When the owners of New Harvest Cafe started putting together their menu of spicy soul-food dishes, they knew one thing: you can’t serve these spicy dishes in a bland atmosphere. So they followed their instincts and created a colorful setting filled with the sounds of live jazz music that mingles with the zesty scents that waft from their signature dishes. Though guests might come for the Saturday-night jazz series, it can be hard to resist ordering food when plates filled with gravy-smothered chicken, turkey meatloaf, and garlic-sautéed shrimp are carried by. To add to the olfactory splendor, each entree comes paired with a duo of sides, which include soul-food staples such as collard greens, mac ‘n’ cheese, sweet corn, or a simple salad.
Just as Thomas Edison stumbled through useless prototypes of light bulbs and movie cameras before perfecting the phonograph, the alchemists at Qdoba Mexican Grill took 47 attempts before landing on the franchise's signature blend of three cheeses, known simply as queso. That attention to detail still pervades every aspect of the menu, as employees spend hours each day chopping, dicing, and simmering the fresh ingredients that find their way into burritos, taco salads, and grilled quesadillas. Beyond the marinated bites of chicken, beef, and pork and hand-crafted tortillas, cooks protect their ripe, fragile avocados from harm by smashing them into batches of fluffy guacamole.
For as long as many local Columbus residents can remember, the Knotty Pine has buzzed with the clinking of glasses and chatter of friends. The pub has been in business since 1933, when Biase Ciccone first transformed the west half of his grocery store into a taproom. Since then, generations of bar-goers have perched upon the knotty pinewood booths, sipping on frosty brews and feasting on hearty burgers, juicy steaks, and pub favorites. The pub’s staff strives to maintain a relaxed atmosphere, taking time to make conversation with newcomers and politely requesting that guests leave scary clown costumes outside. When discussing the pub’s friendly, neighborhood vibe with reporters from Columbus Alive, one bartender explained, “We have college students, families, businesspeople and construction workers. People come here knowing they’re going to see a friendly face.”
Entertainment is everywhere you turn at 14 Twenty Bar & Grill. High-definition TVs line the walls behind the taps at the bar. Cues click across three pool tables. A jukebox rolls through more than 20,000 jams. A 10-foot projection screen graces the brick-lined patio, hosting sports events as well as the occasional movie night.
Even in the midst of so many stimuli, the menu still manages to command attention with bold flavors and the occasional dash of gleeful excess. French fries come in 1-pound increments, seasoned with cheese, Old Bay, or buffalo sauce and weighed down with toppings such as sausage, bacon, and banana peppers. Southwestern influences work their way into wings’ dry spice rubs, including the popular Arizona Dreaming blend; the Howell burger stacks its patties three high under a blanket of pepper jack and jalapeños, like cakes at the strongest man in Texas' birthday party. It's all packed into an under-the-radar space on a winding residential road adjoining the Ohio State University campus, letting customers feel as if 14 Twenty is their own secret discovery.
At Beautiful by TashaLynn, proprietor Natasha Cantley swaps out split ends for modern, face-flattering shapes. The stylist, who’s trained in the high-end haircare ways of Paul Mitchell, stays true to her roots by using Paul Mitchell products and tools. She paints strands with highlights and lowlights, revives dulling hues with single-process color, and add pops of brightness and texture with individual feather extensions that are proven safer than firecrackers braided into pigtails.
Dough flips through the air, releasing a cumulonimbus of flour as it lands softly in the hands of chef David Zadnik, who crafts the crucial ingredient each day with help from local ingredients and family recipes. The heritage of the eatery doesn’t just shine through in culinary formulas; the walls at both locations shimmer with old family photos from David's basement and glossy sports memorabilia. Strains of Frank Sinatra spread out smoothly behind conversations in dining rooms dappled with warm wood accents, occasionally spilling out to an outdoor patio or across the Westerville location's outdoor bocce-ball court. Guests sit down for pastas, sandwiches, and suds from Great Lakes Brewery and Peroni, often unaware that these tables held a victory dinner for pugilist Buster Douglas when he returned from defeating Mike Tyson in Japan, but before he picked up his victory dry cleaning.
Guests at Royal Ginger Asian Fusion Bistro can select from a staggering variety of flavorful meat- and seafood-laden dishes on the restaurant's sprawling menu. Diners can dive through reefs of egg rolls to spear a steamed or pan-roasted Chilean sea bass ($20.99) or cut up grilled filet mignon and shrimp ($22.99) into pieces small enough to inhale. The japanese eggplant garlic sauce or thai red curry sauce can be paired with meat ($13.99) or prawns ($16.99), or it can be easily veganized with tofu ($13.99) at the swoosh of a magic fennel wand.