Mac-N-Cheese, Mead & discounted txts

One reason I love Columbus is there is always something to do. Always. Doesn’t matter the time of day, Columbus is alive. What other city offers great food, pubs, parks, plays, ballets, breweries and more within a 10 mile radius?

My favorite ritual is Monday’s $5 Mac & Cheese at Betty’s Fine Food & Spirits in the Short North (located just north of Downtown). Betty’s is a cozy restaurant that surrounds you with pin-up artwork and a relaxed atmosphere. Unlike chain restaurants, Betty’s and the majority of the Short North restaurants are “Ohio Proud” and serve locally grown and raised products.

Betty’s Fine Food & Spirits (picture courtesy of Betty’s website)

The Short North is an area located just north of Downtown full of eclectic galleries, delicious restaurants and quant shops. This assorted neighborhood caters to all food preferences, so always feel free to bring those who are vegetarian and vegan – they will not be disappointed. It is a wonderful place to go after class or on the weekend when meeting up with friends. Prices are reasonable and, for those of us on a college budget, happy hours are everywhere!

The Short North – you will NEVER be bored here!
Picture courtesy of Experience Columbus

It is a great neighborhood to grab lunch, dinner, coffee or drinks with friends. You can pick a favorite restaurant, try everything on their menu and never be disappointed! From Mac & Cheese, to mead (a DELISH honey wine), to vegan cupcakes, the Short North is perfect for all budgets and taste buds.

If you are looking for something to do after dinner, check out the Ohio Theatre located in Downtown Columbus. Owned by CAPA (Columbus Association for the Performing Arts), the Ohio Theatre is a National Historic Landmark and hosts a variety of shows for extremely reasonable prices. From traditional to contemporary, every show is a hit. Personally, I love the BalletMet! Even better, the Ohio Student Union offers discounted tickets to students.

So take a night off of studying, get off the computer and go EXPERIENCE COLUMBUS!

Betty is that Surly Girl …

… 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.

Splendor Is Worth the Wait

When you walk into Jeni’s Ice Cream, it really is no wonder that the name is officially Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Splendid is not a word often used in everyday English language. I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say, “I had a splendid time at lunch with you today!” It seems a little overkill, right? Well, the company’s choice adjective to describe their ice creams is neither exaggerated nor pompous. It is not only excellent, but inventive. Just give goat cheese and with cognac fig sauce a try. If you think that sounds awful, you’d be awfully incorrect. They’ll even let you test their precious flavors, if you don’t believe me. My favorite time of year to visit is in the fall, when the seasonal flavors include heirloom pumpkin, and you can take in the sights while strolling the Short North. And in the Short North, there never seems to be a dull moment (seriously, I watched a young woman sitting in the middle of the street under an illuminated Short North arch, posing – in her wedding dress!). During Gallery Hop on Saturdays, Jeni’s draws an extended line out its door of patrons willing to wait. I was rather excited to walk right in on Friday. Though I had come in thinking I’d give one of the other flavors a chance, I ended up leaving with my old favorite, salty caramel. I’m usually the type to like ice cream with a lot of stuff in it — nuts, candy, etc — but this is so different. Each taste is worthy of being savored. And you won’t even get annoyed if the ice cream melts a little. You’ll eat every last bit.

Jeni’s is well known for their commitment to buying local. They’re participating in Local Foods Week, October 2nd through October 8th, which includes several opportunities to enjoy Jeni’s ice cream. Or you could just stop in at one of their shops in Short North, North Market, Grandview, Dublin, or Bexley. I guarantee that splendid will enter your vocabulary.