Ohio’s Urban Restaurants Are Breaking Expectations
By Paola Santiago

Ohio’s Urban Restaurants Are Breaking Expectations

A culinary tour through some of our best city drink and dining spots.

The Pearl in Columbus

Sometimes the best way to get to know a place is through the food that feeds its people and oh boy, does Ohio know how to eat.

Our chefs take inspiration and training from around the world and generously give it back to our community via innovative plates and exciting drinks. Relax, extend that lunch or meeting a while longer and explore Ohio with your palate.

Columbus

Grab a Coffee that reminds you of the Big Apple, because the minds behind Fox in The Snow took all their New York City know-how and turned it into a cozy, German and Italian Village cult favorite. We recommend their lattes paired with an exquisitely flaky pastry. They’re all good, but if we had to pick, we’d go with their walnut sticky buns.

If you need some peace and quiet, head to Stauf’s Coffee Roasters. Pick your own beans to grind and take home, but most importantly, take advantage of their sun-lit quiet space to really get down to business.

Take a lunch or dinner at Ambrose & Eve, where intimate and adorable meets modern. Classics like Chicken and Dumplings and Ants On A Log are turned into tapas-style sharables with mouth-watering ingredients like ricotta gnocchi in place of dumplings and burrata instead of cream cheese.

Need something a bit grander? Check out The Pearl located in Columbus’ famous Short North shopping and arts district. At this Cameron Mitchell original the world is *cough* your oyster, especially when you take advantage of the oyster and shellfish specialties, most notably the Shellfish Tower. A delicate silver-plated tower is filled with the freshest oysters, gulf shrimp and colossal crab you can eat. It’s both a sight to see and a pleasure to eat.

Have a drink at The Citizens Trust, a sister destination to Veritas, an equally good and highly stylized dining spot. Cocktails here are charmingly named and expertly built with local and fresh resources.

Want to taste some of award-winning spirits from the distillers themselves? Head to Middle West Spirits, where you can group tour the distillery, sample local mixology and taste everything from internationally recognized vodka to Bourbon barrel-aged Ohio maple syrup. Yum!

If you’d rather have a hop to your drink, Columbus has got you covered. With over 50 brewers in Columbus alone, you’ll have a hard time choosing! We recommend Wolf’s Ridge Brewing for seasonal ales, Antiques on High for sour beers, and Land-Grant Brewing for their collaboration brews and outdoor patio.

Cincinnati

Grab a Coffee at an art gallery with Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop. Usually you can’t eat and drink in galleries, but Redtree breaks the rules with local coffee roasters Carabello Coffee and pastry and sweets makers from every nook and cranny of the Queen City.

Find an origin story for your beans at Deeper Roots Coffee. Originally just a non-profit called, Deeper Roots Development, these roasters focus on people first. Really awesome people that grow coffee in Guatemala, Tanzania, Peru and more! Deeper Roots empowers their growers to own their own processing facilities and you can taste the difference. We recommend their Losantiville blend, a call out to old-timey Cincinnati when people favored darkly roasted coffee.

Take a lunch or dinner with flavor curators, Please. Where tasting menus usually fall flat on actual taste, Please delivers with plates that delight and surprise. Each ingredient is the main attraction, and when it’s expertly paired with wine, artful plating, and exemplary customer service, Please is a must-eat. Seating is limited so make sure to get a reservation ahead of time!

Want something a little more low-key? Sotto’s has been quoted as being “as close as we get to a fixed standard of excellence.” Travel down the side of its sister location, Boca, to a hardly lit set of stairs into a cavern-like, dining room. Instantly greeted like family by the staff, the service is almost as good as the innovative yet familiar Italian cuisine.

Have a drink at business casual, The Lackman. This narrow bar fills up fast but we like going during happy hour for their house made syrups and complementary pretzel sticks! If you’re looking for something a little more Don Draper, you cannot miss Sundry and Vice. The menu turns current trends like gin and rye on their heads and the atmosphere cocoons you with indoor streetlamps and fancy glass displays.

Everyone needs a little down time, so if you and your business partners are up for a game of cornhole or giant checkers, we suggest Rhinegeist Brewing in the popular Over the Rhine Neighborhood. Try their limited-edition brews if you’re feeling wild, or crowd favorites like their Truth IPA and Wowie Fruited Ale.

Cleveland

Grab a Coffee with Phoenix Coffee Co., a small Cleveland chain that makes bigger strides and makes better coffee than any national chain ever could (looking at you, Starbucks). We love their location on Lee Road, a small quiet respite from the city perfect for breaking down the latest workshop or team meeting.

If you’re not into java but your travel partner is, we recommend Vintage Tea & Coffee, the best of both CLE worlds. Its simple modern aesthetic lends itself well to solo brainstorming sessions and their authentic Taiwanese bubble tea is an impressive challenger to your average cup of joe.

Take a lunch or dinner with Good Company, the more casual sibling to cult favorite, Plum Café & Kitchen. At Good Company everybody can get something they like, especially those with dietary restrictions. Their modern takes on American comfort foods include the best chickpea burgers you’ll have this decade. We promise.

Sit down to a feast at Chef Michael Symon’s Lola Bistro, but make sure to get reservations – this place is notoriously hard to get into and with good reason. Chef Symon is the world’s real meat expert (move over, Salt Bae) making this the perfect place for your most carnivorous cravings. We recommend their bone-in ribeye, and any or all their desserts.

Have a drink at Great Lakes Brewing Company, because we’re pretty sure it’s a minor crime to go to Cleveland and not have a beer or two there. Counted as one of the top 20 craft breweries in America, Great Lakes has been championing craft beer before you even knew what it was. We love that they sell at grocers now, but there’s nothing quite like having it straight from the tap.

If you’re of the cocktail-type crowd, head over to the aforementioned Plum Café & Kitchen for a modern and constantly changing cast of local liquored favorites. We especially love their happy hour, lovingly referred to as Snack Time, for their amazing bar food and bar-exclusive drinks.

About the Author

Paola is the social media coordinator behind Ohio. Find It Here.'s social media handles. She loves writing stories that matter, especially when they're about food and travel! You can usually find her trying out Columbus' new restaurants or experimenting with her own culinary concoctions at home. Find her living her best life on Instagram at @paolasantidc.