Eating my way through Columbus

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As a self-proclaimed restaurant-scouter-outer, I’m always on the hunt for new, interesting places to try.  As such, I’m constantly asking people for recommendations.  Where’s the best Indian?  Who has the best tacos?  Where can a girl get a decent breakfast sandwich?  Here are some of my recent favorites around Columbus, in iPhone-photo dump fashion.  Did I miss your top pick?  Let me know if the comments below!

Dan the Baker.  The first time I stopped into the Toast Bar, I ate approximately 17 pieces of the free sample bread at the cash register.  No shame.  All the bread is sour dough based, and the country sour is my favorite.  I try to grab some each week at the Clintonville Farmers Market!  Pictured below is the wonderful mushroom tartine available at the Toast Bar in Grandview.

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Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams!  This is, hands down, the best ice cream I’ve ever had.  You heard me.  So rich, so creamy.  My favorites include Brambleberry Crisp, Lemon & Blueberry Buttermilk Yogurt, Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks, and Brown Butter Almond Brittle.

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6-1-pho.  I wanted to check this place out immediately, solely based on the punny name.  I’m happy to report the food keeps me going back.  Most of the dishes are based on recipes handed down from the owner’s grandmother.  I love that!  My favorites include the veggie pho and the cold noodle salad with veggie egg roll and tofu on top!

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The Refectory.  I had the privilege of enjoying an eleven course tasting menu with the #cbusfoodbloggers last month — get the drool worthy recap here.  My favorite dish was the sturgeon and gambas duet with herruga caviar blinis and sun dried tomato beurre blanc.

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Annnddddd my second favorite was the warm pear tarte with almond frangipane, pistachio ice cream, and trio of coulis.

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BEST HAPPY HOUR(s).  Now that I’m on a grad student budget, happy hour has become even more important to me.  Thankfully, Columbus is a land of happy hour abundance.  Here are my personal favorites:

The Table.  Happy hour EVERY DAY.  (Tues-Thurs & Sunday 5-9pm, Fri & Sat 5-7).  $4 cans, pours, and simple cocktails, plus $2 off Small Plates.  I’m a big fan of the Breezeway cocktail.

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Marcella’s.  (4-6pm Mon-Fri) 1/2 off small plates, apps, pizza, wine, cocktails. (They even have gluten free pizza and delicious gluten free bread.)

Barcelona. (4-7pm Mon-Fri, 5-7pm Saturday) $5 tapas, $4 drinks.

Forno.  (4-6pm Mon-Fri) 1/2 off small plates, apps, pizza, wine, cocktails, draft beer.

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Pattycake.  I’ve been to Pattycake a hundred times, and don’t have a single picture of the cookies or cakes to show for it.  They are SO good, I eat them before I remember to take a picture.  EVERY TIME.  It happens to be a 100% Vegan bakery, but you’d never be able to tell by taste or texture.  My favorites are the chocolate chip (soft and gooey like an undercooked cookie… but it’s vegan, so no salmonella worries) and the lemon lavender cake.  I’m still on the hunt for their elusive pistachio rosewater cake.

Cornerstone.  This place is, admittedly, peculiar.  It’s part sandwich shop, part Asian cafe, with everything from create-your-own salads to sushi.  It’s weird, but wonderful.

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Baba’s.  TWO WORDS:  griddle muffins.  It almost doesn’t matter what you put inside them, I’d go to Baba’s for the muffins alone.  They have basically any combination of breakfast sandwich you’d like, including vegetarian, BUT peanut butter and housemade jam?!?!  Come on!

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Third and Hollywood.  I’ve been to Third and Hollywood only once, when I first moved to Columbus, and I STILL think about this corn and black bean burger with smoked Gouda and guacamole. Arguably the best veggie burger I’ve ever had (yes, it’s better than North Star).

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Katalinas.  Best breakfast tacos in Columbus, and not just because they have incredible veggie sausage.

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Trism & Alchemy.  Best healthy, fresh food.  I’m a big fan of the sandwiches at Alchemy, and while the menus at Alchemy and Trism have some overlap, once Trism rolls out the full menu, there will also be rice bowls available.  Plus Trism has booze and poptarts and Frose.

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Tasi.  And the award for best stumbled upon breakfast goes to….  Tasi is in the Short North, but tucked behind some buildings off of High Street, which gives it an intimate, neighborhood vibe.  Love the black bean cakes with poached eggs, tomato slices, and jalapeño butter sauce.

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The Market Italian Village.  Brunch or dinner, coffee or wine.  They’ve got it all and I just love this place.  The picture below is a recent brunch dish I enjoyed with mounds of greens, crispy chick peas, hummus, eggs, and pita.  I hear the shakshuka is awesome.

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Los Galapagos.  I adore this little Ecuadorian restaurant in west Columbus.  All the plantains and coconut sauce your heart desires.

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Bibibop Asian Grill.  Think Chipotle, but Asian food and CHEAP.  You get your choice of salad, rice bowl, or burrito.  The base includes black beans, potatoes, and bean sprouts.  Protein options include chicken, steak, and tofu.

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The Crest.  This is my favorite neighborhood dinner spot in Clintonville.  The environment is welcoming and the menu is inventive, plus they have a pretty inexpensive house wine on tap.  Some favorites include the Duck Burger (for meat eaters), french fries (of course), all the salads, fish entree specials, and the tartines, like this one with shaved asparagus and mushroom pate.

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Zoe’s Kitchen.  We recently discovered this legit hole-in-the wall takeout spout over by Eastland mall.  The crab box comes with crab legs, shrimp, mussels, corn, potatoes, sausage, deviled eggs, and garlic bread coated in all the Old bay + butter your heart desires.  This place is takeout only, and you definitely want to call ahead, but the potatoes alone are worth the trek.

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Fav Tacos in Columbus?  I’m still on the hunt for the best tacos in Columbus.  The Cantina Fish taco at Local Cantina is one of my favorites so far.  Condados is out of the running, solely because they don’t have soft corn tortillas which is an abomination.  I hear Los Guachos is pretty incredible, but I’ve yet to make it there.  Pictured below are the fish tacos from Arch City Tavern.  What are your favorite tacos in Columbus?  (And what are your favorite seafood or vegetarian tacos??)

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