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Restaurant Suggestions For Columbus, Ohio

  • d


I will be visiting Columbus, Ohio, next year with a group of people who will be attending a convention.

They have placed me in charge of researching the restaurant scene in Columbus in hopes of coming up with some good picks.

Therefore, if any of you are knowledgeable of the restaurant cuisine in Columbus, Ohio, I would like to solicit your opinions on the following:

Best Chinese
Best Thai
Best Vietnamese
Best Mexican
Best Steak
Best Fusion
Best Restaurant To Impress A Guest From New York

Okay, that should probably cover all of our favorites.

Any and all suggestions will be deeply appreciated. Thanks in advance.


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  1. That's quite a list! I have a few - Hyde Park Grille on Old Henderson or Mitchell's Steakhouse downtown for best steak, El Vaquero on Riverside Drive for best (maybe not most authentic, but most fun) Mexican, Thai Taste on Henderson for best Thai. For most impressive, I would choose Handke's (Bocuse D'Or winner), L'Antibes, Dagonfly (very funky vegan), or Alana's on High Street (trained by Emeril). I'm sure you'll get a lot more suggestions from others, too. Happy eating!

    1. d
      Dave in Columbus

      Good fusion food can also be found at the Brownstone, Columbus' newest soul food restaurant downtown. The atmosphere is fairly hip, the clientele very diverse, and the catfish and greens are very good. Columbus is lacking in much southeast Asian food, but Saigon Palace (downtown) and Pho Little Saigon (far east side on Hamilton Road) are good, inexpensive noodle shops.

      A unique dessert stop is Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in the North Market (across the street from the convention center). After a too-long hiatus, this ice cream genuius is back supplying consumers with raspbery marscapone, strawberry buttermilk, and salted cashew (and that's when she's not feeling creative).

      1. my picks are dated but here you go. for steak HPG as suggested is fine, but if you would like old school style steakhouses i'd say THE CLARMONT and THE TOP. i'd agree HANDKE'S is best to impress the big city clientele. for mexican TAPATIO is good and fun. speaking of fun, SCHMIDTS in the german village is good german fun. go native and get the bahama mamas and walk it all off around the pretty neighborhood. LINDEYS down there is also nice. all these can handle groups well. enjoy!

        6 Replies
        1. re: mrnyc
          Dave in Columbus

          Alas, Tapatio has closed. The loss of Tapatio and its neighbbor Strada World Cuisine from the Short North area is a tremendous loss to the local restaurant scene . . .

          1. re: Dave in Columbus

            no kidding? i wondered why no one mentioned it. i loved the cornbread they gave you. too bad.

            1. re: mrnyc
              Dave in Columbus

              Yeah, I'm more distressed about the loss of the red chile flake bread (and the margaritas) than anything else . . .

              1. re: Dave in Columbus

                I just got back from a trip to Columbus. I thought that I had read on a flyer in the North Market that they were closing on Sept 12. Did they close earlier? It wasn't open during lunchtime when we were at the market, but we just assumed that they didn't open until later in the evening. I had heard through what little grapevine that I have in Columbus that the owner is dealing with some health issues and that is the reason for the closing. Not sure how accurate that is, however.

                We had some great chow while we were in Columbus and I'll post a report on it shortly.

                1. re: Dave in Columbus

                  Dave, though I am reading a response of yours from 5 years ago, I can not agree with you more about the lose of Tapatio - their redpepper flake bread and the best margaritas in the world (and I now live in Maragaritaville - Key West). I can not return to Columbus without missing Tapatio. I used to make dinner on bread and maragritas. Often I would also get their black bean hummus or chipolte shrimp on corn cakes. I know Bruce the owner (maybe there were 2 owners?) died several years ago. Any idea of how to get a couple of their recipes - the bread and chipotle shrimp sauce? What a loss. Enjoyed Strada's World Cuisine also. You can't go back!

            2. re: mrnyc

              Ah, Schmidts, the spaetzle with overcooked canned green beans....ambrosia. Garlic knockwurst, gargantuan cream puffs, mmmmm.

              A treat I get only when visiting from the left coast...good spaetzle, like good Greek food and good bagels, are thin on the ground here in earthquake central.

            3. Best Chinese - Asian Gourmet (corner of Morse & Hamilton in the Gahanna area)
              Best Thai - Thai Orchid (on Sawmill Road)
              Best Vietnamese - Good question!
              Best Mexican - Any restaurant in the El Vaquero/La Vaquero restaurant group
              Best Steak - Mitchell's Steakhouse/Hyde Park Grille/Ruth's Chris
              Best Fusion - Not sure
              Best Restaurant To Impress A Guest From New York - M in the Miranova building downtown (www.cameronmitchell.com)

              1. Pretty good choices here for most of these categories. My two cents include some already mentioned (so I second them) and some not. Keep in mind, I am referring to the best FOOD in each category. Some choices may not reflect the best combination of food and atmosphere. I am willing to, and embrace, eating in a dive if the food warrants it. However, most combine both.

                Best Chinese: Hunan House on E. Rt 161 and Hunan Lion on Bethel Rd. Both are excellent.

                Best Thai: In iffy neighborhood, Bangcock on Refugee Rd. for the best food. For food almost as good in a better neighborhood with better atmosphere, Thai Orchid on Sawmill Rd.

                Best Vietnamese: A dearth of choices here...I would leave this option for another trip.

                Best Mexican: Local, any of the Vaquero's family (El Vaquero, La Vaquera, Vaquero's, etc.). There are also some nice little mexican groceries that have popped up with some very good and hard to find choices at their food counters. If you happen across one, try it. I generally stay away from chain restaurants, but an Abuelo's has opened up at Easton Town Center. It is quite good. It began in Texas and can be found throughout Oklahoma and the central south. If you've never been, it is very much worth a try.

                Best Steak: Mitchell's Steakhouse DOWNTOWN, not in the Crosswoods area. Also the Claremont.

                Best Fusion: Funky: Alana's on High St. Rigsby's Cuisine Volatile also on High St.

                Best Restaurant To Impress A Guest From New York: M in the Miranova Building is about as over the top as you can get for Columbus.

                Whatever you choose, have fun and please report back!

                1. a
                  a little late

                  Haiku in the Short North, if it is still there, is my favorite when I go to Columbus. Although its sushi is the main attraction, it has all kinds of Asian food, including the best Chow Fun I've had to date.

                  1. Some of my personal favorites:

                    Best Chinese
                    Moy's, on campus. No alcohol, but the best Chinese in town. The hot and sour soup is outstanding, and the general tso's tofu is unlike any other I've had.

                    Best Thai
                    I'd actually recommend a Japanese place for some delicious pan-Asian -- Haiku in the Short North (I believe another poster recommended it; I'd second that. I'm planning dinner there Wed.). Best Phad Thai I've had. I've also heard good things about Thai Orchid.

                    Best Vietnamese
                    Saigon Palace, downtown, as recommended by another poster.

                    Best Mexican
                    Going with the vox populii, El Vaquero (although I'd recommend the one on Olentangy River Road). Also Mi Mexico, in Whitehall and Gahanna, is quite good.

                    Best Steak
                    Mitchell's downtown, or Hyde Park. If you're coming after spring 2005, there is a new Hyde Park opening across from the Convention Center.

                    Best Fusion
                    Burgundy Room (Short North) or M in Miranova.

                    Best Restaurant To Impress A Guest From New York
                    M, hands down. Another great bet would be Alana's -- much cheaper wine list and great food. Dragonfly if you have vegetarians in the group -- even non-vegheads will appreciate it.

                    Good luck with the convention.

                    1. Best Vietnamese?
                      I'd have to go with Indochine on Hamilton Road, just north of Main. It's Viet/Lao, so you'll get all of your favorite Vietnamese dishes plus a whole lot of flavors you won't find anywhere else in town.

                      Having traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, I can say that the Pho is outstanding and very authentic.

                      Best Chinese?
                      I've been impressed with the new Q2 Bistro near Polaris. The eggplant and pork hot pot reproduces accurately flavors I've experienced in China, but never before in the States.

                      Best Fusion?
                      Alana's is great.

                      Best Restaurant to Impress a Friend from New York?
                      Give up. They won't be impressed by any restaurant. But they'll be over the moon once they try Jeni's Ice Cream at the North Market. Ironically, it may be the one place in town that truly serves best-of-category, world class food.

                      Or, if you wait a few months, you can take them to Rosendale's in the Short North, run by Rich Rosendale, former executive chef at the Greenbrier in WV and current U.S. culinary olympics team captain. That should be outstanding.

                      Hyde Park.

                      1. Best place to impress a New Yorker? I can think of two: Jeni's Ice Cream and Kihachi Japanese Restaurant. Those are probably the only two places that are going to generate any "wow" response.

                        As far as any of the Cameron Mitchell restaurants go, stay away. I know that they're popular in Columbus, but quite frankly they are mediocre restaurants at best. They're just a collection of "concepts" with over the top interiors that don't follow through either on the plate or on the winelist. In no way will a New Yorker be impressed by any Cameron Mitchell restaurant, and if he's into boutique, non-corporate wine producers, taking him into a CMR will be embarrassing.

                        1. I can't find if I've posted here or not but chiming in in case i didn't.
                          Schmidts in Old German Village for a great lunch if you like buffets with lots of sausage, mac and cheese, hot veggies, rolls, hot potato salad, hot cabbage, I mean the food is intoxicating.

                          1. Kihachi is certainly unique and worth the visit.

                            Refectory was on par with my meal at Eleven Madison Park and the chef is reinventing things as far as "Old French with a new twist" while maintaining classic quality.

                            Rigsby's food is on par with Babbo (no lie, the Gnocchi is actually better) and you don't need to kill for a reservation.

                            Would also recommend The Worthington Inn and M at Miranova.

                            Haiku is horrid.......

                            Dragonfly Neo V is a gem, albeit vegan, but DEFINITELY worth the visit.

                            1. Hi Dennis,

                              I lived in Columbus for 3 years and can only recommend restaurants that I have enjoyed personally but I have a few suggestions for you to consider.

                              Best Chinese: DH Wu (Rt 256 in Pickerington)
                              Best Mexican: Casa Fiesta (Hilliard location)
                              Best Steak (&Ribs): The Hickory House (I prefer the Reynoldsburg location)
                              Best Impression: I think Jeni's icecream is very unique and is truly world class so why not show off what the midwest has to offer and besides walking around North Market or Grandview is always a treat.

                              As far as your other choices the Noth Market is always a great one stop shop for a good variety of eats and treats.

                              Good eating to you!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: qkalis

                                IMO Olive Tree Mediterranean on Rome-Hilliard in Hilliard will impress a New Yorker. I live near Washington D.C. and have eaten at Bacchus, a top Lebanese restaurant as well as the Lebanese Taverna, and Olive Tree is their equal, and in some respects their master. Olive Tree's baba ganouj, for example is downright superior. I have never even seen matbucha (Moroccan) on a menu, but this cold appetizer balances the sweetness of its tomatoes with the piquancy of its hot red peppers so well that even a denizen of the Apple ought to be impressed. The lamb shish kebabs are excellent and are served over an authentic pilaf accompanied by two delicious gratis condiments. For a mere 75 cents, they serve a green Yemeni condiment that is hot without being overwhelming, and IMO would very much impress a resident of the town so nice they named it twice. The kebabs also come with a full, not side, Greek salad or soup. The Olive Tree is a gem that ought to patronized often. Eating there is a real treat.