Cheap Eats: Homestyle Eats

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Ray Ray's BBQ ribs

There's something comforting about ordering a platter of warm, classic, just-like-homemade food.

Fried Chicken

Late last year, Hot Chicken Takeover head fryer Joe DeLoss asked himself a question: Will Columbus embrace Nashville-style spicy fried chicken? As roughly 800 people line up at a takeout window in every weekend for heavy Styrofoam containers filled with cayenne-spiced chicken, creamy mac-and-cheese and vinegar-y coleslaw (plus all the sweet tea you can get, all for $13), the answer is, apparently, yes. 1117 Oak St., Olde Towne East, 614-800-4538,


According to Press Grill manager Talia Hutras, the Short North bar and restaurant's meatloaf dinner ($9)-complete with buttered corn and homemade mashed russet potatoes-is a bestseller even in the summer, when lighter fare reigns. "It's an old family recipe, with that classic sausage, pork and ground-beef mix," Hutras says. "And it has our homemade barbecue sauce." Another reason to stop in? The kitchen's open until 1 a.m. 741 N. High St., Short North, 614-298-1014,

Soul Food

New Harvest Urban Arts Center is known for its community garden and arts programming, but don't overlook the cafe. Director and chef Kwodwo Ababio knows a thing or two about soul food-he grew up with it. Ababio marinates his jerk chicken ($8 with two sides) overnight in soy sauce, jerk seasoning, garlic, barbecue sauce and thyme from the center's garden. Cabbage and mac-and-cheese are perfect companions to the not-too-spicy chicken. 1675 Arlington Ave. NE, North Side, 614-447-8810,

Fish & Chips

Not much has changed at Marino's since it opened 30 years ago. Owner and fry cook Harry Kougendakis still cheerfully greets each customer, and you still order their fried-seafood platters, served on brown plastic cafeteria trays, at the counter, "Order up!" and all. Load up on tartar sauce at the self-serve station for the classic Fish and Chips ($5.90), featuring two thick triangles of fresh-caught Atlantic cod fried in a crunchy golden-brown crust, crispy steak fries and two sweet cornmeal hushpuppies. 1216 W. Fifth Ave., Grandview, 614-481-8428,

BBQ Ribs

Perhaps the best barbecue in Columbus, Ray Ray's ribs are so tender they don't even need sauce (though it certainly does no harm). Don't pass on the sides, either-order the collard greens (flavored with pieces of pulled pork) and the mac-and-cheese (creamy and baked) all for $9. Ace of Cups, 2619 N. High St., Old North Columbus, 614-753-1191