauce, Sharp Cheddar, Pickled 'Hop-a-peños', Cilantro
Caution is required with 44 Canteen's Sloppy Disco Fries: if you don't share them, your meal will be over just as it starts.
"There's a lot there," says Mark Sulltrop, the restaurant's owner.
The inspiration for the dish was chili cheese fries, but Sulltrop says he couldn't serve something so simple. "We always like to put our own take on things," he says.
That take is adding a spicier sloppy Joe — a "sloppy José," as Sulltrop calls it — on top of the fries for a hefty appetizer that some turn into its own meal.
Entrée: 5 in 5 Minutes Challenge (CoMo Smoke and Fire)
5 quarter-pound hotdogs, with a choice of toppings, to be eaten in 5 minutes with no beverages
A t-shirt and spot on CoMo Smoke and Fire's Wall of Fame await you if you can make your way through this entrée.
That's a big "if," though, because this is quite the task.
"We were watching Man vs. Food a lot," says co-owner Matt Hawkins. "We decided we needed a challenge."
While 1.25 pounds of hot dog is nothing to scoff at, the most difficult aspect might be the lack of drink. There's no dunking, no washing down or anything that might make it easier to down a hotdog.
Hawkins says attempts happen about once a month, and of those, only five or 10 percent actually complete the challenge — though two earned their way onto the Wall of Fame just last week.
But be careful: failure means you'll find your face on the Wall of Shame.
Dessert: Xango (Las Margaritas)
View this post on Instagram
After an amazing meal you deserve a great dessert, so come try our Xango! Fried cheesecake tossed in cinnamon sugar, served with vanilla ice cream! 😊 . . . . . #visitmo #tacos #xango #cheesecake #carmel #icecream #fajitanachos #whatsforlunch #whatsfordinner #needfood #yum #mexicanfood #tacos #foodbeast #buzzfeedfood #taco #foodblogger #guacamole #delish #hungry #insiderfood #buzzfeast #munchies #delicious #f52grams #getinmybelly
Cheesecake wrapped in a pastry tortilla, fried and covered with cinnamon sugar and caramel syrup. Served with ice cream
We at Vox are all for healthy food, but we also support frying cheesecake.
It's a rich way to finish off this outside-the-box meal, which is only fitting.
Should more desserts be fried and doused in cinnamon sugar and caramel? Should more ice cream sundaes incorporate cheesecake?
Seeing this offering from Las Margaritas, we say yes.
Cocktail: Blonde Mary (9th Street Public House)
Golden yellow tomatoes, gold bell peppers, habaneros, jalapenos, garlic, onion, cayenne, chipotle (and more)
The menu at 9th Street Public House says "blondes have more fun," which is why the pub put a blonde twist on the bloody Mary.
The Blonde Mary isn't the only spin-off available there. Visitors can go green with a tomatillo and poblano version, or, at the right time of year, find the "Poblano Escobar."
And having made it through four unique offerings throughout town, consider the golden hue of the Blonde Mary your medal.