Daniel Shumski showed you his favorite spots in Montreal. Kat Odell covered the dining scene in Los Angeles. And now Cara Mangini, The Vegetable Butcher herself, shares the best places to shop, dine, and drink in her native Columbus, Ohio.
Breakfast and Brunch
Fox in the Snow, Italian Village
1031 N. 4th Street
Start any day in Columbus at Fox in The Snow and I can almost guarantee it is going to be a good one. You must order a sticky bun, blueberry scone, cinnamon roll, or custard-filled donut and (yes, and) the souffled egg sandwich with Dijon-mayonnaise, arugula, and cheese on ciabatta. If the breakfast and coffee isn’t enough to incite an instant obsession (as it does for pretty much everyone in Columbus), the light-filled space and vinyl spinning will do the job.
Pistachia Vera, German Village
541 S. 3rd Street
Pistachia Vera is known for meticulously crafted and insanely delicious French-style pastries. Their plain, almond, and chocolate croissants are the real deal. It’s also the place you’ll find an array of pretty macarons and impressive tarts and cakes—a perfect afternoon sweet spot. There’s an outlet in the North Market, where I get my almost-daily croissant. I recommend the German Village location so you can also wander around the historic neighborhood and stop into The Book Loft, another must-visit Columbus destination.
Wolf’s Ridge Brewing and Restaurant
215 N. 4th Street
I love Wolf’s Ridge for weekend brunch. (It is also one of the best spots in Columbus for dinner and for craft beer at the bar or in the separate tap room.) The sunny dining room and refined comfort food served at brunch will invite you to linger here all day, with a cup of tea or a boozy cocktail. Order the Huevos Rancheros, Toad in the (brioche) Hole, or skillet frittata. Get the sugar donuts with spiced apple compote and chantilly or toast and berries to finish with round two (or three) of tea or drinks, you’ll be glad you took the time for the full experience and to chill.
59 Spruce Street
Food lovers cannot visit Columbus without a trip to North Market. It’s the oldest and last remaining public market and home to a mix of fresh food and prepared food merchants, as well as a farmers’ market outside during the growing season. Under one roof you’ll find pizza, deli sandwiches, pretzels, donuts, and smoothies as well as Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, and Vietnamese food. Plan plenty of time to taste your way through the market.
59 Spruce Street, downtown/Short North (inside North Market)
2211 High Street, Clintonville (Spring 2017)
Little Eater is my produce-inspired restaurant housed inside the historic North Market. Of course, I am biased, but Little Eater cannot be missed! The menu celebrates Ohio’s four seasons and will connect you with the exact moment of the year—no matter when you are in town. Mix and match scoops of seasonal vegetable salads for a little taste of everything or pair them with a sandwich (like poached beets and avocado with pickled onions, chevre), or crostini (shaved Hirsch Farm apples with Honeyrun Farm honey and sea salt), or farm-egg dishes (mixed mushroom quiche with local Gruyere), or the daily flatbread or soup. Do not pass up the house-made cheddar biscuits and honey butter, nor our chocolate chip cookie. Enjoy Little Eater at North Market or take it away for a picnic in nearby Goodale Park or to Rockmill Brewery (see below). In spring 2017, visit Little Eater’s Clintonville location which will offer an expanded menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with beer and wine. We are on a mission is to put vegetables in the center of your plate, honor the work of our local farm partners and support the health of our community.
Hot Chicken Takeover
59 Spruce Street (inside North Market)
It’s all the rage. I am a vegetable lover, so I can only speak for the outrageously good banana pudding and the community-supportive and genuine people who run the growing empire, but all of Columbus loves this place for their “warm,” “hot,” and “holy #&*%!” Nashville-style hot chicken. You will find Hot Chicken Takeover upstairs in the market house.
Little Eater Produce & Provisions
59 Spruce Street (inside North Market)
Produce & Provisions is an artisan food boutique meets local farm stand. I am the owner, but trust me, there is no better place in the city to pick up food gifts (the best kind of souvenir). We curate small-batch products like honey, maple syrup, chocolate, olive oil, vinegar, pasta, sauces, heirloom beans, produced by makers in Ohio and beyond. We also carry local and organic produce and pantry basics to encourage cooking at home.
811 Highland Avenue
Basi is a cozy neighborhood spot tucked into the residential Victorian Village neighborhood, just off bustling High Street. It is one of the top restaurants in Columbus serving up consistently awesome Italian-inspired fare. Rain or shine, grab a seat on the covered terrace. Start with a glass of wine or specialty cocktail, buttery herb-filled biscotti, and “zucchini pronto,” Basi’s must-order signature appetizer—warm julienned zucchini, with lemon, olive oil, herbs and shaved pecorino. From there, you can’t go wrong with any selection of appetizers for sharing or pasta, risotto, or a protein-based entree. You will leave feeling like Chef Johnny Dornback welcomed you into his kitchen and cooked just for you.
495 S. 4th Street
For the best pizza in Columbus, head to Harvest. There’s an outpost in the Clintonville neighborhood, but all the charm is at their location in Columbus’s historic German Village. Plus, at Harvest in German Village you can order cocktails from Curio, the neighboring speakeasy-style cocktail bar or head there afterwards for drinks. The ideal way to enjoy Harvest is on the patio on a warm day or night. I always get the almond pesto pizza with spinach and artichokes. Pro-tip: ask for extra red sauce or pesto for the kind of irresistible crust you will not want to leave on your plate.
951 N. High Street
For a casual dinner head to Northstar Cafe. They serve my favorite burger in the city and it is a veggie one (of course). The black bean and beet base is layered on a brioche bun, with pickles, Dijon, onions, shredded kale, and cheddar then paired with sweet potato fries that spend time in the fryer with garlic and rosemary. To really do it right, order house-made ginger ale, too.
Watershed Kitchen and Bar
1145 Chesapeake Avenue, Suite D
Columbus is known for world-class distilleries and breweries and many of them have ventured into the restaurant business. This one decided to open a restaurant in its production facility, and I am so glad they did. The location, the owners admit (and I concur) is a little strange, but you will forget all about it the second you walk in. Grab a seat at the gorgeous bar for drinks that show off Watershed spirits like bourbon barrel gin and Nocino—a rare black walnut liqueur. The food is outstanding and offers a reverent nod to the Midwest and the people who grow it. The Brussels sprouts and perfectly salty smashed potatoes, especially with a cocktail in hand, are not optional.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
714 N. High Street
Every visit to Columbus requires at least one ice cream cone at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, but I promise you will find yourself wanting to get back for more. Jeni’s ice cream is made with dairy from pasture-raised, grass-eating cows and her flavors like Salty Caramel, Brambleberry Crisp, Gooey Butter Cake, and Strawberry Buttermilk are one-of-a-kind. With ten locations in Columbus, you will always find a Jeni’s easily accessible. I love the Short North location situated in the heart of the arts district full of galleries, boutiques (Rowe is my favorite), bars, and restaurants.
Breweries and Distilleries
Middle West Spirits
1230 Courtland Avenue
Middle West is known for its delicious small-batch whiskey with distinct character. You can sample their celebrated whiskey and other spirits in many local restaurants, but a visit to their stunning, multi-million dollar distillery is worth it. Middlewest offers public tours and tastings through their website. Make sure to pick up a bottle of their bourbon barrel aged Ohio maple syrup available in their bottle shop and also at Produce and Provisions in the North Market. A restaurant, sure to be one of Columbus’s best, is also in the works.
5705 Lithopolis Road, Lancaster, OH
A memorable way to spend a Saturday or Sunday in Ohio is just under 30 minutes outside of Columbus at Rockmill Brewery in Lancaster. First, pick up local vegetable salads at Little Eater, cheese from Black Radish Creamery, and a few artisan-made snacks and chocolates from Produce and Provisions at the North Market. Drive through pretty Ohio farm land—the trip goes by in a flash. Put out a blanket for your picnic next to the pond or anywhere on the grassy property, or cozy up in the farmhouse for a flight of beers. A sip of their saison and you’ll remember the brews are the real reason for the visit.
Seventh Son Brewing Company
1101 N. 4th Street
Seventh Son makes great beer and they have created the kind of place that, simply, just feels right. In addition to the awesome beer and setting, you’ll discover Columbus’s latest and greatest food businesses with a rotating roster of food trucks parked and serving at Seventh Son. It’s a perfect place to check out the vibrant and growing food culture in Columbus.
About Cara’s Book
The skills of butchery meet the world of fresh produce in this essential, inspiring guide that demystifies the world of vegetables.
In step-by-step photographs, “vegetable butcher” Cara Mangini shows how to break down a butternut squash, cut a cauliflower into steaks, peel a tomato properly, chiffonade kale, turn carrots into coins and parsnips into matchsticks, and find the meaty heart of an artichoke.
Additionally, more than 150 original, simple recipes put vegetables front and center, from a Kohlrabi Carpaccio to Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne, to a Parsnip-Ginger Layer Cake to sweeten a winter meal. It’s everything you need to know to get the best out of modern, sexy, and extraordinarily delicious vegetables.