Best of Columbus 2017: Expert picks

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive
Valerie Williams

Ben Kessler, Mayor of Bexley

Favorite neighborhood to spend a day in (other than Bexley)

“I have to give props to German Village. A great day in GV could begin with a masterful latte at Pistacia Vera, unbelievable cinnamon rolls at Kittie's Cakes and a perusal of the Book Loft's quixotic collection of tomes. After all that reading, a sandwich at Brown Bag Deli will be in order (it doesn't hurt that Jeni's Ice Cream is next door). Grab your lunch to go and take in the sights and sounds of historic Schiller Park. For a night out, does it get much better than a hand-crafted cocktail at G. Michael's and Chef Tetzloff's category-defining shrimp and grits? (The informed reader will realize I just pointed out a bevy of businesses with Bexley connections.)”

Mikey Sorboro, Mikey's Late Night Slice founder

Favorite place to get a slice (other than Mikey's)

“You can't beat Catfish Biff's for a good slice. I was always at [OSU dorm] Stradley Hall, so that place will always hold a place in my heart. Sometimes when I feel like hiding in the dark and nursing a bitchin' hangover, a whole Donatos classic pepperoni does the trick.”

Amy Kesting and Brett Ruland, owners of Spoonful Records

Favorite place to play pinball

“We love Arcade Super Awesome because, upon hiking up the great staircase, you enter a secret retro-cool hideout that's all about one thing: pinball. Eighteen lovingly-maintained games await you, from Jersey Jacks to old-school solid states. The flight of band-themed games are some of our favorites: Metallica, G-N-R, Kiss, AC/DC and the new Aerosmith. Show up on Thursday nights for ego-free league play and pick up pointers and trophies!”

David N. Lewis, owner of Elizabeth's Records

Favorite place to shop for records (other than Elizabeth's)

“Most record store owners will tell you that they never get a chance to go to other stores because they are always in their own. TRUE! That said, I occasionally stop into Lost Weekend to get new vinyl and talk business with Kyle Siegrist, but my favorite digging spots are off the record store map and in my friend Rod's record-filled garage in Clintonville or in Ron House's storage in the Brice Road area.”

Marcy Mays, owner of Ace of Cups

Favorite place to see a show (other than Ace of Cups)

“You can't beat Cafe Bourbon Street for keeping it gritty, weird and diverse. You might not know what you're walking into on any given night, but chances are it will be awesome. For a big outdoor show (like the Scorpions), Express Live is super fun.”

Tim Moloney, Executive Director, Metro Parks

Favorite city park

“Asking someone in my profession what is their favorite park is like asking a parent who is their favorite child. At least you didn't ask my favorite Metro Park — picking my favorite kid would be easier.

The City of Columbus has countless great parks, both big and small. However, I believe none describes a city park any better than Frank Fetch Park in German Village. Not only is it an exquisitely designed and maintained park, the story of the community coming together to care for and maintain this park seven days a week makes it so special. It's a park for the people, by the people. There is nothing quite like this anywhere else in thecity.”

Matthew Heaggans, head chef at The Rossi

Favorite place to dine on a night off from the Rossi

“An invitation that I'll likely never turn down is to Jiu Thai. The dumplings are top tier and the Biang Biang Noodles are chewy and addictive. They come to your table drenched in chili oil and accompanied by a bottle of black vinegar that you're meant to use a lot of. I can't say I've gotten around to trying a lot of the menu because I can't stop myself from attacking those noodles every visit.”

Scott Ellsworth, owner of Too's on High and co-owner of Barrel on High

Favorite bar to visit for the characters and conversation

“I would have to say Oldfield's North Fourth Tavern. Dan is a good buddy of mine. He has transformed that bar into a cool hidden gem on campus. You can go in there any night and see a super wide array of people. He's a very present owner and that makes all the difference in that spot. - Scott Ellsworth, owner of Too's and co-owner of Barrel on High

Michael Beuerlein, Anime Punch

Best place to feel comfortable as a nerd

“Upon entering the cozy taproom at Actual Brewing, you find yourself in the ultimate nerd den, well-stocked with arcade games, board games, foosball, Mario Kart 64 and a music selection that would make any hipster weep. They frequently have great events that mix entertainment, education and (of course) drinking copious amounts of their newest innovations. The always-friendly brewmasters are ever ready to talk about their craft, the newest movies or the latest in gaming news. Few places are as skilled as Actual at immediately making you feel like you're at home.”

Hamadi Rose, BLVCK ICE

Most underrated DJ in Columbus

“I bought my first Rad & Quick mixtape from B&B Records on Livingston Avenue sometime in 1997. The tape was maybe the first to amaze me with its virtuosity — the transitions between songs made me hear my favorite rap songs in a new way. And they were local! Half of Rad & Quick, which now goes by Quickmode, is still active today. You can hear him most Saturdays at Buckeye Crazy, or order the mixtapes I fell in love with from Quickmode directly ( I'm still waiting for that next tape.”