Hi there and welcome to Part Two of my Holiday Guide to North Columbus. This sub-entry will focus on the same neighborhoods (The Old North, Northland, Clintonville and Worthington) and their great restaurants. We won’t get too fancy with any of these choices because it is the holidays and what are you, made of money? You have kids, significant others and in-laws to buy gifts for! Let’s get started!
HOT CHICKEN TAKEOVER
Given that we are in the Holiday Season, Hot Chicken Takeover is a great place to start. HCT’s mission is to hire people who are homeless and/or who have been previously incarcerated. More businesses should follow this model to help make their communities safer, more inclusive and stronger.
On top of being an awesome employer, their chicken and sides are delicious. As you can tell from the above photo, my go-to is the ‘warm’ (level of heat) sandwich, which comes with mac and cheese. This sandwich is juicy and flavorful, contains a huge boneless breast and is topped sweet slaw and pickles. The mac and cheese is creamy and compliments the chicken both is taste and texture. Stop in to their Clintonville location and see what all of the fuss is about.
WHO TO TAKE: Take a break from shopping and grab a quick bite with your significant other.
OVER THE COUNTER
Opened in 2017, OVER THE COUNTER was an instant hit in the Worthington Community. OTC serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch and is reminiscent of a family-friendly Press Grille. That was flattery, in case you were confused.
OTC has an impressive beer selection, friendly service and some of the best onion rings in town.
On our last visit, Megan and I met friends for brunch, and I ordered the chicken and waffles. Money well spent.
WHO TO TAKE: Pack up the family for a late lunch or early dinner. You will get a great product at a quality price, and the kids can choose from burgers, hot dogs, sloppy Joes, chicken tenders, quesadillas, fries and onion rings. Also, order some pretzel bites for the table.
iTaco doesn’t have a website, but don’t let that distract you from what is easily the highest quality and freshest assembly line Mexican food in Ohio.
Very much in the same vein of Chipotle (but without the rotovirus), iTaco is located in the Northland neighborhood (4362 Karl Road) across from Clinton Estates (my old neighborhood, REPRESENT!).
The above photo is the delicious and robust carne asada/bacon burrito. Full of flavor, tender adada and crunchy bacon, this burrito also contained guacamole, beans, peppers, onions and three different salsas.
Megan has more dignity and ordered bigger-than-they-appear tacos, which she could not finish due to size.
Although not thrilled with the corn tortillas, Megan couldn’t deny the freshness (did I mention the fresh ingredients?) of the high quality ingredients and the tenderness of the chicken, pork and steak.
WHO TO TAKE: The family of course – maybe even your Trump uncle as he will forget about that wall after eating here!
In addition to being better than Chipotle in EVERY manner possible, iTaco is also slightly less expensive AND has a drive-thru window! Do your budget a favor and take your kids to Northland during holiday break.
HUONG VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT
Let’s stick to Northland and warm up with the biggest bowl of Pho in Columbus.
Huong Vietnamese Restaurant is your gateway to the Ethnic Food Alley that occupies Morse Road. Opened in 2005, Huong serves delicious Pho, Bahn Mi and other assorted rice and noodle dishes. The interior is small and comfy and 1980s MTV is always on a loop on the television AND speakers.
Don’t leave without trying the Spring Rolls. Crisp, refreshing and full of shrimp, these are a bargain at a low price. Your order may take a minute to arrive at your table, but the reasons are twofold:
- The place is busy. Chill.
- Quality takes time; this isn’t Panda Express.
WHO TO TAKE: Huong is a great place to take the in-laws. The food, again, is superior quality, you get a legitimate ethnic experience and your dollar goes a long way.
*Random Columbus Food Trivia: Huong is housed in the original location of Trattoria Roma, where I was once an awful server.
Named after the soft, warm and delicious bread that accompanies many of its entrees, Lavash is terrific casual Mediterranean dining located in south Clintonville. Hummus, shawarma and falafel are all hits, but don’t forget about the kabobs or specials.
On our recent visit, I chose Mansef – the Lamb Shank special. The lamb was tender and juicy and served with fluffy rice, red onions and a yogurt sauce.
Megan chose a more traditional gyro, which ironically turned out to be a non-traditional gyro (at least to Americans) as it resembled more of a wrap and was not served on falafel.
Also, I would feel like a terrible person if I steered you away from the dessert case. EVERYTHING in the case is delicious, but the baklava is the star of the show. If you are tasked with bringing dessert to a Holiday party, you could do MUCH worse than an assorted box of desserts from this case.
WHO TO TAKE: This is another great destination for the in-laws. The service is quick and friendly, and the environment is casual.
HOUND DOG’S 3 DEGREE PIZZA
All. Hail. The. King.
Located in the Old North, Hound Dog’s 3 Degree Pizza has been serving pizza to students from THE Ohio State University, Washington Beach Hipsters and Clintonville families for roughly 20 years.
Any pizza on the menu is great, but make sure to crank it up to excellent by ordering yours with Smokin’ Joes garlic butter crust and Spicy Sauce. This winning combination also means you get your pizza cut into triangle slices … as God intended.
Hound Dog’s is also adjacent to the Ravari Room, and both share the best happy hour in town – a large pizza with up to three toppings and a pitcher of beer for $20.
WHO TO TAKE: Pack up the kids, meet your friends and have a good time, which is exactly what my friends Kyle and Chrissie did when they met Megan and I for the last meal of my 30s.
HARVEST BAR + KITCHEN
More Clintonville. More delicious pizza. The best fried chicken special in town.
Surprisingly, or not if you know owner Chris Crader (Curio, The Sycamore and Cosecha Cocina), Harvest Pizzeria has an amazing weekend Chicken and Biscuits special that rivals their delicious wood-fired pizza.
The fried chicken is light with a spicy batter, served over hot and fluffy biscuits, topped with honey and accompanied by warm, sweet hush puppies. Holy smokes, I need a cigarette!
WHO TO TAKE: Sneak out of the house with you significant other for a quick dinner while the grandparents babysit. Get a pizza, burger or nightly special and ask the waitstaff to pair it with any of Harvest’s hand-made cocktails. Dynamite.
THE WHITNEY HOUSE
Located in downtown Worthington, The Whitney House is upscale but not pretentious, has mouth-watering specials and is the brainchild of life-long Worthington resident Ian Brown.
Reservations are recommended, especially on Sunday because of the Fried Chicken special. Yeah, I know I just mentioned Fried Chicken specials back-to-back, but this is America. If you don’t love it, leave it.
The Whitney House serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch and is one of the best Central Ohio restaurants to open in recent years. Whether hungry for pasta, seafood or steak, The Whitney House has you covered.
There you have it … eight different places in Columbus’ North End to eat during the holidays. You really can’t go wrong at any of them, and you are supporting some great people and communities along the way.
Also, remember your bartenders and waitstaff this holiday season. These heroes are overworked and surrounded by customers who don’t usually go out (except for the holidays), and don’t know how to tip.
As always, THANK YOU for reading and please subscribe and/or leave a comment!