Columbus, Ohio’s capital, is a progressive city with a decidedly local spirit. One of the largest cities in America, Columbus has a lot to offer, each neighborhood jammed with historic and cultural heritage. From the Brewery District, the German Village and artsy Short North adjacent to Downtown, to the outer neighborhoods and suburbs of the city, Columbus’ diners, cafés and restaurants have a host of breakfast and brunch options for the cultural traveler.
With three different locations, Northstar is fast becoming a favourite Columbus restaurant, especially for breakfast and brunch. All three locations are slightly different from each other, and all are inspired by the urban energy of downtown and the agricultural plenty that is Ohio’s bread and butter. Different locations are decorated with a large and up-to-date magazine stand, exposed brick walls and a fresh lemonade station or coffee stand, but always with a bright and clean dining room. Customers know that all the food made in the large, open kitchens is made from scratch, mostly with organic and local ingredients. Brunch-goers should try the morning glory muffin, cloud nine pancakes with ricotta cheese and Ohio maple syrup or the homemade granola with berries.
The Huevos Rancheros | Courtesy of Starliner Diner
Located in Columbus’ historic German Village neighborhood, this place is a local favourite. Skillet describes its cuisine as, ‘seasonal driven, farm to table comfort classics with an urban edge’. This means that the menu changes almost daily depending on the season, harvest and ingredients they have on hand. The local food used is listed on the menu, with cream and milk from Ohio’s Snowville Creamery, Bluescreek Farm beef, Tennessee tomatoes and Laurel Valley cheese, for example. Featured in a PBS show about American breakfasts, Skillet uses eggs within a roughly 30-mile radius of Columbus, including their duck eggs. When available, order the sweet potato hash with duck eggs and duck meat. Other highlights include the warm cinnamon rolls or the classic sausage, chicken gravy and biscuits with an egg tucked inside. Expect to wait for a seat however, as the dining area is small and Skillet doesn’t take reservations.
Starliner's unique murals | Courtesy of Starliner Diner
The Starliner Diner in Hilliard has won Best Breakfast in Columbus, Best Diner in Columbus and even Best Hangover Breakfast in Columbus. The brightly painted walls are purposefully covered in loud décor such as a large swordfish that hangs over the archway, Route 66 plaques and an entire wall of clocks. Between the strange decorations and completely relaxed atmosphere, Starliner offers customers ‘an alternative to the cookie-cutter, big-chain restaurants by providing them with a unique and fun dining experience’. It’s a classic American diner serving Cuban-inspired food, a combination that has created a large following for the small diner. Some favourites include the huevos rancheros, a Tex-Mex classic of fried eggs, cheese, corn tortillas and black beans and, always, the Cuban toast.
Nancy’s is a classic American diner serving classic American diner staples: scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, pancakes and strong coffee. The difference between Nancy’s and the average no-name diner, however, is community. After the diner closed down in June 2009 the neighbourhood rallied together, campaigning and fundraising until the restaurant could reopen early 2010. Seemingly a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant, inside it holds a lot of memories for the surrounding community. A modern-day Cheers (but without the alcohol) Nancy’s is made up of mostly well-loved regulars and eating at one of the scarlet and gray booths is a great way to get to know the local community. Today Nancy’s Home Cooking has had a make-over, an updated grill and printed menus rather than a chalkboard list, but the idea is the same: Midwestern practicality, simple but good food and a warm welcome.
In the Columbus suburb of Worthington, The Worthington Inn is open seven days a week with an enormous Sunday brunch that is now officially offered on Saturday mornings as well. Chefs prepare fresh bread daily, churn their own ice cream and create seasonal menus, keeping in line with their commitment to supporting sustainable farming techniques. Though the food isn’t cheap, the atmosphere is elegant and steeped in history.
Katalina’s declares itself, ‘the little café with lots of local goodness’, and this certainly seems to hold true. With a quirky attitude and a tendency of rhyming, ‘Katalina’s al-Fresco is the Best-O’ and ‘Forgive our bragging but this is staggering’; Katalina’s seems like an energetic next-door neighbour who likes to cook. Located in a 100 year old gas station-turned restaurant, the patio adds some much needed extra space, even in the winter when customers wait in the cold for some of the famous, award-winning pancake balls. Pancake balls stuffed with nutella seem to be a favourite, but other highlights include the chipotle glazed sweet and spicy bacon or the Mazatlan pork and egg sandwich. Wash it down with boxed water, 10% donated to world water relief and 10% to reforestation.
In 2007, Belgium-native Jean-François Flechet brought back a 120lbs cast iron waffle maker from Belgium to Columbus, and the rest is sweet waffle history. From a cart in the back of a produce store, Taste of Belgium has since grown into multiple food establishments in Cincinnati, Florence, Kentucky and Columbus, including a full service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now located in North Market, Taste of Belgium takes elegant cuisine to a more down-to-earth level perfect for the laid back city of Columbus and it’s made this place wildly popular among waffle and brunch-lovers alike. All the food is inspired by traditional Belgian dishes, infused into the local culinary experience and all the waffles are made with imported beet sugar and caramelised in homemade irons, just choose the topping.
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Zanzibar Brews is a hip coffeehouse near downtown Columbus in the historic King-Lincoln District. Around the corner from the Lincoln Theater, stop in for a quick coffee before an event, though the smell of bacon and coffee are likely to bring you back for breakfast or Sunday brunch. Sundays Jazz Brunch Buffet has gourmet dishes prepared by the chef along with live jazz music for the duration of brunch. Zanzibar has a contemporary and relaxed interior, often showcasing local art, and hosts an open mic night every Thursday.
Omega Artisan Bakery has Italian-style crusty breads, flaky croissants and cinnamon rolls deemed the ‘Best Breakfast in Ohio’ by the Food Network Magazine. Perfect for a quick, sweet breakfast, Omega Artisan is one of the many food joints established in the North Market, Columbus’ only remaining true public market, established in 1876. All the bakery’s bread and desserts are made from scratch with natural ingredients, no preservatives or additives, and like artisans, their bread is made in small batches, rather than mass-produced. Not only that, but Omega Artisan offers regular baking classes to teach how to make that delicious croissant or dessert.
Explorers Club in historic German Village, right on the edge of Hungarian Village, takes visitors on a journey with its food. Starting with a Caribbean-inspired menu, Executives Chefs and owners Tracy Studer and Orlando Martinez next instituted a monthly Hungarian Night to honor his heritage and the restaurant’s location. It was so successful that residents came in to share old family recipes. So they decided to widen the menu’s appeal, offering diners a taste of Italy, China, Mexico and Cuba, among others. Explorers Club menu offers gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and ‘can be made vegan’ dishes and while Saturday and Sunday brunch have a traditional breakfast food list, the best are Explorer Club creations. There are grilled pierogies served with chorizo, 2 fried eggs, cheese and Ranchero sauce or fried egg tacos.
Looks like it's closedHours or services may be impacted due to Covid-19