Eating in Columbus is like experiencing a microcosm of the U.S., a mid-size land of milk, honey, and Buckeyes. The city is home to immigrant traditions and rich culinary history, from the fine dining legend holding court among the cobblestone streets and red brick buildings in German Village, to the food truck parked on hustling, bustling High Street meting out birria tacos, to the hidden gem tucked away inside a strip mall serving Ghanaian classics to neighborhood aunties and uncles.
Many of these businesses take advantage of the city’s impressive, historic architecture, but plenty more restaurants have withstood the test of time in less auspicious homes. Take a look through the windows of a once rusty hundred-year-old gas station to see crowds Instagramming pancake balls powdered with sugar and served with an assortment of sweet sauces. Or seek out the small brick building off the highway, a post-Prohibition relic that’s become a go-to dive for regulars, newbies, and anyone getting off work in need of revival. Then check beneath the neon sign around the corner for a bedrock of Buckeye culture where alumni and new kids on the block meet over fresh, old-school doughnuts.
If Columbus is a microcosm of the nation, it has also experienced the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted all American food communities. Many of the city’s most notable restaurants, standby watering holes, and beloved businesses have closed their doors. The places that populate this list are not the only deserving ones, but you can see the trails of hard work and determination that allowed them to adapt to the new realities of pandemic dining.
You’ll sample a bit of history and a lot of global flavors as you eat your way around the city’s essential restaurants, but every meal is quintessentially Columbus. So come take a seat, grab a menu (or load it up from a QR code), and gear up for a feast. And as always, tip generously, mask up when asked, and indulge.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.
Angela Lee is a writer, photographer, and nurse, but most of all a storyteller weaving unbelievable stories and always searching for her next culinary adventure. Her work has been featured in Edible Columbus and 614 Magazine.Read More