Columbus, Ohio: Unexpected Foodie Mecca

I recently made a trip back home to Central Ohio, where I grew up before moving to Seattle in 2000. Normally, my blog focuses on European travel. But you can also “travel” back home — approaching it through the eyes of a visitor. And when I do that, I’m doubly impressed by the remarkable foodie scene that’s percolating in my formerly meat-and-potatoes hometown. If you’re headed to Columbus, be ready for some great food — from Himalayan dumplings and explosively flavorful fried chicken, to high-end molecular gastronomy feasts, to artisanal microbrews and spirits, to the best damn ice cream in the land. And if you aren’t going to Columbus anytime soon…well, maybe you should.

Aaah, Columbus, Ohio. Flyover country. The heartland. The Heart of It All. The crossroads of the good ol’ U-S-of-A. And, for me, home. But these days, tucked amid the cornfields and strip malls of Central Ohio is also one of the most exciting culinary scenes in the United States. Who knew?

I spent my 20 most formative years (from age 5 to age 25) in Central Ohio — in the small town of Delaware, a half-hour’s drive north of Columbus. Back then, Central Ohio was the farthest thing from a culinary mecca. But it had all of the ingredients of one — in a literal sense. Ohio’s sultry summers give rise to a cornucopia of lush produce. No more perfect food exists than a juicy cob of Ohio sweet corn, right off the stalk. And Ohio (where one of the leading cities is called Cleave-land) has always had a top-tier meat industry. My next-door neighbor raised prizewinning hogs, which sold for some of the highest prices in the country.

And yet, when I was living there, local restauranteurs hadn’t quite caught up with local producers. Consider the Ohio State Fair butter cow. Now, get this: Dairy sculptors take a full ton of rich, creamery butter and fashion it into a full-sized statue of a cow. The butter cow is kept in a refrigerated glass case that a half-million fairgoers shuffle past with a hushed reverence, like visitors to the tomb of Lenin. (I am not making this up. Did I mention the butter cow is life-sized?) The year I graduated from high school, in a beautiful synergy of Central Ohio food theming, the butter cow was joined by a full-sized butter statue of Dave Thomas, founder of Columbus-based fast food chain Wendy’s.

Looking back, using mountains of butter to sculpt statues seems an almost too on-the-nose symbol for a city that had more great food than it really knew what to do with. They had the ingredients, and the industriousness. It just hadn’t yet coalesced.

When I moved away from Central Ohio in 2000, the food scene there was just getting rolling. Chains were beginning to be nudged aside by quality local restaurants. (In the 1990s, Cameron Mitchell built the foundations of a culinary empire that’s still expanding. Today he’s preparing to open a trendy food hall in the former Budd Dairy building.)  I believe things really turned a corner just a decade and a half ago, when Jeni Britton Bauer, from her humble ice-cream stand in Columbus’ North Market, figured out a way to harness Central Ohio’s natural bounty and turn it to the best ice cream on the planet. (More on Jeni’s ice cream later.) Jeni led the vanguard of a new foodie awareness, and a new foodie pride, in Central Ohio. And today, Columbus is blossoming into one of the best food cities in the USA.

With each return visit, my in-laws — in an endearing if fruitless quest to convince us to move back home — take my wife and me on a culinary tour around the city. Those first few years, these food tours felt a little forced. But then something strange started to happen: The places they took us were actually good. Really good. And after our last visit, it’s official: Columbus has arrived. It’s a city I’d seriously consider traveling to just for the food.

The best embodiment of Columbus’ foodie renaissance is the city’s Short North,  a trendy corridor stretching along High Street from the main campus of Ohio State University to downtown. Longtime favorites here include Tasi, a delightful breakfast, brunch, and lunch café with delicious comfort food and a neighborhood bustle; Bakersfield,  an upmarket bar-taqueria; and Northstar Caféan organic stay-a-while cafeteria with great salads and sandwiches.

But the epicenter of the foodie scene in the Short North — and Columbus generally — is the North Market, which hides between brick warehouses on the northern edge of downtown. Now, I moved from Columbus to the city with perhaps the most famous market in America. You know…the one where they throw fish. But the problem with Seattle’s Pike Place Market is exactly that: its fame. Years before I moved to town, the Pike Place Market had already been transformed into an almost entirely touristy venture. I rarely visit Pike Place Market, unless I’m entertaining out-of-towners. And if I do wind up at the market at mealtime, I panic a little bit, because I have no confidence I’ll find a good meal. Most eateries are squarely pitched at the palates of people piling off one of the world’s largest cruise ships, moored out front every Saturday. (Apologies to the exceptions.)

But Columbus’ North Market?  Now, that’s a place I could have lunch every single day and never get bored. Unpretentious and packed with temptations, the North Market has been the incubator for Columbus’ burgeoning foodie scene. Its main floor is a warren of producers and food vendors, offering everything from toothsome Polish pierogi to flavorful Vietnamese vermicelli bowls to crisp French macarons. Each stand is more tempting than the last, but two are particularly worth trying.

First is Momo Ghar, serving a short-and-simple menu of savory handmade Nepalese-style dumplings called momos. Food snobs shouldn’t be put off by the Guy Fieri endorsement — this place is straight-up fantastic, and a perfect example of how curious foodies and Columbus’ growing immigrant populations mix and mingle at the North Market.

But if you have only one meal at the North Market, head upstairs. There you’ll find Hot Chicken Takeover, filling a long, industrial-mod hall. Not only does this place have the best Nashville-style fried chicken I’ve ever eaten — juicy, tender, and perfectly seasoned — but it’s socially conscious, priding itself on being a “fair chance employer” (the majority of their staff are formerly incarcerated or formerly affected by homelessness).

As you get in line, a chalkboard on the wall counts down how many pieces of today’s fresh chicken are still available. The line moves fast, and soon you’re ordering your preferred spiciness level, from “cold” to “fire” (casual palates max out at “warm”). While waiting for your name to be called, grab a free cup of iced tea — super-sweet or unsweetened — and fill a little tub of ranch sauce. (No barbecue sauce here. The chicken is so juicy and flavorful, you won’t miss it.)  Find a seat at a shared table, with strategically placed rolls of rough brown paper towels, and wait for your name to be called. They have only a few sides — macaroni and cheese, coleslaw — but they’re also perfectly executed.

If you just want a snack at the market, Brezel has an enticing array of German-style pretzels (and smaller pretzel twists), ranging from sweet to savory. On my latest visit, they had one encrusted with Crunch Berries, and another with melted slivers of smoked gouda. Nearby is Cajohns Flavor and Fire,  with a dizzying array of salsas and hot sauces to suit every palate, from mild and sweet to unadulterated heat. I already have my personal favorites here (the salsa verde and the chipotle salsa are tops), but I can never resist the long tasting bar.

And now…dessert. And for dessert, there’s no better choice — in the North Market, in Columbus, and quite possibly in the United States of America — than Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. As I mentioned earlier, Jeni Britton Bauer started her ice cream stand right here in 2002. She befriended her fellow market vendors and suppliers, and engineered ways to infuse her ice creams with the essence of their produce. For example, her Backyard Mint is an off-white ice cream that tastes like actual mint — the kind that grows like a weed in your garden — rather than synthetic peppermint essence and neon-green coloring. Another summertime North Market inspiration is her Sweet Corn and Black Raspberries, which speaks for itself.

Jeni’s ice cream is the perfect expression of the form. It’s the In-N-Out Burger of frozen dairy products. The texture is smooth and creamy — rich, but not too rich. It melts on your tongue exactly the way you want it to. And the flavors… well, the flavors are magnificent. Jeni has the nerve to christen her ice cream with superlative names that can’t possibly be true (“The Milkiest Chocolate In The World”)…but somehow live up to the fuss.

Jeni’s flavors are simple, yet complex. Like a perfectly composed dish by a master chef, every ingredient has its place — each one hits its note, perfectly on-pitch, without overshadowing the others. Take the Bangkok Peanut. It’s a rich, creamy peanut butter flavor. Not fakey Jiff peanut butter — the real stuff, nutty and rich, from the health food aisle. To that, she adds coconut that’s been toasted to the point of perfect caramelization. And finally, she tosses in a pinch of cayenne pepper, which tickles the back of your throat just so — adding an exquisite, exotic twist the moment after you’ve already swallowed and think you’ve experienced every nuance of the flavor. An ice cream that finishes hot sounds like a gimmick, but in Jeni’s hands, it’s a masterpiece.

In addition to a long list of perennial flavors (don’t get me started on the Gooey Butter Cake), there are always a few changing seasonal flavors. I’ll never forget her Pumpernickel ice cream from a few Christmases ago. On my latest visit, she had another one of my favorites — Savannah Buttermint. It tastes like a dish of chewy after-dinner mints suspended in a creamy broth. The Pickled Mango is a fascinating mix of sweet and sour. And the Watermelon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt tastes like the best tangy watermelon you’ve ever eaten…only better.

I could go on and on about Jeni’s flavors (apparently so). But recently she topped herself by coming up with the ultimate delivery system for her ice cream: the Buttercrisp Waffle Cone. Imagine taking a traditional cone, hot and fresh off the griddle, and dipping it into a vat of melted salty butter. The cone is a perfect synthesis of soft, crisp, sweet, and salty. It’s so good, it threatens to upstage the ice cream.

A few years ago, Jeni published a cookbook that teaches the home chef to make ice cream that’s nearly as good as what she does in her shops — and quite rightly won a James Beard Award. (Having made a couple dozen batches of Jeni’s at home, I can attest that if you follow her instructions carefully, it turns out great.) Jeni has a serious mail-order business, and has opened several additional scoop shops around Columbus, and in other US cities. But visiting the mothership in person, at the Columbus North Market, is a pilgrimage.

OK, enough with the ice cream. (Though, let’s be honest: Can there ever be enough ice cream?) Apologies for getting carried away. My in-laws have gently teased me that I come to Columbus as much for Jeni’s as for them. I have, to date, not disabused them of this notion.

The Short North and North Market may be ground zero for Columbus’ foodie explosion, but other destination eateries are scattered around the metro area, too.

Just a few blocks east of High Street, in the Italian Village neighborhood, runs Fourth North, which has recently flourished as an arterial for artisanal breweries: Wolf’s Ridge (with a particularly well-regarded attached restaurant, and more affordable taproom), Seventh Son, and Hoof Hearted.

Just west of downtown, in an industrial corner of the posh Grandview neighborhood, those who look will find Watershed Distillery. In addition to offering tours of the facility where they distill a wide variety of spirits from Central Ohio ingredients (such as apple brandy), they operate a fun cocktail bar and restaurant. They publish the most entertaining cocktail menu I’ve seen, with choices like “Teenage Dirtbag” and “Big Papi.” The cuisine is bold and experimental, melding local favorite dishes with flourishes that challenge the palate — such as big slabs of ribs with Asian accents.

My favorite high-end restaurant in Central Ohio used to be incongruously located in the humble downtown shopping zone of my hometown, Delaware, Ohio — literally across the street from the three-screen movie theater where I worked my way through college. Foodies from all over Ohio would flock to Veritas for Chef Josh Dalton’s high-end, confident cookery — harnessing the state of the culinary art with a typically Central Ohio lack of pretense. A few years ago, I had a dinner at Veritas that was the best-value meal, dollar for dollar, that I’ve had anywhere — creativity and execution on the caliber of a European Michelin-starred restaurant, but at Delaware, Ohio, prices.

Chef Dalton’s ambition and command of molecular gastronomy — savory bacon risotto with perfectly delicate sous vide egg; scallop with pungent kimchi and crispy rice; Wagyu beef short rib with palate-blasting chimichurri — has cultivated many foodie converts amid the cornfields of Central Ohio. Recently Veritas moved to a location more befitting its world-class cuisine — in downtown Columbus, between the North Market and the statehouse — and raised its prices accordingly ($90 for the eight-course tasting menu). But it’s still an unmissable opportunity to blow up any preconceptions you might have that Columbus is a Podunk culinary wasteland.

There are many other excellent choices scattered within and around the I-270 outerbelt, but this representative sampling of why I get excited anytime I head back to Ohio…beyond the chance to reconnect with family and friends. I realize I am biased. But, believe me, nobody was more suspicious of Central Ohio’s lackluster culinary scene than someone who fled to the wilds of Washington State. Take it from this prodigal son: Columbus, Ohio, is the most underrated foodie destination in the USA.

59 Replies to “Columbus, Ohio: Unexpected Foodie Mecca”

  1. Love your suggestions and I have one for you. Barcelona! The most beautiful patio and wonderful food and drinks. My sister lives in Columbus and this has been our favorite,

    1. Cameron, I have responded to your blog before but you hit home here. I moved to Columbus in 1972 after my military service to go the Graduate School at The Ohio State University. At the time, it was a nice small town but having made the decision many years ago to stay here, it turned out to be a great decision. Today Columbus or Cbus as we call it, is a great town, well beyond the food scene. It is an Art and Culture mecca. I would encourage any of your readers to come to Columbus sometime for a short visit. You won’t be sorry. Also I will second the post about Barcelona, there is not a nicer patio anywhere. Next time through town try it.
      BTW our young son lives in Denver, and we somehow can’t convince him to return to Columbus either. Must be something in the water in the West that keeps you young folks moving there. Thanks for the post.

      1. Albert, glad you enjoyed it. I agree–Central Ohio is really impressive on a number of levels.

        Regarding your son (and all the rest of us who’ve moved on to other places), here’s my favorite joke: What’s Ohio’s biggest export? Ohioans.

  2. You really need to try Heirloom, in the Wexner Center on campus…locally sourced, unique menu…and our daughter is the chef/kitchen manager…

      1. You can’t mention the short north without mentioning Basi Italia! My FAVORITE! Also try Angry Baker next time you’re in Columbus, you won’t regret it!

    1. Yep, the Heirloom is without question the best lunch spot anywhere around campus. I eat there several times a week. Great food, great people.

    1. I’m new to Columbus. I’ve been living in Chicago and LA. I have tried most of the suggestions in the article and comments, and have to agree. Can you recommend a few Somali places? I’d love to try it!

      1. Hoyo’s Kitchen in the Columbus Square Shopping Center, RT 161 and Cleveland Ave., is an excellent place for Somali food!

      2. Jamye, Hoyo’s Kitchen in the Columbus Square shopping center is FANTASTIC! And the Columbus Food Adventures Alt Eats Ethnic Tour takes you to some great spots on the north side, including Hoyo’s Kitchen!

  3. Columbus has lots of amazing eateries! If you love Northstar you will love Brassica which is owned by the same couple and it is a fast casual concept of Mediterranean cuisine. It’s focus is on made from scratch food just like Northstar so it takes fast casual to a much more creative level!

  4. Have you been back to Downtown Delaware recently? It’s bursting with scratch kitchen/ farm-to-table eateries!! p.s. Did you go to OWU? I’m in the International Off-Campus program office… I feel like we should talk…

  5. Dalton has not abandoned Delaware as he still owns 1808 American Bistro and is opening a high end Italian eatery called Speck. Dalton is joined by nearly 30 food and beverage related businesses all nestled into historic renovated buildings in vibrant Downtown Delaware. It is basically a smaller Short North.

    1. I didn’t realize 1808 was Dalton’s! (I have eaten there, and enjoyed it.) Good to know. Agreed–Downtown Delaware is an inspiration. When I was in college, Sandusky Street was all torn up for years; between that and the new Walmart that opened a few years earlier, many downtown businesses closed up shop. But on recent visits I’m amazed at how vibrant and thriving my hometown has become. Guess I left too soon…

  6. Thanks for the great article. Been reading your articles for a long time and had no idea you lived in Delaware. I also live there. We miss Veritas in Delaware. Love the North Market and all the treasures it contains.

  7. Great list! Only sad to not see a mention of Little Eater in North Market (and now Clintonville). We’ve also had a major surge in doughnuts of late, with the best addition being Tupelo, a food truck working on a brick & mortar. I freelance for Columbus Monthly and write either a Recipe or Product column monthly, you can find the most recent posts here: (as well as The Columbus Food Truck Cookbook, which could take you on a full tour of just the mobile food scene next time you’re in town).

  8. Make sure you go to Brothers Drake Meadery next time.
    Oh and Banana Leaf for Indian unlike I’ve tried anywhere else, it’s on Bethel rd. Unlimited Lasse and a buffet.
    Tensuke Market and Cafe are one of the best things about CBus. Japanese sushi, udon, candy, fresh and frozen imports.
    My comfort pig out for Indian is the Taj Palace in Hilliard. Go for the Lunch Buffet.

    Thanks for writing about my hometown. I live 2 miles from Lake Erie and 20 minutes from Cedar Point. Vermilion is cute and our new culinary hotspot is a food truck of all things!

  9. All good destinations and even this long post just scratches the surface. A few more to mention: Rockmill Tavern, Arepazo, The Refectory, the fantastic Taco Truck and Food Truck community and so much more. I’ll also plug Columbus Brew Adventures and Columbus Food Adventures to take you behind the scenes of local food and craft beer destinations.

  10. I live in Worthington, and there are several places within 3 miles of me that MUST be mentioned. First, the Worthington Farmer’s market. Possibly the best in the US. 90 vendors every Saturday morning. In the Winter, (like- December) still held – then inside the mall in Worthington. Everest – right downtown. Indian/Nepalese restaurant, and I feel it is clearly better than Momo. Whitney House – one of the best restaurants in CBUS , and very inventive. B
    Only place I really WANT to have brunch. As an example, their boozy cereal. Your old favorites like Cocoa Puffs, Fruity Pebbles, with milk and ..flavorings… such as Frangelica. In south Worthington, there is Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza. Guess what they have. But wait, there’s more… at nine o’clock it turns into the best music venue in town, with a stunning variety of world class entertainment. THen there is the reverered Refectory. A French style white tablecloth restaurant that has been in operation since before 1980. Nationally noted, and one of the best Wine lists that exists. As mentioned before, all of these are within 3 miles of me. Better get here soon, we natives are going to lock the doors soon.

  11. Love Columbus restaurants! I live in Cleveland area but my kids both went to OSU. During my son’s freshman year (I believe on move in day)in 2012, we tried Rigsby’s. It was one of my favorites, we were so sad to see it closed a few years ago. But since my son started school there, we try a new restaurant almost every time we go to visit. Most of Cameron Mitchell’s restaurants are excellent, fun and different. Lindey’s is always a favorite. I’ll have to put Veritas on my list!

  12. A lot of great ethnic foods can be found along the Morse Road corridor and 161 (scattered amongst the fast food joints). Most recent new try for me was Salvadoran at Ranchero Kitchen. There’s also a Momo Ghar inside the old Toys ‘R’ Us which is now Saraga Grocery which has everything ethnic food related under the sun.

    1. We stopped by the Saraga Grocery on our last trip. It was just fantastic–groceries from every corner of the world, all under one roof. (And I remember visiting it when it was a Toys R Us, too!) I went to a great Somali place along Morse Road once, too, but I don’t recall the name. I’ll add Ranchero to my list!

  13. I love The Toast Bar in Grandview (industrial area) – it’s Dan The Baker’s little tiny bar serving toast and local toppings from sll over ohio… amazing variety and flavors all in a simple slice of toast… their bread knows no bounds! Worth the side trip!
    So many other places as well!

  14. You can’t mention fine dining in Columbus without talking about The Refectory. This landmark restaurant inside a beautiful old church is one of only 95 restaurants in the world to receive The Wine Spectator’s Grand Award. It has a wine cellar housing 17,000 bottles of wine! The food is consistently beyond excellent and is always on a “Best” something list in Columbus. Consider visiting for a special occasion dinner!

    1. I agree completely. I’ve sampled the Neopolitan pizza in Naples at Michele’s Pizza Antica, so I’m always looking for something close, and Amato’s in Delaware comes very close. They have a wood fired oven and the pizza sauce and crust are great!

  15. Hi Cameron!

    You definitely mentioned many of my favorites in your review of Columbus’ food scene. I’m a local blogger myself, and unlike you, a very picky eater — which faults me in many ways. But everything you mentioned is absolutely correct. The smoked dry ribs and cocktails at Watershed and Distillery, to the Nashville fried chicken at Hot Chicken Takeover at North Market. You are absolutely right with your descriptions.

    Also, Savannah Buttermint is my FAVORITE ice-cream at Jeni’s Ice Creams. The flavor profile truly captures the essence of one my favorite memories, which was eating the powdery, chalk dinner mints that my babysitter would have in a crystal bowl located on her coffee table in her family room. The mint she used in her ice-cream took me back to my childhood of when I used to grab a handful of mints right before watching Lady and the Tramp when I was three years old. According to science, scents trigger memories and Jeni Britton Bauer is literally a genius and has said in interviews of how she wants her ice-cream to market to all your senses. If you’re looking for rich, creamy, and decadent ice-cream with half the calories — check out Coppa Gelato in Westerville, Ohio. Order the gelato flight so you can experience all kinds of flavors including the owner, Linda’s favorite pistachio (she sources the pistachios straight from Italy). They make the gelato from scratch daily, and they are locally-owned and operated.

    As for additional recommendations, I definitely think you should stop by Brassica (since you love North Star) if you’re looking for a casual, trendy lunch that also provides local beers on tap. If you’re in Franklinton and grabbing a beer at Land Grant — you MUST try Ray, Ray’s BBQ food truck. The BBQ ribs with waffle fries is delicious.

    If you’re feeling more adventurous and hanging out on the East side of Columbus, there’s an Instagram account @504nolaway_ and although they do not have a food truck or brick & mortar they accept direct message orders and will meet you at the Eastland Mall parking lot or delivery. Sounds extremely sketchy, but their shrimp and frits look amazing.

    If you’re looking to go a little more upscale and driving through Dublin, Ohio (which is closer to Delaware than Downtown Columbus), I highly recommend checking out Bridge Park Dublin (which is booming with new restaurants and entertainment). There is a beautiful rooftop bar called VASO (within AC Marriott) that overlooks the Scioto River serving Spanish-styled tapas which are perfectly sized in portion and flavor! Plus, they curate their cocktail menu from local distilleries (i.e. Watershed). If you’re looking for whiskey or European flavors, check out the new, redesigned Fado Pub & Kitchen or check out a new black-owned business that opened called Hen Quarters Dublin. Their skillet Mac & Cheese looks amazing. I haven’t tried it yet, but all the buzz about it leaves little room for disappointment.

    Also, I know you mentioned Tasi’s (which I too love), but I’d also check out Katalina’s Café (located off Pennsylvania Ave. in Victorian Village) for their nationally famous pancake balls infused with Nutella or strawberry sauces for breakfast, breakfast tacos, and spicy bacon.

    If you’re craving tacos — I’d definitely recommend Condado Tacos, which is expanding rapidly and is known for cheap build-your-own tacos and the BEST queso! Their constantly changing their menu on a monthly basis. Also, I love Cosecha Cocina in Italian Village (near Seventh Son’s Brewing). Order the house margarita along with the shrimp taco, with some Mexican street corn as a side! Their ingredients are locally sourced and taste FRESH.

    Anyway, I know that was a lot, but I wanted to share with you a few places I love and I hope a few make your list for the next time you’re in town. Obviously, you said you left out a few places because there are just so many to from, but I hope next time you’re in town that you take way more pictures for your blog post — Columbus, Ohio definitely deserves a plate at the table for being one of the best food meccas in the U.S. Happy eating!

  16. This just makes me happy. We moved to Denver from Columbus a year and half ago and the food in Columbus is truly unparalleled. I have been saying since we left how amazing the Central Ohio food scene is. Having lived in German Village before we moved, Harvest Pizza and Curio were our go-to spots to walk to. We have yet to find pizza in Colorado that even comes close to any of the great Columbus pizza joints. My husband cannot come back to Columbus without getting at least 4 Brezel pretzels. They are the best! La Tavola in Grandview is also a favorite of ours.

    1. Agreed. Honestly, I eat better (and more interesting stuff) in Columbus than in many cities that are well-known for their food scene.

  17. Next time you are in Columbus be sure to try Smoked on High Barbeque Co. on S. High St. The best pulled pork and ‘Max N’ Cheese!’

  18. You’ve mentioned some greats, but also miss some greats as well! For tacos, please visit Los Guachos in the Columbus area and 12 West back in Delaware. Some of the BEST taco joints I have ever visited.

    Arch City in Short North is also a favorite. The lamb sliders with goat cheese are to die for.

    Pistacia Vera for pastries and desserts, Stauf’s for coffee. . . my, I could go on!

  19. If you haven’t already, you should hit up Ray Ray’s Hog Pit (any of the three locations) for the best BBQ in Central Ohio, and make a trip to Los Gauchos (two locations) for some delicious el pastor tacos.

  20. I used to work as a server while working on my bachelors at Ohio State. My favorite foods were ORGANIC Jamaican Jerk chicken at a little cafe onnthe north side of campus on High Street. And Burritos as Big As Your Head, which I believe was run by authentic Mexicans.
    After getting my Bachelors, I moved to California and got introduced to REAL food.
    When I was at Ohio State, I remember reading a very nasty restaurant review written by some sniveling grunge would be hipster prolly from Cleveland-about a less flashy Korean restaurant because they served pig intestines.
    Now Korean food is okay because it was appropriated by somebody named Dalton?
    B* puhleese!!!!
    That is sbout as pretentious as it gets!!!
    In California, I had the best organic veggie lasagna at a former California Cafe in San Francisco. I was Chilean Sea Bass you would die for that was cooked by a great cook who was authentically Chinese American. He is slso a friend of mine. I had REAL Korwan food. I mean that ORGANIC steamy sticky white rice with banchan, red herring boiled so fresh that you could just boil it with nothing added to it and eat right off the bone, incredible but simple sushi at a place called Sushi Ota in San Diego (its very high quality seafood with no gimmicks in a strip mall), I had incredible Lebanese food cooked on a street corner in San Diego by a legal immigrant from Lebanon, amazing Italian food prepped by good friends from Europe, amazing eggplant curry at the Farmers Market in San Mateo made from scratch by a woman who was really from India.
    And Turkish coffee, Italian coffee, French pastry in Beverly Hills made by real French people, and don’t dismiss how Hesaidic Jews (not to be confused with the Amish- and yes I’m dying to try Amish baked goods)…those Jewish Americans can whip up a great pizza….btw, 169 dialects are spoken in NYC and LA.
    Ohio State is literally the only place in Ohio where you would even see diversity and its so funny how the ethnic foods are made by only Caucasians for caucasians!!! Imitation is a form of flattery no matter how much hipster fusion adulteratesvit!
    And as an alumni, I do have a beef with OSU agriculture Dept defending rbgh in dairy. I had serious health issues because of it. And I have better ideas on what to do with that wonderful fresh corn than hfcs.
    Yes, Columbus Ohio LOVES to eat. And drink. And its modeled like cities around the country. Authentic food with nothing but real ingredients and even cooking is the new pink.

  21. We’ve recently moved from Columbus to Seattle and I am missing two of my go-to Cbus places, Northstar Cafe and Little Eater. If you know of any substitutes in Seattle for either of those, I’d love to hear. No complaints about Seattle’s offerings though, especially the seafood!

    1. That’s a tricky one. You could try Bounty Kitchen in Queen Anne. It’s pricey but has a similar approach to the places you mention (especially Little Eater). There’s nothing quite like Northstar in Seattle, unfortunately… And yes, Seattle definitely has a great food scene, too. (Just no Jeni’s!)

  22. What a great list! And thank you to all the commenters for their suggestions. I’m gluten sensitive and (mostly) vegetarian, plus I try to eat organic when possible. My go-to place is Portia’s Cafe on Indianola Avenue. No gluten in anything, everything is organic, locally produced when available, and totally vegetarian. And from curry or lentil soup to hot apple pie or 7 varieties of cheesecake its all absolutely delicious. But get there early – it fills up fast. Last time I was there the parking lot was full of motorcycles and the leather-clad riders were lined up to get their veggie wraps and green smoothies. Unexpected but heartwarming.

  23. Check out Pistacia Vera on your next trip! It’s right down the street from the Book Loft, and it’s one of my all-time favorite patisseries (and I’ve lived in Paris, New York, and Geneva). I used to ship myself the almondine cookies for special occasions back when they delivered outside Columbus.

  24. Don’t forget to try one of the many food trucks in Columbus. So many different cuisine options, and usually parked outside of some great breweries.

  25. I knew there was a reason why I loved watching your show all these years. I live in Columbus now but graduated from London High /school in London, Ohio. Thanks for the great shout out for our city. We do have a lot of really great places to see and do and eat.

  26. I could not agree with this article more. I’m definitely a foodie spoiled on NYC, LA and San Francisco. I was visiting Columbus for a weekend and my friend’s teenage grand daughter took us to the North Market. It was way beyond my expectations. Just for example, I was raised in NC and lived in Kansas City and Central Texas for long stretches of time. And since moving to San Francisco I mostly eat vegan. But the BBQ stand in North Market, well being vegan went on hold. . Central Texas, NC and Kansas City can learn a thing or two from this BBQ stand. And Jeni ice cream is really the best. And that’s comparing it to Ben and Jerry’s and Blue Bell ice cream. . Visit Columbus, enjoy everything about it and eat well.

  27. I think we cannot ignore restaurants that most popular food writing outlets sometimes fail to notice. Columbus has a burgeoning population of Asian, African, Latino, and other non-Euro ethnicities who have set up shop. Their restaurants do not have the level of fanfare as the ones mentioned in this blog post (though a most deserve the accolade).

    A lot of these other eateries are located in less trendy & shiny, or well-to-do areas of Columbus which may contribute to their relative obscurity. For example (not commenting on the specifics of regional cuisine):

    + Yemeni Restaurant – probably the only Yemeni place within a 3.5 hour drive, other than Detroit, to get Yemeni food.

    + Ethiopian, Somali, Kenyan, Senegalese, Nigerian, Swahili, and more African restaurants sit on the east and south east side of the city.

    + Chinese places, with a separate Chinese menu that serve food very different to your stereotypical takeout, dot the landscape. There’s certainly Cantonese and Sichauan cuisines – I’m sure there is more.

    + Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Philipino, and Tibetan food are represented in small amounts. They have the restaurants and more likely than not, the grocery stores have some sort of hot-food option.

    + Japanese food is best around northern and north west Columbus. You have the best japanese bakery for miles around (Belle’s Bread) and other assortments of places like Yoshi’s, Ba Sho (and their seasonal by-request a la carte menu), and Kihachi (omakase).

    + Latino and Carribbean food is widespread whether it be in the form of food trucks, in back of groceries, or standalone brick-and-mortar.
    + Most Indian food I’m aware of is clustered around the north side of I-70.

    +There are Lebanese and general Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean places as well. Like with the Indian food scene, I am barely familiar with the cuisine.

    + I suppose I have to mention we have fantastic Euro cuisine from German to Italian (La Tavola!). I don’t believe the Nordic and eastern European foods are well-represented.

    + Lastly we have good old beautiful American food; from typical fast food and fast casual, to gut busting diner food, seafood & steak houses, hip cafes, whole-food focused dining, “all-american dining”, and fusion like only America can do… Homegrown markets include locally respected and long-established Carfagna’s, Weiland’s, and Thurn’s (in business since 1886!). Modern ones include The Hills and The Market Italian Village. Farmers markets pop up everywhere in the warmer months. Everybody will be able to find something they love to eat in this city.

    1. Yes 100%! So many incredible Columbus restaurants in modest building located in modest neighborhoods. Too many bloggers and critics ignore them because they don’t stray into those areas. Bangkok & Erawan on Refugee have some of the best Thai food I’ve ever sampled. Super Torta on Georgesville & Tula up in Westerville both have Mexican cuisine that would make you forget you were in Ohio. The countless Ethiopian & Somali restaurants in the NE part of the city are some of the most flavorful foods you’ll ever try. It’s a real gem of a food city, and the best ones seem to be the ones no bloggers write about. I’m also fine with that, as we don’t need a bunch of people suddenly rushing in to ruin things for the locals.

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