Our editors' picks for some of the best in food and drink around Columbus
Bar Crawl Technique
The recent route change for the free CBus Circulator has at least one decided advantage: It's now even easier to bar hop along High Street using public transportation as a designated driver. Here are two suggested itineraries, depending on your mood.
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Craft this, craft that. If you want to see true craft in action, head to Momo Ghar and watch owner Phuntso Lama and her staff make momos, or traditional Nepali/Tibetan dumplings, by hand. No one was really talking about momos until Momo Ghar set up shop inside Saraga International Grocery on Morse Road. Now, the teeny restaurant has since become a Yelp superstar and one of this magazine's Best New Restaurants. Up next: Momo Ghar recently scored a spot in the North Market and will open in September. Lama says the original location inside Saraga International Grocery will remain open.
With this spring's opening of Combustion Brewery & Taproom in Pickerington, quaffing craft beers has become a family event. Owners Keith and Sarah Jackson have small children of their own, so it only stands to reason that they'd include a designated play area. Now kids can keep themselves busy while the adults enjoy a frosty mug.
Answer to the Dessert Doldrums
Columbus menus are rife with staid crème brûlées and cheesecakes. The good news is that some of the most enjoyable desserts right now can be found at ethnic bakeries and ice cream shops. Dessert Bowl and Tea Zone are both go-to spots for Asian desserts like mango sago pomelo, black glutinous rice congee or bing soo. Meanwhile, Belle's Breads has an outstanding selection of Japanese sweets like red bean doughnuts, mango mousse cake and matcha roll cake. And for something refreshing, Diamonds Ice Cream and La Laguna offer a colorful assortment of chilly Mexican desserts like paletas and raspados.
New Bites from Newcomers
At the midpoint of the year, some of Central Ohio's newest restaurants are already busy leaving memorable impressions that stick in the brain like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth. Short North Deli has a craveable sandwich called The DooDah: a PB&J with bananas, strawberry preserves and a balsamic reduction. Other favorite new bites include the pork pozole at Cosecha Cocina; radish and butter sandwiches at Flowers & Bread; smoked bread pudding at Watershed Kitchen & Bar (please, chef, bring it back); Singapore noodles at The Light of Seven Matchsticks; ribs at Red Door BBQ and cheese fondue at Black Radish Creamery. Have a favorite new dish? Let us know by emailing email@example.com.
New Menu Launch Out of Left Field
You've got to hand it to the creative folks at Watershed Kitchen & Bar: They leave it all out on the field. Take, for example, the launch of Watershed's spring cocktail list. The baseball-inspired menu was an homage to spring training that included a video of Watershed staffers—the “Watershed Cougars”—playing ball in branded jerseys at Huntington Park. The menu itself was a 1950s-style game-day program, featuring trivia, corny jokes, the text of Abbott and Costello's “Who's on First?” routine and cocktails like the delicious Peanuts & Crackerjacks (yep, it tastes like Cracker Jacks). The menu is even competing to be named “World's Best Cocktail Menu” at the Tales of the Cocktail festival, one of the alcohol industry's biggest annual events. Go Cougars!
It's tough not to develop a crush when you walk into Cosecha Cocina for the first time. It's like that high school classmate you overlooked, until they grew up to be a knockout. This 1800s-era brick carriage house was gathering graffiti for years and in threat of demolition. The Italian Village Commission stepped in and worked with Capitol Equities to preserve the building. After a longer-than-planned renovation and interior design by Black Ink's Adrienne Consales, this contemporary Mexican restaurant on North Fourth Street is now the definition of sexy-rustic with exposed and distressed brick walls, soaring ceilings, showstopper cloche pendants and a patio that says, “Stay awhile.”
Trend We're Enjoying Right Now
In a city that's loopy for breweries, beer dinners are showing up with more frequency on the calendar. They operate along the same lines as a wine dinner, with multiple courses and a paired beer selected for each course. It's an excellent way to learn about a specific brewery and catch chefs working outside the confines of their typical menu. Gallerie Bar & Bistro's chef Bill Glover recently collaborated with Jackie O's Brewery from Athens on an epic multicourse meal as part of Columbus Craft Beer Week. 101 Beer Kitchen offers frequent beer dinners at its three locations, including a MadTree Brewing dinner on July 25 at 101's Dublin restaurant. And keep an eye out for Rockmill Tavern's Monday Night Beer Dinner series, when chef Andrew Smith gets creative with Rockmill beer pairings.
Future Food & Drink Oasis
The restaurant gods have smiled upon Fourth Street lately, but soon it will be South High's turn (between Stimmel and Columbus streets) in the Brewery District. The Daily Growler and Big Mamma's Burritos will soon join Tremont Lounge, Kolache Republic and Local Cantina along that previously underwhelming stretch. Max McGarity's barbecue joint, Smoked on High, is close to opening. The area will get an even bigger boost later this year when Seventh Son Brewing opens Antiques on High, its new sour/wild beer brewery and taproom, in the old antique mall at 716 S. High St. Seventh Son's big announcement inspired chefs Catie Randazzo (Challah) and Matthew Heaggans (recently of The Rossi) to snatch up the space next door. Next year, the pair are planning to open Ambrose & Eve, a restaurant named after Randazzo's grandparents that will feature a seasonal menu and daily brunch.
If the yummy breakfast sandwiches at Baba's in the University District don't make you feel good, then the glowing sign in a window might do the job. It reads, “You're So Cool.”
Place for Feline Fellowship
Need some cat cuddles in your day? Head to Eat Purr Love, Central Ohio's first cat café. The Clintonville shop serves locally roasted coffee, bottled drinks and Pattycake Bakery snacks in its front room, but the real magic happens after you pay a $10 hourly rate to enter the back room. There you'll find about a dozen friendly felines—all available for adoption via the Capital Area Humane Society—just waiting for your company. (The café has facilitated the adoption of nearly 150 cats since it opened in September 2016.) Owner Chrissy Kuras (pictured) is no stranger to animal welfare; she's been involved in animal rescue for nearly 25 years and has 30 years' experience as a vet tech.
Taste Test: Cinnamon Rolls
Is the cinnamon roll still reeling from overexposure in the '90s? (Thanks, Cinnabon!) Has it been overshadowed by the doughnut craze of late? Both would be a shame, because Columbus offers some excellent versions. We decided to sample some of the city's finest in an effort to declare a staff favorite. After rounding up seven samples for our blind taste test, we compared each offering based on aesthetics, texture, glaze/icing and overall flavor. Our winner, Kittie's Cakes in German Village, offers the whole package in one cinnamony swirl: an undeniably homemade look, delicious icing and excellent flavor in each bite. Kittie's offers freshly baked cinnamon rolls Wednesdays through Sundays with rotating flavors like traditional, blueberry and peach.
1st Place: Kittie's Cakes
Staff comment: “Everything I love in a roll”
2nd Place: Fox in the Snow Café
Staff comments: “A decadent delight” … “Icing = life”
3rd Place: Resch's Bakery
Staff comment: “Very soft and almost bread-like in texture” … “Looks like a Pillsbury roll”
1998 N. High St., Campus
North Market, 59 Spruce St., Arena District
1715 W. Third Ave., Grandview
Fox in the Snow Café
1031 N. Fourth St., Italian Village
495 S. Third St., German Village;
Kittie's Cafe, 2424 E. Main St., Bexley
Omega Artisan Baking
North Market, 59 Spruce St., Arena District
4061 E. Livingston Ave., East Side
Flashback: 1986, Cultural Happening
Gallery-hopping in the Short North the first Saturday evening of every month. It's a real event. Hundreds and hundreds of people walking along the streets browsing the shops having a good time.