Shopping, Dining and Nightlife in Columbus Ohio

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to think about gift giving.  I was in Columbus Ohio last month, and got a jump on  my gift buying! Columbus has an amazing collection of shops! This is Part 2, in a series.

Take my advice, start your day on a full tummy.  And I have 2 words for you;  NORTH  MARKET


Butchers, bakers and candy makers. Fishmongers, greengrocers and restaurateurs. They grow, catch, find, make, produce, distribute, cook, create and invent!!

Columbus’ only public market and an incubator for small businesses. This is the place to shop, eat, mingle and people-watch.

The North Market is home to dozens of unique, independent merchants and farmers who deliver personal and personable service every day of the week. Have breakfast or lunch and start your day of shopping. From Crepes to Lasagna, fresh breads to fresh  meats,  Gyros to fine pastries, there is something here for everyones palate. Over 35 booths.

BOOKSThe Book Loft of German Village (pictured below)  is a city-block long store, located at 631 South Third Street. Books are always good gifts for just about anyone on your list. The  ultimate, old-fashioned bookshop experience: strolling down German Village brick pathways, gazing through windows the likeness of a Charles Dickens era, and then losing yourself within the 32 room labyrinth of ALL NEW books for every age and interest.  You can spend a day here!  You have never seen anything like this store, I can assure you! LOTS of coupons online.  So browse their site, before you get to the store.

 Flower Child   has been keeping Columbus (and Cleveland)  cool with great 20th century gear, including items from the 1930’s up to the 1980’s. Around every corner is more great vintage, hand selected and displayed as it would have been when originally sold. They are a true vintage department store and museum. From funky furniture, art, and housewares, to the clothes and accessories that match, Flower Child transforms vintage shopping into a time traveling experience! This is place is jam packed with treasures at all price points.  989 N. High street.

Who doesn’t love the gift of chocolate?
le Chocoholique, 601 N. High street.  Artisan chocolates in every shape, size and flavor.  Chipotle Cherry, Bacon Toffee, Coconut Curry and Bananas Foster – it’s all here!  Chocolate is their passion!  Perfect for gift giving. Online ordering coming soon!

There is a great body care line called Le Chateau Du Bois – made with fine Lavender from Provence.  CATERINA  LTD, 571 S. Third, is the ONLY PLACE IN THE US that stocks it! This is the BEST lavender products I have ever tried. Caterina Ltd. imports housewares from all over Europe. Our mission: bring to market at affordable prices functional works of art of enduring quality. Made with time-honored techniques by true artisans, our Italian hand-painted maiolica ceramics, French woven and printed table linens, lavender body care, furniture and other offerings are hard to find elsewhere. Shop online!

Need some new duds?  Jeans, shirts underwear and more at TORSO. This Columbus gay clothing institution has been around for years.  772 N. High St.  Hundreds of brands and styles. Even  online shopping, if you can’t make it by the store.

There is so much shopping in Columbus that is special and unique. POSH Pet stuff, fresh baked foods, cool art things for the home, and shopping till you drop. We can not possibly cover it all here. Looking for something particular?  Check out the Experience Columbus site.

……After all that shopping, how about Martinis with the gays?  HYDE PARK PRIME STEAK HOUSE is voted one of the top steak houses in America.  Massive and elegant dining rooms, plus small intimate dining rooms that attract celebrities. But on Fridays nights after work, the bar area and patio become a mix and mingle gay bar for the hip crowd.

Great Drinks, Great Food, Great People, Great Fun! It’s a great place to meet friends for cocktails before dinner or the perfect after work happy hour spot. Famous $4  martinis!    Enjoy some of the Chef’s small plate creations from the bar menu, which features everything from mini-kobe beef burgers to Russian caviar. The Bar at Hyde Park boasts an offering of 40+ wines by the glass, extensive martini lists.  569 North High Street.  (pictured below).

Then perhaps dinner at  Barcelona. Tucked away in historic German Village – 263 East Whittier Street, an authentic global dining experience awaits. Inspired by seaside sangria and a walk on the Ramblas, Barcelona is a culinary fusion of metropolitan chic & Old World European charm. The patio was BEST PATIO 2011! TOP 10 Best Restaurant and Most Romantic Award as well!  Gorgeous!!  – “I am extremely proud that Barcelona has become one of the premier restaurants in Columbus. Barcelona is continuously growing and evolving and has so much to offer you, my valued guests. None of this would be possible if it were not for the very talented managers and staff that I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by every day. They are the true reason Barcelona is so successful. ”  says  owner  Scott Heimlich.

Lots of amazing food  here. But one of the most unique things we had was the Iberico de Bellota ‘Fermin’ –  one of the culinary world’s most exquisite products. This “royal ham” comes from the acorn fed black-footed pig that roams the Dehesa; a wooded mountain range in Western Spain. This ham, produced by the Fermin company, is sea-salt cured and aged for at least three years! It is like the pork equivalent of fine Kobe beef. The ham is $200 a pound!  AMAZING! Average entree is  $20-$30.

or  Union  Bar +  Food for something a little more laid back.  This former video bar has moved and is refocusing on food & cocktails. 782 N. High St. –  Union  is located in the heart of the Short North Arts District. Union Cafe is one of Columbus’ most popular neighborhood cafes and cocktail lounges, serving our community since 1996.With an amazing patio, friendly staff, mind bending martini menu and Modern American Cuisine served at popular prices, Union Cafe is affordable and welcoming. Come dressed as you are for a laid back yet sophisticated experience. Lots of specials and happy hours – check out their site!

If you choose to go out  SATURDAY  as well – hopefully you can catch the gallery hop.

Short North Gallery Hop

Presented by Short North Business Association

The first Saturday of every month, thousands of visitors converge on the strip, the epicenter of the High Street Experience. They come to celebrate art and partake in an evening of sights, sounds, food, shopping, and cosmopolitan fun.
The district is very gay-friendly and many of the establishments are gay-owned.

Countless art experiences. District specials. Prize drawings. Ramped up entertainment. Unexpected surprises. Lots of fun and  an unforgettable experience. 4-10pm. FREE.

SWEET TOOTH?   All dessert tour of Columbus

Presented by Columbus Food Adventures

This van-based tour featuring some of the best desserts in Columbus. This tour will start at the acclaimed Pistacia Vera in German Village, visit the new Sugardaddy’s downtown location to sample some of their sumptuous brownies and blondies, and then head north to the Pattycake bakery in Clintonville. Of course no dessert tour of Columbus would be complete without Jeni’s splendid ice cream, so we will visit their new Clintonville location to try some of their newest seasonal flavors. Finally, we’ll finish our tour with a fabulous dessert cocktail created by mixologist extraordinaire Cris Dehlavi at M Restaurant (there will be a non-alcoholic drink option available for those under 21 or who do not wish to consume alcohol). Please purchase tickets in advance.

The tour starts at Pistacia Vera  desert boutique at 2.30pm on alternate Saturdays, thru Dec. 10,  and will last approximately 3 hours. The cost is $55 per person. Please check the calendar for dates. Parking is available in the lot at the German Village Society visitors center 588 South Third Street. CALL  Box Office: 1-800-838-3006 or reserve online.

We highly reccommend dinner at  LEVEL.  Hip spot for chic dining!  High standards of quality while boasting some of the most innovative displays of mixology and culinary excellence. Signature martini’s like Level Luau and Banana Cream Pie. Innovative dishes like Buffalo Style Ravioli and Pork Cacciatore, all very reasonably priced.  For the elegance of the space, you would expect to pay a lot more.   Average entree only $10-$18. Burgers and Wraps  $7-$11.

LOTS of bars and nighclubs in Columbus to choose from. OVER 20!  Which rivals the amount of bars in Chicago!

Level has a bar and lounge area which has a big gay crowd and lots of eye candy. 
Union has a very large bar.  AXIS is one the BIG nightclubs on the strip.  Havana is a cool video lounge.

For late night fun, Columbus offers LOTS  of choices.  Check out Gay Cities or Outlook Columbus for listings.

Experience Columbus!  You’ll be glad you did.