Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Columbus, OH: A Foodie's Hidden Mecca

When one thinks of Columbus, OH, the first thing that probably comes to mind is college football.  But, if you look closely, you will find that there is much more to this city than pigskins and buckeyes.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a "foodie" is defined as "a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads."  It may come as a surprise to learn that Columbus cuisine has been showcased in the Chicago Tribune and on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.  But, after discovering the diverse range of culinary options scattered throughout the city, you will understand why the Columbus food-scene is steadily gaining momentum.  Below are three ways the city of Columbus can help you discover your inner foodie.

North Market
Located in the heart of the Arena District, the North Market is a smorgasbord of tasty eats.  A great spot for lunch, the North Market is home to dozens of diverse vendors.  Patrons have their choice of Indian, Vietnamese, Barbecue, Sushi, and many more.  For those with a sweet tooth, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is a must.  Using a wide-array of Ohio ingredients, Jeni's transforms normal ice cream into bold flavor experiences with options such as "Goat Cheese with Cognac Figs" and "Cumin and Honey Butterscotch Cake".  Looking to improve your cooking skills?  Check the schedule at the School of Cooking and take a class upstairs in the Dispatch Kitchen.  For more information, and a full list of vendors, visit

Columbus Food Adventures
Tired of only spending time with your study group in the library?  Or maybe you want to impress that girl in your Torts class with an awesome first date?  Columbus Food Adventures is the way to go.  Owner, Bethia Woolf, will lead you on an exciting food-oriented tour of Columbus.  Tours include:  German Village Tour, Alt Eats Tour, Short North Food Tour, Taco Truck Food Tour, and All Dessert Tour.  In addition to Bethia's tremendous amount of local cuisine knowledge, stops on the tour will involve private meetings with restaurant owners, head chefs, or bakers.  And, best of all, each tour provides plenty of samples.  As a past participant of the All Dessert Tour, I would definitely advise anyone interested to wear loose fitting pants the day of the event.  To purchase tickets, visit

Food and Drink Festivals
Throughout the year, Columbus hosts numerous food and drink festivals.  Most recently, I attended the Columbus Beerfest.  With the purchase of a ticket, each guest received a commemorative tasting glass and twenty-five sampling tickets.  The festival showcased over fifty craft breweries including Columbus natives:  Columbus Brewing Company, Barley's, and Elevator.  If you are disappointed that you missed out on this event, don't fret.  Another beer festival, AleFest-Columbus, is Saturday, February 4, featuring over 180 great beers from various breweries around the world.

The Food Truck craze has propelled mobile dining into the mainstream.  This past summer marked the first annual Food Truck and Cart Fest held at Columbus Commons - a downtown grassy oasis.  Over twenty vendors parked their trucks and carts on the lawn, and Columbus residents got the chance to discover a great variety of sandwiches, tacos, crepes, and desserts.  Judging by the popularity of the event last year, I expect to hear about a second festival this summer.  Just remember, these mobile eateries can set up almost anywhere, so it can be difficult to track them down on the street.  But, if you find one you like, most trucks and carts keep Facebook or Twitter pages up-to-date with their latest locations.

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