Best Food Coma Potential: Melt Bar & Grilled. Photo courtesy of Wes Kroninger
Drinks & Dining
Best Food Coma Potential
It’s now possible to order a half sandwich, but anyone who’s ever seen one of the colossal grilled cheese sandwiches at Melt – with locations in the Short North and Easton Town Center – can attest to its ability to floor even the hardiest diner.
Best Happy Hour
Because voting was going on in early spring, we think readers were pining for warmer days when outdoor dining and drinking would be an option as they voted for Marcella’s, with its windows open to the Short North, and Woodlands, with its spacious patio.
Best Signature Cocktail
Key Lime Pie Martini (The Lazy Chameleon)
Click here to learn how to make the citrusy masterpiece served at Powell bar – and 2016 Best of the ’Bus party venue – the Lazy Chameleon.
Best New Restaurant
Best Bar/Restaurant for Live Music
The restaurant and microbrewery, which opened this past fall at Eldorado Scioto Downs, has quickly grown in popularity – now just for its food and drink offerings, but for its robust entertainment line-up, which includes dueling pianos and live band karaoke in addition to bands and solo artists. See pg. 12 for more on the Brew Brothers and other new restaurants with unconventional origins.
Best Surf and Turf
Best Restaurant to Spend an Anniversary
After placing second to the Refectory last year, Hyde Park – with locations in Dublin, Upper Arlington and downtown Columbus – moves up to first, with its 7 oz. filet/9 oz. lobster tail combo picking up the new category for surf and turf.
Best Business Lunch
With locations in Dublin, Grandview Heights and Polaris, this favorite is bringing salads, flatbreads and impressive-looking sandwiches to ever more midday diners.
Best Food Truck
More food trucks join the list of nominees each year, but it’s hard for any of them to overcome this popular purveyor of pepperoni. See pg. ?? to learn more about the new Mikey’s full-service restaurant Downtown.
Clearly, Katzinger’s makes a damn fine sandwich, thus its two consecutive victories here. But for us at CityScene, just as easy to appreciate is the bizarre and clever names for each item on the menu. Rachel and Nicki Got Stuck in a Closet, anyone?
Best Menu Item Name
The Thurmanator (Thurman Café)
The Thurmanator always wins this category, so let’s share some love for some of its competitors this year: Herve Villechaize, Baby Cheezus, Pork & Mindy, Koopa Libre, More Cowbell, Whiskey in the Gyro and Rowdy Roddy Toddy.
Best Gluten-Free Options on Menu
There are always a few close competitors for the crown, but no one has yet been able to dethrone City Barbeque in the Best Barbecue category, which it has now won four years in a row.
Grove City always cleans up in this category; this makes three years for Zamarelli’s, plus one for Tammy’s Pizza.
This was a close one – not just among restaurants, but among areas of town, with Dublin, Powell, Westerville and Bexley among the contestants. In the end, though, Short North-based Haiku took home the prize.
Best Vegan Options
The Cloud Nine Pancakes – made with ricotta cheese and served with real maple syrup and bananas – may not be vegan, but there are plenty of other options at Northstar’s three local locations that are.
Best Outdoor Dining
The restaurant in Grove City’s Pinnacle community has developed a following in large part due to its patio and garden setting.
Best Place for a First Date and Best Spot to Spend Halloween: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Best Fitness Event
This year’s Arnold added baton twirling, an indoor triathlon and wheelchair bodybuilding, as though its existing line-up of competitions wasn’t massive enough.
Best Place for a First Date
Best Spot to Spend Halloween
Boo at the Zoo offers more than just costumes and treat stations; it’s also one of the weekends on which the animals get special items – in this case, pumpkins – to do with as they will.
Dublin-based Woodhouse remains the champion of the Best Spa category, though Massage Envy and Nurtur the Salon placed near the top.
It’s never an easy win for whichever gym comes out on top in this category, but once again, the expansive Premier at Sawmill manages to go the distance thanks to its lengthy roster of amenities.
Best Picnic Spot and Best Place to Propose and Best In-State Weekend Trip: Hocking Hills State Park
Best Picnic Spot
Best Place to Propose
Best In-State Weekend Trip
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Hocking Hills have wide appeal for any number of reasons. How else can you explain the list of categories it won?
Best Yoga Studio
There’s no manufacturing going on there anymore, but the Yoga Factory gets its name from its building’s origin – the Uptown Westerville spot was built in 1922 for industrial purposes – and its huge, distinctive windows are part of the appeal.
Best Face of Columbus
Urban Meyer gets closer every year, but he still has yet to overtake Jungle Jack, who has decades of history as one of Columbus’ most beloved figures.
Best Food- or Drink-Themed Festival: Jazz & Rib Fest
Best Food- or Drink-Themed Festival
This year, three Downtown parks – Genoa, Bicentennial and West Bank – host the Jazz & Rib Fest, with such performers as BWB, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Tower of Power.
Best Charitable Event
By mid-June – more than a month and a half before the actual weekend of the ride, Aug. 5-7 – Pelotonia 2016 had already raised more than $4 million for cancer research.
Best Luxury Resort in or Around Ohio: The Greenbrier
Best Luxury Resort in or Around Ohio
This mountainous West Virginia resort about four and a half hours from Ohio is anchored by a world-renowned mineral spa and a 103,000-square-foot casino.
Best Event for People-Watching
There’s far more to enjoy at ComFest than just people-watching – vendors, arts areas, children’s activities, food, beverages and more live music than you can shake a stick at – but as the festival’s fifth consecutive victory proves, the people-watching is top-notch there.
Best Animal-Themed Event
Competing with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium can be a bear of a task (see what we did there?), but the Columbus Pet Expo, PetPromise Rescue Run and Mount Carmel St. Ann’s 4th Friday: Dog Days of Summer event all put up a good fight.
Best Wine Selection – Bar/Restaurant
Westerville, Clintonville, Worthington and Upper Arlington all have their own Wine Bistros, and with a lengthy menu at each, it’s not hard to see how selection is a highlight.
Best Beer Selection – Bar/Restaurant
World of Beer now has locations at Easton Town Center and in the University District, each with a long list of available brews on tap and in bottles. But give credit to locally owned 101 Beer Kitchen for coming close as it prepares to open its third location in Westerville.
Best Wedding Venue
The conservatory has no fewer than three different spaces that can host weddings, each with its own set of jaw-dropping visuals.
Best Restaurant to Take Out-of-Towners to
Schmidt’s is always a prime choice for showing off central Ohio’s food scene to the uninitiated. The North Market, Thurman Café and Cap City Fine Diner and Bar were close finishers.
Best Spot to Spend Valentine’s Day: Danceville, U.S.A. Photo courtesy of Scott Cunningham
Arts & Entertainment
Best Spot to Spend Valentine’s Day
The Short North dance studio celebrates each Valentine’s Day with an Anti-Valentine’s Day party, in which single men and women mingle, play games and learn to dance, all set to break-up songs.
Best Suburban Arts Festival
A festival doesn’t have to have “arts” in its name to have a robust arts presence, and the Dublin Irish Festival proves it, with its wealth of crafts, live entertainment, Irish dance and other attractions.
Best Spot to Spend New Year’s Eve
Scioto Downs always celebrates the new year with the signature Smoke & Mirrors party, featuring a clubhouse dinner, promotions, giveaways and live entertainment.
Best Artistic Director: Edwaard Liang (BalletMet)
Best Artistic Director
On July 1, Edwaard Liang enters his fourth year as artistic director of BalletMet, preparing to usher the company through a season featuring Peter Pan, Romeo and Juliet and Twisted 2, the latter a collaboration with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Opera Columbus.
Best Annual Event for Out-of-Towners
Standby attractions such as the concert calendar and the latest deep-fried treat are always big draws, but the fair always finds a way to add new things each year, including jumbo tic-tac-toe, a Wolves of the World exhibition and a zombie-shooting paintball adventure.
The symphony’s smack in the middle of its Picnic with the Pops season right now, with shows featuring Fleetwood Mac and the Police tribute bands on the schedule for July alongside Nelly.
Best Interactive Arts Activities
From its Little Kidspace to its Teen Tech Studio to such adult activities as COSI After Dark and Science on Tap, COSI has arts activities for visitors of all ages, not just the children who are its most rapt audience members.
Best Art Gallery
The Wexner Center certainly gets its share of exhibitions you’re unlikely to see anywhere else. Its current exhibition, exploring the career and work of longtime painter Martin Wong.
Best Performance Venue
The next show at our winning venue this year? A showing of Ghost, part of the CAPA Summer Movie Series.
Best Theater Troupe
The sheer volume and variety of shows Shadowbox produces – from its family-friendly adaptation of School House Rock to its massive outdoor production of Bigger Than Jesus – gives it an edge in this category.
Best Outdoor Music Venue
Columbus Commons certainly draws some impressive acts as a venue, but it’s worth giving credit to two of its closest competitors, Express Live! and Eldorado Scioto Downs, too.
Best Suburban Fireworks
This one was a crazy close three-way race with Dublin and Westerville, but Grove City edged out the victory for the fourth year in a row.
Best Spot to Spent St. Patrick’s Day
For sheer size and scope, it’s hard to beat the colossal St. Patrick’s Day bash that takes place at Flannagan’s in Dublin each year.
Best Spot to Spend Cinco de Mayo
El Vaquero, with multiple locations throughout central Ohio, certainly has the food to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but it’s the big fiestas complete with DJs at its Olentangy and Delaware locations that make it a real Cinco de Mayo spot.
Best Hometown Product: City Barbeque. Photo by Wes Kroninger
Shopping & Retail
Best Hometown Product
Apparently, for hometown products, voters appreciate their meat – whether it’s the smoked meats and tangy sauce of City Barbeque or the legendary Bahama Mamas at Schmidt’s.
Best Farmers’ Market
After three years at the top, the Worthington Farmers’ Market falls to Grove City’s, which takes place on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
Best Beer Selection (Retail)
Not only does the Andersons, with local stores in Reynoldsburg and northwest Columbus, have an enormous beer selection, it even has an aisle devoted to Ohio beers.
The Westerville bakery’s late-night doughnuts make the difference for Otterbein University students, and the tremendous reputation and 60 years of history make the difference for everyone else.
Best Wine Selection (Retail)
Market District – with sites in Grandview Heights, Dublin and Upper Arlington – is a big store, with a big wine selection to match, naturally.
Best Locally Owned Boutique
Chalk up another victory for Grove City – this win was specifically for the Déjà vu store there – but Westerville’s Pure Roots Boutique was close.
Best Cupcakes: Gigi’s Cupcakes
Pickerington and Polaris are the main local sites of this heavy-on-frosting cupcake franchise, but anyone who attends festivals and “taste of” events is probably familiar with it.
As close as these two bakeries were, they were way out ahead of the third-place finisher, so it must have been a tough decision for a lot of people.
Best Chocolate Treats
If you live in central Ohio and you love chocolate, then you know Anthony-Thomas, and for good reason. Credit where it’s due to the Lollipop Stop and Pure Imagination Chocolatier, which came close.
Best Local Beer
Columbus Brewing Company is always a powerhouse in this category, but it faces stiff competition. The Brew Brothers, Rockmill Brewery, Wolf’s Ridge Brewing and Land-Grant Brewing Co. were all within striking distance.
This Grove City spot clearly has more than just lollipops, with selections including cupcakes in a jar, but the cakes take the … well, you know.
Best Antique Store
Vintage jewelry and clothing, carnival glass and potpourri are some of the other offerings at this Grove City antique store.