In March 2014, I moved to Indianapolis, and there were plenty of things I was sad to leave behind. Moving away from some of my favorite restaurants, Columbus bars and diners were near the top of that list. I spent a lot of time at places like the Old Mohawk, The Refectory and Cap City Diner. Whenever we have a chance to head back, my wife and I try getting a bite or a drink at one of the places. A good meal and atmosphere can take you down memory lane like few other things can. With that in mind, we planned our trip around where we would like to eat and started eating our way through a hometown visit with friends that still live locally.
Friday Before Dinnner
We were in town for less than 24 hours and had just three meals to indulge. That didn’t feel sufficient so we added a stop before dinner, heading to Whole Foods in Dublin for their 5 After 5 wine tasting. Every Friday, for just $5, you get five 2-oz pours of wine or champagne and five hors d’oeuvres. It’s a great way to walk around the store, have fun while grocery shopping or just kick off the weekend. The store also has a gastropub, a burger joint, salad bar, hot bar, brick oven pizza and more. It’s one of the sneakiest and best grown-up “pre-game” spots in town.
The main event of the weekend: dinner at Hyde Park Steakhouse. While there are a few in Columbus (Dublin, Westerville, Downtown), our favorite is Upper Arlington. Ever since going with my dad and stepmom in the late 90s, I thought it was one of the coolest and most old school steakhouses I’ve ever been to. We had excellent steaks (medium rare of course), split the best potatoes au gratin you can imagine and a second side that would make Popeye proud – creamed spinach. Glasses of red wine for the ladies and Old Fashioneds for the guys made for excellent pairings to the meals.
I may have spoken too soon. Let’s call Saturday’s breakfast a co-main event. Calling Starliner Diner anything less than that would be disrespectful. Starliner has the most unique and eclectically decorated space of any restaurant I’ve ever been to and a menu to match it. Breakfast quesadillas, Cuban bread French Toast or Chiliquiles are a few top choices but I had to go with my favorite dish at my favorite diner, the Farmer’s Omelet with housemade Cuban toast and home fries. I’ve had this omelet other places and even made it at home. I don’t know what it is about this dish or this place but it’s unmatched anywhere else and they have a line out the door most weekend mornings full of people that agree.
My wife was staffing a booth at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Marathon and 1/2 Marathon RunFest on Capital University’s campus, so I was left to my own devices for lunch and followed my nose and found a pizza parlor. I grabbed two slices of pepperoni and scarfed them down on a bench by the Crusaders football field. Later that afternoon, I checked out RunFest and found the OH Chips booth. They’re new(ish), but have figured out the recipe to a perfectly fried and salted chip. Find a bag near you, then buy two – one for the car and one for home.
Until the next trip to Columbus, I’ll have these meals to remember. Hoping our next visit includes stops at El Vaquero and The Thurman Cafe!