One Hungry Day: Uptown Westerville
Our guide to dining and drinking along historic State Street
Since the first beer was poured in 2006 at Michael's Pizza, once-dry Uptown Westerville has slowly, steadily enjoyed a resurgence. State Street has been transformed from a stretch of sleepy antique shops and clothing boutiques to a dynamic dining destination, including what seemed impossible for generations: a hometown brewery in what was once the seat of the Anti-Saloon League.
Here's our guide to exploring State Street:
Coffee Buzz & Sugar Rush
Java Central: A first glance behind the barista at this seemingly small coffee shop may have you thinking beer, but those tap handles are actually dedicated to nitro coffee, a West Coast trend fancied by senior barista turned partner Andy Piper. Lending his culinary background to Westerville's first roaster, Piper is introducing new drinks, including a refreshing Ginger Cream Ale, to complement old favorites, like the Pumpkin Chai (offered year-round, just in case you need your fix in the "offseason").
Grab a made-from-scratch scone or a hefty offering from sandwich chef Wayne Leonard (who's also making his own bread, bagels, vinaigrettes and a chicken salad that sells out as quickly as he can crank it out). Then wind your way through the back rooms, which double as art galleries. Or snag a seat on the charming side patio, a coveted spot for weekend music events including open mic Friday nights and live performances (from New Orleans jazz to blues) on Saturdays. "Sometimes we focus on the art, sometimes the music, always the coffee," longtime co-owner Ralph Denick says.
Schneider's Bakery: You may have heard of Otterbein's donut run. (It's even a part of the university's marketing materials.) Joining 200–300 college kids for the 1 a.m. weekend opening of the bakery is the ultimate in freshness and about as fun as a visit to a bakery can be. But owner Jeff Hamler promises quality no matter the time of the day you visit. Hamler has owned the iconic bakery for 42 years, working his way up from cleanup boy to buying the bakery from Floyd Schneider himself. Come for the doughnuts for sure, but don't miss the full line of breads, especially the sweet hamburger buns and dinner rolls, of which Schneider's sells 400-500 dozen for Thanksgiving alone.
Drunk History & High Tea
Uptown Deli & Temperance Row Brewing: One could be perfectly happy never venturing past the European-style glass deli case featuring house-made corned beef, chips and beer-cheese dip in the front of the house at Uptown Deli. But to do so would mean missing the backroom microbrewery, complete with a full brewpub and lively back patio. Owner Tony Cabilovski and brewmaster Scott Francis looked to pay homage to Westerville's place in Prohibition history with beer names like Two Pistols IPA and Corbin's Revenge IPA, in tribute to the legend of Henry Corbin, one of the last saloon owners, whose establishments were literally bombed three times before he closed up shop and left Westerville for good.
Asterisk Supper Club: Jump across the street to pop some corks or enjoy a spot of afternoon tea at this comfortably upscale parlor created by local restaurant owner Megan Ada, who partnered with her mom to bring a bit of the Short North to suburbia. With floor-to-ceiling bookshelves of dark wood, the restaurant's library feel is complemented by a turn-of-the-century bar welcoming patrons to stay, relax and socialize, from tea time to cocktail hour. A full tea service offers snacks including homemade scones, clotted cream and jam. Or you can explore Asterisk's comfort-food entrees such as meatloaf or chicken and noodles.
Classical Cuisines & Silent Films
Koble Grill: Referencing the Greek expression "koble," meaning "complete" or "all good," partners Ilias Strovolidis and Orion Trifoni looked all over Columbus before seeing the potential in two former retail shops in Uptown Westerville. Koble's kitchen unites the two spaces and two Mediterranean cuisines, Greek and Italian, with classics like moussaka, pasticcio, gyros and signatures such as the stuffed peppers, a Greek twist on an Italian classic, accompanied by a Greek salad and lemon potatoes. For full immersion, order a Greek beer such as Mythos or the Italian classic, Peroni.
8 State Bistro: The former State Theater's 1950s marquee still shines as a hallmark of State Street, but a new show has opened inside. The stage has been transformed into a bustling kitchen, in full view of diners, especially those at the two chef's tables directly across the pass. Formerly a sous chef at G. Michael's Bistro & Bar, executive chef Josh Wiest brings his French Culinary Institute schooling to the casually upscale atmosphere, which owner Kevin Campbell deems an "informal environment with a formal experience." Wiest's menu includes dishes like the Carolina BBQ glazed calamari and rack of lamb, while a black and white feature film projected on the brick wall silently serves as a tribute and a bit of entertainment for those in the sunken bar area.