Katalina’s | Columbus, OH

October 1, 2015

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Katalina’s (Facebook / @KatalinasCafe / Instagram: @KatalinasCafe)
1105 Pennsylvania Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 294-2233
Open daily 8a-4p
Accepts cash & debit/credit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/Y/Y
Kid-friendly? Y

I’ve got to be up front about a couple things here. First, a recommendation for Katalina’s is always on the tip of my tongue. We’ve long been fans of the restaurant – eating our share of pancake balls and pork & egg sandwiches, mourning the loss of the fig & prosciutto sandwich (R.I.P.), and enjoying breakfast or lunch on the patio with out-of-town visitors. We used to live in the neighborhood, so I remember the first iteration of Cafe Corner as a simple coffee shop and internet cafe, and then a sandwich shop. We followed the transition into Katalina’s Cafe Corner, as owner Kathleen Day took over and revamped the menu, moving away from solely sandwiches and breakfast to an eclectic Latin-themed cafe now known simply as Katalina’s. My last post on the cafe dates back nearly four years, and I think I’m overdue for an update.

Second disclosure: I work with Kathleen. Not in the kitchen, just help with writing and admin. If I seem to know a lot about the restaurant, it’s because I get to peak behind the curtain regularly.

All the same, Katalina’s is one of my favorite spots around town. Whenever some asks for my top five places for breakfast, the pancake balls and breakfast tacos and migas and Thunderkiss Coffee are always on the list. If you’ve never been to Katalina’s, you’re about to find out why I love it.

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What I’ve got to share here comes from many, many visits to the cafe – so, no, I didn’t eat these all in one sitting. First, drink-wise the cafe offers a range of bottled sodas, tea from TehKu Tea in Dublin, and house-squeezed juices, like this blood orange juice.

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Katalina’s is also one of the biggest customers for Thunderkiss Coffee. They serve Jason’s roasts as hot and cold brews, and some seasonal specialty drinks like maple toddies and New Orleans style iced coffee.

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And now, prepare yourself for some breakfast wanderings. First, into taco territory. Everybody loves tacos, and tacos for breakfast are no exception. Katalina’s has led the pack by filling corn tortillas with scrambled eggs, chorizo, queso fresco – all the good stuff.

The cafe also replaced – a year or so ago – the sides of hash browns with elote, a Mexican treatment of corn on the cob dusted with a salty and zesty mixture of guajillo peppers, queso, paprika (I’ve seen versions with chili powder, too), and a cilantro-lime aioli. I missed the hash browns at first – they were very good – but in the grand scheme of things, elote is muuuuch more interesting.

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Katalina’s also makes an excellent huevos rancheros. There’s a big focus on Shagbark Seed & Mill products (out of Athens, Ohio), and the huevos feature their corn chips and a puree made with their black beans. Combined with some queso, sour cream, a couple fried eggs, and a ranchero sauce with a nice kick, it’s a pretty filling breakfast.

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The cafe also manages to cater well to vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free diners, while remaining creative and interesting enough to appeal to meat-eaters as well. Case in point: the biscuits and veggie sausage gravy. If no one told me it was veggie sausage gravy, I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

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Katalina’s sandwich strength also comes through in breakfast, like a breakfast version of the famous pork & egg sandwich, the new breakfast chick’wich (with fried chicken – that’s next on my list to try), and this simple but delicious guy: the Katalina Latina. It’s assembled with bacon (you can choose the sweet & spicy bacon, which you should always, always do), fried eggs, cheddar, tomatillo sauce, and a Snowville Creamery crema. It’s very simple, but it works so well.

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I’m also always on the lookout for eggs in a nest (or hens in a basket, as they’re called here). We make them at home a lot, and Katalina’s version is great.

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The hens in a basket come with a size of their Brussels sprouts hash. I love me some Brussels sprouts, and when you mix them with sauteed onions, red onions, and corn – even better.

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Katalina’s also serves up a version of migas, a southwestern scrambled eggs with crushed up chips, ranchero sauce, creme fraiche. The original version came with toast covered in romesco (a red pepper sauce), but it’s since been upgraded to avocado toast.

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French toast fans will enjoy the Mexican French toast. The bread is sliced lengthwise and dusted heavily with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a Mexican chocolate (it’s got a little kick). This dish is another opportunity to get the sweet & spicy bacon (bacon covered in brown sugar and jalapeno) on the side.

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The pork & egg sandwich has been a long-time favorite. It’s absolutely delicious and over-the-top; the sandwich is stacked with the shredded pork, fried eggs, avocado, cheese, mayo, and roasted red peppers. It’s impossible not to make a mess when eating it, but I’ve found I never mind.

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And the piece de resistance: the pancake balls. To me, these summarize what Katalina’s is all about: taking something familiar and making it funky. That’s the appeal to me. I love a good traditional breakfast, but nowadays I’m always searching for something more unique.

If you don’t know the pancake balls, they’re exactly what they sound like: pancake batter cooked in ball form using a special pan, and then stuffed with all manner of goodness like Nutella (my favorite), dulce de leche, or pumpkin apple butter. (Also: more sweet & spicy bacon on side.) Those of you with Danish roots might recognize them as ebelskivers.

Sometime last year Katalina’s hit the 1 million mark for serving pancake balls – that’s how popular they are. I mean, look at them! They’re fun to eat, they taste great, and you can make all sorts of inappropriate jokes about them.

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So there you have it. I just listed 12 reasons why Katalina’s is an ongoing favorite. (And I still haven’t tried that chicken sandwich.)

If you’ve never been, you need to schedule a visit soon. Keep in mind that weekends can be busy busy – but the line typically moves quickly, and you need to make the most of patio weather while you can. Remember, too, that they serve everything all day, so you can lunch at 8am or breakfast at 3pm. If you have a weekday morning or a late afternoon free, you can aim to visit then.

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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