When it comes to restaurants, Columbus has almost too many good choices. Cameron Mitchell, 2242 Highland Ave. S. (tel. 614/621-FOOD; www.cameronmitchell.com) owns a handful of restaurants around town that are very good and well regarded. For Italian fare, try Martini Italian Bistro, 445 N. High St. (tel.614/224-8259), located across from the Convention Center. Wood-fired ovens create delicious pizzas, and chicken, lasagna and veal scaloppini are popular. Entrees run $9.9-$25.95. Columbus Brewing Company, 525 Short St. (tel.614/464-2739) in Brewery District features seasonal microbrew beers, fancied-up brew pub fare, including favorites such as tamarind-glazed chicken wings and hot and sour calamari. Salads, sandwiches, pizzas are available for dinner; main dishes run $11.95-$24.95. M, 2 Miranova Pl., Suite 100 (tel.614/629-0000) its award-winning upscale, fusion-styled menu with Pacific Rim and European influences, overlooks the Scioto River. Entrees include pasta, fish, poultry and steak and run $20 to $42.
Another local favorite is Barcelona Restaurant and Bar, 263 E. Whittier St. (tel. 614/443-3699; www.barcelonacolumbus.com). This popular, cosmopolitan German Village eatery, located in a former beer hall, is well known not only for its beautiful food but clientele, too. Executive Chef Paul Yow has created a diverse, Meditteranean-based menu that features cuisine of Spain, Greece and Italy, with some Asian-fusion thrown in for good measure. Their wine list, with an impressive number of wines available by the glass, received an honorable mention from Restaurant Hospitality. Renowned for their wide array of tapas, you could feast on these alone, especially seared tuna over soba noodles and the grilled vegetable salad. In warm weather, opt for the romantic patio, with its vines, flowers, and tiny white lights-it's also less smoky and less noisy. The bar area is crammed later at night. Entrees $15to $26.
Northstar Cafe, 951 N. High St. (tel. 614/298-9999), in Short North, is Columbus's only organic-based menu focused on healthy preparation. It is a trendy place with a large patio, huge windows that overlook High Street, replete with magazines, sofas, and comfy chairs. Don't be afraid-it's not an all-tofu menu. For breakfast or brunch, try their praline scones or the "cloud 9" pancakes, lightened with ricotta and served with Ohio maple syrup. Dinner fare is simple: start with a bowl of brown basmati or white rice, top it with spicy chicken, Mexican fixings, or Buddha combo-tofu and peanut sauce. Friendly service and fresh food make this a welcome addition to the bustling, artsy neighborhood. Main courses cost $8 to $12.
A must for steak lovers, cigar smokers and highball drinkers, The Clarmont, 684 S. High St. (tel. 614/443-1125; www.clarmontrestaurant.com), is an old-school steakhouse frequented by state politicians and attorneys that hasn't changed much since it opened in 1947. Sometimes smoky, sometimes loud, some of its beloved appetizers include the "colossal" shrimp cocktail, sold "by the each," and lobster bisque. Owner Thom Coffman is dedicated to creating a warm and comfortable environment. They sell porterhouse, rib eye and New York strip steak, but the 12oz. filet mignon has been on the menu for 50 years. Seafood, fish, poultry and pork also get a fair shake here. Some believe the Clarmont's banana cream and coconut cream pies are the best in town. Entrees cost $14.50 to $29.95.
A must for carnivores of all stripes and a Columbus institution, located in German Village, is Schmidt's Restaurant und Sausage Haus, 240 E Kossuth St. (tel. 614/444-6808; www.schmidthaus.com ). This restaurant dates back to 1886 and is renowned for its brats, beer and hearty German fare. Their bratwurst and Bahama Mama-a spicier sausage-are both popular choices, best paired with applesauce and German potato salad. Those with daintier appetites can find plenty of hearty salads-German themed of course-to choose from. Perhaps because this family-owned business is a definite tourist attraction, the service can sometimes be spotty. If you aren't quite stuffed with spaetzel and sausage yet, their famous half-pound jumbo cream puffs, available in chocolate or vanilla, are positively decadent. Live music, often in the form of oompah bands, lends a festive air to Wednesday through Saturday nights. A wiener schnitzel dinner costs around $12.95, and their signature sausage platters run around $9.
Save room for dessert, because Graeter's Ice Cream, 2555 Bethel Rd. (tel. 614/442-7622; www.graeters.com) has a devoted following by both locals and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Sarah Jessica Parker. Established in Cincinnati in 1870, it is one of the oldest family-owned ice cream makers in the United States, renowned for its creaminess. Their chip ice creams are especially beloved and feature large pieces of real chocolate; their black raspberry chip is tops. With twelve shops in Columbus, their Bethel Rd. location, just north of Ohio State's campus, is the largest and home to free, self-guided tours that take you right past where the ice cream is made. Another fabulously indulgent dessert spot is Pistachio (A Sweet Kitchen), 680 North Pearl St., (tel.614/220-9070; www.pistachiosweets.com) an upscale bakery in Short North chain restaurant owned by brother-sister team Spencer Budros and Anne Budros Fletcher. Though it's only been open since August 2004, the owners and pastry chefs have years of professional experience creating tortes, tarts, biscotti, cookies, specialty wedding cakes and other delectable delights that often look too pretty to eat. The artisan pastries are not to be missed.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.