The Hidden Haunts of Hilliard

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There is no easy way to get to Hilliard. From anywhere. On the planet. In fact, due to Hilliard’s proximity to and distance from Worthington, my north end friends refer to Hilliard as ‘Indiana’. Jerks.

In the 30 months I lived in Hilliard, I have to say it grew on me. Everything is SUPER convenient and Hilliard has, to quote the opening theme to SOUTH PARK, ‘ample parking day or night and people shouting HOWDY NEIGHBOR’.

Also, Hilliard has a seriously underrated food scene. For real.

Let’s talk about that.

THE OLIVE TREE MEDITERRANEAN CAFE | 3185 Hilliard Rome Road

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I started with The Olive Tree because, simply put, it is the best restaurant in Hilliard. When I go, I get the Shakshuka -which is certainly not a soup, but also not a traditional fork and knife entree. As you can tell from the photo above, Shakshuka is poached eggs in a tomato sauce with onions and peppers. I added spicy sausage to mine and I have to say, this is without a doubt the best meal that I ate while living on the West Side.

Also, the service at Olive Branch is second to none. Corey, the GM, is a great guy and hooked Megan and I up with some incredible French Toast when he found out it was our first visit.

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Of course, being the Olive Tree being a Mediterranean restaurant, we had to try the hummus sampler. It was outstanding.

My only complaint is that the Olive Tree has ruined store bought hummus for me. There is no going back.

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If you have a picky eater in your group, no worries. The Olive Branch has you covered with a straight forward, but delicious gyro platter.

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Also, Olive Branch serves alcohol and their drinks are as delicious as their food. Olive Branch should be your next weekend brunch stop.

STARLINER DINER | 4121 Main Street

Starliner is perhaps Hilliard’s most famous and most eclectic eatery. In recent years, they moved out of their original building to a bigger and brighter space in downtown Hilliard. Don’t be alarmed though, the Cuban based menu stayed the same.

My go to is the Chili Lime wings.

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Spicy and with a hint of citrus, the wings at Starliner may be my favorite in the city.

Unfortunately, this is the only photo I found in my library, but I can attest to everything else on the menu being great. Are you in the mood for a breakfast burrito? Check. How about a Cuban sandwich? Done. Pizza? Outstanding. Shrimp pasta? Covered.

It is no surprise that Starliner consistently wins readers polls for best food/best neighborhood bar/best breakfast in all of the local media outlets. Do yourself a favor and try it.

GRANDDAD’S PIZZA AND PUB | 4093 Trueman Boulevard

Technically, this outstanding pizza pub may be located in Upper Arlington, but not the part of Upper Arlington that is claimed by their residents. That means it has to be good.

Want to hear a quick joke?

Q: How do you know someone is from Upper Arlington?

A: Don’t worry. They will let you know.

Man, that never gets old. Anyway, back to the pizza.

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Grandad’s is my favorite ‘Columbus Style’ pizza in town. The ingredients are always heaping, the sauce is a little sweet and the squares have just the right amount of cheese. I always pick the buffalo chicken. Speaking of chicken…

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Grandad’s has HUGE wings. I get traditional medium buffalo and Megan gets the BBQ. The wings never disappoint and you would be well served by ordering both types.

Also, Grandad’s has a great tap selection and is the perfect spot for watching the game or taking the family out to eat. I really miss this place, but make sure to get their Grandview location when visiting Byrne’s and their Northland location when visiting friends.

NASTY’S SPORTS BAR & RESTAURANT | 4561 Scioto Darby Road

Don’t let the name fool you, there is nothing nasty about Nasty’s. At its roots, Nasty’s is a sports bar with higher end bar food. Located around the corner from our house, Nasty’s was my go-to when Megan was out of town. I never ordered a food item I didn’t like and there are plenty of craft draft options.

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Nasty’s crowning food item is probably their burger, specifically the Hang Over Burger. Your cardiologist may not approve of the bacon, eggs and cheese – with a side of fries – but your taste buds will.

In the mood for lighter fare? Try the Nachos.

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You can get the nachos loaded with all kinds of goodies, but jalapenos, cheese, tomatoes and green onions always worked for me. Also, I would be reticent by not giving some love to Nasty’s Bloody Mary.

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Bacon, lime, olive and celery in a rich and slightly spicy homemade sauce. Nailed it.

 

LITTLE DONUT FACTORY | 4543 Scioto Darby Road

Before you stop at Nasty’s for the weekend Bloody Mary, hit up the neighboring Little Donut Factory. Locally owned and operated, LDF serves up delicious donut delights and it is not unusual for them to be sold out by 10 a.m.

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If the regularly featured donuts aren’t enough, LDF always has something good in the seasonal selection.

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Great donuts and great coffee coupled with owners who are active in the Hilliard Schools Community make LDF a must have.

SANTIAGO SUPERMARKET | 5431 Roberts Road

Located in the back of Santiago Supermarket is a hidden Mexican restaurant serving some of the best and most authentic mexican in the 614.

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These photos aren’t great, but the flavor and food quality is. My choice was always the Asada with a side of Pico de Gallo and Guacamole. I usually got my food to go. If you choose to dine in, be warned that there is no alcohol served at Santiago, BUT you can get an ice cold bottle of Mexican Coca Cola, so Santiago has that going for it, which is nice.

SUBMARINE HOUSE | 2459 Hilliard Rome Road

This Dayton based mini chain has a great draft selection, awesome service, outstanding pizza and…wait for it…pretty damn good subs.

Unfortunately, I have no photos of The Pistol. The Pistol was my sub of choice and comes with pepperoni, sausage, provolone and swiss cheeses, mushrooms, banana peppers and tomatoes. This was all topped with a spicy marinara sauce. The Submarine House doesn’t screw around with their subs.

I did manage to get a photo of my favorite Submarine House Pizza: The Italian Cheese Steak pizza, which is basically The Pistol on a pizza with green peppers subbed for banana peppers.

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The toppings are great, the marinara is spicy and hot and the price is right, but the real star is the crust. The crust has the perfect amount of crunch, almost like biting into a cracker, but only thicker. WAY thicker.

HABANEROS FRESH MEXICAN GRILL |3650 Main Street

Did you ever wish you could go to a fast casual taco place and get a drink? Did you ever wish that you had a local alternative to Chipotle? Do you ever want to go to a friendly bar and just enjoy a margarita and an awesome chip and dip trio? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, get to Habaneros.

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The above photo captures the creamy guacamole and sweet pico de gallo. Only later did I find out the queso is just as impressive. Oh yeah…the margarita packs a PUNCH!

The tacos aren’t too shabby either.

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I always went with the chicken, asada and shrimp trio and was never disappointed. You and your significant other can split the chips and salsa trio, each have a margarita (or any other drink) and each have 3 tacos for around $30. Vamanos Habaneros!

BEER BARREL PIZZA AND GRILL | 2500 Roberts Road

Maybe its the fact that I was raised in Northwest Ohio, but I LOVE ME SOME BEER BARREL. Based out of Lima, Beer Barrel serves it’s pizza in squares (not rectangles) on a medium crust with sweet sauce and has the cheese added last. You know, Northwest Ohio style, or more appropriately: the way God intended.

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Look at that abundance of slightly singed cheese. Man oh man, you need to get the Supreme – pepperoni, sausage, green pepper, mushroom and onions. While you are at it, get some wings too.

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I am a traditionalist and pretty much always get naked medium buffalo. However, Beer Barrel’s medium buffalo sauce is so buttery and rich that you may need to get an extra side of the sauce to dip your pizza in. Don’t judge me.

Beer Barrel also has recently opened an Easton location and many of their stores have a drive through so you can pick up a few Miller Lites to go along with your grub, all without leaving the comfort of your vehicle. USA, USA, USA!!!

OLYMPIC DINER | 5454 Roberts Road

It’s hard to go wrong with a Greek diner where the waitresses all know your name and your order. While I didn’t quite get to that point, it always seemed like most of the regulars had.

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Pictured above is the Buckeye Omelette, which is a HUGE three egg omelette with sausage, bacon, ham, mushrooms and green peppers. It is served with a mountain of hot and crispy home fries and toast. All of this is only $9.99. You are welcome.

LOUIE’S GRILL | 4453 Cemetery Road

A fusion grill consisting of Tex-Mex, Cuban and Asian fare may seem like a gimmick, but at Louie’s, that notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Although I was only at Louie’s a few times, I never walked away hungry or unimpressed.

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The Brisket Burrito is featured above and certainly is no gimmick. The brisket was hot and juicy and topped with cheese and guacamole which all were wrapped in a hot and airy tortilla and accompanied by beans and rice. SCORE.

ANYTHING you order on the menu will be exciting and almost guaranteed to be new to you. Louie’s is truly a hidden gem.

LEGACY SMOKEHOUSE | 3987 Main Street

Located in quaint and cozy downtown Hilliard, Legacy’s most recent expansion hasn’t lost any of its original quality.

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Yeah – it’s always time for a Pork Haystack, which consists of double mac and cheese, topped with pork (or brisket) and topped with Fritos. I choose the creamy cole slaw as my side and ordered a fresh sausage link as it was JUST out of the smoker. If you are on the west side and looking for some BBQ, this is the place for you.

NO. 1 GYRO SHOPPE

I am going to end this entry with two options. One is healthy and one isn’t.

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Let’s start with the healthy. The Chicken Greek Salad at No. 1 Gyro Shoppe is second to none. Fresh and juicy vegetables, a hearty dressing, fresh falafel and hot off the grill chicken round out this cost friendly and tasty lunch option.

No. 1 Gyro Shoppe is part of the Greek Express family. As part of my regular job, I drive all around Columbus to different schools. The Greek Express restaurants are ALWAYS clean and quickly serve high quality, fresh Greek fare.

SLOOPY’S PUB HILLIARD | 5488 Roberts Road

Here is the unhealthy, but fun part of the show.

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Sloopy’s is a hidden away haunt located in between a laundry mat and a vape shop. In other words, it is perfect. The combo featured above – an ice cold bottle of Miller Lite with a Bulleit on the rocks. This combo was never more than $4. It’s probably a good thing that I moved.

So there you have it, a guide to some great places in Hilliard. If you are familiar with them, you are already a fan. If you aren’t familiar with them and decide to travel to Indiana, you will agree the trip was worth it.

 

 

 

 

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