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10 Best Cheap Eats in Columbus

By
From the Winter 2012 edition

Our November cover story is all about splurging at the city’s 10 best fine-dining restaurants. These places can be pricy, yes, but each is well worth the occasional indulgence.

But there’s no need to break the bank on an everyday basis. Visit any of the places on this list of our top 10 cheap-eats spots, and you can come away with a full and happy belly for $15 or less.

1. Skillet

Chef Kevin Caskey makes the best comfort food around using seasonal ingredients from local, sustainable farms.

Cheap Eats pick: Weekend brunch lines here can get ridiculous, so I’ll sometimes order breakfasty dishes for lunch or dinner instead. Recently I’ve loved the Sweet Potato and Chorizo Folded Omelette ($12).

2. Harvest Pizzeria

With seasonal pizzas, small-plate starters and good desserts, this German Village restaurant is more than just a pizzeria.

Cheap Eats pick: Order the $9 lunch special—a nine-inch pizza (my fave is the Spicy Yuma with gouda, chorizo, corn, jalapeno, roasted peppers and chipotle-spiked sauce) and a half-salad.

3. Freshstreet

My love for the food made by Kenny Kim and Misako Ohba at their Japanese street food pop-up housed for now in the kitchen at Double Happiness knows no bounds.

Cheap Eats pick: Go for the Japanese crepes. One savory and one sweet makes for a perfect balanced meal. I usually get the Bulgogi Cheese Steak for $7 and the Green Tea Tiramisu for $6.

4. Katalina’s

This teensy Victorian Village cafe specializes in sandwiches, all of them made with high-quality ingredients in creative combinations.

Cheap Eat pick: The Mazatlan Slow-Roasted Pork and Egg sandwich, $9.25, is easily huge enough to act as two meals. A hefty toasted bun is loaded with slow-roasted pulled pork, a fried egg, avocado and roasted red peppers.

5. Little Palace

This hip Downtown place does nifty bar bites. Fried cheese curds from Blue Jacket Dairy ($6) are a guilty pleasure, while the Favorites menu is a can’t-miss collection of sandwiches, burgers and gyros priced under $5.

Cheap Eats pick: Order a Palace Burger for $3, a Crisp Chicken Sandwich for $3.50 and a side of fries for $2.

6. Knead

Rick and Krista Lopez buy almost exclusively from local and sustainable farms, then turn those ingredients into magical diner fare.

Cheap Eats pick: I’m forever loyal to the Motherclucker sandwich, $10. It’s a buttermilk fried chicken breast served on a toasted challah bun with bacon, cheddar, roasted poblanos, garlic aioli and honey.

7. Pistacia Vera

Pistacia’s non-dessert menu is limited to a handful of brunch dishes so uniformly excellent, I wish they’d branch out with a full savory menu.

Cheap Eats pick: Tomato Provencal Baked Eggs ($11), two sunny-side-up eggs baked with cream, fresh herbs and tomato fondue. It comes with a real-deal flaky croissant and jam.

8. Indochine Cafe

The food’s great at this Vietnamese restaurant in Whitehall, but the real draw is the hilarious and kind family who owns the place.

Cheap Eats pick: Pho Dac Biet, a huge bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup with rare beef, meatballs and tripe will run you $7.50.

9. Bono Pizza

This quirky little pizza place is located inside a carryout. The owners are the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and their wood-fired, charred-crust pizzas are very special.

Cheap Eats pick: The pricing is simple—10-inch pies perfect for one person are all priced at $10. Try the Hulk, made with fresh pesto, fresh mozzarella and a whole ton of green veggies.

10. Ray Ray’s Hog Pit

Our best-known food truck has a permanent new home in the parking lot at Ace of Cups, which is perfect since their slow-smoked barbecue practically demands to be eaten right away and washed down with a beer.

Cheap Eats pick: Try the beef brisket sandwich for $6, with a side of collard greens.