Deep dish pizza in Chicago. Philly cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. Cuban sandwiches in Miami. Beignets in New Orleans. Every major city has its must-try foods, and Columbus is certainly no exception. From James Beard Award-winning ice cream and Nutella-stuffed pancake balls to German cream puffs and a burger so large it merits an award for all who finish it, here are all the dishes you have to try in Ohio’s capital.


katalina's pancake balls


Katalina’s Pancake Balls™

These sugary-sweet Pancake Balls™, a cross between a donut and a pancake, have earned their trademark – you can only get them at Katalina’s, and over one million have been sold to date. Unlike traditional pancakes, these cooked balls of pancake batter are stuffed with Nutella, dulce de leche or pumpkin apple butter, dipped in maple syrup and sprinkled with powdered sugar. 


Thurman Cafe Thurminator Burger


The Thurmanator

There are burgers, and then there is the Thurmanator. Available only at The Thurman Cafe, in German Village, this Instagrammable burger stacks a bottom bun with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickle, banana peppers, a three-quarter-pound burger patty, bacon, cheddar cheese, a second three-quarter-pound burger patty, sautéed onions and mushrooms, ham, mozzarella and American cheese. As if that weren’t enough, it comes with fries and a pickle spear. The only question is: Can you handle it?




Schmidt’s Cream Puff

Step into the 1886-built Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and you’ll think you’ve discovered a piece of Germany right here in central Ohio. Order a large plate of Wiener Schnitzel, dance to live oompah music and don’t leave without trying the Jumbo Cream Puff. This award-winning dessert weighs half a pound and fills a pastry puff with a whipped chocolate, peanut butter fudge or vanilla filling, or a surprise “flavor of the month.”


Donatos Pepperoni Pizza


Columbus-Style Pizza

Columbus-style pizza is square cut, has a thin crust and a sweet sauce, chooses provolone over mozzarella and is covered in toppings from edge to edge. Rumor has it that it was invented in 1949 by the founder of Massey’s Pizza, which is still open today. Find more Columbus pies at popular pizza shops along the Columbus-Style Pizza Trail, including favorites like Donato’s Pizza, Grandad’s Pizza, Gatto’s Pizza and JT’s Pizza, Pub & Patio. 


Rainy day coffee from Bottoms Up Coffee consists of cotton candy melting into a cup of coffee


Bottoms Up Rainy Day Coffee 

Get your favorite Bottoms Up coffee served on a wooden board with what looks like a cotton candy “cloud” suspended above it. Dubbed the “most creative cup of coffee in Columbus,” the Rainy Day slowly dissolves the sweet treat into the cup, sweetening your daily “Joe” in the most Instagrammable way.


Fox in the Snow Cafe


Fox in the Snow’s Blueberry Galette

Of all the rustic treats at Fox in the Snow, the Blueberry Galette is a known favorite. And why wouldn’t it be? A hexagon of sugared house-made pie crust is piped with a honey vanilla cream cheese filling and topped with fresh blueberries. 


Jeni Britton holding an ice cream cone


Jeni’s Ice Cream

If you only try one hometown food during your weekend in Columbus, let it be Jeni’s Ice Cream. Founded by James Beard Award-winning ice cream maker Jeni Briton, this homegrown ice cream chain serves one-of-a-kind flavors of the classic treat made with seasonal ingredients, local produce and fresh milk from family-owned farms. Try a seasonal flavor or a year-round favorite like Brambleberry Crisp. The latter has a vanilla ice cream base made with Madagascan vanilla that’s swirled with a purple jam of brambly berries (much like the ones young Jeni picked from the foothills of the Appalachians) and a cinnamon-brown sugar oat streusel crumble inspired by her family recipe.


Johnny Marzetti

This baked ground beef, cheese, noodle and tomato sauce casserole dates back to 1896, when Teresa Marzetti served it at her namesake Italian restaurant, located on The Ohio State University campus, until it closed in 1972. In its heyday, OSU students loved the dish and made it a Columbus staple. Today, dig into a traditional Johnny Marzetti at Tommy’s Diner, in Franklinton, or do as the locals do and make it yourself at home.


Variety pack of Buckeye Donuts


The Buckeye Donuts at Buckeye Donuts

While The Buckeye State didn’t invent the actual buckeye candy, tasty peanut butter fudge balls dipped in chocolate, it did a pretty good job of making it popular. Buckeye Donuts’ signature donut with the same name is a decadent chocolate frosted donut with a dollop of peanut butter in the middle – so it’s like the classic confection, but better.


Columbus is a food lover’s dream. Whether you’re craving something savory or sweet, taste the destination’s must-try foods and share your experience using the hashtag #LiveForwardCbus. You can always find more food to eat in our great city here