As a tour guide for Columbus Food Adventures, and a food lover who feels to compelled to visit every restaurant and food truck in Columbus, I am regularly asked for restaurant recommendations by less intrepid friends. To facilitate the recommendation process, I’ve posted my favorite places in each food category here. They are in no particular order and are not official Columbus Food Adventures recommendations (Bethia and Andy are the true restaurant aficionados and prefer to write thorough reviews rather than list favorites).
I’m making no claims that my restaurant picks are actually the best (I’m merely saying that they’re my favorite), so please refrain from emailing me about my lack of taste or my failure to post your preferred lunch spot. I would, however, love suggestions for your favorite restaurants that I might not have tried. If I haven’t been there, I’ll gladly take you up on it. Cheers to a city that has an abundance of amazing food!
- Skillet (Merion Village) – Recommended dishes: Menu changes frequently but their sausage biscuits and gravy and lemon ricotta pancakes with raspberry sauce were outstanding. Really, you can’t go wrong here. Review. Yelp.
- Omega Artisan Bakery (North Market) – Recommended dishes: Their voted-“Best Breakfast in Ohio”-by-Food-Network cinnamon roll ($2.95) and their ham and swiss croissant. Review. Yelp.
- Starliner Diner (Hilliard) – Sam and I finally made it here earlier this year to see what all the hype was about. It was definitely worth the trip. Recommended dishes: Huevos Rancheros ($8.50). Anything suggested in this review from Columbus’ breakfast expert. Yelp.
Si Señor (Downtown) – Recommended dishes: Chicharrón Peruano ($6) – a Peruvian-style sandwich filled with tender fried pork, pickled red onions, and sweet potato mayo. Ceviche ($7.50 for a large, only available on weekends) – tilapia and red onions marinated in lime juice, ají amarillo, and salt, accompanied by sugary sweet potatoes and corn. Review. Yelp.
- Harvest Pizza (German Village) – Recommended pizza: Spicy Yuma pizza – gouda cheese, chorizo, jalapeno, corn, roasted red pepper, chipotle-spiked tomato sauce. All Harvest’s 9’’ personal pizzas are $7 at lunch (compared to $11-$15 for an 11’’ pizza at dinner). Review. Yelp.
- Black Creek Bistro (Olde Towne East) – Recommended sandwiches: Taste of Bexley Winner ($8) – Slow-cooked hand pulled Ohio pork, pickled corn salad and fresh tortilla chips on a toasted bun. Dave’s Chicken Train Wreck ($9) – Fresh Ohio chicken teriyaki, spicy mala string beans, grilled onions, French fries, Swiss & mayo on grilled sourdough. Yelp.
- Dinin’ Hall (Franklinton) – They’ve got a rotating line-up of food trucks and carts and a great dining area in which to enjoy the food. Review. Yelp.
Rubino’s (Bexley) – Recommended pizza: large homemade sausage and banana pepper pizza ($17). Thin crust. Flavorful toppings. I would go much more often if it wasn’t out in Bexley! Cash only? Review. Yelp.
- Planks Café (German Village) – Recommended pizza: Cajun Chicken ($13/18) – shredded chicken in a Cajun sauce with cheese. Bratwurst sauerkraut pizza ($12/16) – not on the menu, but ask for it! I love this pizza because it has a sweet crust, so it’s not for everyone. Yelp.
- Bono Pizza (Upper Arlington) – Recommended pizza: The Hulk: Fresh pesto, fresh mozzarella, and every green thing they find lying around. Carbonara – carmelized Smithfield ham/bacon, onions, Gorgonzola, asiago, mozzarella, fresh basil, and green onions. Pizzas are $10 for one or $25 for three. Cash only! Review. Yelp.
- Skillet (Merion Village) – Recommended burger: The classic Skillet burger – Flying J Farms grass-fed beef with a fried egg and housemade tomato marmalade on a toasted brioche bun ($9). Review. Yelp.
- Red Door Tavern (Grandview) – Recommended burger: All of them. I personally like the Arlington Burger with fries ($9) – 10oz patty with BBQ sauce, bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese. Yelp.
- Little Palace (Downtown) – Recommended burger: Palace burger ($2/$3 for a double) – These delicious sliders come with a pickle and American cheese. I also adore the Meatball Mini ($3) – the flavorful meatball with peppedew cheese and crushed tomato on a mini bun hits the spot! Review. Yelp.
Helen’s Asian Kitchen (Dublin-Granville Rd) – We especially loved the xiaolong buns (10 for $7.50) that we ordered per the recommendation on Alt Eats (see review). We’ve had great service every time and liked their dumplings and shao mai as well. Review. Yelp.
- Sunflower Chinese Restaurant (Sawmill) – Recommended dish: Go for their dim sum on a Sunday! The waiters walk around with carts full of interesting small plates. You can select which you’d like to try. I especially love their char siu pau (steamed buns stuffed with bbq pork) and their wu kok (the sweet and savory items that look like bird nests). When I’ve gone on past occasions, the meal usually comes out to $20-30 per person for a LOT of food. Review. Yelp.
- Fortune Chinese Restaurant (Campus? It’s on Olentangy and Ackerman.) – Recommended dishes: Dan dan noodles ($4?), anything with a title that includes “with hot peppers”. The food here is just as delicious as it is spicy, and it’s REALLY spicy. It has been labeled the best Sichuan in Central Ohio by people who know what they’re talking about. Review. Yelp.
- Dirty Franks (Downtown) – They’ve got six kinds of hot dogs (including two veggie options) that can be topped with any one of more than a dozen fun ingredient combos ($3-$4). They’ve also got tater tots, baked beans, and fried leeks. It’s small and busy though, so avoid going with a big group. Review. Yelp.
- Taqueria Los Gauchos (Columbus) – They’re best known for their al pastor tacos but I’ve enjoyed a variety of other menu items as well. They offer several spicy salsa options at each table, which accompany everything perfectly. Review. Yelp.
G. Michaels (German Village) – 4:30pm-7pm at bar – This happy hour offers $5 martinis, $3 beer, $4 wine, and $6 small plates. I LOVE their shrimp and grits small plate (it’s really not small), which has thankfully stayed on the menu through several seasons. Review. Yelp.
- Marcella’s (Short North) – 4pm-6pm – It’s a great deal – 1/2 price select drinks and apps, pizzas, and small plates! The pizza is absolutely delicious and there’s plenty of it to share. Review. Yelp.
- Brothers Drake Meadery (Short North) – 4pm-7pm – They’ve got $2 off Watershed Distillery Drinks and 1/2 off mead on tap. Sample Watershed/mead mixed drink: the Spanky’s Hot Buckeye Basil Express. It’s made with Wild Ohio mead, Watershed gin, basil, orange zest and jalapeno. Definitely not for everyone, but I’ve got a few friends that order it every time they go! Review. Yelp.
That Food Truck – They rely on local ingredients, butcher their own meat, and partner with North Market Spices to make their own secret spice blend called Truck Dust. I can’t enough of their chocolate chip cookies or their Diner Burger. Review. Yelp.
- Ray Ray’s Hog Pit – Mmm, I’m a sucker for BBQ and Ray Ray’s has the best in town. They just planted themselves behind Ace of Cups and added an extra truck, which should cut down on the long lines that tend to form each weekend (they’re only open Fri-Sunday). Recommendations: The beef brisket sandwich ($6) or the pulled pork sandwich ($5), slathered in one of their four housemade BBQ sauces. Review. Yelp.
- Street Thyme – Another truck that serves up a good burger! I love their inventive toppings combos such as the Cbus Sweet Heat (roasted jalapenos, carmamelized onions, roasted red peppers, spicy amish pepperjack, and srirachi honey aioli). The burgers are made with two patties and cost $7 – $9. Review. Yelp.
Food Events and Activities
Columbus Food Adventures – Disclosure: I give their German Village tour. Seriously, though, these tours have broadened my culinary horizons, expanded my knowledge of Columbus’ history, and have added numerous restaurants to my list of favorites. They’ve also made a perfect gift for weddings and birthdays. Review. Yelp.
- Too Many Cooks! – Too Many Cooks! features experts, foodies, restaurateurs, and enthusiasts who talk about their passion for food. It takes place on the second Sunday of each month at Wild Goose Creative.
- Market to Market Bike Ride – Twice a year – in the spring and the fall – dozens of cyclists bike between North Market and Hills Market. Breakfast, bountiful food samples, and prizes wait at both markets and there are lots of fun tables set up by community organizations along the bike trail in between. I believe it’s about 26 miles of biking if you make the full loop.
Pistacia Vera (German Village) – I swoon for their macarons (note, these words do not rhyme!). There are 12 macaron flavors at any given time, and at $1.25 each, you can afford to sample several. The other French pastries are fantastic as well and the coffee is rich and perfectly brewed. Review. Yelp.
- Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweets (Polaris) – Sugardaddy’s brownies are one of my go-to gift options. I love their bags of “pocket change” (bight-sized bits and pieces of their brownies) closed with brightly colored ribbon. Their Nutty Blonde is perfectly sweet, salty, and rich. They’re pricey ($3.25?) but that’s because the ingredients are top quality. Review. Yelp.