Colombus, Ohio, otherwise known as Arch City, boasts everything from quite literally being at the heart of it all–it’s estimated that at least 48% of the United States population life within 600 miles of boomtown–to a dang good scoop of ice cream. With a population just shy of 900,000, the city is the most populous in Ohio and was ranked the 4th fastest growing US city by the Census Bureau in 2017.
But putting numbers aside, Columbus is just plain cool and the food scene there is quite impeccable. Often referred to as “a midwest dining mecca,” Columbus offers an outstanding gastronomic experience thanks to the plethora of ingenious chefs and entrepreneurial restauranteurs that call Columbus home. So where should you start? I recommend with breakfast.
Whether you want to start with something sweet or savory, local breakfast and brunch restaurant, Katalina’s Café, is a Columbus staple. Highly applauded for their delicious pancake balls–round fluffy spheres filled with your choice of Nutella, dulce de leche or a seasonal jelly–and unique venue that is a former gas station, Katalina’s offers a one-of-a-kind experience that is enjoyed by both locals and tourists.
Another noteworthy place to grab your morning meal is Skillet, a farm-to-table brunch destination that offers both breakfast classics and innovative dishes with complex flavors. Their menu varies daily, as they partner with local farmers to bring their guests delicious meals made with only the freshest ingredients.
There are many great ways to explore the beautiful urban town of Columbus, so why not do it with coffee in hand? The Columbus Coffee Trail is a coffee lovers dream come true. The route boasts 18 participating coffee shops that offer everything from full-bodied pour overs and carefully crafted lattes to buttery croissants and fruit-filled scones. Visit four stops to earn a free Columbus coffee experience t-shirt. More information about the trail and its participating shops can be found at www.cbuscoffee.com/columbus-coffee-trail/.
Another way to experience Columbus’s vibrant and diverse community is to visit the North Market. This authentic public market is filled with dozens of unique, independent merchants and farmers selling just about anything your heart could possibly desire.
Lunch in Columbus is no joke. The urban wonderland hosts a variety of restaurants, cafés and diners that serve dishes combining every flavor known to man. If you’re already in the North Market, you can’t miss the opportunity to grab some grub at Hot Chicken Takeover. As the name suggests, their speciality is perfectly-fried Nashville Hot Chicken.
Other popular lunch spots include Flowers & Bread and Northstar Café. Both restaurants are distinctly different, but offer unforgettable lunch experiences. Northstar Café is a Columbus-based lunch staple that focuses on sourcing locally grown, organic, and artisan ingredients. Their menu offers innovative renditions of classic dishes that can satisfy almost any dietary restriction. Flowers & Bread is both a café and full service florist, offering absolutely exquisite floral arrangements and an arrange of artisan breakfast and lunch dishes. Oh, and did I mention that they also offer a variety of backing and cooking classes in their bread studio? How cool is that?
While in Columbus, visiting the historic German Village is a must. It is both a residential and commercial neighborhood, offering traditional Bavarian architecture that dates back to the 1840s-1890s. The buildings, sidewalks and around half of the streets are made of vibrant orange masonry, and all that separates it from urban Columbus is a highway bridge over Interstate 70. There are salons, restaurants, shopping, churches and a few parks and gardens for strolling–a little something for everyone to enjoy.
Nestled within the brick-lined streets of German Village is The Sycamore, an upscale tavern that offers a phenomenal menu and an even better beer and wine list. I recommend trying their Coconut Curry Prawns and Beef Cheek Ragout; both dishes are simply remarkable.
If you want to try some of the best steak in Columbus, you must visit The Top. This steakhouse was first opened in 1955 and to this day remains virtually unchanged. Everything from the dining room’s wood-paneled walls to the bar’s a sleek copper finish, makes you feel like you’ve traveled back in time to a 1950s supper club. Another dinner worth mentioning is Basi, a cozy little restaurant that serves traditional Italian and Mediterranean entrees. They offer simple yet elegant dishes and, my personal favorite, house-made cannolis.
If you’ve got room for dessert, visiting Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is a great way to cap off your day in Columbus. As an ice cream fanatic that has tried just about every flavor Jeni’s has to offer, trust me when I say that you can’t go wrong with any one of them. However, I highly recommend the Brambleberry Crisp and the Brown Butter Almond Brittle.
For cocktails and a late night snack, visit The Light of Seven Matchsticks. This speakeasy is high-class and offers a blissful escape from the outside world. They also have a hidden secret menu that features daily specials–will you be able to find it?
While eating your way through the incredible Arch City, remember this: Eat until you’re truly satisfied (and then maybe a little more) and don’t forget to give your compliments to the chef.