100 Restaurants & Bars Opened in Central Ohio in 2019
There’s no excuse for saying there’s nowhere new to try in Columbus. Restaurants, bars and coffee shops opened at a seemingly breakneck pace across Central Ohio in 2019, adding a whopping 90 plus establishments to the local dining and drinking scene. That’s nearly two new spots per week!
What are your new favorites? What are you excited to try? Buckle up as we run down the newbies and make your list of must-visits for 2020.
Fifth by Northwest, Grandview Heights & Upper Arlington
Let’s start the culinary year in review in Grandview. The Old Spot brought “pub fare with a little bit of fusion” to the former home of Harvest Pizzeria on First Avenue, while Winan’s brought its coffee, wine and chocolates to Grandview Yard. Brassica graced Upper Arlington with its presence, marking its third location in Columbus. Happy Little Treats, formerly known as The Angry Baker, sweetened up UA with its vegan noshes. Plant-forward fare is at the heart of new Shops on Lane Avenue eatery SŌW Plated. Fifth by Northwest saw Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen take over the former King Avenue Five spot, bringing with it eats and entertainment. And having the distinction of one of three restaurants to say hello and goodbye all in the same year, Pokéworks opened and closed on Fifth Avenue.
Brewery District & German Village
The original Max & Erma’s in German Village found new life as a Wunderbar / Pierogi Mountain mash-up (with a side of coworking). Carryout sushi joint Jonys Sushi added to a bustling Thurman Avenue, while Bistrolino is cooking up a Lebanese-Italian menu marriage in what was once the original Harvest Pizzeria. Crossing the High Street line to the Brewery District, Law Bird is serving up an extensive menu of inventive cocktails and wine (plus small plates), and Short & Stout Kitchen has made it permanent inside of Daily Growler. The owners of Pat & Gracie’s expanded their footprint with a new concept, Matt & Tony’s Wood Fired Kitchen, serving up contemporary American eats from the former home of CBC Restaurant.
The University District / Old North Columbus
Popular Mexican joint Cazuela’s doubled down on the Campus area, opening its second location at The Gateway. Meanwhile, departed Gateway bar Ugly Tuna made an off High Street comeback as Ugly Tuna 2 on Chittenden. Northeast Ohio-based sub shop Dave’s Cosmic Subs opened its first Columbus location for the campus crowd. Sweetwater’s Coffee & Tea took up residence inside the newly-built Wellington building. The space at 2036 N. High St. made a few name and concept changes, finally emerging as Poké Bros. Away from the bustle of High, Nile Vegan appeared near the Medical Center, offering Ethiopian cuisine. CoreLife Eatery literally came and went in a matter of months, making it the second spot to open and close in the calendar year, while Ninja Grill opened next door on Lane Avenue. Slightly stretching the campus bounds, Forty’s Chicken & Waffles made it permanent inside Old North Arcade.
New deli A Common Table populated the former home of Pocket Produce, and across High Street, Katalina’s, Too! opened, bringing its breakfast and brunch fare, and a greatly expanded seating area compared to the Harrison West original. Vegan eatery Portia’s doubled up in Clintonville, recently opening its Portia’s Diner concept on High in the former home of Whole World. Graceland was graced with the presence of hot dog joint Links-N-Lemonade. Somewhere In Particular Brewing and the team behind Local Cantina teamed up to breathe new life into the short-lived home of Actual Brewing, offering largely Ohio-sourced eats and drinks under the SIP Local name.
Needing no introduction, Katzinger’s expanded with a Dublin location, this time making it a full-service affair. Choripan Argentine Grill has the distinction of not only offering Argentine fare, but completely gluten-free eats as well. Wine bar and bottle shop Coast Wine House opened its doors in Old Dublin. Bridge Park saw a trio of openings on the year: build-your-own taco spot Condado, build-your-own bowl spot REBoL (a Cleveland expansion), and Corso Ventures, OSU football coach mash-up Urban Meyer’s Pint House.
Mall Madness! Easton Town Center & Polaris Parkway
Easton had the honor of welcoming columbus’ first Shake Shack. It also bagged a brewery from Chicago in Forbidden Root, which offers beers and eats as part of the new Easton expansion. Also part of that $500 million project, the RH Rooftop Restaurant was the eatery inside a luxury furniture store that you never knew you needed.
A spin on 270, and beer makes an appearance inside Polaris Fashion Place, with Daily Growler opening its fourth Central Ohio location. There’s also mead to be had, as Brothers Drake Meadery teamed up with coworking space COhatch. BIBIBOP continued its march across Central Ohio, opening a location inside the mall. Nearby, Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opened its second area location (the other being at Easton). Finally, Kitchen Social brought some local flavor, offering modern tavern fare.
Activity Outside 270
Starting with some farther-reaching corners of the region: Outerbelt Brewing opened its taproom in Carroll, the minds behind Veritas opened Speck Italian Eatery in Delaware, and Ghostwriter Public House is up and running in downtown Johnstown. Nostalgia Brewing found its way to Gahanna via the defunct home of Pigskin Brewing. New Albany got caffeinated, welcoming Fox in the Snow’s third and Roosevelt Coffeehouse’s third (inside the Thirty-One Gifts and Bob Evans Restaurants HQ). Powell raised a glass to Nocterra Brewing Company and got a taste of the tropics with Huli Huli Tiki Lounge. Finally, Westerville’s Double Barrel Kitchen & Bar squeezed in its opening before the end of the year.
North, South, East & West
Covering the four corners of Columbus, meat was the main attraction for two spots that opened in North Columbus: Smoked on High inside the Morse Road Kroger and The Mix – Charcoal Chicken on Karl Road. Couscous House also brought a Moroccan spin to build your own on Morse Road and Xi Xia introduced Western Chinese fare to Kenny Centre.Heading south, coffee shop Community Grounds added to the revitalization along Parsons Avenue, while Way Down Yonder brought some New Orleans flair to the far stretches of South High. As for the east, Charleys Philly Steaks opted for shipping containers for its Whitehall location. Finally, headed west, CBC staked claim on a taproom at its brewing facility in Valleyview and new owners took over San Margherita’s Trabue Tavern and turned it into The Quarry Co.
Now presenting Downtown’s new eateries by the numbers.
Two: hotel bars. Vine + Forge opened on the ground floor of the Crowne Plaza, catering to cocktail connoisseurs and wine enthusiasts, while on a rooftop down the street, Goodale Station opened to skyline views on the top floor of the Canopy Hotel.
Three: new vendors at the North Market. Ramen and noodle dishes are the main attraction at Satori Ramen Bar. Northeast side Hoyo’s Kitchen expanded, bringing its Somali eats to the market. Finally, American Nut Company went from North Market pop-up to permanent vendor.
Four: new concepts. These four joints created restaurant space where there wasn’t before. Blend Cafe + Bakery is giving students hands-on experience as part of Columbus State’s newly opened Mitchell Hall. Lunchtime gets a Mediterranean spin with the new District North inside the Atlas Building. From Town Street, The Woodbury will offer a little bit of everything, from coffee to cocktails and a menu of diner fare. Popular coffee shop Brioso made a move across the street, opening in the Citizens Trust building.
Five: this for that. Five previously vacated restaurant spaces found their new concepts. It was goodbye Oliver’s and hello, Belly Burger, which offers a streamlined menu and fast-casual spin. Not be confused, Flatiron Bar + Diner departed the dining scene last year, to be replaced with Flatiron Tavern, with the menu taking a Philly focus. Nosh on High occupied what was once MoJoe Lounge, offering lunch and a dinnertime small plates menu. On Gay Street, Phenix Cafe expanded into full-on Phenix Bistro, moving down the way to Criollo’s old spot. Instead of build your own, it’s pour your own at the Arena District’s beer-focused Whistle + Keg, tapping up where Dick’s Last Resort once was.
Sweets are having a Short North moment. Confectionary Kilwins opened its second area location in the neighborhood. CRMD introduced the concept of late night ice cream and Cincinnati’s Macaron Bar popped up with plans to make it permanent.
It wouldn’t be Short North without Cameron Mitchell action. The restaurateur had two debuts in the same building – Del Mar SoCal Kitchen with a seafood-forward menu, and rooftop hotspot Lincoln Social.
The neighborhood also saw its fair share of more fine-dining menus. Steakhouse Ruth’s Chris made a Columbus comeback, taking over the long-vacant former home of Deep Wood. Acclaimed Cleveland Chef Jonathan Sawyer broke into the Columbus market with SeeSaw, offering a menu focused on shared plates and a second floor geared towards nightlife. Also hopping on the small plates trend, global tapas can be found at Fireproof. Bringing something truly unique to the neighborhood, progressive, fine-dining Indian eatery ROOH made its debut.
Fast-casual Japanese fare can be found at Ampersand Asian Supper Club. Basil went country becoming country music venue/BBQ joint/whiskey bar Bristol Republic. Coffee? Booze? The choice doesn’t have to be made inside the Poindexter Coffee shop at the Graduate Hotel. For just the booze part, there’s Fours on High, occupying what was once Barrel on High. Finally, ’twas but a brief affair for Belgian Iron Wafel Co., which opened…and closed in 2019.
Not Short North or Downtown, But We’re Close!
If the 30 plus openings of Downtown and Short North were not enough, the surrounding neighborhoods got their smattering of new joints, too. Gravity in Franklinton welcomed the second spot for Roosevelt Coffeehouse, while Cincinnati-based Taft’s Brewpourium brought the beer and (New Haven style) pizza. The basement of Zeno’s in Harrison West became a dive-bar haven as Dick’s Dive. Steins of traditional German-style beer started flowing at Gemüt Biergarten (accompanied by German and European eats). For the next day, Hangover Easy opened its second location on Parsons Avenue.
Over in Italian Village, cocktail lounge Duecento started pouring drinks in a revamped warehouse. Meanwhile, Zaftig Brewing started pouring beers (and serving eats) from the newly-built Beeker Building. Rounding out the neighborhood newbies is Woodhouse Vegan, finding is permanent home on Fourth Street. In another Village (Victorian), farm-to-table eatery Alqueria opened its King Avenue doors, while Stauf’s put a coffee shop in a former church.