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The 12 Hottest Restaurants in Columbus

The 12 Hottest Restaurants in Columbus

Where to find everything from Nashville-style hot chicken to traditional Tibetan momo

Hot Chicken Takeover

The people of Columbus are loving homey Filipino cooking (Bonifacio), traditional Tibetan momo (Momo Ghar), and refined Mexican cuisine (Cosecha Cocina). For drinks, they’re flocking to a Wes Anderson-inspired speakeasy, the first American outpost of a Scotland-based brewery (Brew Dog Dog Tap), and a bar that doubles as an “adult playground” (Pins Mechanical Company).

1 The Light of Seven Matchsticks

Discreetly tucked away in the basement of Worthington coal-fired pizza and live-music joint Natalie’s is boxcar-sized speakeasy the Light of Seven Matchsticks. It’s got all the whimsy of the Wes Anderson film from which it takes its name (the title of a fictional book in Moonrise Kingdom): dim lighting, green velvet booths, 1920s music, and secret cocktail menus hidden (always on page 166) in leather-bound library books. If seats are scarce, write your order on a book checkout card, slip your drink order into the mail slot next to the bar, knock twice, and wait for your drink to arrive.

5601 N High St
Worthington, OH 43085
(614) 436-2625

2 Momo Ghar

Even though Momo Ghar recently hit the one-year mark, it would be wrong not to include it. This no-frills food stand inside Saraga International Grocery on the Northeast Side (where some of the city’s best Asian eateries can be found) remains one of the most talked-about restaurants in town — a destination for from-scratch Nepali and Tibetan homestyle food. Diners cram into its five counter seats with a view of the open kitchen for traditional Nepalese momos, like jhol, doughy steamed dumplings filled with ground chicken and cilantro in a gently spiced broth.

1265 Morse Rd
Columbus, OH 43229
(614) 749-2901

3 Hot Chicken Takeover

Hot Chicken Takeover came from humble beginnings. It started as a takeout window on the near East Side with a single picnic table and a convivial owner, Joe DeLoss, who wanted two things: to make great Nashville-style fried chicken and to create a social enterprise that would give workers seen as unemployable by others a second chance. Now a food truck and a food stand inside the North Market, Hot Chicken Takeover has its first standalone restaurant in Clintonville, where diners can enjoy all the free sweet tea they can drink alongside fiery Nashville-style fried chicken, mac and cheese, and banana pudding.

4203 N High St
Columbus, OH 43214
(614) 754-1151

4 Flowers & Bread

Popular Clintonville cooking school Seasoned Farmhouse now has its own restaurant with an educational bent. Picture-perfect pastries, freshly baked breads, and espresso attract a morning rush. A rotating selection of soups, sandwiches, and salads sate loyal regulars at lunchtime. And those who want to learn a few tricks of the trade can sign up for regular bread-baking and floral-arranging classes.

3870 N High St
Columbus, OH 43214
(614) 262-5400

5 Trism

From local restaurant group A&R Creative comes a spinoff of their popular juice and acai bowl eatery, Alchemy. Inspired by an open-air courtyard, the 6,500-square-foot Trism is billed as a transformative space on High Street at the heart of Ohio State’s campus. By day, it’s a fast-casual eatery with healthy and hearty fare created by Alchemy’s nutritionist, Alexis Joseph, including bowls, superfood pop-tarts, and vegan doughnuts. At night, there’s a full bar with cold-pressed juice cocktails.

1636 N High St
Columbus, OH 43201

6 Watershed Kitchen & Bar

Longtime Columbus restaurant critic G.A. Benton touted Watershed Distillery’s Grandview restaurant as one of the best to open in the city in years. He’s not the only one enamored of the refined-rustic cooking of executive chef Jack Moore (formerly of the Greenhouse Tavern and Black Pig in Cleveland). Reservations are highly encouraged at this American eatery built off the front of the distillery in an industrial park. Ignore its humble surroundings. Inside, Watershed Kitchen & Bar is cavernously cool, with black walls, a copper-shelved bar, and the stainless steel stills of the distillery gleaming through a wall of windows.

1145 Chesapeake Ave
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 357-1936

7 Bonifacio

Pinoy food has finally arrived in Columbus. Located in a former Tim Hortons in Grandview, Bonifacio offers the bright flavors of the Philippines with the soul of a home-cooked meal. The recipes come from restaurant owner Krizzia Yanga’s mom, a native of Mindanao, who spent years cooking in the northern and southern regions of the Philippines. Traditional communal-style dinners, known as kamayan, are a local favorite.

1577 King Ave
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 914-8115

8 Standard Hall

A former Short North dive bar is now a buzzy, brick-walled tavern that pleases all the hip crowds, including patiogoers who want to quaff a cold one on outdoor beer hall-style tables, the sports crowd looking to catch the MLS game, and brunchers who want to start their day with a 32-ounce mimosa. Standard Hall’s menu offers slightly innovative bar-food favorites, like tacos, poutine, and hot chicken.

1100 N High St
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 381-1112

9 Cosecha Cocina

Owned by Chris Crader, one of the city’s top restaurateurs (Harvest Pizzeria, the Sycamore), Cosecha Cocina looks to fill the refined Mexican void in Italian Village. From inside an airy, rehabbed brick barn, hearty stews like pozole made with heritage pork, fresh salsas served with Shagbark chips, and tacos on corn tortillas made from scratch in the kitchen star on the menu. A no-reservations policy can mean long wait times in the evenings. Bide your time with a mezcal cocktail (or two) at the bar.

987 N 4th St
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 369-1129

10 Pins Mechanical Company

Located off of Fourth Street in downtown Columbus, Pins Mechanical Company is corner bar meets adult playground. It’s got an industrial vibe with old-school locker room flair and packs in imbibers for cold craft beers, cocktail pitchers, rotating food trucks (typically one on each of its two patios), and entertainment, including ping-pong, duckpin bowling, pinball, and four-square tournaments.

141 N 4th St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 464-2255

11 Rockmill Tavern

Prohibition left the Brewery District neighborhood brewery-less until Rockmill Tavern, the sister restaurant to a Lancaster-based Belgian brewery with the same name, came along last year. Named best new restaurant in 2016 by Columbus Monthly magazine, Rockmill Tavern is sophisticated and rustic (three barns’ worth of wood covers nearly every inch of the two-story space). And its elevated American fare, painstakingly crafted by lauded chef Andrew Smith, is prepared with ingredients from nearby farms. Food and drink get equal billing on the modest menu — every item comes with an optional beer pairing.

503 S Front St
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 732-4364

12 BrewDog DogTap

It was big news when Scotland-based BrewDog chose Columbus suburb Canal Winchester as the home of its American brewery operations. The sprawling 100,000-square-foot brewery also houses a 300-seat bar and restaurant, DogTap, which draws beer lovers for its signature Punk IPAs, standard bar fare, and a dog-friendly atmosphere.

96 Gender Rd
Canal Winchester, OH 43110
(614) 908-3051

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