Do you have the stamina (and stomach space) to eat and drink at these 24 local spots in 24 hours?
I always had this theory that you could keep eating as long as you kept eating something different — that somehow the flavor would offset the actual intake of foodstuffs. I have no idea if that is true (pretty sure the answer is a gut-punching “no”), but I do know that Ohio perennially stays in the top 10 fattest states in the country. This statistic doesn't seem to actually bother anyone, considering the hundreds of restaurants in Columbus alone.
Noting the dizzying array of food to be had, I thought it would be a cool exercise to devise a one-day challenge that could actually be pulled off, and that in some way celebrated the thing we apparently value: dirtying plates.
This is a real-world, 24-hour challenge featuring 24 local spots. I only created a couple of rules:
1) No Short North stops
This challenge is all about being able to get to places and actually spend a little time in them. You don’t want to be wasting time trying to find parking that is either nonexistent or makes you download an app. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
2) Avoid chains
It’s Columbus, so this one wasn’t entirely avoidable, but I tried really hard to keep you from staring at the same menus you’d find in 49 other states.
Ready, set, go!
We’ll keep it tight for travel purposes: up and down the Parsons corridor.
9 a.m. — Community Grounds Coffee & Meeting House, 1134 Parsons Ave. You can get coffee to start your day, sure, but I usually nab a frozen hot chocolate. Yes, even when it’s cold out.
10 a.m. — Plank’s Café & Pizzeria, 743 Parsons Ave. You want a breakfast, but you don’t want it too proper. Just enough to get you going. Plank's serves a lot of Children’s Hospital staff, so it’s also a place you can get a beer and a pizza at 7 in the morning. I don’t recommend that for this run. I’d say go light here with a traditional bacon/eggs/toast combo.
11 a.m. — The Crest Gastropub, 621 Parsons Ave. Just a drink here to keep you motivated. Your choice, but don’t get smashed yet.
Noon — Comune, 677 Parsons Ave. I don’t go for vegan joints often, but the Chongqing Noodles here are undeniable, and a good midday snack on the way to fuller fare.
1 p.m. — Bake Me Happy, 106 E. Moler St. The Red Velvet Spongie is the move here.While you're at it, take the Columbus Alive "24 in 24" challenge, wherein you and 23 of your friends sign up for our daily newsletter in 24 hours
One of Columbus’ oldest neighborhoods has plenty going for it, so get ready for some singular food diving.
2 p.m. — The Brown Bag Delicatessen, 898 Mohawk St. This restaurant serves lots of great sandwiches, but the lunch rush will kill your hour, and you don’t have the belly bandwidth for a full sandwich. Get a couple of sides (they’re all good) or just hit a couple of delicious deviled eggs to get you ready for a proper late lunch at…
3 p.m. — Valter's at the Maennerchor, 976 S. High St. You’ve been pacing yourself up to this point, so it’s time to dig into a power meal, and Valter's is the joint to do it at. Columbus has no homegrown cuisine, but if we ever develop one, there is a 50 percent chance it will come out of this restaurant. If you want to jeep it light but hearty, go with the Rhein Trio (a delicious combo of sausages with sauerkraut). If you want to throw down, go with the Matterhorn, a short-rib burger that might end your day if you’re not careful.
4 p.m. — The Old Mohawk, 819 Mohawk St. I have eaten half of this menu, but I’m pulling a punch here and only putting dessert on the table. The cakes here are surprisingly excellent, and I’d float a slice of Rum Cake for this challenge. It’s decadent, just like you are right now.
5 p.m. — Winans Chocolates + Coffees, 897 S. Third St. Speaking of decadence, Winans is a great place to catch your breath. Relax and try a few pieces of candy between courses. You can’t go wrong here, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the excellence that is the Miss Clara (pecan toffee covered in chocolate and wearing a pecan hat).
6 p.m. — Pierogi Mountain, 739 S. Third St. The menu is small but mighty, but you probably just had sausage at 3 p.m., so keep it light and go with what this place is known for. I recommend a sampler of pierogi, but definitely try the smoked Gouda and chives variety.
7 p.m. — Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, 627 S. Third St. Sip on a solid coffee here to catch your breath before we pop out of the German Village area. If you get it to go, you can pop in to the Book Loft next door and do a little literary shopping (and work off a few calories going from room to room).
OLDE TOWNE EAST
The original gentrification battlefield has a smattering of legit nightlife imbibing.
8 p.m. — The Olde Oak, 62 Parsons Ave. You can find decent food here, but we just want something with which to wash stuff down at this point.
9 p.m. — Yellow Brick Pizza, 892 Oak St. This place offers good wings, but for now, go for the best version of the restaurant's namesake specialty: the Classico.
10 p.m. – Gemut Biergarten, 734 Oak St. Have a beer — excuse me, a bier. Gemut serves cocktails, too, but where we’re going you won’t need pre-game cocktails.
11 p.m. — The Oracle, 1159 Oak St. Order a Negroni in Anthony Bourdain’s honor.
I didn’t want to send anyone into Downtown for the same reason there are no Short North establishments on this list: parking. The good news is, at this time of night, you’ll be fine.
Midnight — Hadley’s Bar + Kitchen, 260 S. Fourth St. Keep it light here because of the next stop. Split some wings or try the Fried Cauliflower.
1 a.m. — Little Palace Restaurant, 240 S. Fourth St. This throwback joint is a personal fave, and I’ve never had anything bad here. I recommend the sliders with a side of “bacon,” which is not some punk slice, let me tell you.
2 a.m. — Mikey’s Late Night Slice, 268 S. Fourth St. Long the favored pie of the late-night crew, a slice will do you just fine, but you only have about 30 minutes to squeeze it in because the place closes at 2:30. It’s late, so be bold: Get a slice of Spicy Ass Pepperoni with Sriracha.
I normally wouldn’t bring you up here at all, especially because of the “Avoid chains” rule, but Columbus’ idea of late-night eating stops at midnight with few exceptions.
3 a.m. — Waffle House, 1712 N. High St. The standard. You already know what to do here.
4 a.m. — Buckeye Donuts, 1998 N. High St. Stick to the pastry side of the menu and get the glazed doughnut.
AGAIN, THE SOUTH SIDE
We end where we began.
5 a.m. — Tee Jaye’s Country Place, 1385 Parsons Ave. This one breaks my chain rule, and I don’t actually like Tee Jaye’s. That said, a slice of pie can’t hurt to keep the party moving.
6 a.m. — Scrambler Marie’s, 567 E. Livingston Ave. Another spot that breaks the chain and quality rule, but at 6 a.m. you don’t have many options that you didn’t already hit. It’s breakfast again, so keep it simple.
7 a.m. — Upper Cup Coffee, 79 Parsons Ave. If you ate appropriately at the last two spots, you saved room for something decent here. You could get coffee — Lord knows you probably need it — but I’d also hit up the Grilled PB&J. And make sure the place toasts it right, like mom used to.
8 a.m. — Hangover Easy, 51 Parsons Ave. Celebrate with a genuinely good meal (may I recommend the Chicken & Chorizo Skillet?) or just knock back a truly tasty Bloody Mary (spring for the Tito’s Vodka).
Congratulations! You did it! There is no prize save the pride that comes with a job well done, but who knows? Maybe the city will ask me to make T-shirts for it or something.