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Columbus, OH Good eats -- No Chains!!!!

  • j

There is a noticeable dearth of threads about Columbus OH. I come here 7-10 days every 4-6 weeks, and am still struggling to find good places. Here are my favorites: Starliner Diner and The Yard Club in Hilliard; La Plaia and a Middle Eastern Place in a biggish strip mall off of Cleveland Ave. (sorry to be vague here, its near one of my customers) and Figlio's. As my office is near Hilliard, West side recommendations will be especially appreciated. Also any recommendations for real Chinese food or other Asian. I'm from Seattle, and the Chinese food in Columbus (up to now, but I'm willing to be convinced....) falls far short. Thanks to all who respond!

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  1. I like Yoshi's for sushi on Frantz Road (Dublin), La Plaza Tapatia at Westland Mall for Mexican (but a little bit of a bad location in the dark), El Vaquero on Riverside Drive for Tex-Mex that's cheap with fast service, Sher-E-Punjab in Kenny Center for good Indian food, and Thai Taste in the same place for good Thai. Hilliard is the land of the chains, so you may need to venture towards downtown and Short North for more trendy places. In that area, I like Burgundy Room for wine and tapas-like plates, L'Antibes for great French food, Alana's on campus for creative fusion, and Japan Oriental on campus for good Korean. Also, The Refectory on Bethel (www.refectoryrestaurant.com) has great French food and a bargain weekly bistro menu that has 3 courses for a really cheap price, like $25, I think. Good luck with your explorations - post if you find other good places!

    1. m
      Monique in OH

      My faves tend to be downtown or short north as well. Indian Oven on Broad and Main (?) is a favorite for indian. Kooma near the north market area has great sushi (better than Haiku with none of the attitude IMO) And Zen Cha is a cute place on High street in the short north that serves at least 40 different teas.

      I moved here from LA years ago, and I'm still looking for a "roscoes chicken n waffles" type place for brunch. If you discover one, let me know.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Monique in OH

        fyi---that chicken and waffles dish was invented by WELLS RESTAURANT in good old harlem. guess where roscoe used to work pre-la? ha!

        there was a very nice soul food place i used to like in columbus called MARBLE GANG, but i think its closed now. not sure if they had that dish anyway as i do not recall ordering it there. post if you find a place!

        1. re: mrnyc

          Linden Cafe--on the corner of 11th and Cleveland Ave has chicken and waffles on the menu. And yes, it is quite good!

        2. re: Monique in OH

          Good luck on the fried chicken on waffles -- just drive straight up to Detroit and go to the Detroit Breakfast House and Grill on Woodward in downtown Detroit.

        3. Sorry - Refectory's website is www.therefectoryrestaurant.com. There is also another good Korean place on Bethel called Min-Ga and I like the Chinese food at Hunan Lion on Bethel, although it is not the best ever. The Grandview Heights area is not far from Hilliard and has some good places, like Trattoria Roma for good Italian food and Braddock's for low-country type fancied-up dishes. Spagio in the same area also has good "spa-type" and is a lot like Figlio. I like it too.

          1. Moy's, on High opposite OSU, has good Chinese. Katzinger's, 3 mi south of campus, is an excellent deli and gourmet market. Tony's is a good Italian resaturant. Handke's is a nice upscale place.

            1. It's been maybe 5 years or so since I've eaten at Linde's, but some folks I ran into from Columbus over the weekend tell me its still there and good. This place is in German Village. I imagine that part of town could be considered a bit touristy, but Linde's is a real nice restaurant. If you don't like Linde's you can find some other places, just strolling around that area.
              Good Luck

              1. well i can talk seattle and columbus with you a bit. KIHACHI in nw cols off sawmill is a nice small place as good as any homestyle japanese around seattle, and KATZINGERS blows away any seattle deli (well ok not the meats in mario's dad's new joint, but its a good big 'ol deli concept). chinese? sorry, you are prob waiting on a train in vain. ditto thai.

                so why not just get in the columbus swing instead and do what they do? for something rather unique i used to love the GRINDERS open faced subs, its an interesting sub sandwich style and some of the versions were mighty fine. NANCYS HOME COOKING diner rules, and the thick cut bologna sandwich at BLUE DANUBE cannot be beat. or go have a bahama mama and a cream puff at SCHMIDTS sometime--why not? yr in rome!

                1. For Ethiopian/eritrean, there's a very serviceable joint called Selam's on Hamilton, about a mile south of Broad Street; perhaps not the world's best, but certainly the cheapest. They also have music on weekends. We've been looking for a really good Chinese place for a year-and-half now :-(.

                  1. Authentic Chinese? Try Shangri La on Cleveland Ave. Between Cook and Morse Rds.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sharonct

                      Shangri La? Augh! I had some of the worst Chinese food ever at Shangri La. Our stirfry tasted like it had been fried in 3 year old oil. Everything was awful. It was so bad, I can't imagine it was just a fluke. A few other friends also had awful experiences there.

                      I've been to China, and spend a month or two every year in Southeast Asia. Shangri La is probably the worst Chinese food I've had in my life. The fast food joints (Mark Pi, etc) are actually better, I'm afraid.

                      1. re: johnmccollum

                        This having been said, I'm not sure what I would suggest for good Chinese in Columbus. Little Dragons on Morse used to be great, but has gone downhill.

                        Oh, yeah. Q2 Bistro near Polaris! Great pork and eggplant -- very similar to Jiangxi Province style.

                    2. Panda Inn, Bethel Road.
                      I always see Chinese families eating here.
                      They have cart service Dim Sum on Sat and Sun afternoons 11-3pm. While a few other places offer Dim Sum, this is the only restaurant I know of that has cart service. Columbus is mostly a Wor-Su-Gai town when it comes to Asian food, but a few other places stand out.
                      Asian Cusine- Rt23N- Upscale($$)Hong-Kong style
                      Don't order off the menu, but describe to the owners what you like and ask them to make something for you. Never been disappointed with this place.

                      Blue Nile- High St-Clintonville- the original Eithopian restaurant in town.

                      Kihachi- some of the best Japanese food I've had outside Japan, really...I worked at a sushi bar for 4 years. Go with a few people and order all small plates, tapas style. Some of the menu is written in Kanji. Even asking in perfect Japanese, I still don't get all of the items translated. Always an excellent meal.

                      Udipi Cafe- Rt161- all vegetarian Indian food. All types of dosi, vada ect. great lunch buffet. always full of Indian families and business people.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: CMH-Food

                        I was intrigued by the "wor su gai" comment in the post above - since we used to enjoy a superlative version at Jong Mea on E.Broad in the 60s (as I recall, dark meat stuffed with chinese ham and scallions) which may be the ur source of any current versions - of course that restuarant closed years ago - does anybody make a good wor su gai in columbus anymore?

                      2. Try Florentines on West Broad St.call for hours tho!nice Italian/American chow!!If you travel to Zanesville on business try a Mexican Rest. named Talequpacque?on Maple Ave.[us rt 60]specials everyday,mariachi band 1 night a week and original food! ---not your Taco Bell !!!!--- worth the trip east of Cols.

                        1. As mentioned, Katzingers and Handke's are both good (and very different from each other). Also, try CAP CITY DINER -- it's an upscale diner concept with GIANT portions. The food is good.

                          1. hello...well, my suggestion is not on the westside but worth the drive... It's a place called Happy Dragon and it is located in Reynoldsburg. The address is 7332 East Main St. (it IS a chain but is family owned and operated and has been since I was 12...I am 28 now) This place has THE BEST Wor Su Gai in ALL of OHIO...I'd put $ on it...I have been eating there for years and I have never had bad food or bad service from *Happy Dragon*...give them a try!!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ryanssquishy

                              Can you describe how Happy Dragons' Wor Su Gai is made? I have never, ever found it again made as Jong Mea did decades ago - stuffed with scallion and smithfield (I guess) ham.

                            2. The North Market in the Short North is a good place to go for fast and good food. They have Italian, sushi, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Chinese and Vietnamese. And for dessert you can always go to Jenni's for ice cream, Mozart's for pastries or Pure Immagination for chocolates.

                              Another good place is Bannana Bean in German Village. Small, but very good food and portions. Just a little south of Barcelona, which has fairly good food as well.

                              1. I'll put Eastern Palace (livingston and brice) against any thing I have tried in Columbus area.
                                Maybe my taste is some what americanized,but try the big appitizer combo for two there,keeps me coming back.

                                1. Jason's in the Dublin area has great Chinese. They advertise their Pad Thai as the best in the city, at this point I have to agree!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: King SVELT

                                    And yes, I realize that Pad Thai is not Chinese! LOL

                                  2. If you know where La Plaia is, you have to go check out Mi Mi Cafe. It's a little Vietnamese joint about ten doors further west in the same shopping center...behind the Sunoco on Cleveland Avenue. They have killer Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich) for $3.50. It's seriously one of the best, and by far the most friendly priced, sandwiches in the city. They have a very small menu...just the sandwich and three noodle dishes. The pho is really good too. Excellent broth with very fresh garnishes. As a bonus, the owner couldn't be nicer, the place is very clean, and all the food is prepared (by the owner) behind the counter right in front of you. Ha Long Bay at Polaris is pretty good for Viet too, but despite the limited menu, I'll take Mi Mi any day. Just thinking about those sandwiches makes me salivate.

                                    There's also a very servicable sushi place on Hamilton Road south of Stoneridge called Mr. Sushi. Hate the name, like the place, and it'll save you a trip to the NW side (Kihachi, Akai Hana f/k/a Restaurant Japan...try the sushi counter in the back of the associated Tensuke Market if you're in a rush) if you need a sushi fix. They've got a great fish selection that seems very fresh and always have a couple nice daily specials that the lower end places never carry (uni, live amaebi, toro, ohtoro, hotategai). They're also pretty good about not committing the standard mistakes most non-japanese sushi bars do. Fish and rice are at the right temperature, no split rolls, cuts are well made, etc.

                                    I'm still looking for a really good place for Chinese. I agree with CMH's assessment of Asian Cuisine, but I just don't make it up there very often, and it's kinda pricey. If you're into Mexican, there's a market on Morse Rd. called La Michoacana that has a very authentic (all hispanic patrons) taqueria attached to it. Try the Lengua.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: red_menace

                                      Have you tried Panda Inn on Bethel? Ask for the Chinese menu. It has English as well as Chinese.

                                      Another good place is Happy Dragon on the northern edge of German Village. They also have a Chinese menu, but it is only in Chinese.

                                      Panda Inn is more of a sit down place. Happy Dragon is more of a take out place.

                                    2. My little hidden place is China Jade near the Continent, 6104 Boardwalk Street, Columbus, OH 43229 PH 614-847-1230. The best chicken fried rice I have ever had and super good viet food, noodle bowls, etc. Little vietnamese egg rolls are also the best egg rolls I ever had. I am ususally the only white guy in there, so I assume local asians find it good and reasonable.

                                      1. Tropical Bistro is one of my favorites http://www.thetropicalbistro.com. They have Polynesian and Pan-Asian cuisines. Many of the Kahiki dishes and drinks are served here. My favorite is the Malagasy Garlic Chicken. YUM!!
                                        Morone's Italian Villa is also excellent http://www.menusandmorecolumbus.com/M...
                                        I've heard good things about Windchimes in Hilliard http://www.windchimeschinese.com/inde... but have not yet tried.

                                        1. ding ho
                                          the best get the complete dinner war sue gai
                                          120 Phillipi Rd
                                          West Broad Hills Shopping Center, Columbus, OH 43228

                                          Carry Out: (614) 272-9234
                                          Phone: (614) 276-4395

                                          Located 1/4 mile north of the
                                          Hollywood Columbus Casino

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: melodyk29

                                            please describe how ding ho makes the wor su gai
                                            its been forever since I have had a good version (at jong mei)