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No Coast, No Problem

Okay, I’m hooked. It wasn’t until I finally tried the “gumbo,” that I was entirely convinced about Frank’s—the new seafood carryout opposite the long-standing Frank’s Seafood Market. Of course, those on the far west side, might know that Frank’s has occupied that industrial space in Hilliard for over 15 years, Columbus being one of the [...]
Kevin J. Elliott



Okay, I’m hooked.

It wasn’t until I finally tried the “gumbo,” that I was entirely convinced about Frank’s—the new seafood carryout opposite the long-standing Frank’s Seafood Market.

Of course, those on the far west side, might know that Frank’s has occupied that industrial space in Hilliard for over 15 years, Columbus being one of the first way stations after fresh fish hits the coast. For the last year though, couple Wil and Kim Mendez have occupied Frank’s vacant kitchen and converted it into coveted destination for bold flavors, traditional favorites and secret family recipes.

“It’s really true that you can never judge a book by its cover,” says Wil Mendez, handing me a piping hot bowl of his award-winning gumbo. “I’ve had people from New York, Boston, Maine, and even New Orleans, where they make the best gumbo in the world, try this stuff and claim it’s by far their favorite.”

Indeed, Mendez’s ritual for making the gumbo, like most of the dishes at Frank’s, is an intense labor of love, consisting of a half-day simmer to fuse the spices in the original recipe, and a dash of Mendez’s “Latin touch,” combining extra garlic and cilantro, to give it its distinctive taste. While Mendez’s gumbo humblebrag might throw some off, with two decades in the kitchen, going from line cook to chef, he’s earned the accolades. And that’s just the appetizer.

Tucked off of Trabue Road, among the warehouse sprawl, Frank’s is an unassuming oasis. There are no frills. With plastic cutlery, styrofoam dishes, smooth jazz and a roll of paper towels on each table, it becomes easy to feel like the place is one of those seaside bastions you only return to on Florida vacations. All that’s missing is the beach.

“We’ve got the breeze, all we really need are some seagulls and a little sand over there,” says Mendez. “In fact, we’ve actually been thinking of finding a way to pipe in some bird noise.”

As one would expect, the menu is no frills as well, including fried oysters and shrimp, salmon cakes (another award winner) and a crispy calamari salad. It’s dominated with the freshest fried or grilled cod, perch, walleye, and catfish—available as a platter—and a whole fried red snapper that is a sight to behold.

But as simple as the menu at a seafood shack can be, again, it’s the “love” passed down through the Mendez recipes, from the egg wash to the remoulade the cocktail sauce to the fry mix that makes Frank’s take on seafood unique and out of the ordinary.

Who knew that maduros and tostones, the family’s delicious variations on fried green plantains, would pair so well with the scratch clam chowder?

Or that homemade flan is an ideal complement to a gluttonous boil of crawfish and crab legs?

On this particular Saturday, “Grumpy’s” (Wil’s nickname) Boil was the main attraction, as we got the last one. Like most days, they run out. There was a steady stream of regular customers which made it hard for the husband and wife team, the only staff of the day, to break away for a chat.

As we rub our satisfied bellies and remove our lobster-adorned bibs, Kim delivers an enormous slice of orange cream wedding cake. It’s the same cake the Mendez’s had at their wedding over a decade ago.

“It’s the only thing we don’t make here,” says Kim. “We get it shipped in every week from back home in New Jersey.”

It’s also a  perfect symbol for the old adage that, even though we are sitting on a gull-less patio in Hilliard, we are ultimately guests in the Mendez’s home.

The next weekend they were preparing for their first Taste of Latin event, featuring a whole roasted pig and a bounty of ceviches. Business is good, something the modest and appreciative Mendez attributes to two tenets; customer service and quality.

“Back to the gumbo … each and every time you come here,  I want it to taste exactly the same. I want you to know this is my gumbo or my chowder.”

For hours, menus, and more information visit

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Food & Drink

Clintonville Brunch Crawl: We dare you to squeeze all 3 stops into 1 day




Clintonville is lovely this time of year, especially when you make three separate stops for brunch. 

Whether the weather is gracing the charming little burgh with a healthy dose of vitamin D or giving it a couple spins around the Lazy Susan that is Ohio’s climate, a trifecta of morning food destinations is sure to keep your mood afloat.

BLunch  • 2973 N High St.

Yes, we know that Columbus now is home to a Drunch AND a BLunch.

Snicker all ya want—if you do, you’d be missing out on one of the culinary scene’s welcome newcomers—a half-day cafe that carries the comforts of a First Watch, but with the sophisticated execution of Tasi or Katalina’s.

The White Family has decades of hospitality under their belt—the family owned Galena’s Mudflats until recently, and dad Jeff has been running the OSU Faculty Club for the past 20 years.

Those two were training grounds for son Jeff, once a young, eager dishwasher and now head chef for the White’s new “daylight eatery and bar.” Mom Jane, despite her own admission that in the family’s tavern-running days breakfast didn’t get served until halfway through afternoon, now relishes an intimate spot where people can maintain their own balance between booze and breakfast.

A full-bar at brunch is a rarity in the peculiar little burg, and positioned near Lineage, Old Skool, and Condado, BLunch could be the perfect starting point for a casual Clintonville crawl.

Then again, you may not have another stop after Chef Jeff gets done with ya. He and the White family have concepted a bennies-and-batter focused menu, where you’ll be sure to come back after a healthy amount of indecision. Me? I’ve been dreaming about the Bananas Foster pancakes (topped with ice cream) and the huevos rancheros over masa cake for weeks. – Travis Hoewischer


Dough Mama • 3335 N High St.

Dough Mama is the top of my list for my favorite breakfast joint. I love so much about this place.

The atmosphere is super chill, laid back, and inviting. The food is so so good. I would call it comfort food with an extra sprinkle of love and thought.

From pie to salad, it’s all good.

They use a variety of local and seasonal ingredients and support some of my favorite local delicacies with Dan the Baker bread and Thunderkiss coffee … YUM! They also have a variety of vegan and gluten-free options.

I am smitten with the Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy muffin. This place is my go to for a yummy drippy egg, roasted potatoes, salad, a sweet treat and a perfect cup of coffee.


My husband loves Grammie’s Sammie and a piece of Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie. I somehow manage to splurge here and feel really really good about it.

Their menu has some great staples but they also always have specials that look and are amazing.

Right now they serve both lunch and breakfast during the day and I’ve heard it through the grapevine that they will soon be open in the evening and serving dinner. I cannot wait to see what delicious dishes they create for that menu. – Jana Rock

Baba’s • 2515 Summit St.

Baba’s is my go-to breakfast spot in Columbus. You can grab a breakfast sandwich on their homemade griddle muffins (aka little pillows of heaven), order a rack of ribs, or in the spirit of Alabama Worley, have a slice of perfect pie and a cup of Thunderkiss coffee.

Their delicious baked goods are made in house, they smoke all of their own meats and their produce and coffee are all sourced locally, though their espresso will send you to the moon.

The service is fast, their team is super-friendly and there are never any pretentious vibes in the super chill atmosphere they have created on the corner of Hudson and Summit.

They’ve made a beautiful impact in their short existence in the SoHud neighborhood, fostering local artistic connections and bringing beautiful new mural art that rotates different artist from the community throughout the year. Don’t forget to grab one of their perfect cinnamon rolls for later. — Vanessa Jean Speckman

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Food & Drink

Harvest Pizzeria sowing last seeds in German Village




Eight years ago, Harvest Pizzeria cropped up in a small space in German Village. Today, the local pizza chain announced the closure of its flagship location.

Harvest Pizzeria German Village will open its doors for the final time on Saturday, April 27th.

“Despite the success of Harvest in German Village and our strong ties to the neighborhood, the owner of the property will not honor our renewal of the lease,” wrote founder Chris Crader in an email. “…the landlord’s demands for a new lease at a higher rate would not allow our little pizzeria to remain viable.


Crader added that he is proud of the strides Harvest German Village has made over the years, and thankful for the community that’s supported it. He hopes they can return to the neighborhood when the right spot presents itself.

As far as the employees go, Crader wrote that with the success of the other locations, the German Village workers will be able to join a team at another restaurant.

“Harvest sincerely thanks all of its loyal supporters and we hope to see you at our other locations soon,” wrote Crader.

This news follows the announcement of the Grandview Harvest closing back in February. Read more here.

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Food & Drink

Crawfish boils claw their way into Columbus Saturday

Mike Thomas



What’s the deal with crawfish boils? Sure, they’re delicious, but as a true land-lubbing midwesterner, my knowledge of this particular culinary phenomenon is fairly lacking.

That said, I definitely can’t tell you why there are multiple crawfish boils going down this Saturday. Best not to overthink it—just enjoy the experience!

Pecan Penny’s |113 East Main Street
Saturday at 4 PM – 7 PM

Sponsored by Brewdog, downtown BBQ joint Pecan Penny’s is kicking off patio season with an all-you-can-eat Crawfish boil, complete with giveaways and a DJ.


Rehab Tavern | 456 W Town St
2 PM – 6 PM

Rehab’s own 4/20 crawfish boil kicks off at 2:00. Your $15.75 entrance fee will net you a pint of beer in addition to all-you-can-eat crawfish and fixins’!

Can’t make either of these, or want to try the boil experience before committing to a large-scale event? Check out Kai’s Crab Boil or Boiling Seafood Crawfish—both on Bethel Road —for first-rate seafood experiences you won’t soon forget.

Why are there two crawfish boils on the same day? Why are there two crawfish restaurants on the same road? We may never know, and honestly, who cares? Crawfish is the bomb! Just put on your bib and get crackin’!

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