Bites & Sips: Oh So Many Holiday Treats, Nocinofest, Pop-Ups, Pizza & More

Susan Post Susan Post Bites & Sips: Oh So Many Holiday Treats, Nocinofest, Pop-Ups, Pizza & MoreClockwise from top left: Nut butter bars at MMELO - Photo provided by MMELO; Understory is now booking events at Open Air - Photo by Susan Post; Treats from Fourteen Twenty Nine - Photos provided by Fourteen Twenty Nine; Bourcino and Nocino from Watershed Distillery - Photo provided by Watershed Distillery
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There are a whole lot of fun holiday treats to eat AND drink in this edition of Bites & Sips! From ice cream and beer, to cookies and liqueur, local makers have it all. Plus new vendors at Budd Dairy, pizza at North Market, events, reopenings and more. Cheers!

Land Grant & Jeni’s Team Up

What flavor goes great in beer and ice cream? Mexican Hot Chocolate! Land Grant took a cue from Jeni’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream to create Molinillo Mexican Hot Chocolate Porter. The ice cream formerly known as Queen City Cayenne is a Jeni’s OG, pairing up velvety chocolate ice cream with red-hot Vietnamese cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Land Grant’s boozy version is fortified with cinnamon and cayenne chiles in a 8.6% ABV porter.

Limited edition 16-oz four-packs of Molinillo are available online for local delivery or statewide shipping, and at select grocery stores. Head to the taproom, 424 W. Town St., for carryout or to imbibe straight from the tap.

For more information, visit

Watershed’s Nocinofest Returns

Mark your calendars for December 4! Nocinofest returns to Watershed Distillery, 1145 Chesapeake Ave. This year it’s twice the Nocino fun with Watershed’s original black walnut liqueur as well as a special Bourcino, a first-of-its-kinda Nocino made with bourbon instead of the traditional vodka.

Nocinofest runs from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. with complimentary bites from Watershed Kitchen + Bar, Winans hot chocolate and truffles, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, distillery tours, marshmallow roasting and an outdoor fire pit. Guests can also get a jump on their holiday shopping at the “Watershed Workshop,” all while sipping on nocino-themed cocktails.

Bourcino will be available on a first come, first serve basis at the distillery during Nocinofest for $34.99 per bottle. Nocino will also be available at Nocinofest as well and throughout the holiday season for $29.99 per bottle.

For more information, find the event page on Facebook and visit

Chocolate Meets Booze in Winans-Watershed Partnership

Nocino isn’t the only seasonal speciality with Watershed’s stamp! The local distillery has partnered with Ohio-based chocolatier Winans on its Bourbon Cherry Cordials.

Maraschino cherries are soaked in bourbon for three months then coated in Winans family-recipe fondant, which features even more bourbon, then enrobed in dark or milk chocolate and topped with a white chocolate drizzle.

There’s a multitude of ways to score this holiday treat: at all Winans retail locations, at Watershed Distillery and online at

Understory Booking Events at Open Air

Wolfs Ridge Brewing is ready to book events at Understory, its expansion project at Open Air in Old North. The events space is just one of three areas that make up Understory’s presence in the building. The lounge and restaurant space are expected to make their debuts by the end of the year.

The curious can get a peek at the Understory experience during the space’s first public event. Pop-up market Holiday Wonderland will run December 4 -5 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free to attend, the two-day event will feature 50+ vendors selling novelties and gifts, photos with a drag santa, Christmas carols and live music, plus a full bar and bar snacks.

Learn more about Understory at and find details on the event here.

New Chef Partners Rotate in at Budd Dairy Food Hall

Budd Dairy Food Hall’s two rotating spaces are welcoming new vendors in November.

Mrs. Turbo’s Cookies wrapped up its run at sweets spot Sugar to make way for Fourteen Twenty Nine, which took over as of November 16. Brownies, blondies, cookies and cakes are the bakery’s speciality, but each purchase does more than satisfy a sweet craving. As a social enterprise, sales translate to monetary donations, meals and hygiene items for various organizations around Columbus supporting survivors of human trafficking.

On November 23, Pablo’s Havana Café took over the Hatch space with a menu of homemade Cuban cuisine. Based on recipes passed down for generations in Chef Pablo Taura’s family, diners will find their signature Cuban sandwiches, classic tostones, Cuban chili and more. Pablo’s also operates a restaurant in Powell and a food truck.

For more information, visit and

Elia Athenian Grill Reopens Downtown

A fast-casual lunch option is back in action Downtown. After several months of being temporarily closed, Elia Athenian has reopened its doors at 20 N. High St. as of November 22.

Offering build-your-own eats with Greek flair, diners choose a base – pita, salad or grain – top it with proteins like falafel or chicken or pork yeero, then add sauces, veggies and more.

Elia Downtown will be open from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Elia’s campus-area location at 14 E. 11th Ave. remained open for the duration of the pandemic.

For more information, visit

Gallo’s Pizzeria Opens at North Market Bridge Park

Gallo’s Pizzeria has made its debut inside the North Market Bridge Park, 6750 Longshore St. The pizza outpost of the family restaurant chain features a streamlined menu of pizza by the slice and the whole pie, along with stromboli, sandwiches and salads. The pizzeria marks the Gallo family’s fifth concept in Central Ohio.

Gallo’s Pizzeria is open Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

For more information, visit

Little Eater Makes a Comeback

Little Eater’s veggie-based fare is once again available in Columbus through a new catering and pop-up operation. The catering menu features the seasonal veggie salads, frittata, sandwiches and sweets its former area restaurants were known for. The website hints to stay tuned for future pop-ups. Currently, Little Eater is working out of the Food Fort, 737 Parkwood Ave.

It’s a full-circle moment for the brand, which first started as a pop-up before securing a stall at the North Market. That location was open for just over five years, and during that time Little Eater also opened and closed a stand-alone restaurant in Clintonville. When the physical locations closed, Owner Cara Mangini hinted the operation would make a comeback.

For more information, visit

MMELO Lands Pop-Up at Polaris

MMELO has set up shop inside Polaris Fashion Place, 1500 Polaris Pkwy, for the holiday season. The boutique confectioner will be offering a variety of holiday-themed seasonal treats as well as classics like their marshmmelos, tea cakes, chocolate buttons and more.

Shoppers can also score some new treats MMELO developed in partnership with Westerville-based Shell Dust Premium Nut Butters. Owner Michelle Allen says Shell Dust’s almond butter was some of the best she ever tasted and immediately knew she wanted to incorporate it into her confections. The almond butter makes its appearance in two bars: a Caramelized White Chocolate Pear Caramel and Almond Butter bar and a 70% Dark Chocolate Brown Butter Caramel with Peanut & Almond Nut Butter bar.

The MMELO pop-up is located on the first level in front of the Apple store and is open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday and Sunday from 12 – 6 p.m. It’s expected to stick around through early 2022.

For more information, visit

Eat Cookies for a Good Cause

As if anyone needed more encouragement to enjoy some sweets this holiday season, Freedom a la Cart is once again offering its Cause Cookies campaign. For every $25 donated to Freedom a la Cart, supporters will receive a box of a dozen, made-from-scratch cookies featuring chocolate crinkles, pistachio white chocolate cookies, raspberry rugelach, and a traditional gingersnap. Every donation helps support the social enterprise’s mission of providing workforce training and wraparound supportive services for survivors of sex trafficking.

Donations can be made online now, with cookie pickup (or delivery if you order enough!) December 1 – 21.

For more information and to place an order, visit

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