By Caroline Eubanks
Columbus, Ohio is the state’s capital and a large college town home to the Ohio State University. But the Midwestern gem also has an incredible culinary scene that ranges from international eateries to award-winning distilleries and restaurants dating back over a century. Visitors can’t miss these spots.
The Original Food Hall
Long before food halls became a trend all over America, the North Market was a staple for life in Columbus. It first opened in 1876 and has gone on to become a must-visit foodie destination. The current building was constructed in 1995 but in the early years, vendors operated out of a Quonset hut.
It’s full of stalls selling just about every type of cuisine, including Vietnamese, Polish, Mexican, and Nepalese. There are also booths with artisan cheeses, chocolate, and gifts. The market has also been an incubator for brands like Jeni’s Ice Cream, which started here in 1996 and has gone on to have locations around the country as well as sales in national retailers.
Dining Around the World
There’s also an established community of international eateries in Columbus. The German Village neighborhood in the city is home to Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, which has been open for over 120 years. A man from Frankfurt opened the business as a meat packing facility but expanded into a restaurant in 1967. It continues to be family-run, selling authentic fare like bratwurst, spaetzle, and schnitzel. Every meal should end with one of their giant cream puffs, made in-house daily.
Jiu Thai Asian Cafe sits in an unassuming strip mall and serves Chinese dishes like hand-pulled noodles, dumplings, and crepe cake. Columbus also has a number of African restaurants, including Drelyse African Restaurant, which serves traditional fare like jollof rice and goat stew.
Enjoy a cocktail with the spirits from local distilleries during your visit. Watershed Distillery is known for its award-winning gin, also available in barrel-aged and infused bottles. They also make bourbon, vodka, apple brandy, and nocino, a walnut liqueur.
Local bars also create unique concoctions for those looking to imbibe. Law Bird uses craft and local spirits and offers bottled versions of their creative drinks. Fireproof, a local restaurant named for its past as a fireproof document warehouse, has cocktails like the gin and passionfruit Sapphire Saturn. Buckeye Bourbon House focuses on fifty styles of bourbon and whiskey.
Craft breweries have a presence as well, thanks in part to immigrants from Germany. The Columbus Ale Trail highlights others, including in the appropriately-named Brewery District. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing and Land Grant Brewing each have a wide variety of styles. Scotland’s own BrewDog opened their first hotel in the city along with multiple taprooms.
Caffeine Lovers Welcome
Thanks to the student population, there are plenty of coffee shops and roasters ready to caffeinate you. Columbus even has its own self-guided Coffee Trail, which allows visitors to collect stamps with every cup and earn a t-shirt. There are seventeen on the map, but far more in the city. Fox in the Snow, Stauf’s Coffee, One Line, and Brioso are among the best. You can get your favorite drink and buy a bag of beans to enjoy back home.
(Go Magazine online exclusive Nov-Dec 2021)
(Photos by Caroline Eubanks)