Bring on 2023: What to Expect on the Columbus Food and Drink Scene This Year

Keep an eye out for a new CBC brewpub, City Winery, more live-fire cooking, the reopening of Speck, Cameron Mitchell’s 100th eatery, chef Andrew Smith’s first restaurant and Littleton’s Market.

Nicholas Dekker and Erin Edwards
Columbus Brewing Co. owners Eric and Beth Bean at the brewery’s new Trolley District space

As restaurants and bars recover from the pandemic, we’re optimistic for what 2023 holds. Four of the city’s most notable chefs are opening restaurants; the Junto hotel will pair new dining options with beaucoup skyline views; and at least five new taprooms hope to start pouring pints. Get excited, Columbus.


Trolley Brews

With the 2020 opening of the taproom attached to its West Side production facility, Columbus Brewing Co. finally had its very own bar, but it always felt out of the way. This year, the brewery is opening a beer hall right in the mix of things, in the historic Trolley District next to the East Market. CBC’s bricked beer hall in Franklin Park will surely continue the area’s transformation into a bustling food and drink destination.

The brewpub will take up 13,000 square feet of a beautifully preserved structure that once served as the mechanics’ shop for Columbus’ trolleys. The renovation boasts stunning tilework, preserved brick walls, loads of natural light and expansive patios. With 24 taps flowing, indoor and outdoor spaces, firepits and a “globally inspired” food menu, CBC’s Franklin Park taproom is sure to become a centerpiece in the city’s brewery scene while creating a new destination around the district. Owner Eric Bean hopes to open in the first quarter of 2023.

Even More Beer

Although North High Brewing is closing its original Short North location, the locally owned brewery is set to debut an expansive taproom as part of COhatch’s revamped Westerville armory location coming later in 2023. Meanwhile, the forthcoming Steelton Village development on the South Side will include Honest Friend Brewing. Set to open in the summer, Honest Friend will occupy 7,000 square feet and feature a lineup of beers branded with cartoonish characters.

By this spring (fingers crossed), Athens-based Jackie O’s will finally establish a brewpub in Columbus. The brewery is converting the former Elevator Brewing annex space into a two-level Downtown taproom with a massive, 8,000-square-foot patio. Finally, although formal updates weren’t available at press time, we know Bridge’s End Brewing is set to join a new development in Shawnee Hills, just over the Scioto River from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

South Side Sippin’

Wine and music will soon be flowing on Columbus’ South Side when New York-based City Winery puts down roots near the Fort. Set to open in late summer/fall, the winery, restaurant and concert venue will fill part of the former Via Vecchia Winery space. With locations in Chicago, Boston, Nashville and other cities, City Winery produces its own wine on-site and offers both indoor and outdoor spaces for enjoying it, all while hosting local and national music acts on the stage.

Black Manhattan, Rye Manhattan on the rocks and Rob Roy at The Bottle Shop Bar & Market

Gimme Cocktails

Last year saw the addition of Understory and Ginger Rabbit Jazz Lounge, both featuring ambiance and cocktail creativity in spades. Sommelier Gregory Stokes surprised everyone when he recently purchased the Bottle Shop, a funky cocktail bar and nationally recognized wine shop on King Avenue. We’re excited to see how he’ll add his imprint in 2023. New to the local cocktail scene will be the Roosevelt Room, a lively Bridge Park lounge from the owners of Beeline at Easton. It’s expected to open Dec. 30, 2022.


Go West

The Junto—the new hotel under construction on the Scioto Peninsula, or whatever you want to call the neighborhood—brings with it several unique eating and drinking spaces, including what will surely be the city’s best view from a rooftop bar. That bar, Brass Eye, will offer close-ups of the Columbus skyline, including unobstructed views of the Scioto River, LeVeque tower and National Veterans Memorial and Museum. On the hotel’s first floor will be the Trade Room, a craft cocktail bar-meets-gathering space just off the lobby, as well as Little West Tavern, a neighborhood restaurant with an indoor-outdoor bar and a wood-hearth centerpiece. The hotel’s coffee shop, Maudine’s, is named after the Holstein cow that was Ohio State University’s 1926 Homecoming Queen. (A bovine will make a cameo at the grand opening, we’re told.) The café will serve One Line Coffee and open onto a green space with additional seating and a fireplace. And don’t forget Little West Poutine, a walk-up window offering gravy-covered goodness.

Rendering of Little West Tavern

Searing & Smoking

The live-fire cooking trend is set to explode in Columbus. The cooking method features specialized, multi-level grills that allow chefs to roast, smoke and sear ingredients over wood fires. In 2022, the Hilton Columbus Downtown expansion welcomed Fyr, a Latin-leaning restaurant that features a gargantuan Grillworks grill.

And in 2023, two lauded Columbus chefs will add live-fire eateries to their portfolios. Up first, chef Avishar Barua will open Agni in the former Ambrose and Eve space on South High Street, potentially in January. Named for the Hindu god of fire, Agni will build on Barua’s playful approach to his menus. Diners can expect the smoky and delicious fun of a Midwestern backyard barbecue.

Coming in the spring or early summer is Hiraeth, a two-level Short North restaurant with a Welsh name from chef BJ Lieberman and his wife, Bronwyn Haines, of Chapman’s Eat Market and Ginger Rabbit. The kitchen will center around a custom-built, 10-foot hearth by Atlanta’s Grills by Demant, featuring an adjustable grill, smoker and a wood-fired flat top. True to its name, a Welsh term meaning a deep sense of longing, Hiraeth is sure to create the cozy feel of home.

More Cameron

This will be a big year for restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. (Surprised?) Coming this spring is Cento, an Italian restaurant taking over the former G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar space in German Village. Named for the Italian word for “100,” it will mark Mitchell’s 100th eatery opened over his 30 years in the biz. Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, which also owns Martini and Marcella’s, will quadruple down on Italian fare with Valentina’s, inspired by a family-owned Northern Italian winery. The Bridge Park restaurant is also set to open in the spring.

Gnocchi, grilled fish, and Burrata and Speck starter from Speck Italian Eatery's Delaware location

Speck, Finally

“When is Speck opening?” is among the most frequent questions we receive. Good news: Speck Italian Eatery is expected to complete its move from Delaware to Downtown Columbus by mid-January. (The delay was attributed to vital equipment marooned on a ship somewhere.) Named one of our Best New Restaurants in 2020 for its modern spin on Italian fare, the new iteration of the Josh Dalton-owned restaurant will be larger than the original but, we hope, just as inviting and delicious.

West Side Story

Readers may remember chef Andrew Smith’s solid work at the Rossi and Rockmill Tavern. This year, Smith is planning to unveil his first restaurant, Isla, on West Broad Street. Read our profile of Smith in the January 2023 issue.


A Market Redux

Having grown up in Upper Arlington, Rob Littleton remembers Huffman’s Market fondly. That family-owned market at 2140 Tremont Center was sold to a new owner in 2018 and eventually closed last January. Now, Littleton and his family are building their own market in the space. When it opens, 14,000-square-foot Littleton’s Market will offer all of the things you expect from a local grocery—meat, deli, produce, beer, wine and dry goods—but the market will feature several special amenities, as well. A café on the southwest corner of the market will offer pastries, espresso and other a.m. options; the café will turn into a wine bar later in the day.

Rob Littleton outside the new outdoor pavilion under construction at Littleton’s Market in Tremont Center

One of the biggest highlights sits outside the market’s doors: a covered, three-season pavilion with a fireplace where customers can enjoy dinner and a beer or take in one of the market’s special events. “There have been lots of events in the parking lot in the past. The Huffmans did a tremendous job,” Littleton says. “Really, one of our goals is to catalyze community.”

Bubbly New Albany

We’ve seen a proliferation of food hall concepts recently, from the East Market to Budd Dairy Food Hall. Opening in mid-January is Bubbly Hall, a centerpiece of the International Business Park development in New Albany. Bubbly Hall’s food kiosks will fill 15,000 square feet of space that includes indoor and outdoor dining areas. Announced vendors include established local businesses like Hoyo’s Kitchen, Fay’s Crêpes, Mr. Hummus Grill and the Pit BBQ Grille, plus newcomers like Kiku Sushi Bar and Seoul Food on the Go.

Bird is the Word

Red Hot Pepper Chicken from CM Chicken

The city’s fried chicken wave will continue, with both local and national fried chicken shops growing. Hot Chicken Takeover recently opened its sixth Columbus-area shop, this one in Grandview; Just Chicken recently joined the East Market; and Ohio-based OX-B’s launched in the Short North, with a Westerville shop on the way. LA-based Dave’s Hot Chicken, which opened its first Central Ohio location last fall, has potentially more than a dozen on the way. That list doesn’t even touch the Korean fried chicken craze. CM Chicken, which has Northwest Side and Pickerington storefronts, is expected to add Westerville soon; and the chain BB.Q Chicken is opening a Campus-area eatery.

Expansions Galore

Several local establishments are expanding their footprint in 2023. Creole 2 Geaux, which has gained a loyal following at East Market, is adding a second location in the Arena District. Slammers, the longtime Downtown lesbian bar and pizzeria, is adding a sibling in the Campus area called Slammie’s on High. Katalina’s owner Kathleen Day plans to add a third storefront—this one in Franklinton. Meanwhile, Fox in the Snow’s popular pastries will soon be available in Dublin, the café’s fourth location.

A latte with a rosetta design at Fox in the Snow in German Village

Burning Questions

What will replace M at Miranova along the Scioto? We expect to find out soon. (Our guess is Smith & Wollensky, which left Easton in December.) And what about The Market, a shock closing in Italian Village last year? Can all of the taco chains that popped up in Columbus over the past couple of years survive? Call us skeptical. And will independents with serious potential, such as the Lox Bagel Shop, stretch themselves to new locales? Stay tuned.

This story is from the January 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.