Banana Leaf fills its dining room with platefuls of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free Indian meals cooked with fresh spices ground in-house. The juices from 16 curry dishes and seven rice specialties can be mopped from the plate with 10 different Indian breads and washed down with lassi drinks. Banana Leaf?s catering services, which serve small gatherings to weddings with more than 1,000 guests, both please party hosts and literally sustain festive homemakers stuck in a web of their own decorations.
Explorers Club's cozy, 100-year-old brick exterior lends a deceptively comfortable face to the restaurant's constantly experimenting kitchen. Owner Tracy Studer and Chef Dan Varga—both veterans of the late Harold Smith's Gloria Café—root their eatery's fare in playfully updated Latin American food such as chorizo sliders and plantain-topped burgers. Yet, Varga constantly flexes his culinary muscles with unusual menu additions such as his chili-citrus-flavored vegetable lo mein. Monthly menus jet around the globe—614 Magazine notes that after deciding on "a country or cuisine, [Varga] spends months researching the ingredients, history, and flavor profiles, and then experimenting in the kitchen," turning out tributes to Germany, Spain, and his ancestral Hungary. An impressive range of vegan and vegetarian options makes use of soy-based tempeh and tofu, catering to animal-loving humans and self-hating venus flytraps.
In the midst of invigorating cappuccino-colored walls, bold original artwork, and mirrors filled with smiling reflections, Phia Salon, an Aveda Lifestyle Salon, infuses hairs and pores with pure flower essences and plant-based botanical products. Four levels of talent are available to tackle every service, from an extensive list of cut and color services to hair extensions, waxing, and skin care. Each of their cut and color services is accompanied by a stress-relieving sensory experience that ranges from a mini facial to a soothing hand-and-arm massage.
Phia Salon extends Aveda's commitment to natural products and the environment to its own salon with eco-friendly business practices, such as constantly monitoring and recycling waste and using phosphate-free soaps. The salon’s cork floors are sustainably harvested and surrounded by eco-friendly paint on the walls, and the organic milk used in coffee and tea comes from local, grass-fed cattle who carpool to work.
At Knead—named Best New Restaurant 2010 by Columbus Monthly—the cooks toss salads with lettuce just plucked from the ground and fry eggs straight from the farm. Valuing farm-fresh ingredients, husband-and-wife team Krista and Chef Rick Lopez based their diner-style eatery's menu on ingredients available in Ohio. Rick and his team rotate in selections of sandwiches depending on the ingredients available from their area suppliers, which include local and specialty farmers and vendors and the nearby North Market. Year-round offerings include Grandwiches, which are embraced by house-baked bread and stuffed with locally procured morsels, such as pork shoulder and ham in the Cuban-OH and hormone-free beef and house-cured bacon in the KneaDaBurger.
The restaurant's commitment to local ingredients extends to its specialty drinks and desserts, all of which are made in-house. The sweet selections include oatmeal cream pie—made with from-scratch oatmeal cookies—and cork-size double-chocolate brownie bites, which give nibblers a sugar rush just long enough to say "cork-size double-chocolate brownie bites" three times fast.
Inside Solay Bistro, which USA Today noted for its "fragrant lentils and Somali-style bread pudding," chef Nadira Abdirahman crafts African and Mediterranean cuisine from entirely organic ingredients. The vegan-certified culinary expert whips up veggie and vegan options such as the Luna burger veggie patty topped with avocado, slow-cooked lentils, and sautéed cauliflower and cashew paste. For meat eaters, she creates flavorful heaps of Indian-style chicken curry and beef stew with meat marinated in house herbs. Nadira also makes five smoothies using ingredients such as dates, kale, and mango pulp, and supplies mango and grapefruit juice for those unable to grow an orchard inside their own stomach.
Columbus' Short North District is a hotbed of cultural activity, speckled with art galleries and performance venues. No exception to this, Philco Bar + Diner's fresh and modern take on classic diner food is complemented by a contemporary decor including warm colors, large comfortable booths, and stainless steel accents. Conceived by the same restauranteurs behind Rossi Bar + Kitchen, locally-sourced ingredients are used to create unique menu items such as coney dogs, BBQ duck wings, and all-day breakfast items such as steak and eggs with a bloody mary aioli. The menu also features some unexpected dessert items, namely hush puppies drizzled in maple syrup and powdered sugar. All of these pair nicely with a glass of craft beer on tap, or a selection from Philco's curated wine list.