Unique Restaurants in Columbus: 12 Incredible Places to Eat in Columbus, OH

Jon Miksis Jon Miksis clock Updated September 14, 2023 tourism Dream Destinations
by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Columbus
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Are you looking for the most unique restaurants in Columbus, Ohio? Here’s your ultimate guide to the best places to eat in Columbus.

If you think that the city of Columbus is all about football and Buckeyes, you’re in for a delightful surprise. Located in the heart of Ohio, this city is full of incredible eateries waiting to be explored. Picture this: strolling through the historic German Village, you stumble upon a quaint restaurant that whisks you straight to the streets of Vienna. Or maybe you’re in the artsy Short North, where a modern vegan joint promises a gastronomic adventure like no other.

Now, I’ve been to many places, but the unique restaurants in Columbus? They’re something else. It’s not just about the food, though trust me, that’s top-notch. It’s the stories, the ambiance, the sheer passion that each restaurateur brings to the table. From upscale dining experiences that’ll make you feel like royalty to quirky cafes where every dish is a conversation starter, Columbus has it all.

So, whether you’re a local looking to rediscover the city’s culinary scene or a traveler eager to find the best places to eat in Columbus, buckle up. We’re about to embark on a flavor-packed journey that promises to be nothing short of spectacular. Here’s all you need to know about the most unique restaurants in Columbus, OH.

The top restaurants to visit in Columbus right now
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Unique Restaurants in Columbus, Ohio: 12 Incredible Columbus Eateries

Are you ready to explore the most unique restaurants in Columbus? As noted earlier, there’s a wide range of places to eat in Columbus to suit all tastes and budgets. Keep reading to find out where to eat in Columbus, OH.


Are you looking for a literary escape paired with a delightful coffee? Or would you rather dive into authentic German dishes in a historic setting? Whatever your palate desires, Columbus can accommodate your needs. The hardest part is finding cheap flights to and from Columbus, but once you’re here, these food recommendations have got you covered. Here’s your in-depth guide to the most unique restaurants in Columbus.

1. Katalina’s Café

Ever had one of those “Why didn’t I come here sooner?” moments? That’s Katalina’s Cafe for you. Tucked away in Victorian Village, this spot is a blend of all things fun and flavorful. First up on the menu is their signature pancake balls. These aren’t your regular pancakes; they’re balls of breakfast goodness that promise an explosion of flavors with every bite.

Katalina’s adds a Latin twist to classic diner meals. From zesty tacos that’ll spice up your afternoon to hearty sandwiches that feel like comfort on a plate, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And the cherry on top? Their commitment to using local and organic ingredients. It’s all about savoring delicious food while doing right by the planet.

The ambiance is a blend of artsy and cozy. Picture walls adorned with unique thrift store treasures and a touch of graffiti, creating a space that’s both vibrant and welcoming. With its eclectic menu and laid-back vibe, Katalina’s stands out as one of the coolest places to eat in Columbus. If you’re in the mood for some memorable meals in a chill setting, Katalina’s is the place to be.

Katalina's Cafe is one of the unique restaurants in Columbus.
Katalina’s Cafe brings Latin flair to classic diner meals with a focus on local and organic ingredients.

2. The Top Steak House

Stepping into The Top Steak House feels like a delightful journey back in time. This iconic establishment, with over 50 years of history, captures the essence of classic Americana. The ambiance is a blend of nostalgia and elegance: dim lighting, plush leather booths, and the soft melodies of live piano music set the stage for a romantic evening.

What makes it stand out? For starters, the ambiance. Dim lighting, plush leather booths, and the soft melodies of live piano music create an undeniably romantic atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where you half expect to see Frank Sinatra enjoying a steak at the next table.

Speaking of steaks, The Top’s menu is a carnivore’s dream. But it’s not just about the quality of the meat, which is undoubtedly top-notch. It’s the meticulous preparation, the secret house seasonings, and the perfect sear that makes every bite melt in your mouth. And while steaks are the star of the show, the menu boasts a range of dishes that cater to diverse palates, from fresh seafood to classic American sides.

But perhaps the most unique aspect of The Top is its commitment to preserving the essence of classic American dining. In a world of ever-evolving culinary trends, The Top remains a beacon for those seeking an authentic, unpretentious, and utterly delicious dining experience. It’s no wonder many locals coin The Top Steak House as one of the best restaurants in Columbus.

Stepping into The Top Steak House is a journey back in time, an iconic establishment with over 50 years of classic Americana. | Source: https://thetopsteakhouse.com/
Stepping into The Top Steak House is a journey back in time, an iconic establishment with over 50 years of classic Americana. | Source: https://thetopsteakhouse.com/

3. Mozart’s Bakery & Piano Cafe

Music and food – two of life’s greatest pleasures. At Mozart’s Bakery & Piano Cafe, they come together in perfect harmony. Located in a picturesque neighborhood, Mozart’s is a slice of Austria right in the heart of Columbus, OH.

The first thing you’ll notice is the interior. Elegant chandeliers, ornate decor, and the gentle notes of a live piano transport you straight to a Viennese coffee house. It’s a setting that invites you to relax, to linger over your coffee, and to indulge in conversation.

The real star of the show is their pastries. Handcrafted with love and precision, each pastry is a work of art. From decadent Sachertortes to flaky apple strudels, every bite is a nod to authentic Austrian flavors. And if you’re in the mood for something savory, their menu boasts a range of European-inspired entrees that promise to delight.

Mozart’s is an incredible Columbus eatery where you can savor a piece of chocolate torte while losing yourself in the melodies of a classical piano. For those who appreciate the finer things in life, Mozart’s Bakery & Piano Cafe is a hidden gem restaurant in Columbus that promises long-lasting memories.

At Mozart’s Bakery & Piano Cafe, music and food come together in perfect harmony, offering a slice of Austria in the heart of Columbus.
At Mozart’s Bakery & Piano Cafe, music and food come together in perfect harmony, offering a slice of Austria in the heart of Columbus.

4. Eden Burger

If you’re on the hunt for unique restaurants in Columbus that are both delicious and eco-conscious, Eden Burger is your spot. Situated in the heart of the city, this eatery is turning heads and challenging perceptions about what vegan food can be.

Gone are the days when vegan meant bland and limited. At Eden Burger, they’re all about flavors. Think mouth-watering burgers made from organic plants, crispy fries seasoned to perfection, and shakes that’ll have you questioning if they’re truly dairy-free. Every dish is crafted with care, ensuring that even the most die-hard meat lovers leave impressed.

The modern, laid-back vibe of the restaurant is a refreshing change from the usual. Bright murals, wooden accents, and an open kitchen create an atmosphere that’s both welcoming and upbeat.

Looking to explore the best food in Columbus without the guilt? Eden Burger offers a delicious glimpse into the future of sustainable dining. It’s a place where taste, ethics, and environmental responsibility come together in perfect harmony.

Eden Burger in the heart of Columbus challenges perceptions of vegan food with its unique and eco-conscious dining experience.
Eden Burger in the heart of Columbus challenges perceptions of vegan food with its unique and eco-conscious dining experience.

5. The Boat House

Dining with a view? The Boat House takes it to a whole new level. Overlooking the river, this spot offers an incredible panorama of downtown Columbus, which makes every meal a visual treat. It’s not every day you find a place where the city’s skyline becomes the backdrop to your dinner table!

The Boat House celebrates the ocean’s bounty with a menu that’s as diverse as it is delicious. Think fresh catches of the day, transformed into masterpieces that’ll have you coming back for more. And for those who aren’t big on seafood, their gourmet selection promises equally unforgettable flavors.

As one of the most scenic places in Columbus to eat, The Boat House promises an experience that’s both delicious and picturesque. As such, I recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting the city.

The Boat House offers dining with an incredible downtown Columbus skyline view, making every meal a visual treat. | Source: https://www.boathouserestaurantoh.com/
The Boat House offers dining with an incredible downtown Columbus skyline view, making every meal a visual treat. | Source: https://www.boathouserestaurantoh.com/

6. Bossy Grrl’s Pin Up Joint

Welcome to Bossy Grrl’s Pin Up Joint, where dining meets dazzling entertainment! This isn’t your typical restaurant; it’s a vibrant fusion of flavors, art, and performance. Located in the heart of Columbus, Bossy Grrl’s is a tribute to the golden era of pin-up culture, with a modern twist.

From the moment you step in, the retro decor, adorned with vintage posters and neon lights, sets the stage for a night to remember. But the real magic happens when the sun goes down. Burlesque shows, live musicians, dancers, and comedians light up the stage, turning every dinner into a showstopper.

Food-wise, expect a menu that’s as eclectic as the performances. From classic American bites to dishes with a contemporary edge, there’s something to tickle every palate. And as you savor each bite, the electric atmosphere promises to keep you entertained and enthralled.

In a city filled with dining options, Bossy Grrl’s stands out as a place that offers more than just a meal. It’s a unique Columbus restaurant where food, art, and entertainment come together in a spectacular dance, promising an evening that’s both delicious and unforgettable.

At Bossy Grrl’s Pin Up Joint in Columbus, dining meets dazzling entertainment in a modern twist on pin-up culture. | Source: https://bossygrrls.com/
At Bossy Grrl’s Pin Up Joint in Columbus, dining meets dazzling entertainment in a modern twist on pin-up culture. | Source: https://bossygrrls.com/

7. Schmidt’s Sausage Haus

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus is a name that resonates with both locals and travelers alike. Situated in the historic German Village, this family-owned gem has been serving up authentic German delicacies for generations.

If you’re wondering what makes Schmidt’s a must-visit, it’s their legendary Bahama Mama sandwich. A spicy smoked sausage that’s become synonymous with the Schmidt name. Pair it with their traditional German potato salad, and you’ve got yourself a meal that’s both hearty and flavorful.

Budget-conscious travelers will be delighted to know that Schmidt’s offers a taste of Germany without breaking the bank. It’s a mid-range eatery, ensuring that you get value for every penny spent. And for those with a sweet tooth, their cream puffs are the stuff of legends. Seriously, they’re huge and oh-so-delicious!

A little tip for first-timers: Schmidt’s tends to get packed, especially during weekends. So, if you’re planning a visit, it might be a good idea to book in advance. Plus, its location in German Village means you can enjoy a post-meal stroll through one of Columbus’s most picturesque neighborhoods.

All in all, Schmidt’s Sausage Haus is a unique place in Columbus to eat, offering a blend of history, flavor, and genuine German hospitality.

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus is one of the unique restaurants in Columbus.
In historic German Village, Schmidt’s Sausage Haus serves authentic German delicacies, beloved by locals and travelers for generations.

8. Lindey’s Restaurant & Bar

Lindey’s Restaurant & Bar is where elegance meets casual comfort in the heart of German Village. It’s the go-to spot for those looking to elevate their dining experience without the usual pretense.

What’s the buzz about Lindey’s? For starters, their patio. Often dubbed the most romantic patio in Columbus, it’s a serene oasis that offers a respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. Picture sipping on a signature cocktail under a canopy of twinkling fairy lights, with the soft murmur of conversations and clinking glasses in the background.

The menu at Lindey’s is a mix of contemporary American cuisine with European influences. Their lobster bisque has been described by many as ‘a dream in a bowl’. And if you’re in the mood for some surf ‘n’ turf, their steak and seafood options are nothing short of culinary masterpieces.

A unique aspect of Lindey’s is their monthly themed brunches. From Jazz Sundays to seasonal specials, these brunches offer a fresh and thematic twist to the usual fare. And if you’re planning a special evening, ask for the wine pairing. Their sommelier has an uncanny knack for picking wines that complement each dish beautifully.

In a city with countless eateries, Lindey’s stands out as one of the best places to eat in Columbus. It’s a blend of impeccable food, ambiance, and the feeling of indulgence that makes every visit memorable.

Lindey's menu blends contemporary American and European influences, including renowned lobster bisque and exceptional surf 'n' turf options.
Lindey’s menu blends contemporary American and European influences, including renowned lobster bisque and exceptional surf ‘n’ turf options. | Source: https://www.lindeys.com/

9. Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace

If you’re thinking this is just another hot dog joint, think again. Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace is where classic comfort food gets a quirky, creative twist. Located in downtown Columbus, this place is all about celebrating the humble hot dog in the most imaginative ways possible.

From the get-go, the vibrant, pop-art-inspired decor sets the tone for a fun-filled culinary adventure. Whether you’re craving a classic Chicago-style dog or feeling adventurous with toppings like bacon-wrapped goodness, kimchi, or even sriracha-cream cheese, Dirty Frank’s has got you covered.

Despite the gourmet flair, the prices are incredibly wallet-friendly. It’s the perfect spot for those looking for cheap eats in Columbus or anyone looking to enjoy a hearty meal without the hefty price tag.

A heads-up for newcomers: the place can get bustling, especially during lunch hours. So, if you’re planning to drop by, maybe aim for off-peak times. And with its central location, it’s a great pit stop as you explore the vibrant streets of Columbus.

Overall, Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace is a unique restaurant in Columbus that provides diners with a delightful blend of nostalgia and innovation. It might just be the best hot dog in Ohio!

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace in downtown Columbus reimagines classic comfort food with a creative twist on hot dogs.
Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace in downtown Columbus reimagines classic comfort food with a creative twist on hot dogs.

10. The Thurman Cafe

Ever been to a place where burgers become legends? Welcome to The Thurman Cafe. This eatery has been a staple since 1942, and it’s easy to see why. At this unique Columbus restaurant, you’ll find some of the most epic burger creations in the city. Think towering stacks of juicy beef, melty cheese, crispy bacon, and even some unexpected toppings that’ll make you do a double-take.

Their legendary “Thurmanator” burger has even caught the attention of food shows and burger enthusiasts nationwide. And while the burgers steal the show, don’t miss out on their zesty wings and loaded nachos.

The magic of this place lies in its blend of tradition and innovation. Every burger, from the classic cheeseburger to their veggie options, is crafted with passion. And if you’re looking to pair your burger with something special, their range of appetizers and shakes are top-notch.

A little tip for first-timers: the restaurant can get crowded, especially during weekends. So, if you’re planning a visit, it might be wise to head there early or be prepared for a short wait. But trust us, the experience is well worth it. Get ready to taste the best burgers in Columbus!

The Thurman Cafe: Columbus' legendary burger spot since 1942, known for epic creations with unexpected toppings.
The Thurman Cafe: Columbus’ legendary burger spot since 1942, known for epic creations with unexpected toppings.

11. North Market

Right in the heart of Columbus, North Market stands tall, a vibrant hub that’s been drawing in locals and tourists for decades. This historic public market, a staple in Columbus since 1876, is a food lover’s paradise. With a diverse array of vendors, from artisan bakers to gourmet spice shops, every corner promises a new discovery.

Central to North Market’s charm is its dedication to local farmers and producers. Fresh produce, handcrafted cheeses, and specialty meats highlight the best of Ohio’s bounty. And for those with a fondness for international tastes, the market delivers. Spicy Nepali momos, creamy Italian gelatos, and other global delights await.

Beyond its culinary offerings, North Market serves as a vibrant community hub. Locals and tourists alike gather here, sharing stories, enjoying steaming cups of coffee, and indulging in freshly baked pastries. With its lively atmosphere and a plethora of food choices, North Market is a unique place to eat in Columbus that promises a memorable experience.

North Market in the heart of Columbus, a historic food lover’s paradise since 1876, features diverse vendors and endless discoveries.

12. Fox in the Snow Cafe

Located in the lively Italian Village, Fox in the Snow Cafe stands out as one of the coolest places in Columbus to eat. From the moment you step in, you’re greeted by the inviting aroma of freshly baked pastries. From the tangy burst of blueberry galettes to the velvety richness of custard donuts, every item on the menu is crafted to perfection.

The cafe is a blend of rustic charm and contemporary elegance. Exposed brick walls paired with wooden beams set the stage, while green plants add a touch of freshness. Sunlight streaming through the large windows creates a warm and cozy atmosphere, perfect for a relaxed morning.

And it’s not just the ambiance that wins hearts. Their coffee game is strong. Each brew, be it a punchy espresso or a smooth latte, is made with precision. And if you’re in the mood for something different, the New Orleans iced coffee is a delightful choice.

The staff are always welcoming, ensuring every visit feels special. With its combination of delicious offerings and a relaxed vibe, it’s no wonder the cafe is a favorite among both locals and visitors.

A quick tip: It can get busy, especially on weekends. An early visit ensures a serene experience. If you’re searching for the best coffee in Columbus, this is a cafe you shouldn’t miss!

Fox in the Snow Cafe in Columbus's Italian Village is known for its inviting aroma and perfectly crafted pastries like blueberry galettes and custard donuts.
Fox in the Snow Cafe in Columbus’s Italian Village is known for its inviting aroma and perfectly crafted pastries like blueberry galettes and custard donuts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Most Unique Restaurants in Columbus, OH

Are you looking for more content about where to eat in Columbus, Ohio? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about Columbus’s most unique restaurants.

What famous restaurants are in Columbus, Ohio?

Columbus has carved a niche for itself in the culinary world, boasting several restaurants that have become iconic. Here are a few that have left a permanent mark:

  1. Schmidt’s Sausage Haus: A household name, this spot is celebrated for its authentic German dishes, especially the legendary Bahama Mama sandwich.
  2. Lindey’s Restaurant & Bar: A favorite for many, Lindey’s is known for its romantic patio setting and its blend of contemporary American and European cuisines.
  3. The Book Loft of German Village: A one-of-a-kind experience, this place merges the charm of a vast bookstore with the comfort of a delightful café, making it a hit among both book lovers and food enthusiasts.

Is Columbus, Ohio a foodie city?

Columbus has rapidly evolved into a foodie paradise. With its rich blend of cultures, the city boasts an extensive range of dining options. From the spicy Nepali momos at North Market to the retro vibes and live performances at Bossy Grrl’s Pin Up Joint, there’s a flavor for every palate. The city’s commitment to supporting local farmers and producers means fresh, quality ingredients are a staple in many dishes. If you’re into fine dining, street food, or anything in between, Columbus delivers!

Where can I find the best food in Columbus?

When it comes to the best food, Columbus doesn’t disappoint. For a taste of history blended with mouthwatering German dishes, Schmidt’s Sausage Haus is the place to be. If you’re in the mood for something eclectic, Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace offers hot dogs with a twist, from classic toppings to the more adventurous. And for those special occasions, Lindey’s Restaurant & Bar serves up dishes that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate.

Main Street Bridge over Scioto River, Columbus, Ohio
Main Street Bridge over Scioto River, Columbus, Ohio

Are there any hidden gem restaurants in Columbus?

Certainly! Columbus is full of delightful surprises. Ambrose and Eve, tucked away in the Brewery District, offers a menu that changes with the seasons, ensuring every visit is unique. Meanwhile, Bossy Grrl’s Pin Up Joint is a vibrant fusion of food, art, and performance, making every dinner a showstopper.

Are there affordable places in Columbus to eat?

Columbus offers a range of eateries that won’t break the bank. Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace is a testament to the fact that gourmet doesn’t always mean expensive. And if you’re looking for variety, North Market is a haven of diverse vendors, each offering top-notch dishes at friendly prices.

Where can I find themed restaurants in Columbus, OH?

Columbus offers a variety of themed dining experiences that cater to diverse tastes. The Book Loft of German Village stands out for its literary ambiance, allowing diners to immerse themselves in a world of books while enjoying their meal. On the other hand, Bossy Grrl’s Pin Up Joint offers a trip back in time with its retro vibes, live performances, and a menu that complements the golden era of pin-up culture.

Final Thoughts on Columbus’ Most Unique Restaurants

Columbus is a city that knows how to serve up some serious flavors. From the quirky vibes of The Book Loft of German Village to the bustling energy of North Market, every spot tells its own tale. It’s this eclectic blend of eateries that makes Columbus a unique place to eat.

Now, I won’t blame you if you’re already daydreaming about those spicy Nepali momos or that perfect cup of joe surrounded by endless bookshelves. Columbus has that effect on people. It’s a city that invites you in with open arms and a menu that’ll make your taste buds dance. So, pack your appetite, because Columbus is ready to take you on a flavor-packed adventure. And trust me, by the end of it, you’ll be raising a toast to the city that truly knows how to dish out the best.

The top restaurants in Columbus for all types of travelers
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