For the meat-eater, there's no shortage of meat to love around town. Barbecue joints, taco stands, steakhouses - it's a carnivore's heaven. But the truly adventurous meat lover can take it a step further with offal, or organ meats. When treated properly, the meat is truly delicious, offering flavors and textures beyond your typical pork or strip steak. Here's a beginning list.
For the meat-eater, there’s no shortage of meat to love around town. Barbecue joints, taco stands, steakhouses — it’s a carnivore’s heaven. But the truly adventurous meat lover can take it a step further with offal, or organ meats. When treated properly, the meat is truly delicious, offering flavors and textures beyond your typical pork or strip steak. Here’s a beginning list.
Do It Yourself
First, if you’re up for prepping it on your own, many of Columbus’ meat markets will do the dirty work for you. Bluescreek Farms at North Market sells hearts, kidneys and livers from beef, pork, lamb, veal and goat. North Market Poultry & Game sells much of the same. Thurn’s Meats doesn’t sell quite as much, but they custom-made their own country liverwurst, blood sausage and head cheese.
Taco Truck Tripe
Many of the city’s taco trucks and taquerias offer tripa — tripe, meaning the stomachs — as an option alongside chicken, al pastor, steak and so on. Los Guachos Taqueria is a fine example, where guests can fill tacos and quesadillas with it. Trucks like Taqueria El Fogoncito also include it.
Love the Lengua
Many taco stands serve tripe, but even more are likely to layer lengua — beef tongue — as well. The tongue is an amazingly tender cut of meat, making it ideal for street-style tacos with onion and cilantro. In addition to Los Guachos and Fogoncito, trucks like Taco Nazo and Junior’s Tacos serve it, too.
Pork Intestine All The Way
Offal is worked into many Asian cuisines, too. Fortune Chinese Restaurant offers pork intestine on its Szechuan menu, from deep-fried versions to stir-fried ones with sweet and sour vegetables. Hong Kong House does much of the same with pork intestine and beef tripe. Min Ga Korean restaurant serves versions of sausage soups made with vegetables and pig hearts and intestines. They also serve a pan-fried dish with chicken gizzards.
Hearts, Brains & Livers
Many other ethnic spots prepare dishes with organ meat, too. Apna Bazaar (Indian/Pakistani fare) has done a goat brain masala, while Somali spots like Ginevra Cafe and African Paradise put liver on the menu. Ginevra Cafe occasionally serves goat liver, while both spots offer breakfast dishes called suqaar served with liver. Peruvian spot El Pollo Perucho on the West Side serves grilled hearts on skewers.
Fried Chicken Livers
And then there’s the almighty fried chicken livers. They’re popular at fried chicken and fish restaurants, like M & M Chicken & Fish and Fisher Fish & Chicken down East Livingston Ave., which both offer fried chicken livers and gizzards. Flanagan’s Pub out near Reynoldsburg and Gooseneck Tavern in Powell serve up fried chicken livers, too.
Liver & Onions
Of course, many classic diners get in on the organ meat action, especially when it comes to liver and onions. The liver is typically sliced or chopped, then sautéed with onions and gravy. Find it at diners like Nancy’s Home Cooking, Tommy’s Diner (who will let you double order the liver) and Fitzy’s Diner.
*Special thanks to Bethia Woolf from Columbus Food Adventures for help with the list!
Nicholas Dekker writes about breakfast at breakfastwithnick.com">breakfastwithnick.com and authored the guidebook “Breakfast With Nick: Columbus,” with a second edition coming in 2015.