I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and after traveling all around the world, I have come to believe that my hometown has some of the best food around. I firmly believe that Columbus is not talked about enough and has been widely misconstrued. When I say I am from Columbus, Ohio, most people respond with:
“Oh, so you live on a farm.”
“Where is that?”
Or, my personal favorite, “Do you tip cows there?”
Little do they know that Columbus is very much an up-and-coming city filled with a youthful population and is very respondent to trends. The Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the country in terms of area and population, is located in Columbus, meaning that there are young students everywhere. There are trendy restaurants and shops are catered to the student population; most of them are hip but also cheap.
After living in Columbus for nineteen years, I believe I can be considered Columbus’s food expert — and here is a list of all of my favorites.
This is a relatively new chain based in Columbus that has quickly taken the city by storm. It is a Chipotle-style Korean restaurant that in my eyes is even better than Chipotle. You choose from two rice options, various proteins, toppings, and sauces in order to create your perfect bowl or wrap. Sounds a lot like Chipotle — but trust me, they’re different in the best way possible.
I might be biased because I did work at this ice cream chain, but Jeni’s truly has the best ice cream in the world. It is very popular in Columbus and is mainly known for its unique flavors and locally grown ingredients.
Jeni’s has flavors such as salty caramel, the chain’s most popular flavor; brown butter almond brittle, my personal favorite; and whiskey and pecans. Each flavor is unique in its own way and can be served plain, in a float, or as a sundae. On top of that, Josh Radnor, a Columbus native, even talked about it on The Late Late Show with James Corden.
Based in and inspired by the city of Columbus, Northstar has quickly become a household name in Columbus. The restaurant chain is known for its modern ambience and natural, local flavors. All food is prepared in a visible kitchen, providing an interesting look to the restaurant and making the entire dining experience at Northstar more personal. At Northstar, you can eat amazing food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No matter what you order, you will leave happy.
Fusian is a Chipotle-style sushi restaurant based in Columbus. It is made with fresh, natural ingredients sourced from all around the world and has expanded quickly into all parts of the city. The restaurant has a modern, clean feel and has become one of the top choices for sushi-lovers in the city. Each customer leaves with a handcrafted ten-piece sushi roll filled with toppings of their choice.
Dirty Franks is exactly what the name says it is: a hot dog palace. There are two Dirty Franks locations; the downtown location is small and always has a line out the door. It has a very hip and trendy ambience, filled with various musical memorabilia and lots of dog statuettes. Dirty Franks has an insane amount of hot dog options, including vegetarian options. Definitely a fun, local place that’s worth a visit.
If you love grilled cheese, go to Melt. It’s another relatively new restaurant chain in the city, but the food is worth raving about. They specialize in grilled cheese, so they have lots of options, and each sandwich is huge. Melt isn’t super expensive either and because of its cheap, youthful nature, it has become a hit in Cbus.
This is an amazing place to visit if you’re a coffee lover. Fox In the Snow Cafe is very easy to miss since it has no signs outside, but when you go inside, you immediately are greeted with great customer service and a homey atmosphere. They have some of the best coffee in Columbus and also serve a variety of small food items. Definitely a must-try.
Another Chipotle-style chain restaurant based in Ohio, but this time with Italian food. With a variety of options such as a Piada, a noodle bowl, or a salad, everyone is bound to find something they like here. The chain offers huge servings of incredible food and is definitely worth a try.
Columbus really has some of the best ice cream in America, and Graeter’s is another example of that. It is a great ice cream chain, known for its perfected classic flavors and for having tons of options. Most people’s favorite flavor is the black raspberry chip, which happens to be so good you’ll want to go back for seconds, thirds, or even fourths.
This is the place to go in Columbus if you’re looking for a good açaí bowl. The bowls are totally insta-worthy and taste amazing as well. Although their bowls are their most famous item, they also serve other items such as avocado toast and various juices. They use fresh ingredients and create healthy yet tasty food.
11. Skyline Chili
If you pass a Skyline Chili, you know you’re in Ohio. This is a true fast food restaurant — it’s a drive-thru and the food is messy yet to die for. They specialize in hot dogs and chili and serve it the true Cincinnati way. There are hundreds of Skyline’s in the state, making it easy to indulge anywhere in Ohio.