2011 was another solid year for the growth of the local dining scene. Over 50 new restaurants opened in the past year, which we’ve listed out below. I’m sure we’ve overlooked at least a few, which is easy to do when a city of this size is growing so rapidly. Let us know who we missed, or which ones were your favorite new places in 2011.
Downtown on The Upswing:
Downtown Columbus continues to become one of the premiere dining destinations in Central Ohio with the premiere of new high-quality restaurants such as Sidebar 122 on Main Street, Milestone 229 at Bicentennial Park and de-NOVO on South High Street. For the lunch crowd, there’s new options to be found at Lexi’s on Third, Market 65, Big Bites, Fresh 50, Flaxella, Zoup and the seasonal Burger Dogs & Fries at Columbus Commons. And for anyone else looking for a relaxed mid-range dining experience with cocktails, you’ve got great new options with The Jury Room, Element Pizza and MoJoe Lounge.
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee:
Speaking of MoJoe Lounge… there’s several other new coffee shops that have opened in and around Downtown this year. Java Jan has a new shop on the east side of Columbus Commons, Upper Cup Coffee opened a roastery on Parsons Avenue in Olde Towne East and Tim Horton’s provided a double dose of Downtown action with new stores at Broad & High and in The Arena District.
Street Food Moves Indoors:
Dozens of new food trucks and food carts emerged in 2011, but another trend we noticed was the migration of street food into more permanent indoor (or semi-indoor) spaces. Freshstreet moved their food cart crepe business indoors to create their takoyaki shack earlier this year, and more recently opened the Section 8 Yakitorium. Streetfare by Lola is a new fast casual concept that takes street food indoors, Backdoor Burritos opened behind Da LeVee, serving up late night food to hungry bar patrons. And last but not least, popular taco truck Los Guachos opened a separate sit-down restaurant off Bethel Road.
Desserts for Dessert Lovers:
If you’re more interested in desserts, then this year was a good year for your sweet tooth. Sugardaddy’s opened their third location at Easton this summer. Vienna Ice Cafe opened in Clintonville, providing gourmet ice creams to the neighborhood. L’Appat finally opened their doors on Oak Street in Olde Towne East, where they serve european-style pastries. Winans Fine Chocolates is a new business in German Village, offering coffees and chocolates. And Dane’s Dessert Cafe recently opened in The Short North, which offers crepes, cakes and more.
Expansions & New Locations:
Many existing restaurants expanded to new locations this past year, growing their businesses into new neighborhoods. Mezzo opened a second Italian restaurant located in historic Downtown Dublin, while the owners of Mezzo also opened The Hubbard Grill in The Short North. Cafe Istanbul opened their second location on Main Street in Bexley. The long-awaited opened of Jimmy V’s in The Short North finally occurred after renovations to the former Michael’s Goody Boy location. Romeo’s Pizza opened their seventh Central Ohio location with a new store in Clintonville. zpizza also expanded to Clintonville, following the success of their second local store in the Short North. And the award for largest amount of growth goes to Piada, which opened four new locations in Bexley, Dublin, Gahanna and Easton, with plans for more stores in 2012.
German Village, Brewery District & The South Side:
German Village is known for tradition, with many restaurants being open for decades upon decades. This year, the restaurant scene saw a bit of refreshing with a few new dining choices opening their doors. Harvest Pizzeria opened on South Fourth Street to rave reviews. T. Murrary’s opened their bar and grill on South High Street in the former Barrister Hall location. The Explorer’s Club is the latest Ricky Barnes restaurant in the Merion Village area, which is bringing back fans of The Galaxy. And the Backstage Bistro is serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner in the front of Shadowbox Live, now housed on South Front Street in The Brewery District.
Other Locations Around Town
Once again, keeping on top of ALL new restaurants is a tough job, but we do our best not to exclude anyone. There’s no neighborhood that didn’t see at least a few new places open up this year. The Wexner Center gained a new cafe in Heirloom, a new concept from Chef John Skaggs. Nicola is a new Italian restaurant that opened recently in Upper Arlington. Brezel isn’t technically a restaurant per se, but their delicious preztel shop at the North Market is a great bakery treat. Babushka’s Kitchen now offers polish and eastern european cuisine to residents and visitors of Beechwold. The Angry Bakery opened in January on Oak Street in Olde Towne East, across from Yellow Brick Pizza. Aoi Sushi is a new Japanese restaurant located on Bethel Road. Sweet Raine’s on Main also opened this year on the Near East Side. Yabo’s Tacos opened what they hope to be the first of many restaurants on the north side of town. Two Mad Dogs opened a hot dog and ice cream shop on North Sawmill Parkway. The Commonwealth Sandwich Bar opened their doors near The Ohio State University campus. And finally, the Aloha Hawaiian BBQ restaurant opened in a new strip center on Fifth Avenue.
What was your favorite new restaurant of 2011?