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Sandwiches Around the Statehouse: Cafe Brioso

Cafe Brioso's storefront: the sign points to good things inside
If you are familiar with Cafe Brioso only as a coffee house, this may seem like a bit of an odd header under which to place them. However, this header really shows how diversified this place really is.

Of course, the main calling card for Brioso is its excellent coffee. If you come through the entrance off High Street, the first thing you will probably notice is the buckets of freshly roasted beans off to the left; a quick glance behind will give you a view of the area that houses their roasting equipment and other ancillaries (e.g. their pour-over coffee station.) Numerous restaurants around the Columbus metro area feature Cafe Brioso coffee on their menus.

Breakfast gives the customer several options: for those with modest appetites, freshly-baked scones are available. Those who want something a little more filling can opt for their freshly-baked muffins or the excellent bagels from local bagel maker Sammy's New York Bagels. Other baked goods available for customers include cookies, croissants and, every now and again, pie (and who can argue with pie?) Generally, I've found all their baked goods rating in the good category.

And then there are the sandwiches, which are available in half-order ($4 - $5) or full-order ($6 - $7) sizes. These sandwiches aren't the best or necessarily the largest in the downtown area, but their homemade nature makes them reliably tasty for me. Their tuna salad or fresh mozzarella (or, when available, their special Lily's egg salad) are my standard go-to orders here. Brioso also earns bonus brownie points for the use of wonderful bread of local institution Dan The Baker in their sandwiches. Customers also can choose from a select list of salads; soups can be ordered separately or specially-added to your sandwich or salad order.

We could end it with the food, but that would neglect the atmosphere. Out of all the places I have been to in the Columbus area so far, Cafe Brioso reminds me the most of a place would fit right into San Francisco's coffee scene without any undue notice.

However, no coffee shop I was familiar with there quite matches Brioso's mix of working-class (both white- and blue-collar) hangout; bicyclist-friendly atmosphere; community participation (as exampled in the Pinchflat poster art show and Moonlight Market, where pop-up restaurants from the previously mentioned Dan the Baker and Kolache Republic find a home) and small business support (The Flying Gent Mercantile, which advertises itself as "the only Central Ohio destination for original, classic, and exclusive men's goods from around the world," can be found inside Brioso's shop.)

No, Cafe Brioso is Columbus' own and proud of that aspect. This pride also extends to their coffee as well as their part in the overall local coffee scene that has blossomed since I have been here. It's not surprising that Brioso has emerged as one of the primary destination spots in the downtown area, if not the city as a whole.

2019 Update: Brioso Coffee has opened up a second roastery on Long Street focusing on their roasted coffee beans and coffee drinks. For more information, check out their main website at the link below.

Cafe Brioso
14 E. Gay Street (Downtown - Google Maps)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 228-8366
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