Originally published in Columbus Culinary Connection | December 2, 2018
The Arena District is more than just a place to dine when you’re attending a Clippers or Blue Jackets game! Although it’s an incredibly convenient place to visit for a concert or sporting events, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the area lately doing one of my favorite things – devouring delicious food! Throughout the course of this Arena District eating adventure, I’ve discovered a major obsession (the locally-sourced fare from Veranico, and especially their shortbread cookies), a new spot for brunch (hi, cinnamon roll pancake from Sunny Street), and loads of craft beer too. Whether you’re seeking brunch, dinner, or drinks, the Arena District has you covered – just keep on reading.
Brunch and Lunch
If you haven’t hit up Sunny Street Cafe yet for brunch and tried the aforementioned cinnamon roll pancake, you are missing out. This confection has an actual swirl of caramelized crunchy bits in the batter, plus a dulce de leche drizzle. If savory is more your style, there are some unique selections here as well – think stuffed biscuits and gravy or chorizo chili Tex Mex omelettes. The cute patio tucked on the side of the building is a beautiful spot for warm weather people-watching while you sip your coffee. There are also different kinds of flavored creamers on the table (this is important to me, ok?) and Sunny Street features Ohio maple syrup for their sweet dishes.
I wrote about Veranico in more detail here, but I can’t say enough good things about this concept. The salads are enormous, laden with toppings, and make even this anti-greens lady love their offerings. This spot is fast-casual but still gets as many ingredients from local farmers as possible, in addition to sporting craft beer, panini, and some utterly craveable baked goods.
Dinner and Drinks
I’ve got nada but good things to say about Nada. It’s located right across from the Arena, has pork belly tacos, and a divine cheesecake with berry sorbet on top. This contemporary Mexican joint also makes a mean margarita and has a hip happy hour, meaning it’s an ideal venue for almost any occasion.
For burgers and brews, Half Pint is the perfect pre-game spot, or just to catch up with friends. The Pint Room’s sister spot boasts dozens of beers on tap from all over, and I can’t get enough of the just-crazy-enough PBBJ burger: peanut butter, bacon, and strawberries piled high on a patty.
Gordon Biersch is another crowd-friendly option for suds and spuds. The restaurant has beer flights with a fun twist: you pick 5 mini beers to taste, and your server surprises you by picking out the sixth one. My husband and I both raved about the cheese curd appetizer too – these fried nuggets are dished up with a sprinkle of candied bacon and side of creamy bacon dip for dunking. Definitely ask for extra of this stuff, because you won’t want to share. Other munchies you must order: the bottomless Legendary Garlic Fries, sky-high bread pudding, and the Marzen beer-glazed wings.
Culinary Clue: Looking for a place to park? Many of the Arena District area restaurants offer $3 validated parking for the first two hours when you dine with them. Get maps and details here: https://arenadistrict.com/parking/. Make sure you take the time to stroll around the area as well; there are some gorgeously landscaped nooks and parks hidden in throughout!