Local Flavor Edition in Columbus, OH
Basi Italia is the kind of place you just stumble upon. Located on a side street in the quaint neighborhood of Victorian Village, this Italian restaurant definitely one of Columbus’ hidden culinary gems. The small location and dim lighting make for a cozy evening, although it also leaves you sitting very close to your neighbors. Try Basi during warmer weather, when they open the dining space of the courtyard terrace. The menu changes with the seasons, although the most popular dishes like eggplant parmesan are always available. To avoid the frustration of finding a parking spot on the tight residential street, take advantage of the $5 valet.
Who knew hot dogs could taste like this? Dirty Frank’s takes one of America’s simplest foods and transforms it into something new and exciting. Start with your choice of beef or tofu dog, pick a bun and select from a wide range of unique toppings. Local favorites include the Ohioana, topped with corn salsa, and the Razzle Dazzle, topped with cream cheese, peppers and onions. Franks is also nice to your wallet, with prices for a dog ranging from $3 to $4. Don’t be afraid to upgrade to a jumbo beef dog for just 50 cents more – the extra meat takes the dog to a whole new level – and be sure to sample a funnel cake after your meal.
Fantasia Tea Café is just the place to quench your thirst if you’re in Columbus. This small café, located in a strip mall north of the city, is known locally for their bubble tea concoctions. With more combinations than you could ever imagine, you’re sure to find something to fit your taste buds, whether or not you’re a fan of boba. They offer both milk and fruit tea varieties, and the bubbles can be made from jelly or tapioca. The laid back atmosphere and lack of crowds make it a great place to kick back, relax and take a break from your day.
If you’re in the mood for breakfast, no matter the time of day, Jack and Benny’s is your destination. The Clintonville restaurant, situated just north of The Ohio State University, blends in with campus eateries, but just one stop will prove it’s so much more. Sign up for a table at the blackboard and expect a long wait on weekend mornings. If you brought a big appetite, try the Gut Buster. This massive plate includes a pancake, hash browns, eggs, ham, bacon and sausage with cheese and gravy. Jack and Benny’s also offers over 20 varieties of omelets. Most meals are under $6. They don’t split checks, so if you come in a group, bring small bills.
You’ll find Los Guachos, one of the best places to get a taco in Columbus, parked in front of El Volcan in the Hilltop. That’s right, this is no fancy Mexican restaurant – it’s a taco truck. Taco trucks are a big deal in Columbus and Los Guachos is leading the local market in the al pastor taco, or tacos with pork. The meat is slow roasted on a spit, just like they do it in Mexico, for a truly authentic taste. The wait around lunchtime can be long, so don’t go on a day your schedule is tight. Seating is limited to a couple of picnic tables, so you may need to eat in your car or take your tacos to go. Go on a Tuesday for their “Buy One, Get One” deal. Bring cash – credit cards are not accepted.