While not quite as robust of a list as what 2011 yielded, 2012 was still a great year for new additions to the Columbus dining scene. Options range from affordable to upscale in locations spread all throughout the region. Below is a roundup of restaurants that opened in the past year. Leave us a comment below if we missed something and we’ll add it to the list!
Downtown Columbus continued to see many new restaurants open without a whole lot of closings. The Gallerie Bar & Bistro opened inside the new Hilton Hotel. Chef Paul Yow left Barcelona to launch the new Natalie’s on South Fourth Street. The Columbus Food League’s opened The Grass Skirt Tiki Room this year, their sixth restaurant to date. Manifesto opened adjacent to the Ohio Statehouse offering a new place for italian dining and scotch sipping. Dempsey’s Restaurant opened on South High Street near the Franklin County Courthouse complex. The long awaited Zen Cha Tea Salon opened their Downtown location on Gay Street. Barrio closed on High Street and re-opened as the somewhat similar Madrid restaurant. The Inn Between changed management and features a transitioning menu and decor. The 89 Fish & Grill replaced Michael O’Tooles near the Convention Center. Rodizio Grill opened in The Arena District in June. 39 Below Fro Yo opened on Gay Street during the August heat. And last but not least, El Camino Inn opened next door to Little Palace.
The number of gourmet pizza restaurants continued to grow in 2012 with the opening of a few noteworthy suburban restaurant. Pies & Pints expanded to Worthington by way of West Virginia. Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza also made its debut in Worthington with their unique coal-fired pizza ovens, as the name implies. Dewey’s also expanded to Worthington, opening their second Central Ohio store (Edit: They announced an expansion, but it doesn’t appear to be open yet). Reynoldsburg also gained their own gourmet pizza show with Pie’s Bistro, which launched this summer. And while the “gourmet burger wars” may only be heating up with the addition of Flip Side at Easton, there are a few new burger-centric restaurants planned in the near future.
The Near West Side and Far West Side
Two new significant openings occurred on the west side; one closer to Downtown and the other way out on the far side. The former is Dinin’ Hall, the food truck pod that offers brick and mortar amenities to mobile food fans who don’t want to stand while they eat. The latter is the Columbus Hollywood Casino, which technically boasts four restaurants under one roof: Final Cut (an upscale steak and seafood restaurant), Epic Buffet (a buffet dining room), O.H. (a sports bar and entertainment lounge) and Take 2 Grill (a grab-and-go food station).
A number of new restaurants opened in 2012 where beer or wine are at the center of the experience, but food is not necessarily an afterthought. That includes the new 101 Beer Kitchen gastropub in Dublin, Cooper’s Hawk Winery at Easton, the Barrel Wine Bar in Upper Arlington and The Tavern in Olde Towne East.
“We’re Expanding to Gahanna”
We’re not quite sure why, but Gahanna has become the go-to spot for local restaurants to make their second move. Downtown favorite El Arepazo opened up location numero dos in the historic area of Gahanna. The newer fast-casual Asian concept Fresh 50 followed suit with a Gahanna area expansion this year. And while Holy Smoke has maintained a Gahanna presence with their to-go retail store, they decided to convert it to a full blown restaurant this year to complement their North Market options.
The Whole Foods Dublin store relaunched one of their in-store restaurants as The Local, a gastropub featuring many local products to eat and drink. Yabo’s Tacos opened their second store, this time in Upper Arlington, with an eye on many more in the near future. Till Dynamic Fare was born out of the seed of Dragonfly Neo-V and has been celebrated year long by local diners. Cafe Istanbul decided to get into the fast casual game by opening Pera near the Ohio State University. Wurst Und Bier opened their doors up at Crosswoods. And for dessert, Whit’s Frozen Custard expanded to The Short North earlier this year.
What was your favorite new restaurant of 2012?