Where to Eat When You’re Voting Early In Columbus

After an election cycle that’s felt like an eternity in the making, early voting in Ohio finally starts today.

Between October 6 and November 3rd, you can cast a ballot either by mail or in-person at the Franklin County Board of Elections. You also have the option to drop off completed mail ballots at the BOE, a good way to ensure your ballot gets where it needs to go.

And while you can wait until election day to vote, casting a ballot early may help you avoid long lines and other uncertainties associated with voting during a pandemic. As a bonus, the food options on Morse Road are incredible, with authentic offerings from all over the world.

Trying something new for lunch is a great way to reward yourself for doing your civic duty. Here are some international restaurants worth sampling when you’re in the area.

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Huong Vietnamese Restaurant As one of the few locally-owned Vietnamese restaurants in Columbus, Huong’s expansive menu includes excellent versions of popular dishes you may have tried before like bahn mi and pho, as well as options that aren’t on other menus in the city (sugar cane wrapped shrimp cakes, anyone?).

If you decide to cast your vote on the weekend, which you can do beginning October 24, you can treat yourself to one of Huong’s traditional Vietnamese weekend specials that look truly amazing.

1270 Morse Road – Dine in and carryout available – Closed Tuesdays


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Namaste Indo-Nepali Cuisine On a cool autumn day, a warmly spiced curry is one of my favorite comfort foods. You can get this, and so much more, at Namaste. Priding itself as a “truly ‘South Asian’ restaurant” incorporating many regional traditions, the menu features everything from samosas, momos, and noodle soups to a Nepali preserved radish dish called Aalo Sinki that the menu cautions is “SOUR!” in all-caps.

The restaurant is serious about spice levels, offering options from 0-11 when you order. I found level five to be pleasantly hot while still allowing me to enjoy the nuanced flavors, but I’m a native Ohio white girl, so take that for what it’s worth. 

1279 Morse Road – Dine in and carryout available


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Somali restaurant Afra Grill opened this summer—a daring move for a restaurant during this volatile time. But the concept fits perfectly with current dining trends: fast and healthy food with careful attention to ingredients and sustainability. Plus, it’s easy to order takeout, perhaps the most important option in 2020. (I recommend ordering from your phone right after voting, and be sure to turn the volume up for the Dhaanto rhythm).

The process for ordering reminds me of Chipotle: pick your base of rice, crepes or salad; pick your protein; and add fresh toppings. The protein options are far more diverse than what you can get at other build-a-bowl places, including goat and camel, as well as chicken, beef and vegetables for the less adventurous. There are tons of toppings available, allowing you to try something new every time. If you choose to dine in, the interior decor includes the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution—a great way to cap off your perfectly patriotic day.

1635 Morse Road – Dine in, carryout, and drive through – Closed Mondays


The Saraga International Grocery Market on Morse Road in Northland

Although the original location is in Indiana, Saraga International Grocery has become a Columbus institution since opening here. If you prefer to follow up your day at the polls by cooking at home, you can’t go wrong stocking up at Saraga first.

With options from around the world and brands and ingredients you won’t find elsewhere, Saraga is the perfect place to pick up whatever you’ve been looking for or to try something brand new. And if you get overwhelmed by the options inside, you can always stop at the original Momo Ghar to bring some dumplings home instead.

1265 Morse Road – Saraga is open daily; Momo Ghar is closed on Wednesdays

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