Columbus is Ohio’s capital and one of its three large cities. One of the benefits of living in a city is the access to all the restaurants you can dine at, including everything from fine restaurants to diners and dive bars where the low prices hide some surprisingly delicious meals. If you want to eat like a local, you need to find the restaurants that don’t show up on the fine dining lists.
Schmidt’s Sausage Haus
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Schmidt’s Sausage Haus is in the German Village south of downtown Columbus on Purdy Alley. Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace (see below) lets you swap in brats or Polish sausage, but for a more authentic German sausage experience, you should visit Schmidt’s.
Schmidt’s offers sausage platters served on sauerkraut with German potato salad and applesauce, and the menu includes Old World favorites and at least one recipe exclusive to Schmidt’s. If you’ve had your fill of sausage, Schmidt’s also offers schnitzel, meatloaf, and Bavarian cabbage rolls. To truly eat like a local, track down Schmidt’s food truck.
Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace
Dirty Frank’s is an old-fashioned diner tucked away on South Fourth Street. This place is all about the hot dogs, and the folks here certainly give you options: chili dogs, corn dogs, Chicago-style dogs, Pittsburgh-style dogs, and more.
Dirty Frank’s is also friendly to all diets. You can sub in a vegetarian or vegan dog at no extra cost, and you can replace the bun with lettuce or a gluten-free bun. Dirty Frank’s also serves cocktails and offers a changing beer list. Use Hotel Planner to help you find Columbus hotels close by so that you won’t have to go far to sleep off your libations.
Los Guachos Taqueria
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Los Guachos Taqueria is a Mexican restaurant with one location in Columbus proper and one in Gahanna. The appeal for guests can be found in the tacos al pastor: shawarma-style marinated pork with pineapple alongside meats such as steak, chicken, and beef tongue. All the classic Mexican menu items are here, including tacos, burritos, and nachos, but if you’re up for trying something new, you can also order volcanes or huaraches, variations on the classic pizza.
Hot Chicken Takeover
Hot Chicken Takeover has three locations, all in Columbus. This restaurant’s appeal is Nashville-style chicken. While all three restaurants get busy quickly, you won’t have to wait long to get your chicken. The Nashville style means the chicken is plenty hot, but you can order your chicken mild or extra hot to suit your spice tolerance. When you get the meal, you don’t pick your sides, but the sides you get are the best possible: macaroni and cheese, homemade slaw, bread, and pickles.
Whether it’s a Mexican restaurant with shawarma-style meat or a hot dog diner with more toppings and substitutions than the average pizza place, Columbus is full of surprises that locals adore. If you want to eat like a local and have some of the most popular food in the city, stop by one of the places on this list and find out what makes the wait worth the time.