hot chicken, hot dogs, hot pot, hummus
Joe DeLoss’s Hot Chicken Takeover, inspired by Prince’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, has cornered the hot chicken market in Central Ohio. Now offering gluten-free hot chicken and sides, this 6-year-old social enterprise (which helps formerly incarcerated individuals reenter the workforce) keeps innovating and growing, with three locations locally and one in Cleveland. HCT’s flavorful, highlighter-orange fried chicken is fantastic, but its secret weapon is Miss B’s Banana Pudding, which helps cool the taste buds.
You’ve got your classic Coney dogs, and then you’ve got gussied-up wieners with toppings that run the gamut (RIP DareDevil Dogs). For the former, look to old-school spots like Village Coney in German Village or Tony’s Coneys, which turns 70 in 2021. For the latter, Downtown’s Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace continues to have a cult following and offers a solid selection of vegetarian dogs. The South Side has a friendly neighborhood joint in Buns & Brews, and newcomer Links-N-Lemonade in Graceland Shopping Center piles some of its gourmet dogs high with fresh-cut fries.
Fans of experiential dining will love cooking their meal at the table—the M.O. of the Chinese hot pot. Coco Hot Pot on Bethel Road is a new destination for the delicacy, recently replacing Peking Hot Pot. In Old North, NE Chinese Restaurant is home to some of the best Chinese food in the city and serves a solid hot pot. 868 Asia Cuisine and Shabu Shabu, a rare Taiwanese eatery in Central Ohio, offers hot pot options as well as popular Taiwanese dishes such as popcorn chicken, fried pork chops and “stinky” tofu. Call ahead before you go, as some restaurants may be takeout only; hot pot doesn’t translate well to carryout.
There’s exciting news on the Mediterranean food front. Columbus is getting its very own Israeli hummusiya, Darista, thanks to Dara Schwartz, owner of the hummus company Darista Dips. We’re counting down the days until it debuts in Budd Dairy Food Hall. Also coming soon is Falafel Kitchen, an all-vegetarian concept from Katy Ailabouni, whose mother, Maggie Ailabouni, runs Mazah Mediterranean Eatery. Check it out when it opens in the North Market Bridge Park. Want more good news? Tarek Albast, owner of the excellent Lebanese spot Mr. Hummus, is expected to add a second location in Italian Village. And don’t forget the ever-popular Mediterranean restaurant Lávash Café, which opened in 2008 in Clintonville, or Brassica, a fast-casual take on Lebanese from the owners of Northstar Café.