I love a good round-up. I love a good summary. They’re so neat and organized. They’re a way to process and file information. I became a writer, I’ve realized, because writing is my way of processing the world and making sense of it. When I write something down, I understand it better. That’s what led me 10 years ago to start Breakfast With Nick: I needed to capture and organize my thoughts on the little breakfast places we were discovering.
So I love writing my annual year-in-review post. If anything, it helps me get a sense of all we explored and accomplished this year. In looking back, I see that we discovered many new breakfast spots, that we found time to re-visit some old favorites, that we traveled more than I realized: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis.
Some quick highlights for me:
- Tackling the Butler County Donut Trail
- Leading more than 30 breakfast and brunch tours for Columbus Food Adventures (including two specialized tours for visiting travel bloggers through Experience Columbus)
- Winning (614) Magazine’s Best Blogger Award
- Publishing more than 75 pieces for Columbus Alive, 11 pieces for the Dispatch, 20 for Columbus Monthly, 40 for Experience Columbus, 15 with TourismOhio, and several other publications
- The biggest accomplishment of this year is celebrating 10 years of Breakfast With Nick. We threw a big breakfast party at The Kitchen, ate tasty brunch bites, demolished a table full of donuts, gave away swag from incredibly generous Columbus restaurants, and helped support Asia’s Hope! Thanks to everyone who supported it and celebrated with us!
Read on for some favorite discoveries in breakfast, coffee, beer, travel, and beyond!
Da Levee: This Cajun and Creole spot is a perennial favorite, and their Sunday brunch is especially fun.
Beechwold Diner / Jack’s Diner / South of Lane / Kolache Republic: 2017 became the year of the re-visit, with us checking in on old favorites that I wrote about in the early days of the blog. Each visit reiterated why we love these places so much.
Explorers Club: although Explorers Club has left Zauber (and Zauber’s space is now home to Endeavor Brewing), the EC truck still makes the rounds serving their fantastic brunch. Months later, I keep thinking about their breakfast tacos with chorizo and jalapeno slaw.
The Rossi: This Short North mainstay offers up a solid weekend brunch (that breakfast pizza, though), and even though Chef Matt Heaggans has moved on to his own ventures (can’t wait for Ambrose & Eve!), The Rossi is still a comfy place for brunch.
Kittie’s Cafe: Kittie’s opened a second spot this year, this one in Bexley. It’s an adorable little shop serving even more adorable drinks. Have you seen the s’moretado?! Even better: they’re attached to Gramercy Books, a new independent bookstore!
Olive Tree: A Mediterranean outpost in Hilliard, Olive Tree features a Sunday brunch with challah French toast, Iraqi breakfast sandwiches, fluffy savory pastries, and multiple versions of shakshuka.
Original Pancake House: This favorite Portland chain opened their first central Ohio store in Upper Arlington. We made a couple visits, and they do their namesake dish justice. But we’ve also loved the corned beef hash, the crepes, and the whole smoothly organized experience.
Rockmill Tavern: Rockmill Tavern is at the top of my recommendations this past year. We’ve been for brunch, dinner, and just snacks. Chef Andrew Smith and his team create menus that excel as much as the top notch coffee and beer.
Bonifacio: It’s been fun to track the growth of the city’s first Filipino restaurant, and their weekend brunch is especially interesting, with ube waffles and chicken, agave French toast, and pork sausages with garlic rice.
Tupelo Doughnuts: We’ve fallen in love with Tupelo and their aquamarine truck. As they build out a Clintonville storefront, their trucks make the rounds selling creme brulee donuts, orange cardamom donut holes, and more.
Cravings Cafe: At last! After two years Cravings has re-opened. Their new location downtown is the place for brioche breakfast sandwiches, smashburgers, bronuts, and coffee.
Acre: We’ve long been fans of Acre, and their revamped brunch has had us returning a few times, from breakfast gringas to huevos rancheros to crepes.
Lisska Bar & Grill: A special mention goes for Lisska. Jim from CMH Gourmand/Columbus Brew Adventures and I were invited to a breakfast club that meets there regularly. Lisska is a dive bar on the east side, where they serve is a simple but lovable breakfast. More importantly, we received such a warm welcome from Ginger and her breakfast club. It was a much-needed reminder why I love doing this: good food creates even better community.
The Eagle: I’ve long been a fan of this Cincinnati fried chicken spot, and this year they opened one in Columbus!
Hoyo’s Kitchen: On my birthday weekend we finally visited this fast casual Somali joint, and received a warm welcome and a colorful, flavorful dinner.
Momo Ghar: Momo Ghar has been the darling of the Columbus food world, one of the top-rated eateries in the city. All because of the lovely welcome and the amazing Nepali dumplings. They even opened a second location in North Market! Bonus: you might see us in their segment on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in January!
Watershed Kitchen & Bar: With the change in Ohio laws, distilleries can now operate restaurants. That landed us with Watershed’s in-house restaurant, a haven for creative comfort fare and cocktails.
Smith & Wollensky: Smith & Wollensky invited Beth and I to dinner this summer, where we experienced a luxurious and leisurely dinner of cocktails, appetizers, wine, steak, and sides.
Smoked on High: In a renovated Victorian house in the Brewery District, Smoked on High has started slinging excellent Texas-style barbecue.
BEER & COFFEE
The Columbus Ale Trail: This year I attempted to finish the 2016 trail and started in on the 2017 trail. Check out our progress so far in parts one and two.
Johnny Coffee: We’ve become smitten with Johnny Coffee, a cart that’s made the rounds at Lucky’s, Ace of Cups, and special events. Stephen and Jaina provide a warm welcome and make some killer coffee.
11 Columbus Coffee Roasters & Brewers Without Storefronts: I noticed a number of great coffee roasters that don’t have their own stores, so I assembled them into a helpful list!
Stauf’s Coffee Roasters: Stauf’s opened a new location this year inside the Idea Foundry, a brightly lit enclave for studying, meeting, or hanging out
Butler County, Ohio: This year we were invited twice to explore the region tucked between Cincinnati and Dayton. We tackled the Donut Trail, saw model trains, rode the rolling hills of Pyramid Hill, sipped beer, and enjoyed old school breakfast at Kostas and farm-to-table brunch at Cozy’s. Read about our first and our second visits.
Milktooth: We’re hoping to discover more of Indianapolis in 2018, but so far we’ve made two stops at Milktooth when passing through. Their creative brunch, bar service, coffee counter, and hip decor make this a must-stop any time we’re passing through.
St. Louis: With family that moved to the St. Louis area, we’ve made two trips there to discover parks, diners, coffee, the Arch, the amazing City Museum, the World Bird Sanctuary, and regional tastes like St. Louis-style pizza and gooey butter cake. See our first and our second visits.
Outer Banks: We returned to OBX yet again this year, exploring old favorites (lighthouses, bird-watching, beaches) and discovering some new haunts, like Stu’s Donuts.
Cincinnati: We love Cincinnati more and more each time we visit, and we spent a day trip seeing Star Wars costumes at the Museum Center, getting to know Taste of Belgium’s bistro at The Banks, riding the new streetcar, and more.
Pittsburgh: Beth’s sister recently moved to Pittsburgh to open a Candle Lab store, and we visited to kayak the rivers, eat dumplings, sip pints at breweries, hit up the The Strip District, and discover the wonderful Lawrenceville neighborhood. The visit included brunch at Meat & Potatoes and breakfast at the P&G Diner.
Hotel LeVeque: As much as we love exploring new places, we love discovering more about our own city. The Hotel LeVeque opened inside the city’s iconic skyscraper this year, and we were treated to a stay in the constellation-themed boutique hotel, including a lovely dinner at The Keep.
Yellow Springs: We made multiple trips to Yellow Springs this year, loving it more and more each time, from the rough trails of Glen Helen Nature Preserve, to the Little Miami bike paths, to the art galleries, the ice cream, and beers on the patio at Yellow Springs Brewery.
Chicago: One of our biggest trips this year focused on re-connecting with Chicago. It’s been nine years since we last visited, and we wasted no time getting reacquainted. Donuts at Do-Rite and Doughnut Vault, two of Stephanie Izard’s eateries (Duck Duck Goat and Little Goat Diner – where we met her!), parks and trains, coffee, cocktails on rooftop patios, and a little known musical called Hamilton.
Thanks to everyone who has followed Breakfast With Nick over the past 10 years. Here’s to safety, fun, challenges, triumphs, and many more adventures in the new year!
Nick & Beth