Two of the Old Guard: Michael's Goody Boy Diner/Chef-O-Nette

Considered the oldest restaurant in Columbus proper, Ringside Cafe has
been serving its burgers and other eats in Pearl Alley since 1897
I've grown fond of history as I've gotten older, with much of that sparked by my move to Columbus and my curiosity about how this area evolved over time. Being a food blogger, that quest to learn a history behind a place has extended to the restaurants and similar destinations I have both visited and written about.

Columbus itself has a fair number of historic restaurants, with two restaurants reaching back to 1900 or before in German Village's Hey Hey Bar & Grill (1900) and the downtown-located Ringside Cafe (1897.)  With that said, even the more recent vintage eateries can be a fun trip back in time, and in two consecutive weekends, we randomly dropped by eateries which have roots to the decade proceeding World War II in Michael's Goody Boy Diner and Chef-O-Nette.

Three of a Perfect Fare: Luck Bros. Coffee

If one takes out a marker to a map, one will see it’s not too hard to divide up Columbus underrated local and Ohio-based coffee riches into compact threesomes. In Downtown alone, there are three such easy-to-roam-among shop triplets available (Winan’s, Red Velvet Cafe & Hemingway's Coffee Nook; Cup O Joe, One Line Coffee Huntington Center, and the original Cafe Brioso; and Stauf’s View on Grant, Roosevelt Coffeehouse, and Brioso Roastery.)
The residents in and close to Grandview Heights also have a similar three-fer option. Two such places are basically just down the block from each other and the subjects of prior blog posts in Grandview Grind and the flagship Stauf’s.

The other is a nice brisk walk down Grandview and a left on 1st Avenue, but more than doable if you’re in any decent physical shape (I’ve done it myself.) This other destination, Luck Bros Coffee House, is also a bit of a surprise in that I’ve never blogged about them before despite numerous visits prior, and I figured it was time to fix that oversight.

Fast Food Reckoning: White Castle

My first exposure to White Castle anything was the 2004 cult classic movie
"Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" starring John Cho and Kal Penn
While I'm not all that into fast food anymore compared to my younger days, my new surroundings here in Ohio made me realize that franchises that I grew up with such as Jack In The Box, In 'N Out Burger, and Carl's Jr. are now replaced by counterparts like Rally's, Skyline Chili and White Castle.  My initial thought was to simply ignore them at large, but sheer simple curiosity over time has made me wonder if these places would've earned a mostly fond place in my past fast food pantheon.

With that said, who goes first?  Two factors went into that, the first being a question that I posed to some friends and newly minted relatives about White Castle, the Columbus-based franchise that started in 1931 with a Wichita, Kansas location. They didn't think too much about the idea, unless I was itching for a date with indigestion or worse.

The second involved my first exposure to White Castle in the 2004 cult movie classic "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle." A recent showing of the movie on cable TV reminded me how truly whacked out the plot was, but it also reminded me of the level of love for this restaurant's iconic Slider, a burger deemed the country's "Most Influential" by Time Magazine.

So thus, the Castle it is for this post, the first of this long term look to figure out what might have made my fast food nostalgia list had they been available to me.

Food Truck Dossier: A Delicious Escape to the Cape

Big events like the Columbus Arts Festival aren't the only options for the many
Columbus food trucks (like The Cluckwagon and Schmidt's Sausage Truck) these days
As I mentioned in my previous food truck post rounding up some of my summer encounters, the combo of increased numbers of food trucks and increased numbers of places that host them within this city makes it tougher to even try all the menu items on a particular food truck.

That's not necessarily a bad thing - it is rare when any food entity does everything well, and with a food truck, you're usually pretty happy with two or three solid selections. Consider it a bonus when you find a food truck that does everything well; in those rare instances for us, we're more than happy to make trip out to where they're setup (Ajumama and their melding of Korean and Midwest comfort classics comes to mind.)

Then there are those rare trucks that feature something so novel and unique, you're willing to make the extra effort to check out what they have to offer and see how the dishes stack up.  This has definitely the case for me in regard to Hisham's, a newcomer to the Columbus scene.

Fond of Flora: The Franklin Park Conservatory

The Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, one of those
"For The Tourists" attractions I never considered visiting until later in my life
When I still lived in the Bay Area, there were several attractions that came under what I liked to call the "FTT" category, or "For The Tourists" category. Any number of things fell into this category, including but not exclusive to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, Cable Cars, Ghirardelli Square, and any number of restaurants. In fact, it wasn't until I began dating my wife long distance that I even thought about visiting "For The Tourist" places like Alcatraz Island or the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

As I found out, what falls under this category when it comes to Columbus is a more murky affair, as many of the places that are recommended to visitors to the city are actually places that are enjoyed by the locals. Even then, one attraction stuck out in my mind as falling into this category, and a combo of an unexpected day off plus the signs of fall and colder temperatures on the horizon proved perfect for a perfectly enjoyable time sampling what the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has to offer to the public.

Temple of the Dog: Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

Even the Swedish have learned the value of the venerable hot dog, offering
a dining enticement to those stop by the IKEA Columbus location
Growing up, I thought of hot dogs as something you got at baseball games or at picnics.  It wasn't until later in my life when I thought of it as a regular lunch/fast food option (via Der Weinerschnitzel or the Bay Area's Casper's Hot Dogs mini-chain), and even much later when I discovered of even larger sausages in a bread roll (Polish dogs? Uh, yes please.)

But when it comes down to it, I generally go simple with my hot dogs (mustard for sure, and onions and relish if available). When the mood strikes, the basic hot dog cart (Downtown Columbus sports its own regulars) works perfectly, and I'll always grab a dog whenever I get out to the ballpark.  Occasionally, though, I'll want a little bit of the wild and unpredictable, and that's where an original member of the Columbus Food League of restaurants comes in handy.

First Look: Fadó Pub & Kitchen (Dublin, Ohio)

The support tower of the planned pedestrian bridge from Old Dublin
dominates the skyline from Dublin's Bridge Park development.
When we moved away from northwest Columbus to our current house, the city of Dublin and its surroundings became a less frequent and familiar destination as the years have gone. That (lack of) familiarity made itself quite evident in our first ever visit this weekend to the city's Bridge Park.

Announced in 2012 and located on land that had long been in our mind mere grass and hills, the multi-story constructs that comprise this development were a bit of a mental jolt, as we wandered from residential and retail spaces with names we weren't familiar with (Hen Quarter, Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea, and REBoL) and were (Fukuryu Ramen, PINS Mechanical and Cap City Diner, among others.)

One of those names we were also familiar with was Fadó, though on a limited basis: I knew of Fadó Irish Pub in Easton but had never visited prior, while my spouse had a couple visits there before we were officially a thing. Thus, we were pretty excited to get an invite from the restaurant via the kind folks at Drink Up Columbus to sample their new pub and kitchen concept at Bridge Park.

Spheres of Influence: Bexley Coffee Shop

One of the more delicious spheres in the Columbus metro:
The Nibbler from the North Market's Destination Donuts

Who knew that a humble sphere could be so tasty?  Here in Columbus, we have numerous examples of this, from the Destination Donuts sublime Nibbler to Katalina's tremendously awesome Pancake Balls to the falafel of any number of Mediterranean places like Mazah, Lavash Cafe, and Little Lebanon. And with all the good things we have heard about the meatballs of Carfagna's, a visit over there sometime soon pretty much seems mandatory at this point.

Of course, we wouldn't mention spheres if this blogpost didn't have one as the point of focus, one that we finally got to sample in a cafe located on some of the less traveled roads of one of the tonier suburbs of the metro.

Ohio Pizza-politan Adventures: North High Pie and Rising

Ain't nothing wrong with a little char: the pies of Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza
help make the north part of North High Street a bit of a pizza destination 
If one remembers, what has become a more or less regular series of posts on this blog was inspired by the simple question of whether the little town of Worthington was, in terms of sheer numbers, the the pizza capital of Central Ohio. We never did find a definitive answer for that question due to a number of factors, but we did realize as the end of the year was coming that we really hadn't explored for anything new in this area in quite awhile.

We considered that fact as more than enough incentive to get back to this pizza-heavy corridor of the metro, as we dropped by two places less than a mile from each other on the northern reaches of High Street in the area between Old Beechwold and Worthington.