This week Columbus is celebrating 200 years of, well, being Columbus. The festivities are taking on many forms – parties, conferences, speeches, sales – and they’re focused on every aspect of life in central Ohio, from the arts and sports to education, city design, and yes, food. These are going to be busy days ahead. Make sure you start by celebrating with a breakfast that represents Columbus. What have we got? Well…
1. We’ve got traditions. Every corner of Columbus, every neighborhood, every suburb, and every district has at least one old diner tucked away behind an unassuming storefront. These little treasures are a true measure of community: regulars gather day after day and year after year to eat the same dishes and meet the same people. Sitting at the counter in many of these establishments, you’ll see décor that hasn’t changed over the decades.
Diners can serve you classic plates like scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes, but they can surprise you with creative signature dishes. Fitzy’s Old Fashioned Diner in Worthington, for instance, mounds plates of bologna and eggs. Bill at Daybreak Diner in Linden whips up breakfast bowls with fried rice, cheddar, and sausage gravy. DK Diner does biscuits and gravy and breakfast sandwiches while serving up some of the city’s best donuts. If you want to mix a little Ohio State in your traditions, order up buttery, chocolaty Buckeye pancakes at Jack and Benny’s near campus.
2. We’ve got innovation. Columbus’ dining scene has garnered increasing national attention over recent years, as food and travel writers from around the country discover everything from our markets to our cafes to our ice cream. Time and again we see these writers delightfully surprised by what they find. Once thinking of Columbus as a cowtown, they’ve uncovered a vibrant and creative restaurant culture in which chefs innovate with seasonal ingredients and international cuisines.
The one-room Skillet in German Village changes their weekend brunch menu based on what’s available from local farms and producers. In the fall, when the apples are ripe, Kevin and Patrick serve a warm breakfast risotto topped with seared honeycrisp apples. In Harrison West, the kitchen at Katalina’s Café Corner adds a Latin flair to popular breakfast items, allowing diners to munch on pancake balls filled with Nutella, breakfast tacos, or spicy Mexican French toast. Downtown, the brightly colored Market 65 serves breakfast wraps filled with cheese and vegetables all sourced within Ohio. They pair well with locally roasted coffee and pastries made by Columbus bakeries.
3. We’ve got variety. Columbus is an expert at the American breakfast, to be sure, but our morning scene showcases our diverse population, too. You could spend weeks making a breakfast trip around the world just by charting out the four corners of our city. Cuco’s Taqueria in Upper Arlington starts the day early with moyetes, grilled French bread with chorizo, cheese, and beans, or the nuevo amaneser, with fried eggs and salsa on tostadas. Just a little further north on Bethel Road, Thang Nguyen welcomes customers to Lac Viet with steaming bowls of phò, porridge with rice and coconut milk, and sweet potatoes laced with cumin.
Along Morse Road, quickly becoming a destination for ethnic eats, African Paradise represents Columbus’ large Somali population with dishes like foul, a mix of fava beans and vegetables, and chicken suqaar. The suqaar, which means grilled, combines chicken with peppers, onions, and tomatoes in a flavorful sauce. The meal is traditionally eaten by taking pieces of jibati or anjero bread and scooping up bites. On weekends, you can sample Chinese brunch – dim sum – at Sunflower Chinese Restaurant & Lounge in Dublin. Go with a group and try a variety of small plates, all served tableside on carts, from steamed dumplings to rice noodles and even fried chicken feet. Even a somewhat traditional diner like Starliner Diner in Hilliard spices up their menu with Mexican and Cuban favorites like chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and Cuban French toast.
As we celebrate Columbus’ past and its future, take a morning or two to share a meal with friends and family at any of these Columbus eateries.