Best of Columbus 2015: Food & Drink

Columbus Monthly Staff

Editors' picks for the best of food and drink in Columbus:

Sassafras Bakery

Hey, kids. And pregnant ladies, teetotalers and all people who yearn for the simplicity of an after-work snack of milk and cookies: Sassafras Bakery is your people, and it is your new happy hour spot. Between 3 and 5 p.m. weekdays, stop in the adorable Olde Worthington bakery and get a free glass of milk or cup of coffee with the purchase of a cookie. You can't make a mistake, but we are partial to the one that's jammed full of melted candy bars.


With all the Cleveland restaurant imports lately (Melt and B Spot, to name two), why are we tapping one that hasn't even opened yet? Because we're craving spicy octopus udon and fried chicken ramen, that's why. James Beard award-winning chef Jonathon Sawyer announced earlier this year that we'll have the house-made noodle shop with classic and riffed ramens by the end of this year. We hope he hurries. We're ready to start slurping.

Matt Heaggans + Flatiron

Decades-old Flatiron Bar & Diner had faded into the Downtown restaurant background. Always a source for solid burgers and barbecue, Flatiron was a staple, not a destination. That changed in April as longtime chef Steve Nicholson teamed up with the creative Matt Heaggans, who charmed his way into our stomachs last year with inventive (we're talking yak burgers and chocolate pasta) pop-up Bebe at the Hey Hey. He's applying the same go-big-or-go-home attitude to the new global-inspired menu at Flatiron (order the seafood laksa), making this a revived favorite we'll be watching.


Subway tile. Charcuterie. Smoked meat. All three are proof that trends come full circle. But at pork-centric, fourth-generation butcher Thurn's, what they do isn't some attempt to revive the past. It's authentically old school, hence why Columbus pork lovers know if you want to devour any part of the pig, you come here. Cottage-style ham, hand-linked sausages and marbled deli meat are just a few of their claims to fame. A Thurn's virgin? Order a quarter pound each of ham salad and bacon, with a side of smoked cheese. Enjoy them while you plan next weekend's return trip.

Jobu Ramen

Here lies Jobu Ramen, beloved noodle shop and maker of addicting, spicy walleye steam buns. A mere six months old, you were taken from us too soon, suddenly shuttering the very same month we named you one of the best eateries to come into our lives in 2014. We're still mourning the loss of soy ramen bowls spiked with chili oil, and we will never forget how you paved the way for other ramen shops to enter the scene. Thanks for fond slurping memories, Jobu. Find us drowning our sorrows in spicy noodle bowls from Mashita food cart, run by Jobu co-owner John Franke.

The Guild House

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants and Chicago-based architect Mark Knauer spent two years planning The Guild House's magnificent dining room. They studied acoustics, traveled to Napa Valley and New York City, and drew inspiration from the kitchen's farm-to-table ethos as well as the Short North. The result: Green chandeliers hang from bruised trusses. Hundred-year-old reclaimed wood tables meet fiberglass chairs and white leather wraparound sofas.

Hinkley's in Marysville

We trek the roughly 40 minutes to Hinkley's in Marysville not because it hits all the latest food buzzwords-classic cocktails, seasonal ingredients, local sourcing-though it does. No, we love this year-old fine dining, unpretentious spot for its authenticity and neighborhood charm. Set in an 1800s mansion, the restaurant's dining rooms evoke a charming maze. Classic cocktails like the aviation and Corpse Reviver No. 2 are mixed with expertise. And dishes ride that delicious line between fancy and homey with a Southern bent. (Don't skip the chicken and waffles with Watershed bourbon caramel sauce and black pepper whipped cream.)

Krema Nut Co.

Note to grown-ups who pack lunch for small fry: Peanut butter sandwiches can be decadent and indulgent-at least when you order from the slice-of-Americana counter at Krema Nut Co. How about Grandma's Apple Pie, smeared with peanut butter and chunky apple compote? The Buckeye pairs Nutella and peanut butter. Our absolute favorite, The Kicker, is layered with spicy PB and zesty raspberry preserves. There's just one thing left to do: Pass the milk.

Clintonville Community Market

Just another granola co-op, the Clintonville Community Market is not. This spring, the market revived its kitchen, where chef Justin Boldizar is dishing fresh market-sourced fare. Stop in for $2 Taco Tuesday or weekend brunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)-think French toast, veggie frittatas, vegan wraps and pancakes. And, thanks to Boldizar and a renewed commitment to composting, the market is now a zero-waste business.

One Line Coffee's Iced Honey Latte

One Line Coffee's Iced Honey Latte is so delicious we could cry. And should it ever disappear from the Short North roaster's menu, we certainly will. You won't find any artificial flavors in this indulgent mix of espresso, whole milk and fig-and-cinnamon-infused honey syrup. Flavors in the infusions change spontaneously (and in tandem with the shop's single-origin beans), so we'll just have to keep treating ourselves as we await the arrival of this summer's version.

Dan the Baker's Toast Bar

"Yes. Toast," may have been the phrase we uttered most when it came to food trends this year. We have Dan Riesenberger to thank for that. The organic baker showed us there is an art to crisping bread with the opening of intimate Toast Bar in Grandview. What started as a few styles of bread with spreads of butter and jam has morphed into a full-on eatery with open-faced tartine sandwiches and Danish-style smorrebrod that could make a believer of any skeptic. Don't pass up the Ohio Mushroom with creamy bechamel and gruyere and roasted tomatoes. And wash it all down with house-made turmeric soda.

Le Meridien, The Joseph Hotel

OK, the Soul Bar in Le Meridien, The Joseph hotel doesn't have a happy hour special (though food and beverage director Roger Vivas hopes it will soon). Hear us out-what this Short North spot lacks in bargains it makes up for in creativity. Thanks to a wine-pouring system that uses a needle to keep oxygen from seeping into the bottle, Soul Bar can offer 18 to 20 high-end Italian, French and California wines by the glass without worrying about the rest of the bottle going to waste. Pair that with the selection of 110 wines by the bottle, a dozen craft cocktails, local beer, a food menu from adjacent Cameron Mitchell restaurant The Guild House and Ron Pizzuti-selected art, and Soul Bar emerges as the place to be for post-work drinks.