Bexley and its Main Street are paved in history. Thousands of years ago, the area was home to mound-building Native Americans. In the 1830s, Main Street became part of the National Road-one of America's first great highways. That old thoroughfare continues flowing today as the commercial heart and restaurant row of tree-lined residential Bexley.
Currently, it's where golden oldies like The Top Steak House and Johnson's Real Ice Cream thrive beside Piada and Jeni's-21st-century businesses forging a new history. Here's a quick taste of both vintage and more freshly minted Bexley restaurants.
2455 E. Main St.
Open since mid-September, this newest Cafe Istanbul is a high-performing, if smaller-sized, member of its high-achieving Turkish restaurant family. And it's another good-looking member, too.
Outside, there's an eye-candy patio meticulously landscaped with some dramatic-looking plants. Inside, handsome slatted wood dominates-it covers walls and is formed into booths in the cozy dining room.
From top to bottom, the menu's packed with can't-miss, ultra-fresh dips, soups, salads and kabobs. For sharing, the Appetizer Sampler and Mixed Grill kebabs are real crowd pleasers. Other favorites are fabulous falafel and the Karniyarik.
2801 E. Main St.
Past Wing's curvy glass- block entryway, you'll discover the kind of classic Chinese-American restaurant nearly extinct nowadays. That's not shocking, considering the business began in the Roaring '20s and relocated to its present spot during the 1940s.
The best place to hang out these days is a padded booth in the imperial red and gold bar area, where parties sometimes spontaneously erupt-due in no small part to an inventory that includes about 160 Scotch whiskys. To soak up that hooch, order comforting old-schoolers, like Wor Sue Gai, Egg Fu Young and the all-in-one Combination Yetcamein Soup.
2396 E. Main St.
The newish Bexley branch of ZenCha closely resembles its Short North sibling. Both mellow out to a New Age soundtrack and are so obsessed with tea they: call their meal courses "brews" (e.g. appetizers are "Warming Brews"); their serene and clean-lined confines feature opulent, museum-like tea ceremony shadow boxes; and they assign every table a "tea ambassador" guide through their 100 varieties of tea.
But while both ZenChas offer prettily plated Japanese-inflected dishes, the Bexley branch showcases a considerably bigger and more ambitious menu. Some standouts are spicy Seared Tuna Salad, Grilled Mahi Mahi entree and Teppanyaki Noodles.
2643 E. Main St.
Seeing is believing at defiantly retro Rubino's. Its humble brick building is literally pointed out by an old-fashioned, bubbly lighted arrow on the beloved pizzeria's vintage neon sign.
Rubino's bare-bones interior-red-and-white checked curtains, photographic collage of locals and a pinball machine-also looks like it's been shipped in from a bygone, simpler time.
And from bucket-sized, tricked-out iceberg lettuce salads with house-made dressings to homemade meatball subs to eccentric and terrific pizzas with snappy, wafer-thin homemade crusts and tangy sauce (try the garlicky, made-here sausage), you'll see little has changed at Rubino's (including prices!) since opening in 1954.
2268 E. Main St.
It's no fluke that the versatile Giuseppe's is a Bexley institution. It's a lively, upscale-casual place where suited gentlemen enjoy designer pizzas with glasses of vino at the granite bar while cocktailing ladies toast the night away beside families smiling over bowls of their all-time favorite pastas. Similarly, Italianate design features coexist gracefully here with tasteful contemporary art.
While the popular pasta-loaded menu hasn't altered much over the years, there are great rotating specials to look out for. Try the Prosciutto Crudo appetizer, Insalata Rossa, Ai Funghi pizza, an unbeatable $10 Spaghetti & Meatballs and the Veal Involtini.
2152 E. Main St.
It's been about two years since Moshi first brought sushi to Bexley, but the place-which plays clubby music and uses Warhol-quoting side plates-seems just as buzz-worthy today.
Anchoring the newness-embracing Bexley Gateway, this chic eatery has a popular patio, the shiny modern equivalent of a pressed-tin ceiling and a decoratively tiled wall with a cutaway mural of fish wiggling in an aqua-scape.
Moshi also has some of the best and freshest-tasting sushi and fusiony Asian food in the area. Try the spectacular Sunomono, Scarlet Craze Roll and the creative and delicious Red Snapper Chips and Sushi Panini.
Photos by Jodi Miller