The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Vegan Hotspots in Columbus, Ohio

Posted on May 08, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Myrial Holbrook

When you think of Ohio, you probably think of football, elections, and cows, in that order. Here in Columbus, we are passionate about our Ohio State Buckeyes and politics, but we’re also home to a thriving food community that has expanded to include a diverse array of vegan and vegetarian options. So where are these veg hotspots?

The answer: everywhere. From farmers markets to the Short North to closet bistros to burgeoning chains, Columbus is a hotbed of culinary diversity, and vegan/vegetarian options are in no short supply. I’ll give you a taste of the best C-BUS veg eats, but know that you have been warned: these treats are too scrumptious to resist.

My first recommendation for you is the Whole World Natural Bakery and Restaurant in Clintonville. As the first vegetarian restaurant in Columbus, Whole World has achieved near-perfection in crafting both the savory and the sweet. The food is surprisingly affordable, the restaurant itself is small yet intimate, the food is one hundred percent vegetarian, and nearly every menu item has a corresponding vegan option. Customers especially love the vegan burger, tofu sloppy joe, black bean nachos, eggplant meatball sub, and seitan gyro, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the options. Because the restaurant is also a bakery, you simply have to try a dessert. I personally love their pie bars, which come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate coconut, blueberry, chocolate pecan, and lemon. Their cookies and cakes are also divine.

Another must-visit for vegans and vegetarians alike is Portia’s Café. It’s completely vegan, gluten-free, mostly organic, and mostly raw. The café features phenomenal dips: hummus, guacamole, spinach-artichoke (A.K.A. “Spanako), seven-layer, and walnut pâté. For entrées, I love Portia’s Pad Thai, which includes raw kelp noodles tossed in a delicious sauce made from almonds, miso, coconut, lime, lemon juice, Bragg’s aminos, dates, and crushed red pepper. I also like their Spanako Quesadilla, filled with their famous spinach-artichoke dip, brown rice, and Daiya Cheeze. Portia’s desserts are on the lighter side, with options such as raw chocolate or blondie macaroons or fruit and chocolate Cheezecakes. This café is great for a wholesome, no-guilt meal that just might inspire your own cooking. If you visit on a Sunday morning, be sure to try the vegan and gluten-free waffles.

As a final stop in Columbus, visit Northstar Café at one of its three locations. Northstar is not completely vegan or vegetarian, but it merits mention because of its superb veg options and flavors. The service is quick, making it a convenient option for a weeknight or a sit-down dinner destination. The café has great fresh smoothies (my favorite is the blueberry) and cookies (they’re massive), but the savory food is what really gets people excited. The Northstar Burger is a classic favorite, with a homemade patty crafted from a delicious trinity of black beans, brown rice, and beets. The thin crust, whole-wheat, fire-roasted flatbreads are also amazing. The local ingredients and attention to detail make Northstar a crowd-pleasure for both omnivores and herbivores.

The veggie takeover isn’t only happening in the food industry here in Columbus; it’s also thriving in home kitchens. We have farmers markets everywhere that supplement, and even in some cases, supplant, the standard grocery store. My favorite farmers markets are in Worthington and Clintonville, but there are other popular ones in Upper Arlington, Bexley, and just about every suburb in Columbus. Farmers markets are a great place for ingredients and conversations here in Columbus. Every weekend in the summer, I visit my local farmers markets and stock up on leafy greens, peaches, berries, and cooking and growing tips for my own home kitchen and garden.

As you can see, Columbus isn’t just a college town or the epicenter of a swing-state. We’re home to a bustling healthy-living community too. So the next time you’re in Columbus, stop by and try some of these fabulous veg eats. You won’t be disappointed.

Myrial wrote this article while doing an internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group.

1 to “Vegan Hotspots in Columbus, Ohio”

  1. Alan Woods says:

    Thanks for the update. As vegans for the past several decades, we’ve enjoyed watching our options in Columbus grow. We’ve been patrons of Whole World and Portia’s since their respective openings. And meet friends regularly at one or both Northstar Cafes. We’ll also add Acre Food-to-Table, a new place in Columbus’ Clintonville neighborhood (where Whole World is located); although not entirely vegetarian, it offers some terrific vegetarian/vegan options, and is well worth checking out when you’re in the area.

    Ann and Alan Woods



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