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The List: 11 Great Places to Dine at the Moonlight Market on Gay Street

Ayana Wilson Ayana Wilson The List: 11 Great Places to Dine at the Moonlight Market on Gay Street
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Last month, the Moonlight Market premiered in the Gay Street District. This new event offered an evening of shopping, socializing and a chance for the community to come and check out the latest that this Downtown district has to offer. This month, the Moonlight Market will be held tonight from 6pm-11pm, and it’s a great opportunity to not only purchase locally-made wares, but a chance to taste the best of Gay Street as well:

Café Brioso

When’s a coffee shop more than a coffee shop? When it strives to do everything not just well, but perfectly, every time, in order to maximize customer experience. That’s what the folks at Café Brioso do every day, and the Gay Street District loves them for it. Come see what all the fuss is about this Saturday, and try one of their delicious coffee-based drinks. The Maple Latté is made with Espresso Milano, a full city roast with balanced acidity, sweetness and nutty notes, that’s paired with Ohio maple syrup. Or find mom the ideal gift: a bag or two of house-roasted beans from Ethiopia, Columbia, and Costa Rica. To see what these coffee connoisseurs will whip up next, follow them at www.facebook.com/CafeBrioso.

Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties

For the sweet lovers among us, Sugardaddy’s will be open for the entirety of this month’s Moonlight Market selling their decadent brownies and blondies. Their current specials are the Cherry Almond Blonde, made with Michigan dried cherries and whole slivered almonds, and the Strawberry Blonde, created with creamy natural peanut butter and strawberry preserves. It’s a wonderful gift for mom, or the ultimate treat for yourself. Unfortunately, they’re out of the Smokey Bacon Toffee, Zanzibar, and Chai Spiced baked goodies, but you can see a complete list of all the other mouth-watering snacks at www.sugardaddys.com.

Zen Cha Tea Salon

Who would have thought a tea salon would enjoy the kind of success that Zen Cha has had in the relatively short time they’ve been a part of the Columbus food scene? They did, and now you can see why. Stop in at the newest store on Gay Street for nibbles and sips. Zen Cha offers pot tea service where you can sit and savor any number of over 100 tea blends, from Chai, to Bubble, to Traditional English. Pair your brew with small appetizers like Edamame and Dumplings for an unforgettable supper experience. There will be a DJ on hand spinning tunes to match the ambiance, so make Zen Cha Tea Salon a stop on your moonlight stroll. For a complete tea guide, visit www.zen-cha.com.

J. Gumbo’s Cajun & Creole Cooking

This popular lunch and dinner joint was recently named “Best Cajun Restaurant” by 614 Magazine‘s ColumBest poll. For this month’s Moonlight Market, they will be partnering with CaJohn’s Hot Sauces, who has a store in the North Market, to offer free food and sauce samples to anyone with a taste for some heat. You’ll also be able to purchase CaJohn’s sauces to take home, or try it on J. Gumbo’s Chicken Zydeco, one of their newest menu items – slow-cooked chicken in a sweet chili sauce with a hint of spice. Check out their complete menu at www.jgumbos.com.

Due Amici

Every few months, Due Amici hosts Drinks in the Dark, a special dining event where the lights are turned off, and customers enjoy dinner by candlelight. Originally started as part of Earth Hour, a time when the world turns off their lights in a conservation effort, the experience was so special that now it has become a part of Due Amici’s tradition. The full dinner menu will be available, including the Butternut Squash Ravioli, perfectly-sized pasta morsels that’s just right for dining in muted lighting. The lights turn off at 8:30pm, so make your reservation at www.due-amici.com or just stroll by to witness the beautiful spectacle.

Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails

Tip Top Kitchen is known for Ohio comfort food. With a menu that includes such classics as Blue Ribbon Pot Roast, Country Fried Steak, Italian Beef Sandwiches, and Bratwurst with Grilled Sauerkraut, dinner at Tip Top will fill you up, and leave you with that happy, buzzy feeling you get when good food wraps you up in love. On this Moonlight Market Saturday, Tip Top’s special will be Beef Stroganoff, rotini pasta in a red wine and mushroom cream sauce, topped with their signature pot roast, sour cream and green onions for $10. Tip Top also has twenty-six beers on tap, including several new ones, so make a plan to stop in for a local experience like none other. For a complete dinner and drink menu, visit www.tiptopcolumbus.com.

Plantain Café

It may not look it, but the Gay Street District is a cosmopolitan hotspot, hosting several businesses with a distinct international flair. Among these, the Plantain Café, a Cuban restaurant offering up authentic island cuisine seven days a week. For this month’s Market, the store will stay open till the 11pm deadline to serve their full dinner menu, which includes the popular Cuban Sandwich, a classic that combines slow-roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and tangy mustard. They also serve beer and fresh fruit sangria with every meal. For a complete menu, head to www.plantaincafe.com.

Rendezvous Café

If you’re not familiar with the popular dining spot that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then the Moonlight Market is the optimal moment to acquaint yourself with the Rendezvous. Opened three years at the corners of Gay and Third Streets, Rendezvous Café offers sandwiches, wraps, and Crimson Cup Coffee drinks. The Baja Chicken Sandwich combines chicken, cheddar cheese, onions, chipotle mayo, baja sauce, and cilantro; The Albuquerque Turkey is a classic turkey sandwich finished with more of the house chipotle mayo. All of the food at Rendezvous has something of an island fare, and that’s only reinforced by the sweet, helpful nature of the staff. Come in and enjoy their company, a Mocha Latté, and plan to make Rendezvous Café a new tradition.

Ringside Café

The Ringside Café has been part of downtown Columbus’ history since 1897. In 2008, it came under new ownership, but the quality of the menu has not changed. Ringside still offers generously-sized burgers, sandwiches, and salads mostly named after famous boxers. The number one contender is still “The Smokin’ Joe”, a half-pound burger patty topped with smokey bacon, cheddar cheese, and oodles of hickory barbecue sauce. Send him in the ring with a draft or bottled beer, and you’ve got a match that can’t be beat. Ringside Café will be open till at least midnight on Saturday, so stop in for dinner or a nightcap. For a complete menu, check out www.ringsidecolumbus.com.

Café Napolitana

In keeping with the Gay Street District’s appreciation of various cultures, Café Napolitana stands as not only a local landmark, but as a celebration of authentic Italian cuisine and service. It’s a family-owned and operated restaurant whose Sausage Rustica Pasta, spaghetti smothered with sausage sautéed with green peppers, onions and mushrooms in marinara, and Spinach Calzone feels like it was prepared just for you by your favorite grandmother. The portions are huge, and the smiles plentiful. You can wash your dinner down with a nice cold beer, or, more traditionally, a tall glass of vino. Café Napolitana will only stay open till 10pm at this Saturday’s market, so check out their full menu at www.cafenapolitana.com and plan to stop in early.

Grill & Grilled

This Chipotle-style Mediterranean restaurant has only been open a few months, but already has a loyal following who swear by their fresh ingredients, attention to detail, and friendly service. If you’re yet to be grill and grilled, stop in during the Moonlight Market and see why downtowners have been raving about this latest restaurant from the same people who brought Columbus Café Istanbul. Customize your meal by choosing from proteins like Chicken Kebab and Beef Gyro, which is hand-carved to order from a rotating pit, and pairing it with toppings ranging from olives to mozzarella, alongside a side of homemade Hummus or Babaganoush. Grill & Grilled is typically open till 11pm every Saturday.

For more information about the Moonlight Market, visit www.moonlightmarketcolumbus.com.

Photo by Logan Miller Photography.

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