As an 8-year-old boy growing up in Greece, Yanni Chalkias first sunk his teeth into the food industry while helping his father with his spice business. Once the family moved to the United States, Chalkias worked at his father and uncles' restaurants throughout the '80s, picking up Greek family recipes through hard-learned personal experience, rather than the traditional method of stealing Zeus's cookbook from Mount Olympus.
In 1991, Chalkias started his own establishment, King Gyros Greek Restaurant, to serve his own spin on traditional family recipes, including his housemade chicken lemon soup. Skewers of grilled filet mignon tips pair with gyro sauce in the souvlaki, and a mélange of Attic flavors blend in the greek bowls, such as gyro meat, feta, and saffron rice. Recently renovated, King Gyros now sports a large dining room as well as a covered front patio that protects diners from rain, blazing heat, and paparazzi on eagle-back.
The Mad Greek provides delicious portions of fresh, homemade Mediterranean cuisine and a vast array of authentic Greek beer and wine. A large dinner menu showcases the delectable comestibles. Classic pita sandwiches include the souvlaki, which unites marinated pork with lettuce, tomato, red onions, and banana peppers in garlic sauce ($5.99), and the traditional, garlic-sauced gyro (regular $5.50, large $6.50). Rather than focus on the century-old customs of philosopher wrestling or toga tie-dying, the Greek-traditions portion of the menu offers singular twists on culinary standards, such as the mousaka ($11.50) and the lamb-chop-anchored mixed grill, which also features chicken breast, rice pilaf, and veggies ($15.99). The vegetarian Mediterranean comingles hummus, falafel, eggplant salad, and tabouli for herbivorous access to Greek cuisine’s greatest hits ($9.99).
As a fourth-generation owner of Johnson's Real Ice Cream, Matt Wilcoxon is proud to distribute ice-cream flavors to 200 restaurants, help mastermind flavors with local companies, and avoid being locked in the ice-cream freezer again. Back when he was 12 and cleaning tables, “I was the one [the employees] always picked on,” he recalls. On a particularly creative night, the teenage staff hosed him down and shut him in the freezer. “I find it funny now,” Matt says chuckling.
Despite a trial-by-fire beginning, Matt knew during college that he wanted to run the family business. “We’re kind of Columbus’ original homemade ice cream,” he says, which is the impetus for Johnson’s current project. Matt and other local companies are “developing three new flavors…as a Columbus local collection” to focus on area flavors that Columbus knows and loves.
At the store—still in its original 1950s location—diners snack on classic and innovative flavors such as caramel cream, chocolate marshmallow, and Buckeye fever. An expansive outdoor patio welcomes diners with 50 seats, and bands croon sweet tunes in temperate weather.
Indulge yourself or others with gourmet brownie options such as this season's caramel apple fudge or peanut butter caramel fudge ($3.25 each), each decidedly more delectable than equally seasonal dried-leaf granola squares. New breakfast additions include cinnamon streusel and cappuccino pecan ($3.25 each), and standbys such as chocolate fudge and fudgy cookie ($3.25 each) give fans of the classics something to chew about.
Bexley Pizza Plus's disks of daily-made dough are smothered with a blend of 100% mozzarella and provolone cheese and its signature sauce, all of which helped earn the title of third place for best traditional pizza at the 2011 International Pizza Challenge. The expansive menu is home to specialty red pizzas, such as the supreme ($9.05–$22.45), a plethora of pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage, green peppers, onions, and extra cheese ideal for sharing or covering up trapdoors in the living room. The sub menu includes the meatball ($5.80), emerging from the hot oven on a bready chassis propelled with beef wheels and fueled by homemade red sauce, provolone cheese, and spices. Veggie-veering appetites enjoy salads such as the greek, an Olympian assembly of romaine lettuce, feta, green olives, and roma tomatoes that can bench its own weight in dressing ($5.40). An assortment of carbonated beverages escorts oven-baked morsels to gastrointestinal glory.
W.G. Grinders puts hearty oven-baked sandwiches, hot pizzas, and crispy salads into on-the-go hands, mouths, and bellies. For the lightest level of W.G. Hunger, sink your fork into a signature salad ($5.99), including the meaty original Italian, chock-full chef, tangy buffalo chicken, and aptly located Southwest chicken salad. If flat topography eases your fear of toppling off a mound of greens, choose the single-topping 12-inch personal pizza ($7.99), which spreads sauce and sprinkles cheese over a thin crust and includes your choice of bacon, ham, sausage, green peppers, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, or banana peppers. For some Italian flair wrapped in Italian dough, grab a stromboli ($5.99). Your meal also includes a side—choose from chips ($1), side salad ($2), or deli salad ($2–$2.50)—and a 22 oz. fountain drink ($1.49).
Temptations' accomplished founders and chefs are striving to create the first national Indian food chain in an effort to make fresh, all-natural Indian fare accessible everywhere in the country. The chefs prepare vegan and vegetarian options nightly, such as the bhindi dopiaza's tomato-smattered okra, and clay ovens churn out grilled dishes, such as murg tikka masala or tandoori chicken. Temptations also fills environmentally friendly boxes with portions of its food on college campuses, and the chefs spread their knowledge of Indian cuisine in cooking classes.
Sunlight streaks through large windows in Temptations' dining room as diners scarf down healthy Indian feasts beneath exposed-ductwork ceilings and soft orange lights. Live music fills the air on weekend nights, with sitars, world music, and kazoo symphonies typifying the sounds. Belly dancers have been known to take to the floors as well, captivating patrons with their hypnotizing hip undulations.