Looking for Columbus area restaurants near you? Here are places to try

Becky Kover
The Columbus Dispatch

Those that live in the Columbus area are fortunate: Regardless of what you might be craving to eat, there's likely a restaurant to suit your fancy.

And let's face it: It's been a long, hard year and treating yourself to a meal might just boost your spirits. 

We've compiled a list of restaurants that have been reviewed by The Dispatch in the past year or so, and we'll continue to add to this list. 

So peruse this sampling and be inspired to try out some of these destinations. But be forewarned: You might want to have a snack handy, because you're bound to be hungry once you read on!

Pizza places

• Minelli's Pizza, 1189 N. Wilson Road

Pepperoni pizza at Minelli's Pizza

Minelli's Pizza is a family-owned restaurant on the West Side known for its casual atmosphere and consistent food quality.

The restaurant was founded by Bob Ferrelli and Bob Minshall in 1967 on Sullivant Avenue, a location that survived until a few years ago and was sold and renamed Bella's Pizza.

Behind the Menu: Casual mood, reliably tasty food set the tone at Minelli's Pizza

Meanwhile, Ferrelli's son, Jeff, opened his own Minelli's in 1992 as a tiny carryout on North Wilson Road.

"In the little room, I could be on the phone taking orders, ringing the register and putting things in the oven all at the same time," said Ferrelli, who played football as a defensive back for Ohio State University from 1973 to ‘76.

Ange's Pizza, Where: 139 S. Yearling Road, Whitehall

Pepperoni pizza from Ange's Pizza on Yearling Rd in Whitehall. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

When you talk about classic Columbus-style pizzas — the kind often baked in 1950s-launched shops and that feature rectangular-cut thin crusts and provolone — you have to mention Ange’s Pizza.        

I discovered there are eight Ange's Pizzas, though, and they are not created equally. The pizzerias are grouped under two websites that aren't created equally, either — only one has “online” in its domain. 

Restaurant review: Don't let the exterior fool you: Star-quality fare awaits at Ange's Pizza

Emelio's Restaurant, 574 Georgesville Road

A pepperoni pizza and an “All the Way” pizza at Emelio's [Chris Casella]

In 1960, a telephone was a bulky object with a rotary dial. Back then, such clunky machines could do one thing: allow users to converse with people outside of screaming distance.

In 1960, most American households had but one screen for viewing electronic transmissions. Throughout the majority of the country, the boxy and sometimes-flickering TV screen could pick up three channels.

Restaurant review: Emelio’s: Old-school pizza joint proves 1960 is still a very good year

• Pizzeria New York, Location: 833 Hill Road North, Pickerington

"paps special pizza at Pizzeria New York

In 2003, Jackie Honecker started Pizzeria New York in Pickerington with the goal of recreating her favorite pies from the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs. 

Now run by her sons Ryan, Jared and Nick, Pizzeria New York has been giving local customers a slice of something different.

“We just make the dough in-house everyday with our recipe and cook it in a brick oven on a stone rack and you get that nice brown on the bottom,” Ryan Honecker said. “It’s crispy and foldable.”

Pizzas in Pickerington:Pizzeria New York boasts crispy pies made from house-made dough

Wizard of Za, 4214 N. High St., Clintonville

Dylan Jones slices up pizzas at Wizard of Za in Clintonville.

It isn't uncommon for The Wizard of Za to have multi-week wait times for customers assigned to a waitlist, compiled from a reservation-only online-ordering system, that stretches into the thousands. So be prepared to jump through hoops if you currently want a pie from this breakout business that quickly evolved from a social-media sensation and home-cooked-pizza purveyor into an actual (if unusual) Clintonville pizzeria with a fancy Neapolitan-style oven.

Would you wait two months for a pizza? Customers clamor to get on Wizard of Za's waitlist

Mexican food around Columbus

Three taco combo (chorizo, tinga, pastor - "mexican" style with cilantro & onions) and Bistec Ranchero from La Poblamita, a Mexican food truck on Indianola Ave that was stolen then redcovered at the end of 2021. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

• La Poblanita, Where: 3825 Indianola Ave., Clintonville

Operated by the Soriano family — whose roots are in Puebla — La Poblanita was much in the news late last year when the truck was snatched from its Clintonville parking lot by thieves in the night.  

Tragic, yes, but in a feel-good turn of events, La Poblanita was recovered and — with the help of a wildly successful GoFundMe campaign (nearly $80,000 raised) — was fully repaired and reopened to bustling business in mid-March.

Restaurant review: From tacos to tamales, La Poblanita offers a fiesta for the taste buds

Blackbird Kitchen at Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W. 3rd Ave., Northwest Side

The birria tacos photographed at Blackbird Kitchen on Thursday, October 15, 2021.

“Have you had their tacos before?” asked a smiling young woman recently from a table next to mine at Woodlands Tavern near Grandview Heights. This gentle interrogator was referring to the Tuesday specials featured by Blackbird Kitchen, the eatery stationed inside Woodlands Tavern. 

Food review: Birria tacos, burgers and thick-cut fries are dynamite at Blackbird Kitchen

Barra Tacos & Cocktails, 3051 Northwest Blvd., Upper Arlington

Lobster guacamole at Barra Tacos & Cocktails

Behind the Menu: Barra Tacos boasts salsas made in-house, slow-roasted meats

Tacos Don Deme, 75 S. Murray Hill Road, Far West Side

Steak enchiladas with red sauce at Tacos Don Deme photographed on Thursday, May 20, 2021.

Columbus is dotted with so many places that offer delicious tacos nowadays that it's hard to keep up with them all. The Far West Side is an especially rich area to mine for good Mexican food, and that's where you'll find Tacos Don Deme, one of my favorite new Mexican eateries.

Columbus restaurants:Tacos Don Deme one of the best Mexican eateries around

3 Brothers Diner, 3090 Southwest Blvd., Grove City

Shrimp jambalaya

Founded by Nivardo, Filadelfo and Eliseo "Cheo" Cruz-Reyes, the siblings have created a house-made smoked chili sauce that is used in many entrees at the breakfast-through-dinner spot.

Columbus restaurants:Brothers Diner in Grove City turns out flavor-packed dishes

Spicy Cup Cafe, 1977 E. Dublin-Granville Road, North Side

Danishes from the Spicy Cup Cafe photographed on Thursday, March 18, 2021.  (Rob Hardin / Alive)

Spicy Cup Cafe should be on the top of your list if you're looking for a scratch-cooking spot offering bargains on lovely Mexican-style pastries -- such as the best churros in Columbus -- as well as first-rate tamales and excellent breakfast sandwiches assembled with wonderful house-baked rolls.

Food review:Spicy Cup Cafe serves up top-rate Mexican dishes, pastries

American cuisine around Columbus

Oscars of Dublin, 84 N. High St, Historic Dublin

Baby-back ribs at Oscar's of Dublin

Oscar’s of Dublin has been serving its “creative American cuisine” for 30 years, making it one of the longest-lasting restaurants along the popular Historic Dublin promenade.

Chef and owner Mike Tibbetts said his approach is fairly simple.

“I look for product and price and then build from that,” Tibbetts said.

More:Behind the Menu: Oscar's of Dublin takes creative approach to American cuisine

The Goat, 5704 New Albany Rd. West, New Albany

Nashvegas burger

The Goat has gotten into the breakfast business.

The New Albany-area store and three others in the 11-unit restaurant chain have introduced Morning Ritual, where customers can get coffee and espresso drinks, smoothies and a small menu of assorted breakfast bites and pastries.

The huevos rancheros ($5) is built on an open-face tortilla using black bean hummus, hash browns, grilled tomato, one egg, avocado crema, Sriracha aioli and cilantro.

From huevos rancheros to vegan fare: The Goat near New Albany not kidding about breakfast

Boxwood Biscuit Co., 19 W. Russell St., Short North

Patti mayonnaise

Boxwood Biscuit Co. entered the Short North dining scene a few months ago with a homestyle breakfast-and-lunch menu with multiple embellishments from veteran local chef Tyler Minnis, co-owner of the operation.

Broken down, the menu keys in on three items — biscuits, fried chicken and gravy.

Columbus restaurants: Biscuits, fried chicken and gravy take flight at Boxwood

Middle Eastern around Columbus

• Falafel Kitchen, North Market Bridge Park,  6750 Longshore St., Dublin

Chicken over hummus (foregound) with the falafel pita pocket at Falafel Kitchen.

There’s a great reason why my latest meal featuring Levantine cuisine (foods frequently associated with the Middle East) made me smile as much as the first Levantine-style meal I ever had in Columbus: Both were created with Ailabouni family recipes.

You might know of the Ailabouni clan from Mazah Mediterranean Eatery, a standout Grandview Heights establishment that’s been serving for about a decade. But the family’s restaurant roots go back decades more to the place where I had my first taste of such food in Columbus — Sinbad’s, a landmark Old North business that was among the first area eateries to offer hummus, falafel and baba ghanoush.  

You can get those same delicious dishes — and you should — at the newest Ailabouni family restaurant, and the place that prepared my latest meal of Levantine classics, Falafel Kitchen in Bridge Park North Market.

Dublin restaurant review:Falafel Kitchen in North Market Bridge Park serves high-quality Levantine-style fare

Korean fare around Columbus

Min-Ga Korean Restaurant, 800 Bethel Road, Northwest Side

La kalbi and banchan (petite side plates) at Ming-Ga Korean Restaurant.

Min-Ga Korean Restaurant has had a longstanding history on the Northwest Side, serving a wide variety of ethnic dishes that are both familiar and perhaps exotic for the dining public.

For the already initiated, the la kalbi ($22.95) is familiar, bone-in beef ribs that are marinated several hours in a special sweetened spice rub and cooked on a flat-top stove. They're presented on a sizzling platter with white onion, filling the air with pleasant aromas.

Behind the Menu: Min-Ga tantalizes with its can't-go-wrong Korean cuisine

Bibimbap (center) at Manna Korean Restaurant inside Saraga International Market on Morse Road.

Manna Korean Restaurant, Where:1265 Morse Road (inside Saraga), Northland area

Korean food has become quite popular in Columbus — it’s even featured in chain eateries — but scanning a large menu of Korean dishes can still be intimidating for people who didn’t grow up eating the cuisine. Enter Manna Korean Restaurant.   

More:Restaurant review: Newbies and veteran foodies will enjoy Manna Korean Restaurant

French Bistros around Columbus

Nomad Hot Kitchen & Cool Spirits, 2050 Polaris Parkway, Polaris area

The salmon bowl from Nomad Hot Kitchen & Cool Spirits

Even Patrick Daly has a difficult time describing his own restaurant, Nomad Hot Kitchen & Cool Spirits, which he said is more French bistro than upscale.

"I just consider us more of a good restaurant," Daly said. "There's something for everyone. ..."

Columbus restaurants:Nomad’s coal-fired grills give extra sizzle to bistro-style fare

Gastropubs around Columbus

Third & Hollywood, 1433 W. Third Ave., Grandview Heights area

Pan-seared walleye at Third & Hollywood

If there's anything to be said about Third & Hollywood, its changes have been few and certainly subtle since opening 12 years ago on the edge of Grandview Heights.

Not quite fine dining, the restaurant might best be described as the ultimate in American tavern cuisine.

"We opened it as a neighborhood bar and grill," said Kevin Malhame, co-founder and partner of the restaurant. "What we're trying to do is make a casual dining experience extraordinary."

The Royce Gastropub, 8791 Lyra Drive, near Polaris Fashion Place

Beef short ribs served with braised vegetables over creamy grits and chow chow

When the Royce opened last July near Polaris Fashion Place, owner Walter Carpenter Jr. declared it a polished gastropub. Although customers often laud the restaurant for being much more refined, Carpenter said he's sticking to his original portrayal.

"We are still in that lane," he said. "I think the guests look at us a little bit different. We're a little polished and put our own little touches on things to make it our own."

Columbus restaurants:The Royce’s ‘polished gastropub’ fare comforting and delicious

More:Third & Hollywood: 'What we’re trying to do is make a casual dining experience extraordinary'

Indian cuisine around Columbus

Layla’s Kitchen, 4989 Cleveland Ave.

The chicken tikka at Layla's Kitchen

Among Indian restaurants, Layla’s Kitchen is a hidden gem. Put another way, the terrific little eatery deserves more attention.

After a recent renovation, 2-year-old Layla’s — a mom-and-pop shop whose steady to-go business is facilitated by a convenient drive-through window — offers an agreeable-enough ambience. Along with a fresh coat of taupe paint, Layla’s simple, bright and spotless space features a decorative 3-D ceiling grid, friendly servers and an upbeat Indian pop soundtrack.

More:Restaurant review | Layla’s Kitchen: Delicious dishes, great value

• Awadh India Restaurant, 2584 Bethel Road, Northwest Side

Galouti kabobs at Awadh India Restaurant

Awadh India Restaurant apparently values literacy deeply. Because words, hundreds and hundreds of them, fill its menu and website.

Working through that verbiage of this nearly 5-year-old (but new to me) eatery in the Carriage Place Plaza on Bethel Road can be borderline exhausting. A related consideration: Although it's possible that a kitchen can nail a dizzying list of items, I like to focus on signature dishes and what a restaurant can do best.

Awadh Indian:Restaurant review: Broad menu, dazzling flavors make Awadh India Restaurant stand out

Rooh, 685 N. High St., Short North

Pork belly

Upon its entry into the local dining scene, Rooh promised to be both Indian at its core and progressive in its style of cooking and use of ingredients. "I think the most important thing for us is balance," said Bhavesh Kishinchand, owner of the local Rooh, which also has a locations in San Francisco and Chicago.

In other words, it's about making Indian cuisine lighter and approachable both for seasoned and uninitiated eaters.

Columbus restaurants:Rooh in the Short North offers patrons reimagined Indian cuisine

Comfort food around Columbus

• Emmett's Cafe at Open Air,  2571 Neil Ave., University District

Schiller Bowl at Emmett's Cafe at Open Air on Neil Ave in the University District. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

Fans of excellent Emmett’s Cafe in the Brewery District have more options now because a second and roomier branch of the casual-yet-sophisticated eatery has opened, and it offers items not available at the original, pocket-sized Emmett’s Cafe. 

Bonus: This new Emmett’s resides in the recently restored, buzzy and historic Open Air building at Neil Avenue and West Hudson Street in Old North Columbus. 

More:Restaurant review: Burgers, chicken, salads are stellar at new Emmett's Cafe location

• The Lox Bagel Shop, 772 N. High St., Suite 106, Short North

Breakfast bagel with egg, bacon and avocado

Kevin Crowley is giving a modest food item a fresh spin at the Lox Bagel Shop in the Short North. The basis of the business, naturally, is the homemade bagel.

More:Behind the Menu: Lox Bagel gets creative with its offerings of homemade bagels, sandwiches

• Adam’s Eden, streetfoodfinder.com

Shrimp po'boy from Adam's Eden food truck

Former fine-dining chef and current food-truck owner Adam Wallace said he can still crank out quality meals in a relatively small amount of space.

“Preparation is what makes your food great; lack of preparation is what makes your food horrible,” said the owner of Adam’s Eden, which is open for lunch, some dinners and special events on weekends.

More:Food-truck chefs makes up for lack of space with quality recipes

Uptown Deli and Brew, 41 N. State St., Westerville

White anchovies from Uptown Deli and Brew

Uptown Deli and Brew is the restaurant portion of Temperance Row Brewing, a nod to Westerville’s days as home-base for the movement that led to Prohibition.

They’re not just siblings, however; they have a symbiotic relationship when it comes to beer and food: One is meant to complement the other.

More:Uptown Deli and Brew: Where the food and the beer share a perfect marriage

Soulshine Tavern & Kitchen, 266 E. Main St., New Albany

Soulshine Kitchen & Tavern continues to enjoy its status as a comfortable New Albany restaurant serving unpretentious, homemade comfort food.

"We were trying to find that space between fine dining and casual national and local brands, and I think we did," said Andrew Arthurs, who opened Soulshine with his wife, Shanda, in June 2017.

Family Style Carry Out- Blackened Chicken Alfredo

Columbus restaurants:Soulshine in New Albany maintains formula of affordable comfort food

Tommy's Diner, 914 W. Broad St.

While Tommy's Diner might seem like a throwback from the past, its portions, prices and quality are hard to beat, said Michael Pappas, son of founders Tommy and Kathy Pappas. The Franklinton restaurant, founded in 1989 by the Pappas couple, remains a strong fixture on the Near West Side dining scene.

Lamb shank from Tommy's Diner

Columbus restaurants:Scratch-made diner classics makes Tommy’s a destination for more than 30 years

What the Waffle, 695 E. Long St., King-Lincoln District

Whenever and whatever you order expect a bargain and, well, waffles. See, the restaurant's namesake items — scratch-made if rather soft but good-tasting (malty, with a hint of cinnamon), deeply pouched and sizable Belgian-style waffles — appear in nearly every dish.

Steak and Eggs at What the Waffle on E. Long Street in the King Lincoln district. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

Columbus restaurants:What the Waffle in the King-Lincoln District serves tasty food at reasonable prices

Barbecue around Columbus

Bristol Republic, 1124 N. High St., Short North

Barbecued spare ribs at Bristol Republic

Instead of trying the protracted method of trial-and-error when creating his own barbecue, Brian Swanson turned to someone who already knew how to do it.

Swanson partnered with pitmaster Max McGarity of Smoked on High to launch Bristol Republic -- a restaurant and live-music venue -- three years ago in the Short North.

McGarity supplied the recipes, in-house smoking technique, trained the staff and oversees the operation.

More:Behind the Menu: Powerhouse lineup of barbecue a marquee attraction at Bristol Republic

Indo-Pakistani cuisine around Columbus

Tandoori Oven, 808 Bethel Road, Northwest Side

Naturally, given its name, the restaurant's specialty is skewered meats cooked in the high-heat, clay-lined tandoor oven. "It keeps its flavor because there's no direct contact with the fire," owner Syed Abbas said.

Tandoori family platter

Columbus restaurants:Specialty oven cooks up signature Indo-Pakistani dishes at Northwest Side restaurant

• Jasmine Fusion Cuisine, 560 S. High St., Brewery District

Largely because the owner-chef in charge of Jasmine's one-man-band operation was Zulfiqar Ali — chef for eight years at excellent Tandoori Grill on Bethel Road — Jasmine evoked the adage about a book and its cover. Ali wasn't quick to fill big orders (we waited upward of 30 minutes on visits), but his skill and experience guaranteed that most of his eatery's Pakistani-and-Northern-Indian-influenced fare, some of which is culturally hybridized bar food, was terrific. It was also generally quite spicy and nicely priced.

Chapli burger with fries at Jasmine Fusion Cuisine.(Jodi Miller)

Columbus restaurants:Food review | Jasmine Fusion Grill offers excellent curries and spicy but flavorful fare

Brewpubs around Columbus

1487 Brewery, 7620 Industrial Parkway, Plain City

The Spicy Bologna sandwich with tots and a liter of Blood Orange IPA beer at 1487 Brewery photographed on Thursday, March 31, 2022.

Open in Plain City since late 2020, 1487 Brewery derives its name from the date of the “Reinheitsgebot” German law, decreed over 500 years ago, that strictly regulated beer-making ingredients. Other German influences are apparent here, too. 

That patio — part of the rustic, enclosed area is covered — is essentially a beer garden with a fire pit, lawn chairs and picnic-style tables. The airy, spacious and party-accommodating interior — which includes a big bar and offers picnic-style tables, too — recalls a German beer hall. 

More:Restaurant review: German-inspired fare makes every day Oktoberfest at 1487 Brewery

Understory, Where: 2571 Neil Ave., University District

Highball, Gin Martini, Paloma and Paper Plane cocktails at Understory, a lounge and restaurant located in the Open Air building on Neil Ave. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

Understory is actually three stories. And each constitutes a new chapter in the skillfully crafted Wolf’s Ridge Brewing book of food and drink. 

An expansion into the wonderfully renovated Open Air building in Old North Columbus by Wolf’s Ridge Brewing — a celebrated Downtown restaurant and brewery — Understory comprises three separate entities: a cocktail lounge, the “Commons” (a de facto brewpub) and a private-event space ripe for spring weddings. 

More:Restaurant review: Understory mixes 'reimagined' cocktails with imaginative cuisine

Turtle Creek Tavern, 5571 N. Hamilton Road, Far Northeast Side

Fish basket at Turtle Creek Tavern

Turtle Creek Tavern, celebrating its 10th anniversary in September, was founded with two missions: satisfy music-lovers and those who like basic, inexpensive food.

"I think it's good," co-owner Mike Lee said of the bill of fare. "It's a fairly simple menu."

Lee and Phil Benua own the tavern, which is located on the Far Northeast Side.

More:Behind the Menu: Food, music in harmony at Turtle Creek Tavern on Far Northeast Side

Saucy Brew Works, 443 W. 3rd Ave., Harrison West

The Cleveland-based brewpub offers a number of shareable items, such as the "saucy balls" — homemade meatballs covered in tomato sauce served in a skillet and showered with pecorino Romano cheese that's bubbled up in the oven. They're served with braided, house-made bread.

Wings ($9 for a half-pound, $14 for a full pound) are baked, not fried, as there are no deep-fryers in the place, so the result is a light crisp on the outside and moist inside, Young said. Customers can choose from a variety of house-made blends, including hot (a Nashville-style spicy sauce), a milder dry rub and Chinese kung pao, considered the least spicy of all.

Crisp on the outside and moist on the inside wings at Saucy Brew Works.

Columbus restaurants:At Harrison West brewpub, little menu flourishes add up

North High Brewing Co., 56 N. High St., Dublin

While North High Brewing Co. has established itself as a quality brewery, the Historic Dublin location has sweetened the pot by offering a modern pub menu.

House brews are used in many dishes. "We're trying to branch out," executive chef Ryan Oldham said. "What I try to do is evaluate the demographic, what the need is for the market and go after that. In Dublin, we kind of went for a more casual dining atmosphere."

Hand-breaded pickle chips at North High Brewing Company in Dublin, Ohio.

Columbus restaurants:North High Brewing puts strong emphasis on beer as well as food

Shakers Public House, 385 Georgesville Road

Wings are a big deal at Shakers Public House. They're hand-battered in hot-sauce-seasoned egg batter, dipped in flour and double-fried. 

Naked tenders and boneless also are available. Customers can choose one of 14 sauces that range from mild to bold.

Garlic-Parmesan wings from Shakers Public House

Columbus restaurants:Remodeled West Side pub Shakers Public House adopts classic bar menu

Flatiron Tavern, 129 E. Nationwide Blvd., Arena District

After more than a year in business, the Flatiron Tavern continues its mission of being a wallet-friendly destination Downtown. "We're still just focusing on good tavern food at good prices," said Rachel Frye, who owns the spot with business partners Scott Schweitzer and Chris Huda.

Blue line burger

Columbus restaurants:Flatiron Tavern boasts classic pub fare with a twist

Polynesian food around Columbus

Bistros around Columbus

Nomad Hot Kitchen & Cool Spirits, 2050 Polaris Parkway, Polaris area

Even Patrick Daly has a difficult time describing his own restaurant, Nomad Hot Kitchen & Cool Spirits, which he said is more French bistro than upscale.

"I just consider us more of a good restaurant," Daly said. "There's something for everyone. I think there's a hole in the market where a bistro would be."

The veggie board

Columbus restaurants:Nomad’s coal-fired grills give extra sizzle to bistro-style fare

Italian/Lebanese food around Columbus

Trattoria Roma, 1447 Grandview Ave., Grandview Heights

Salmon with angel hair carbonara at Trattoria Roma

Although dining along Grandview Avenue has gone through many transitions over the years, Trattoria Roma has been a mainstay since 2000.

Longtime chef Matt Prokopchak and general manager Shawn Mason, both partners in the restaurant, have made it their mission to keep the traditional items on the menu while using modern flourishes on several entrees.

More:Trattoria Roma blends traditional and modern touches into a memorable experience

Basi Italia, 811 Highland St., Victorian Village

Braised lamb shank at Basi Italia

When Basi Italia opened 19 years ago in Victorian Village, it was part of a small but growing brand of Italian restaurants that were offering more regional fare and using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Still, there's room for the red-sauce classics," said John Dornback, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Trish Gentile.

A spaghetti and meatball dinner ($25) comes with a Caesar salad, four meatballs and tiramisu. Pan-fried zucchini, prepared with a simple egg wash and breading, can be substituted for the meatballs. A spaghetti dinner for two is $45.

More:Behind the Menu: From meatballs to mushrooms, Basi Italia boasts fresh ingredients

Sono Wood Fired, 4055 the Strand W., Easton Town Center

Rosso salsiccia pizza at Sono Wood Fired

Sono Wood Fired in Easton Town Center has a lot of moving parts: a scratch kitchen, imaginative fare and a menu built to satisfy virtually all tastes.

Part of the Good Eats Group out of Chicago, chefs John "Mac" McLean and Martin Murch offer more than a few flourishes on the Italian-inspired dishes.

The arancini ($12), those deep-fried orbs of risotto are stuffed with spicy ‘nduja, a type of spreadable pepperoni made in-house, and homemade mozzarella.

More:Behind the Menu: Sono Wood Fired about more than pizza: 'We have a lot of cool things'

Bistrolino Old World Kitchen & Bar, 495 S. 4th St., German Village

Samer Chedid and business partner Francesco Todisco opened Bistrolino a little more than a year ago in German Village. The restaurant features rustic cuisine, reflecting its owners' backgrounds, Todisco from Italy and Chedid from Lebanon.

za'atar mankoushe

Columbus restaurants:Old World pizzas make the cut on Bistrolino’s menu

• Pasquale's Pizza & Pasta, 558 W. Schrock Road, Westerville

Pasquale's Pizza & Pasta began serving customers in Westerville back in the 1980s. The fact that Pasquale's is serving today says a lot about the operation. I'm going to say more: If you like crispy thin-crust pizzas enriched with generous amounts of good cheese and toppings as well as old-school Italian-American food, you'll like Pasquale's.

American Bistro around Columbus

• Gallo's On High, 4215 N. High St., Clintonville

The Arriving at John Glenn cocktail and blackened scallop risotto at Gallo's on High photographed on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

While nearly as casual as Gallo’s Tap Room — a top-tier sports pub — Gallo’s on High (which borders Hot Chicken Takeover) resembles its more ambitious sibling, Gallo’s Kitchen and Bar. So does its well-executed cuisine, which could be thumbnail-sketched as “Italian-leaning contemporary American bistro fare.”

More:Gallo's on High in Clintonville a delightful 'return to normal'

Lindeys, 169 E. Beck St.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2021, Lindey's in German Village is a staple of upscale-casual dining in central Ohio.

Chicken sandwich

Columbus restaurants: Lindey’s staying power based on quality preparations

Burgers around Columbus

• Preston's: A Burger Joint, 59 Spruce St., North Market

Preston's signature cheeseburger is as addictive as ever. Currently called the classic ($7; $10 for a recommended double), its smashed-and-seared, fresh-tasting patties (mine had a desirable hint of pink in the center) were flattered by melted American cheese, house pickles, shaved red onion, shredded lettuce, a zippy mayo-enriched "secret sauce" plus a puffy and sweet toasted bun. Given its fine, if familiar, ingredients and careful execution, the trendy and inhalable burger seems both newfangled and old-fashioned.

Classic double burger with banana pudding and chicken nuggets and biscuits at Preston’s in the North Market. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

Columbus restaurants:Food review | Preston's continue to delight with outstanding burgers

Seafood and sushi around Columbus 

• Kintsugi Sushi Bar — North Market Bridge Park, 6750 Longshore St., Dublin

You really can't go wrong with anything on the strong but navigable sushi menu. Said menu identifies the hand roll as Kintsugi's signature item.

Columbus restaurants:Food review | Excellent spicy tuna and torotaku hand rolls noteworthy at Kintsugi Sushi Bar

Vegan cuisine around Columbus

• Willowbeez SoulVeg, 59 Spruce St., North Market

Rich Boi with fries at Willowbeez SoulVeg in the North Market.

Upon encountering the first vegan soul food eatery in town, there’s only one question to ask: What took so long?

After all, we live in a vegan-friendly city that has recently given rise to vegan delis, vegan butchers, vegan burger emporiums, vegan Mexican-American joints, trendy and fancy plant-based restaurants plus a two-link chain of places serving vegan Ethiopian food.  

The new eatery in question has a name that might be hard to read, but the place is easy to like: Willowbeez SoulVeg. Willowbeez SoulVeg (maybe repetition makes it easier to read) is new to the Downtown North Market, but it isn’t actually new, it just has a new steady gig.

More:Restaurant review: Willowbeez SoulVeg in the North Market pours heart and soul into vegan fare

Sandwich shops

Icarus Sandwich Shop, 15 E. 2nd Ave., Italian Village

Roasted Mushroom sandwich with housemade chips and sauce from Icarus Sandwich Shop on E. 2nd in Victorian Village. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

Naming a restaurant after the mythological guy whose overconfidence and demise gave rise to the phrase "don't fly too close to the sun" might seem like tempting fate. Also potentially tempting fate: Rather than coasting on the still-growing success of a great little bakery-cafe chain, you open an entirely different kind of eatery with built-in sky-high expectations.

In the face of all this, I can report that Icarus Sandwich Shop -- a Short North hot spot launched in the former Laughlin's Bakery space by the impressive Fox in the Snow team -- is a friendly, trendy and strong-performing operation that deserves its popularity.

More:Restaurant review: Icarus Sandwich Shop soars high on list of Short North hot spots

One Buff Chicken sandwich over fries at Alphabetical Kitchen in the Budd Dairy Food Hall. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

Alphabetical Comfort Kitchen, 1086 N. 4th St. in Budd Dairy Food Hall, Italian Village

Alphabetical is hard to miss. It’s the first business you encounter after passing through Budd’s main entrance. What’s more, Alphabetical operates from a stall whose loopy graphics and eye-popping colors — largely purple-and-gold with turquoise detailing — brought to mind a Mardi Gras parade float parked on the set of a Nickelodeon game show.     

More on Alphabetical:Restaurant review: From appealing to zesty, Alphabetical knows how to do flavor right

African cuisine around Columbus 

• Riziki Swahili Grill, 1872 Tamarack Circle South, Northland area

Plan on easy-to-love, good-bang-for-your-buck dishes bursting with widely accessible flavors. For comparison sake, Riziki's Zanzibari-influenced fare shares characteristics with Mediterranean and mild Indian food.

Sunday Funday and Beef Pilau with greens at Riziki Swahili Grill photographed on Thursday, March 11, 2021.  (Rob Hardin / Alive)

Columbus restaurants:Restaurant review: Riziki Swahili Grill takes patrons on a tasty culinary trip to Africa

Asian food around Columbus

Xin Wei, 1932 Henderson Road, Northwest Side

Chongqing Spicy Chicken along with hand torn cabbage and Braised bean curd with minced pork from Xin Wei Kitchen 1932 Henderson Rd. (Photo by Tim Johnson

The Sichuan food was impressive at Xin Wei Kitchen, a narrow but tidy little Northwest Side space formerly occupied by Bahn Thai.

The restaurant offers an exhaustingly large menu rife with Chinese American fare. When I inquired about other menus — vibrant-looking food on the three other utilitarian dining-room tables suggested one existed — I was brusquely presented with a different menu that listed numerous Sichuan dishes.

More:Restaurant review: Xin Wei Kitchen's zesty Sichuan offerings will fire up your taste buds

Chilispot, 1178 Kenny Centre Mall, Northwest Side

Sampling Chilispot's often fiery yet nuanced, party-in-your-mouth food will definitely grab your attention, though. Numerous real-deal Sichuan dishes are cooked there that exhibit the telltale yin-and-yang qualities famously described by the Chinese term "mala" — a coupling of "ma" (which means "numbing," and is an effect produced on mouths by Sichuan peppercorns) and "la" (chile-detonated "spicy hot").

Ma Po Tofu from Chilispot in the Kenny Centre Mall. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

Columbus restaurants:Food review: Chilispot knows how to do Sichuan right with well-made fiery dishes

Mediterranean food around Columbus 

• Olive & Thyme, 4519 N. High St., Clintonville

Serving in Clintonville since November, Olive & Thyme occupies a big and bright space that still resembles the Panera Bread branch it previously housed. On the newcomer's website, its food is described as "modern and traditional Lebanese-Mediterranean cuisine." On a plate, the food evokes this description: If you like the fare prepared at Lavash Cafe (which is a couple of miles due south on High Street), you'll like the food prepared at Olive & Thyme.

Columbus restaurants:Clintonville's Olive & Thyme offers a lengthy menu of Lebanese-Mediterranean cuisine

The small family platter at Olive & Thyme Cafe photographed on Wednesday, January 27, 2021.  (Rob Hardin / Alive)