Located in Central Ohio and surrounded by orchards, dairies, breweries, and distilleries, Columbus has fully embraced the farm-to-table ethos. You’ll find hearty Midwestern fare, of course, but also elegant French, rustic Italian, and classic Spanish cuisine as well as traditional tavern-style dining. Read on to learn where to dine like a local in Columbus, Ohio.
The Worthington Inn, Worthington
Originally a traveler’s inn dating back to the early 1800’s, Worthington Inn has a vintage vibe and serves classic dishes like a veal chop with sautéed housemade spaetzle, Oysters Rockefeller, and Gnocchi Bolognese. There’s an emphasis on traditional techniques and fresh produce proudly sourced from local Ohio producers, including a mill, a dairy, farms, breweries, and distilleries. Make a reservation at The Worthington Inn.
The Refectory, Upper Arlington
Another local favorite, Refectory offers beautiful, classic French cuisine and a stunning wine list. Chef Richard Blondin, a native of Lyon, studied under the godlike chefs Pierre Orsi and Paul Bocuse. Could dining here be something like a religious experience? Perhaps. The Refectory is located in a historic landmark church, with soaring ceilings and stained glass. Try their signature Roasted Baby Lamb Saddle and equally elegant dishes such as Venison Terrine, Veal Mousse & Black Truffle Stuffed Texas Quail, and Pan Seared Meuniere Sturgeon Supreme served with caviar. Make a reservation at The Refectory.
Gallerie Bar & Bistro, Arena District
No ordinary hotel bar and restaurant, Gallerie Bar & Bistro is set on the second floor of the artsy Hilton Columbus Downtown. It has proven itself to be a true dining destination. The chef sources beef, pork, and chicken from local farmers and never promises the same dish done the same way. But rest assured, it’s always done perfectly. The Ohio Burger with his homemade raspberry ketchup is beyond memorable but so, too, are modern dishes which change frequently. With any luck, you’ll get something like the “Gallerie Egg” with sous-vide yolk, Yukon gold puree, tarragon crème Fraiche, bowfin caviar, and sherry-maple gastrique. Make a reservation at Gallerie Bar & Bistro.
The Guild House, Short North
If you’re looking for swank and cosmopolitan, you’ll find it at The Guild House. Start with a cocktail, in particular, the cocktail for two, which is served in a glass porthole with seasonal infusions. The cocktail develops character — and attention — tableside. The restaurant proudly lists more than a dozen local partners on their menu ranging from dairies to distilleries. A prime spot for grazing, it’s appetizer menu features tantalizing options like Artichoke Hummus and Pork Cheeks with tomato gravy, spaghetti squash, and charred shishito pepper. Make a reservation at The Guild House.
G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar, German Village
A bistro and bar with white tablecloth service, G. Michaels from chef and co-owner David Tetzloff offers a decidedly Lowcountry-inspired menu with dishes like Tasso Ham and Red Bean Soup, Shrimp and Grits, and Buttermilk Fried Gerber Chicken served with smoked cheddar biscuits, country cooked green beans, andouille sausage gravy, and pepper jam. Bonus: There’s a gluten-free menu, too. Finish your meal with a Southern sweet treat like Warm Cornmeal Cake, Bourbon Pecan Balls, or Coconut Chess Pie. Make a reservation at G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar.
The Whitney House, Worthington
At The Whitney House, everything is made from scratch. It’s rustic-yet-refined American comfort food and that means offerings from ramen to a fried bologna sandwich. Great for dinner, Whitney House might be even better for brunch. Proprietor Ian Brown and chef Max Avon thoughtfully source local ingredients to highlight at everyone’s favorite midday meal. Think killer biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles, and the uber-popular brunch farroto, a risotto-style dish with earthy mushrooms, asparagus, and a tender poached egg on top. Make a reservation at The Whitney House.
Rockmill Tavern, Brewery District
From one of the Midwest’s finest craft breweries, Rockmill Brewery, Rockmill Tavern has food that will turn diners into fans after a single bite. Located in the brewery district, it’s in an impressive space that was most recently home to the World of Beers. Rockmill’s chicken sandwich is a revelation. It starts with a soft brioche roll lavished with spicy honey butter. Inside is a crisp, thick, and juicy piece of chicken topped with fresh pickles and umami-rich mayo with a hint of chile. The food balances rustic simplicity with sophistication and stature. Try deviled eggs crowned with duck confit or the burger and brined fries and the equally addictive Brussels Sprouts. Make a reservation at Rockmill Tavern.
What restaurants do you recommend for people who want to dine like a local in Columbus, Ohio? Share your tips here or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics (drink pics count, too) with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Amy Sherman is a San Francisco-based writer, editor, blogger, and cookbook author. She is the publisher of the food blog Cooking with Amy. She currently contributes to numerous online publications including Food Network, Fodor’s and Refinery 29 and never says no to a warm donut. Follow her @cookingwithamy.