1. Rigsby's Kitchen

Story by Shelley Mann + Photos by Will Shilling

Amazing, isn't it, how Rigsby's has been making it look easy for 25 years. In the decades since the Short North trailblazer opened, dozens of other, more exciting restaurants have come and gone. But Rigsby's hasn't flinched. This place has managed to define fine dining in Columbus: a refined but relaxed ambiance, fantastic food without much fuss.

The neighborhood that's now home to the city's swankiest restaurants wasn't so desirable when Rigsby's Cuisine Volatile opened its doors in 1986. But Kent and Tasi Rigsby's restaurant, centered on food inspired by summers spent in Greece and Italy, drew people to the arts district.

It's never stopped quietly evolving and improving, and that's why it gets our top honors.

I first ate at Rigsby's on a date as a college student. We ended up there because somebody told me it was the nicest restaurant in Columbus.

We were flat broke, and so I skipped appetizers and dessert and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu. And yet, I still think back fondly on that first Rigsby's meal--butternut squash ravioli, a simple dish made special with high quality, locally sourced ingredients.

I've been back many times since, and every time I find something new to fall in love with. The bread, baked right down the street at Rigsby's own Eleni-Christina bakery. The cocktails, shaken with care behind that stunner of a backlit bar. The artwork, oversized pieces that feel right at home on towering exposed-brick walls.

And so many dishes. Deviled eggs with truffle oil, an unbelievably indulgent twist on a suburban staple. Roasted beets with skorthalia, an addictive Greek garlicky potato dip. The most amazing gnocchi you'll ever taste, tender potato pillows tossed in a rich Bolognese. Apple tart tartin, a sweet little dessert incorporating caramelized Lynd's Fruit Farm apples set off by a cinnamon-caramel sauce.

Here's to 25 years of doing it right. Let's hope for 25 more.

Rigsby's Kitchen 698 N. High St., Short North 614-461-7888 rigsbyskitchen.com Hours: 1 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-11 p.m. Friday, 12-3 p.m. and 5:30-11 p.m. Saturday

The Crave 10 1. Rigsby's 2. G. Michael's 3. Kihachi 4. Dragonfly 5. Basi Italia 6. Sage 7. Refectory 8. M 9. Alana's 10. Worthington Inn