The Top 10 Local Restaurants In Columbus, Ohio

Columbus skyline, Ohio
Columbus skyline, Ohio | © jpmueller99/Flickr
Michelle Combs

The geographical and cultural heart of Ohio, Columbus is the home of both Ohio State University and the Columbus College of Art and Design. These educational centers mirror the diversity of the city and its thriving art and culture scene. Each neighborhood, from the Short North Arts District and the historic German Village to the University District, hosts a selection of unmissable cultural restaurants. Here are 10 local haunts you shouldn’t miss when visiting Columbus.

1. Veritas Tavern

Restaurant, American

Taking its name from the Latin for ‘truth’, Veritas Tavern combines traditional ingredients with unconventional cooking techniques and flavours to reveal a new truth about these foods through experimentation. The culinary focus is on small-plate dishes and craft cocktails. Roasted oysters are served with chili butter and lemon, and the flat iron steak is accompanied by pickled celery root and coconut curry. Chef Silas Caeton has succeeded in creating a tiny restaurant with big-city ambition that thrives in the Columbus suburb of Delaware, with aims to move to downtown Columbus when he finds the right space. The cocktail menu is even more diverse than the food menu, featuring original creations such as Aladdin’s Honey Nectar – Smooth Ambler Gin, jasmine liqueur and honey syrup.

2. G. Michael's Bistro & Bar

Restaurant, American

Scallops and short ribs at G. Michaels Bistro
© John Hritz/Flickr
Located in the German Village neighborhood, G. Michael’s is an upscale restaurant with a passion for local ingredients. The large dining room creates a warm and inviting atmosphere with low lighting and exposed brick walls. Chef David Tetzloff attended culinary school in Charleston, South Carolina and brings the flavors of the Deep South back to central Ohio, adding in a signature Midwestern flair. The chef’s specialty is pork, but the seasonal menu also features a wide variety of seafood, including many gluten-free options. Open only for dinner, dishes may also be complemented by selections from the extensive wine list. Reservations are recommended for this singular dining experience.

3. Barcelona Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, Spanish

Outside seating
©Barcelona Restaurant & Bar
Barcelona is also located in German Village, offering a cuisine described by owner Scott Heimlich as Spanish fusion. The tapas-style menu takes inspiration from the family focus of Spanish dining, and the historic building creates an inviting and casual atmosphere, transplanting Old World charm to the center of America. Chef Jacob Hough crafts delights such as paella mariscos—featuring shrimp, squid, mussels and clams—for lunch. Dinner entrees include further varieties of paella and grilled beef filet topped with goat’s cheese. Each month, Barcelona features the work of a different local artist on the exposed brick of the dining room, adding to the cultural ambiance. Patrons can also dine on the outdoor patio, voted best patio by Columbus locals in 2013. Reservations are recommended.

4. Black Creek Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, American

Cherry Blossom in Columbus Olde Towne East
© blechdom/Flickr
Beginning as the restaurant for a farm, Black Creek Bistro maintains its commitment to using fresh, local ingredients, while also expanding to include a wine shop and art gallery. The Bistro also has a very serious commitment to sustainability, reclaiming all its used vegetable oil and composting whenever possible, maintaining the cycle of farm to table and back to farm. Lunch and dinner options include cold soba noodle salad, quinoa burger, and seasonal duck gnocchi. The art gallery features primarily local artists working in a variety of media, from photography to printmaking to painting. The English Tudor style building in Columbus’s Olde Towne East which houses the Black Creek Bistro is sure to charm as well.

5. M at Miranova

Restaurant, American, Gluten-free

Awarded Four Diamonds by AAA in 2014, M at Miranova is at the top of the list for fine dining in Columbus. M delights the senses with a meticulously crafted dining experience, from the unique architecture of the dining room to carefully curated music and lighting, all designed to enhance the restaurant’s haute cuisine. Having gained valuable experience on staff at Columbus’s Refectory, Chef Jeff Rabold has also worked in kitchens in Charleston, South Carolina and South Beach, Miami, Florida. Rabold specializes in French cuisine and brings his passion back to Columbus to create globally inspired meals at M. Open for dinner, M offers sushi in addition to the more traditional steak, pork, chicken, veal and seafood – hand-crafted salads and a variety of appetizers round out the menu. Reservations are highly recommended.

6. The Refectory Restaurant & Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, French

The Refectory is a fine dining institution in Columbus, housed in a building originally built as a church in the 19th century. Serving Columbus for over thirty years, the restaurant boasts an elite staff, some of whom who have been at the restaurant for as long as it’s been open. It’s not hard to see why The Refectory breeds loyalty among its customers as well as its staff. The romantic restaurant hosts a chamber music series to complement its exquisite French cuisine, crafted by Chef Richard Blondin, a native of Lyon, France. The wine list was voted the best in Columbus by a local survey. Like a fine wine, the restaurant has mellowed over the years—servers no longer wear full tuxedos—and only gets better with age. The Refectory has received the prestigious Four Diamond Award from AAA for 14 years in a row. Reservations are a must.

7. Adriatico's Pizza

Adriatico’s Pizza

Adriatico’s Pizza is a tried and true classic for Ohio State University students. Located in the heart of the University District, just off the OSU campus, Adriatico’s offers extravagant New York style pizzas in sizes ranging from personal to ‘Buckeye’ (18 x 24 inches). Entering into its fourth decade of business, Adriatico’s has its pizza down to an art, using fresh, quality ingredients that elevate this pizza far above typical student fare. For the more health conscious, the pizzeria also offers salads and pasta dishes. The atmosphere is very casual, and the dining room is small, but Adriatico’s is the perfect stop for a true taste of local culture on the go.

Adriatico’s Pizza, 265 West 11th Avenue, Columbus, OH, USA +1 614 421 2300

Courtesy The RefectoryCourtesy The Refectory

8. Basi Italia

Bar, Restaurant, American

Basi Italia, Columbus
© Bob Hall/Flickr
A small, casual restaurant in the Victorian Village neighborhood, Basi Italia crafts Italian and Mediterranean dishes with a twist. Owners Chef John Dornback and Trish Gentile have created an intimate dining experience that emphasizes both food and fellowship among its guests. The restaurant’s terrace hosts weekly wine tastings, aptly titled Vino on the Veranda, to educate customers about its extensive wine list and cultivate a sense of community. Basi Italia gives even more attention to its cuisine. Chef Dornback has been the recipient of the American Academy of Restaurant and Hospitality Sciences’ Five Diamond Chef Award – dishes such as the beef short ribs and risotto verde showcase his skill. Basi Italia is closed on Sunday and Monday but open for dinner the rest of the week.

Haiku Restaurant

Haiku Restaurant is a gem of the Short North neighborhood. With its by-line of ‘poetic food and art’, Haiku is truly unique. One of the best restaurants in Columbus for sushi, the restaurant boasts an open ‘exhibition’ kitchen so that dinner is the show. Customers can dine at the sushi bar, with a front-row view of the culinary action, or in the spacious dining room designed according to the principles of feng shui. The Asian Pacific cuisine is accompanied by the works of local artists on the walls and live jazz and guitar music two nights a week. Patrons are also encouraged to write their own haikus and hang them in the dining area.

9. The Happy Greek

Restaurant, European

Also in Short North neighborhood, locals have consistently voted The Happy Greek as the best Greek in Columbus. The casual restaurant has a fun, welcoming atmosphere and is an excellent choice for lunch while perusing the many galleries in Short North or for dinner before going out downtown, just blocks away. The dining room is adorned with murals of Greek scenes; guests can also dine outside. The gyro and hummus are legendary, but the more adventurous should try the house specialty pastitsio, a Greek lasagne. The Happy Greek also offers a variety of Greek beers and is open late on Gallery Hop nights.

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