The Best of Columbus: 2018 Edition

2018 is drawing to a close, which means it’s the perfect time to get a little reflective.

We wanted to share with all of you some of our favorite things about Columbus this year, and what our hopes are for next year. With a little help from our friends, we’ve compiled this list of our great Columbus love affairs.

Contributors in addition to Columbus Navigator Staff:

Malini Swank of Lakes and Lattes
Jordan Abbruzzese of Hedgehog Files
Eryn Gilson of 614Mom
Julie Miller of What Should We Do Today Columbus?

Best New Restaurant

Ambrose & Eve

Brad Sidwell: Buns and Brews
Tracie Baum: Cosecha Cucina
Eryn Gilson: Brekkie Shak
Julie Miller: Pecan Penny’s
James & Chelsea: Ambrose & Eve

Favorite Restaurant

El Ranchito

Brad: El Ranchito Taqueria
Julie Miller: Lac Viet in North Market
Chelsea: Legacy Smokehouse
Tracie Baum: The Sycamore

Malini Swank: Cameron’s American Bistro. “It’s hard to pick a favorite restaurant in a city where we’re spoiled with so many outstanding options, but I will say that I’ve never had a bad meal or less than legendary service at Cameron’s American Bistro in Worthington. They make my whole family (including my little one!) feel special no matter if we’re dining for a basic family dinner on a Tuesday night, celebrating an anniversary/birthday, or a fun couple’s date night.”

Best place to grab Coffee:

Malini & Brad: Staufs Coffee Roasters
Jordan: Grandview Grind
Leanne: The Roosevelt Coffeehouse
Eryn Gilson: Coffee Connections
Julie Miller: Third Way Cafe

See more awesome, independent coffee shops here.

Best Breakfast/Brunch spot

German Village Coffee Shop

Brad: Union Cafe, because MIMOSAS!
Jordan: Forno Kitchen + Bar
Eryn Gilson: Milestone 229
Julie Miller: Katalina’s

Chelsea: “German Village Coffee Shop is my go-to breakfast stop. The staff is incredible, the food is delightful, and the experience is my favorite weekly occurrence. If you’re into bacon, you need to grab breakfast here. Without a doubt, the best bacon in the city.”

See more delicious brunch spots here

Place with the Best Sweet Treats (and a favorite item)

Bake Me Happy

Malini: Suisse Shop. Hands down. Personal fave is the Almond cake with raspberry filling so much!
Brad, Chelsea, & Eryn: Bake Me Happy, specifically Peanut Butter Burners, Donut Muffin, and Zebra Cakes.
Tracie: Amy’s Donuts (The Elvis Donut is my fave)
Leanne: Fox in the Snow Cafe – Coconut Cake!
Julie: Kittie’s Cakes – the chocolate chip facecookie!
James: Johnson’s Ice Cream, the Columbus Crunch
Read more about ice cream, holiday treats, and donuts, and other fun sweets.

Best Cocktails in town

Malini & Jordan Light of 7 Matchsticks
Brad: Bakersfield’s Sangria Rojo. O.M.G.
Tracie & James: The Top. Tracie said, “The Top, fo’ sho’. Everything is great, but can’t go wrong with a dirty martini or a Gin & Tonic.”
Julie: Margarita at Balboa

Leanne: “Service Bar. Everything is amazing and their garnishes push them over the top!”

Get suggestions for making your own cocktails at home or get some suggestions for cheap (but good) cocktails around Columbus.

Favorite locally made Beer, Wine or Spirit

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

Malini & Leanne: Anything Watershed
Brad: Anything from Brewdog
Tracie: Land Grant Pool Party (even if it’s indoor pool season)
Eryn: North High Brewing

Chelsea: “Wolf’s Ridge, Clear Sky Daybreak. There’s a reason it’s an award winning beer, and that reason is because it’s damned good.”

Check out The Best Breweries In Columbus for more drink suggestions.

Favorite local event

Jordan: Origins Game Fair
Eryn: Food Themed Festivals
Julie: Village Lights
James: Ohio State Fair

Brad: “Pride is one of my favorite events all year. It’s a great time to meet up with friends and family and celebrate everything that makes our vibrant LGBTQ community here in Columbus so great.”

Coolest public art

Brad: Columbus/LOVE sign
Tracie: I love the mural on North Broadway, under the bridge, headed into Clintonville
Jordan: The animal sculptures at Batelle Riverfront Park! As a kid, there was something really magical about seeing a unicorn statue among skyscrapers.
Eryn: 934 Gallery Mural by Dana Lynn Harper
James: Umbrella Girl at Schiller Park

Malini: “So the very talented local artist, Mark Bush, painted an awesome piece that hangs in the Columbus convention center. It’s a fabulous painting of the human face – and he incorporated features from all different races, cultures, and genders. I love it so much because it highlights all the ways in which we are different and beautiful and can all fit together. To me, it embodies the spirit of our fabulously diverse Columbus, OH. (Ok, ok, I also love that he painted my left eye in the piece)”

Get your art fix with 10 Eye-Popping Murals Around Columbus

Best place to take a date

Brad: Wild Lights at the Zoo
Tracie: If the date is my husband? Dirty Frank’s. If it’s a girlfriend? Marcella’s
Jordan: Tabletop Game Cafe
Eryn: Pins Mechanical Co.
Julie: Basi Italia
James: The Scioto Mile

Looking for date night ideas? We’ve got you covered.

Best Park or Outdoor activity

Grange Insurance Audubon Center

Jordan & Julie: Grange Insurance Audubon Center
Eryn: ZipZone Adventures
James: Clear Creek Metro Park
Chelsea: Scioto Grove Metro Park

Tracie: “Glacier Ridge Metro Park. It has a playground for the kids, ninja challenge course for all, plus a stellar dog park!”

Favorite Neighborhood to visit

Malini: Team #Worthington all the way!
Julie: Franklinton
Everyone else: German Village

Best place to learn a new skill

The Idea Foundry

Tracie: Bluespot Yoga, accessible hot yoga for all
Jordan: The Idea Foundry
Leanne: Cultural Arts Center
Eryn: The Kitchen
James: The Wonder Jam

Feeling inspired? Schedule a cooking class. Here are a few friendly suggestions. The Best Cooking Classes In Columbus

Favorite place of the kids in your life

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Malini: The milk and cookie happy hour at Sassafras bakery is pretty popular.
Eryn: COSI
Tracie: The natural play area at Blendon Woods
Julie: LEGOLAND Discovery Center
James: Columbus Zoo

Cure the wintertime blues with 10 Indoor Activities Perfect For Kids

Best kept secret that shouldn’t be

Via Facebook

Malini: Small batch, craft ice cream made by local engineer Dan Rhule of Indulgence Ice-cream. It’s the best ice cream ever, and I live in a city with Graeter’s and Jeni’s galore. Why don’t more people know about Indulgence?!
Brad: Cafe Illyria
Jordan: Give MadLab Theatre some love!
Leanne: Diamonds Ice Cream! Their Paletas are unreal and I don’t know why everyone isn’t raving about them!
James: Sunrise at Confluence Park

Julie: Westgate – my neighborhood! There’s so much community, grassroots activity, and affordable, unique housing!

Favorite Locally Made Product/Business


Tracie: I’m #basic, so Homage T-shirts. There’s nothing softer or more comfortable, reach for them every day (and my husband’s at night for sleeping).
Leanne: Ohiyo Chocolate!
Eryn: Savage Glow Skin Care
Julie: Red Giraffe Designs
James: Planthropy (great Christmas gift, so they’re getting a boost from fresh-ness)

Best store to buy a gift

via On Paper

Malini: Olivina Taproom
Tracie: Hands down, Wholly Craft! There’s something for your tiniest feminist and your oldest friend (not mutually exclusive).
Jordan: Mystic Sisters in Grandview
Leanne: On Paper
Eryn: Gemma Shop
Julie: Celebrate Local

Best local shopping event

via German Village Makers Market

Malini & Jordan: Worthington Farmers Market
Brad Short North Gallery Hop
Tracie: The annual sidewalk sale at Urban Emporium
Leanne: German Village Makers Market
Julie: Ohio Made Market
James: Half Price Books clearance sale at the Ohio Expo Center

Favorite Local Artist

via Logan Schmitt

Tracie: Kim Rohrs Art, local painter with bomb ass art
Jordan: Adam Brouillette
Leanne: Danielle Evans (Marmalade Blue)
Eryn: Natterdoodles
James: A tie between Logan Schmitt and Benjamin Howes

Chelsea: “Nick Fancher, an amazing local photographer. His Instagram account is on a constant refresh on my phone.”

Favorite Ohio based band or musical artist

via Doc Robinson

Brad & Chelsea: Saintseneca
Malini: Stadium 11 – they do covers of classic rock and they are SO good.
Leanne: Doc Robinson
Julie: The Floorwalkers
James: The National (They’re from Ohio and even though they’re incredibly popular, they still count to me)

Favorite Columbus Based Performer

via Hanif Abdurraquib

Malini: Dino Tripodis
Brad: Hellin Bedd
Tracie: Maggie Smith, poet
Leanne: Hanif Abdurraquib, poet and writer
Chelsea: Happy Tooth

Favorite local Instagram Account to Follow

Eryn: @ohioexplored
Julie: @sweetlycbus
James: @experiencecolumbus
Leanne: @ColumbusVisuals
Chelsea: @amyandcoffee

Malini: @life_with_a_foodie No idea who the owner is in person, but I laugh at It’s a full-on roast of his foodie girlfriend (now fiance – yay! Congrats to you, internet stranger!!)”

Current construction project you are most excited about seeing completed

The Fives

Brad: Market Tower
Tracie: 71 S into Grove City, I want to visit the FAM but it’s a nightmare
Leanne: The Budd Dairy Co Project by Cameron Mitchell
Eryn: Short North
Julie: Anything on 270!
James: Too soon to say Arena District Crew Stadium? Because Crew Stadium.
Chelsea: The Fives

Coolest Transformation of an Existing Building or Space

National Veterans Memorial and Museum

Malini: The Bridge park transformation is awe-inspiring!
Leanne: I love The View on Grant, I think it breathes new life into that area
Eryn: National Veterans Memorial And Museum
James: Dorrian Green
Chelsea: The Fort

What are you looking forward to the most in 2019?

via Bridge Park

Brad: A wrap up of a lot of current construction!
Jordan: I’m excited to see what other businesses move into Bridge Park in Dublin!
Julie: I’m looking forward to continuing to explore Columbus and sharing what I find with my readers through my blog!
James: Easton 👏🏼 Shake 👏🏼 Shack 👏🏼
Chelsea: Only the highly-anticipated, completely sold out, most exciting upcoming event in Columbus: Donut Fest!

Tracie: “I’m looking forward to new restaurants and new experiences in the city I love. More specifically, I can’t wait for Hamilton (!!!!) in February and having no more kids in diapers by September (or October…)”

Are you also excited for Hamilton? Here’s how you can score some cheap tickets this winter.

If you have one wish for Columbus in 2019 what would it be?

Malini: Getting the opioid crises under control.
Brad: To consider a rail transit system.
Leanne: More Protected Bike Lanes and Better Public Transit
Julie: I hope that as Columbus continues to grow and flourish that it stays approachable and accessible for all!
Chelsea: I hope the Columbus continues to get the national recognition we deserve. We’re a great place to live, work, and have fun!

Eryn “To keep cultivating community and not let our big city vibes get in the way of the good we can do together.”

2018 was pretty great, and it was in large part to all of you. Thank you for spending your time with us this year, for reading our stories, and for engaging with us. We couldn’t be more excited for 2019.

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