Emmett’s Cafe in German Village has been a hit since it opened in the fall of 2020, easily earning nods as one of Columbus’ best new restaurants. The cafe is modeled on Australian-style coffee shops, which offer expert coffee service alongside a dynamic menu that goes beyond simple pastries or breakfast.
Emmett’s has now added a terrific second location in the Open Air building, created out of the renovated Open Air School built in 1927 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2019. It was originally home to a Columbus city school meant for students at risk of tuberculosis, so the building is designed with expansive spaces and big windows.
Now we’re fortunate that the Old North structure has been preserved and converted into a home for a new Emmett’s Cafe, the two-level Understory bar and lounge from Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, an event space, and even a fitness center.
The Emmett’s space features large, curving windows and cool wood accents. The building’s history as a school has been well preserved, from the tiled hallways to the lockers, to the lighting and signage, to the seats out in the hallway.
Emmett’s is first and foremost a coffee shop, and their team consistently knocks it out of the park with a thoughtful menu that includes drip coffee, cold brew, espresso, and hot chocolate. They also feature smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices.
I can’t complain about the quality of the espresso.
This is the regular cappuccino, but this or the Aussie cap are an easy start. The Aussie cap a slightly more milky cappuccino, where the espresso is dusted with cocoa.
They feature a daily selection of baked goods, from cookies to muffins to tahini-laced brownies.
Here’s a quick look at their menus, from beverages to breakfast to salads to sandwiches.
Everything we’ve tasted – at both locations – is colorful and nicely composed.
If you’re new to Emmett’s, the breakfast burrito is a good introduction: a flour tortilla tightly wrapped around scrambled eggs, avocado, monterey jack cheese, prosciutto, crispy tater tots, with a chipotle aioli and side of salsa.
The Schiller bowl layers poached eggs over quinoa, roasted beets, mushrooms, kale, asparagus, summer squash, and red peppers, all with a light covering of hollandaise.
It’s a great example of the colorful and wholesome ingredients they employ.
This bruschetta-like dish seems to have taken a break from the menu, but keep an eye out for it, in case it returns.
It tops that wonderful Matija bread with pesto, tomatoes, greens, and burrata.
The Emmett’s bowl is a fascinating mix of poached eggs, cumin potatoes, chickpeas, curried yogurt, red onion, turmeric kraut, cilantro, and spicy crispy topping. (Pictured here is a sample size from a Columbus Food Adventures breakfast tour.)
The avocado toast (this is also a sample size from a tour) really knocks it out of the park. This version layers crispy Matija bread with an avocado mash, sliced beets, puffed quinoa, everything spice, microgreens, and dill.
The new Emmett’s location is an excellent addition to their roster, and it helps revive this historic building in the Old North. It’s a great daytime companion to Wolf’s Ridge’s bar and lounge in the evenings. And the building is located close to the Olentangy Trail, so you can cycle your way there for coffee and breakfast!