I know not everything needs a year-in-review, but I enjoy looking back on all I’ve written about over the course of the year. I’m embracing the hard work I’ve done through Breakfast With Nick, both here and on social media, and hopefully I’ve helped you discover more of Columbus and its many restaurants, breweries, parks, coffee shops, distilleries, arts, and events.
While we said goodbye to a number of beloved restaurants in Columbus, we’ve also welcomed several stand-outs, and I’m excited to have documented them, from mobile coffee and donut trucks to new cafes and breweries, plus biscuits, soft serve ice cream, monster sandwiches, Szechuan fare, barbecue, and beyond.
I’m also happy that this has been a busy year for my food/travel writing. I’m continuing my contributions to Columbus Monthly, Ohio Magazine, Ohio.org this year, and began writing pieces for The Kitchn and its companion parenting site Cubby at Home.
Here are some highlights from BreakfastWithNick.com for 2021!
They still call me (okay, I call myself) Dr. Breakfast for a reason! Breakfast is in my DNA, and it’s still one of the driving forces behind the site. Here’s what we explored this year:
- Real Food Cafe: the family-favorite spot in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan has become a gathering point for us any time we’re home. They’ve been so wonderful to our family over the years, and it was time to update my writing about what they offer and what they mean to us.
- The Locust Table: a lovely new cafe in Powell with burritos, polenta cakes, scones, cookies
- Brekkie Shack: I can’t believe it took us this long to visit this terrific breakfast-themed Grandview cafe
- Freedom a la Cart: Freedom opened a cafe to support and expand on its mission of providing employment, training, and other important services to survivors of human trafficking
- Boxwood Biscuit Co.: one of the bright spots from the pandemic, this biscuit-centric pop-up from chef Tyler Minnis and the owners of Lawbird found a home in Short North
- Dodo Donuts: a seasonal trailer serving terrific little donuts with creative toppings
- The Pancake House: a delightful discovery in Lewis Center, a family-run spot with great pancakes plus Venezuelan breakfasts
- 1487 Brewery: an invited look at this Plain City brewery’s terrific Sunday brunch
- JB’s Downtown Grill: we capped off a trip to Fairfield County with Sunday brunch at this warm and welcoming spot in downtown Lancaster
- The Original Pancake House: a look at the Westerville location of this locally owned franchise
- Mersh’s Breakfast Cafe: finally tried this breakfast truck and weren’t disappointed with their creative breakfasts
- The Pancake House: a tiny companion to the Lewis Center location, this family-run joint offers the same great meals
With each passing year I get more and more obsessed with coffee, so I welcome the bevy of new coffee shops. I explored those while revisiting old favorites.
- Madcap Coffee: Madcap is one of our favorite roasters and coffee shops, a must-stop any time we’re home in Grand Rapids. I wrote about their Fulton Street shop and roastery. If you go, get an expresso and a cafe miel!
- Highline Coffee: an updated look at this Old Worthington shop, which expanded significantly in recent years
- Honey Cup Coffee: one of a couple new coffee trailers in Columbus. This one is parked at Hudson and Summit, and will expand into the new Lovebirds event space next door in the coming years.
- Park Service Coffee: another new trailer, family-run and crafting some excellent drinks
- Jennings Java Coffee Roasters: a small Brewery District roastery that serves brewed coffee, canned drinks, beans
- One Line Coffee: revisiting their flagship shop in the Short North
I love breakfast, but there is so much more to explore and love in the city, and this year I highlighted some favorites:
- Preston’s Burgers: much to my delight, Preston’s made its home in the North Market. Still hands-down the best burger in the city.
- Wario’s Beef & Pork: one of the standouts of the year. Monster sandwiches all thoughtfully composed.
- Hoyo’s Kitchen: North Market just keeps getting better and better. Hoyo’s Kitchen is reaching new audiences with its crave-able Somali fare from their new stall.
- Little Ladies Soft Serve: it’s time to formally declare our love for this family-run truck (and now brick-and-mortar!), serving simply the best soft serve and sundaes.
- Ray Ray’s Meat + Three: Ray Ray’s new sit-down restaurant, just off the highway in Granville, has allowed them to expand their offerings
- Nile Vegan: an Ethiopian spot with two locations – campus and Grandview – featuring a plant-based menu
- Olive & Lime Cafe: formerly named Olive & Thyme Cafe, this Clintonville Mediterranean spot very quickly became one of our go-tos
- Belgrade Gardens: after years of me obsessing about Barberton fried chicken and its origins, we finally stopped at the original restaurant, which serves the regionally specific style originated by Serbian immigrants in the 1930s
- Double Happy: this seasonal stop in the Hilltop serves excellent burgers, shakes, coffee, and soft serve
- The Studio 35 Trifecta: Pizza, Beer, & Movies: throwing some love to my favorite movie theatre, which offers up terrific beer and an in-house pizzeria
- ChiliSpot: one of our favorite new places for Chinese
Guides & Ideas
Everyone’s looking for ideas on places to explore, so I’ve been putting together guides built around different themes:
- 15 Sandwiches to Try Right Now: because we’re always in the mood for a good sandwich.
- 10 Ideas for Celebrating Valentine’s Day and Beyond: I put together some ideas for dates that include concerts, getaways, beer tastings, adventure parks. Some of the suggestions have passed, but many are still valid!
- 15 Fried Chicken Sandwiches to Try: because I’m also always in the mood for a fried chicken sandwich
- 10 Columbus Summer Beers to Sip: our local breweries make the perfect refreshing sip for the hot months
- 5 Restaurants to Try This Month: October 2021
- 5 Restaurants to Try This Month: November 2021
- An Ode to Cravings Cafe’s Sandwiches: demonstrating why we love this downtown spot so very much
- 5 Restaurants to Try This Month: December 2021
- 7 Columbus Spirits to Brighten the Holidays: because booze always makes for a good gift, right?
Despite the pandemic, we’ve been able to enjoy some small trips, from magazine assignments to invited stays to a belated documenting of our 2019 Scotland trip:
- A Stay in the Manor at The Mohicans: the folks at The Mohicans kindly hosted us again this year, this time in the Manor, a renovated cabin close to Mohican State Park. Perfect for a cozy getaway!
- Six Days in Scotland: I wrote up our week-long exploration of Scotland from 2019. Beth and I traveled there for our 40th birthdays, rented a car and drove a loop starting and ending in Edinburgh and exploring around Inverness, Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye, Fort William, and more.
- The Comfort of Home in Hartville: a fun invited overnight trip exploring Hartville, Ohio and the expansive campus that includes the MarketPlace, restaurant, and hardware store.
- An Overnight at Gervasi Vineyard: on assignment for Ohio Magazine, we stayed overnight at this lovely slice of Tuscany right here in Ohio. Beautiful grounds, great wines and cocktails, wonderful food.
- A Day of Fun and Games at Polaris: a sponsored trip exploring Polaris restaurants, golf, bowling, adventure parks
- A Staycation In and Around Cherry Valley: another Ohio Magazine assignment that took us to this renovated Newark hotel, plus parks, restaurants, breweries, and museums nearby
- An Escape to Glenlaurel Scottish Inn & Cottages: Beth and I celebrated 20 years together with a trip to this lovely Scottish-themed escape in the Hocking Hills
- A Fairfield County Weekend: a fun exploration of parks with great views, museums, restaurants, breweries