Eat Your Way Through a Fresh Food Scene Less Than Two Hours Away from Cincinnati

See original article and full photo gallery at Cincinnati Refined.

While Cincy’s restaurant landscape continues to expand in a variety of mouth-watering ways, if you want to expand your palate even further with a new food scene that’s fun, fresh, and funky, don’t be afraid to head north to Columbus. Their neighborhoods are erupting with unique new establishments that offer traditional local foods, unique fusions, and their own spin on classic flavors.

“When I first moved here in late 1999, Columbus was a collection of chain restaurants with a few established gems,” notes Amir Eylon, President & CEO of travel research firm Longwoods International and a passionate (and well-traveled) gourmet. “But we have truly become a ‘foodie’s dream’ and fostered an environment where chefs can find a willing audience for their creativity.”

The birthplace of the Wendy’s fast-food chain, the culinary reputation of ‘C-bus’ may have hit rock bottom when award-winning author Michael Ruhlman described it as “Applebee’s country.” But that’s changed entirely.


Columbus’ Short North is, in many ways, the beating heart of their culinary scene. It’s home to the North Market, where you can pick from more than 30 lunch stalls and build a meal of individual dishes, be they Polish, Japanese, Vietnamese or something else.

The Guild House
624 N High Street, Columbus, OH (43215)

Local restaurateur Cameron Mitchell has built a foodie empire that includes some 36 restaurants in 12 states. The centerpiece might very well be The Guild House, located in the midst of Short North. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it’s farm-to-table cuisine with a blended cosmopolitan vibe of hip, often repurposed décor—“suitable for revelry or relaxation”—and mismatched, grandmotherly china.

The Pearl
641 N High Street, Columbus, OH (43215)

Nearby, The Pearl is another Mitchell creation but with more of a gastropub focus. It serves brunch and dinner, features a diverse array of cocktails, wine, and beer, and offers a kid’s menu for foodie families with hungry little tots.

Budd Dairy Food Hall
1086 N 4th Street, Columbus, OH (43201)

Mitchell’s notable influence on the Columbus food scene will continue with the advent of the Budd Dairy Food Hall, which opens in the spring of 2020. The old Budd Dairy Company building will be reborn as a food incubator featuring eight local chefs dishing up everything from Filipino street food, to modern Southern, to Israeli-inspired dishes.

Watershed Kitchen & Bar
1145 Chesapeake Avenue STE D, Columbus, OH (43212)

But Columbus’ food scene isn’t all about Mitchell. Watershed Kitchen & Bar is a fabulous find built from the success (and in the production facility) of the Watershed Distillery. Not surprisingly, cocktails are a big focus here with the kitchen and bar working hand in hand to deliver unique beverages that pair perfectly with diverse culinary creations.

Alqueria Farmhouse Kitchen
247 King Avenue, Columbus, OH (43201)

Located in the University District, Alqueria Farmhouse Kitchen is another gem worthy of your time and appetite. The rustic interior sets a stage for a fabulous array of dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.

If you’re looking to broaden your culinary horizons, a drive north to Columbus will reward you with an array of unique, fresh, distinctive new flavors. Just make sure to wave at the Applebee’s as you drive past.

‘Chez’ Chesak is an award-winning travel writer, tourism consultant and 25-year veteran of the outdoor and travel industries. He is Executive Director of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and formerly was the Vice President for Business Development for the Adventure Travel Trade Association and Executive Director of the Family Travel Association. He has been serious about his writing since about age eight. He also runs the Central States Chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers. He’s lived all over the U.S. and traveled to some 36 countries but has the most fun when he’s exploring with his wife and two daughters. An avid outdoors person, he’s happiest on a trail, on skis, or nestled into a sleeping bag. He deployed to Iraq with a U.S. Army line unit in 2005. His works have appeared in the Los Angeles Times,, Good Housekeeping, Rachel Ray Every Day, Fatherly, Yahoo Travel, Family Vacation Critic, and many others. He also does periodic travel segments for the morning show of his local FOX affiliate and on American Forces Radio.

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