… in the Jury Room, but that Dirty Frank’s attitude is Tip Top.
If you’ve been in Columbus or watched a food show about Columbus or even watched a food show that wasn’t in Columbus (Adam Richman is often seen sporting a Dirty Frank’s tee on his program Man VS Food), you should know at least one of these names. If not, get to one. Now.
This family of restaurants is spearheaded and cooked up by local food entrepreneur, Elizabeth Lessner. In an interview she did with the Columbus Underground site, Elizabeth talks about how she was not impressed by the food scene in Columbus when she moved here in the 90’s. So she opened a few restaurants, the first being the Short North institution, Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits.
Betty’s was one of the very first restaurants that I went to after moving to Columbus myself. Known for their long hours and locally-styled comfort food, Betty’s is a great place to start or end your night and is great as a pit stop along the way too, especially popular during the Short North Gallery Hops. From there, Elizabeth moved on to her next concept, Surly Girl Saloon.
Located on the northern end of Short North, Surly Girl Saloon’s style was best described to me as a Southwest Punk Cowgirl’s bedroom but with drinks and great food. The ambiance is low-lit, the jukebox is full of your favorite punk artists like the Clash and the food is saucy and fiery, just like a Southwest Punk Cowgirl is. Surly Girl is well-known for its adventurous cocktails (a trademark of every Lessner restaurant) such as the Surly Temple (red pop and vodka), and its off the wall combination of flavors such as Red Hots cupcakes or my favorite, the Frito Pie (chili meat spooned over Fritos and the usual chili accouterments.) But that wasn’t enough. And so we move on to Tip Top.
Here, Elizabeth lends her touch to downtown Columbus. Downtown, downtown. Not Short North, not Victorian Village, but downtown. My neck of the concrete jungle where places aren’t open during the weekends because offices are closed. But Elizabeth changed that. Elizabeth gave us Tip Top Kitchen, a concept that delivers upscale dishes without upscale prices and where a vegetarian can die happy from stuffing themselves full of veggie muffuletta sandwiches with a side of eggplant fries. (Carnivores are also welcome and leave just as happy.) Still hungry? Let’s grab a snack.
Dirty Frank’s it is! Another downtown location that makes an urbanite like me very, very happy. At Dirty Frank’s you can be a vegetarian and still eat like us omnivores by indulging in a vegan dog that is quite tasty. Those that are carb conscious can also switch out the bun for a large leaf of romaine lettuce. (It’s way way better than it sounds, promise.) Dirty Frank’s offers a wide array of flavor combinations and if you add them on Facebook, they post a new flavor combo nearly every day that they are going to try out.
Ever thirsty for more, Elizabeth’s latest project has been to take over ownership and operations of the Jury Room, a Columbus staple for the last 150 years and more, known for its greasy pub food and great drinks.
Whenever you’re near one of these, I highly recommend you stop in and chow down. I promise you won’t regret it.