Despite what Central Ohio’s perpetual high-of-ninety-degrees weather may indicate, summer is finally coming to an end. But don’t fret: vacation season may be over, but Columbus offers several perfect “staycation” drinking spots, with a new one (The Grass Skirt Tiki Room) opening soon.
So whether you didn’t get to take a trip this year, or maybe just want to relive some vacation highlights, here are ten of the best bars and restaurants in Columbus to get away without having to go away. After all, the best part of any vacation is the exotic food and drink, right?
This popular Grandview restaurant offers some of the best Indian food in town, plus a top-notch lunch buffet. You’ll come for the food, but you’ll stay for the drinks: in addition to Indian classics like mango lassis, Aab India also has a full bar, three types of imported Indian beer and a specialty drink list that includes delicious Indian-inspired cocktails like the Punjabi Lassi.
Barcelona is in the heart of German Village, but it might as well be located in the middle of its namesake Spanish city. Happy hour at Barcelona features a selection of tapas, and their entrees are largely traditional Spanish dishes. The drink list, meanwhile, includes modern martinis and cocktails, refreshing house-made sangria and an extensive inventory of wines from Spain and around the world.
China Dynasty is a bit off the beaten path, by which I mean it’s hidden in the back of the Shops on Lane Ave complex in Upper Arlington. They have all the expected, traditional Chinese dishes—General Tso’s chicken, moo shu pork, kung bao beef—but the unexpected surprise at China Dynasty is the cocktail menu, which features tropical-style tiki drinks. You can enjoy your moo goo gai pan with a large (and rather moderately priced) pina colada!
Figlio has locations in Grandview and Upper Arlington, and both offer authentic Italian pizza, pasta and entrees. The drinking appeal is the wine menu, which is extensive and full of Italian imports. There’s no easier way to experience the Mediterranean lifestyle than by sitting out on the patio at Figlio’s Grandview location and enjoying a nice cabernet.
The Short North’s Haiku is the perfect combination of ambiance, food and drink to make you swear you’ve stepped out of Columbus and into Japan. The décor is classy and traditionally Japanese, the food selection includes both Asian entrees and sushi, and the drink list is full of handcrafted cocktails with Asian accents.
La Casita, off of Bethel Road in Northwest Columbus, has some of the best Mexican fare in town. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, and if the festive Mexican atmosphere or the large outdoor patio doesn’t charm you, try one of the drinks: imported beer like Negra Modelo and Bohemia, plus huge frozen margaritas. If you can’t make up your mind, try the Coronarita, which is a beer upended in a monster-sized margarita.
There’s virtually no difference between Mac’s Cafe on High Street and an actual British pub in England. The food includes traditional British favorites like fish and chips, as well as the heart-attack-inducing Scotch egg (a hardboiled egg wrapped in sausage and fried). And then, of course, there’s the drink selection, not least of which is a long list of British beers and ciders.
Mazah Mediterranean Eatery
Mazah is a small gem in Grandview with a big menu of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. The food is superb and the atmosphere is charming; the real treat, however, is that you can enjoy your hummus and beef shawarma with a cold Almaza, the most popular beer in Lebanon.
Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant
Schmidt’s is a German Village classic known primarily for the Autobahn, a sausage buffet made famous on the TV series “Man Vs. Food.” Even better than the sausage selection, however, are the giant cream puffs and the even-more-giant house beers. Schmidt’s looks German, and since there’s no discernible difference between the size of a beer and the size of a pitcher of beer, after one or two of those you’ll swear that you’re actually in Germany.
World of Beer
Of course, if you can’t decide which bar best fits your staycation needs, there’s no better place than the Brewery District’s World of Beer. It is, true to its name, basically an entire world of beer, with every beer you can think of from anywhere on earth. If you can’t make up your mind, there’s nothing better than an around-the-world tour!