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8 local seafood dishes to send your palate on a vacation

Kevin J. Elliott

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“You can’t get good seafood in this town…”

Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before. But, these eight dishes prove that Columbus is trying to buck the trend with inventive dishes that prove that theory all wet.

Make the most of no-coast Columbus with these seafood standouts.

Paella Mariscos | Barcelona, 263 E Whittier St, Columbus

The menu of Barcelona has stood the test of time and weathered Columbus’s ever-shifting palettes. If you’re craving a bounty of seafood, there’s no better refuge than the German Village mainstay. Especially considering their Paella Mariscos as the be-all, end-all feast. Their take on the Spanish rice tradition features fried soft shell crabs, lobster, shrimp, squid, clams, mussels, and plenty of spice. If you’re in search of seafood, this should have all of your bases covered.

Mussel Escabeche | Lupo on Arlington, 2124 Arlington Ave, Columbus

Lupo has quickly become a new gem in Columbus’s dining scene, and fans of seafood and Spanish-inspired tapas should take particular note. In addition to frequently having a variety of oysters on the half-shell, their menu is packed with fresh, delicate, seafood dishes. The mussel escabeche is relatively foreign to Columbus menus, but here it’s done to perfection. Served cold, the mussels are first cooked in a citrus and vinegar marinade, before being presented with saffron, white wine, and garlic. It’s a perfect summer delicacy, best enjoyed on Lupo’s scenic patio.

Grumpy’s Gumbo | Frank’s Seafood, 5249 Trabue Rd, Columbus

We’ve spotlighted this Hilliard fish market and their subsequent restaurant in the magazine before, but we wanted to highlight them once again. Beyond the fresh fish and shellfish you can order to-go, or their expert boils, Wil Mendez’s award-winning gumbo—chocked full of shrimp, crab, and andouille sausage—is a genuine crowd-pleaser and the only gumbo you should order outside of New Orleans. Frank’s has a definite seaside vibe, even within is confines among a west side industrial park.

Lobster Bisque | Lindey’s, 169 E Beck St, Columbus

Lindey’s and lobster bisque are basically synonymous. This menu mainstay is a creamy concoction of sherry chantilly, chives, and diced shrimp. It would be irresponsible to start your meal any other way. And speaking of your meal, Lindey’s is a sanctuary for seafood. Market fresh fish, crab cakes, trout, Australian sea bass, sixty south salmon and more swim through the menu daily.

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Coquilles St. Jacques | Windward Passage, 4739 Reed Rd, Columbus

For the ultimate seafood dining experience, there’s no better place to visit than the timespun Windward Passage. Eating in the windowless, scrimshaw filled Henderson Road fixture is akin to eating on the stern of a pirate ship. Among their staples is the Coquilles St. Jacques, served in a colossal shell, it’s a French-inspired recipe that bakes scallops into a decadent casserole of mushrooms, breadcrumbs, and cheese. Save room for all the oyster crackers between courses.

Read Gary F.‘s review of Windward Passage Restaurant on Yelp

Charred Octopus | Cosecha Cocina, 987 N 4th St, Columbus

Perhaps seafood’s trendiest dish, octopus has been spotted on menus all over town as of late. But the charred octopus starter at Cosecha is a simple dish accenting the texture and bubblegum-of-the-sea flavors of the centerpiece. Over a bed of tomatoes, pepitas, olives, and potatoes, the charred octopus is a must-order on your next visit to the Cocina.

Oysters | The Guild House, 624 N High St, Columbus

We know that Cameron Mitchell gets most of his oyster press from The Pearl across the street, but you’d be wise not to overlook the Guild House’s version, served with champagne mignonette, grape granita, black pepper, and shaved grapes. It’s somehow simple and decadent at once, and tastes twice as good as it looks—which is crazy, because it’s one of the best-looking dishes you’ll see.

Gouda Grits and Shrimp | Momma Can Cook

Try to track down Momma Can Cook and you’ll get hip to their most popular menu item with a couple rudimentary scans of their reviews. While the culinary crowd is lighter in the seafood sea, there are food trucks everywhere, so when people are dropping lines like “one of the best meals I’ve ever gotten from a food truck,” we’re lining up to taste that gouda, tomatoes, bacon, scallions, and of course … shrimp!

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Food & Drink

Brand new concept opening today in former CBC Restaurant

Regina Fox

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The CBC Restaurant successor will finally take the helm today. Matt & Tony's Wood Fired Kitchen is open now at 525 Short St.

Matt & Tony’s Wood Fired Kitchen will focus on contemporary American cuisine and craft cocktails in an eclectic space, according to a release. This is a spinoff concept from Pat & Gracie's Downtown co-owners Matt Rootes and Tony Wildman.

"We believe that there is a need downtown for prime steaks and great seafood at a reasonable price,” said Rootes. “We’re committing to excellent food and service in a relaxed and fun atmosphere with plenty of free parking available.”

Since the CBC Restaurant closed back in July 2018, the space has undergone extensive renovation to better suit the contemporary Matt & Tony's brand.

After announcing the closure, CBC Restaurant planned to rebrand as Oxbow on Short. However, severe health issues rendered one owner, Doug Griggs, incapable of continuing.

Mat & Tony’s is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week with most menu items under $20. Hours are 11am- 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am- 11pm Friday and Saturday.

More information can be found at mattandtonys.com.

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Food & Drink

Dick’s Dive will be your new favorite hole-in-the-wall bar

Regina Fox

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Columbus has plenty to offer for fans of smoked cocktails and rooftop views, but today, I've got something for the mediocre brown liquor and dive bar enthusiasts. Dick's Dive is now open directly below Zeno's at 384 W. Third Ave., serving "beers your dad would drink" in the perfect basement bar atmosphere.

Dick's Dive is a tribute to Owner Quinn Allen's late father and local business legend Dick Allen. He is immortalized through family photos that line the walls of the dive, neon signs that once hung in the family basement and garage, and through the "Dick Allen," the bar's signature beverage made of Double Paramount run, soda, and a splash of sugar-free Red Bull.

The bar is furnished with a shuffleboard table, a Touch Tunes machine, a soft leather sofa, a few TVs that will show football games, and several wooden round tables that look to have been scored at an old estate sale. Allen opted for round tables as opposed to smaller two-tops or long bench-style seating to encourage intermingling between small groups of bar-goers.

"We expect the crowd to be as mismatched as the furniture," Allen said.

The black and white checkered floors are scuffed from years of fun when the basement was used as a private events space, and though newly-renovated, the corner bar has a built in authenticity—I'm sure it could tell a story or two.

The ceilings hang low and the lights are even lower, creating the perfect windowless well to forget your problem and the time.

Typically, it requires a great deal of time for a new bar to be dubbed a "dive," but Dick's is different. Through its colorful history, storied decor, and organic hole-in-the-wall vibe, I can confidently lump it in with my favorite dives around the city like Meister's, Mike's Grill, and Byrne's Pub.

Cheers, Columbus, we can now drink cheap beer in a basement and not have to hide it from our parents.

The bar is open from 6pm- 2am. Tuesday through Friday, times vary Saturdays based on Buckeye kickoff, and Sunday from 11am- 2am.

In case you haven't already painted a picture in your mind, take a virtual stroll through Dick's Dive with our 360° photos below.

Note: use the left/right arrows in the upper-left corner to navigate between images.

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Food & Drink

I had a Baja Blast at High St’s recently-opened Taco Bell Cantina

Asa Herron

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Once again, Taco Bell has surprised us all by adding alcohol to their drink menu. Upon hearing that the Taco Bell Cantina at 1525 N. High St. obtained its liquor license, my expectations were very ambivalent. Am I going to walk in and see a full bar with a separate area to order food, a la Plaza? Or are they going for something like Chipotle with bottles of beer and fresh margaritas available to order at the register?

Taco Bell’s drink menu turns out to be a similar, cheaper version of Chipotle’s drink menu. Instead of bottled Coronas and Patron margaritas, Taco Bell offers beers on tap and the option to add rum, vodka, or tequila to your freeze. All of the freeze flavors are available to make alcoholic––including the holy grail of Taco Bell beverages, the Baja Blast.

Photos: Amal Saeed

In keeping with Taco Bell tradition, the prices for the drinks are fairly cheap. You can get a 16-ounce Bud Light for $3, Corona for $4, and Thirsty Dog or Lost Coast for $5. However, the real treat here is the alcoholic freeze, which is only $5. The key to enjoying one of these boozy Baja Blast freezes is to keep mixing it and drink it fast. Otherwise, the alcohol you have mixed in will all go to the bottom.

The numerous televisions on the wall and high-top tables with stools to sit at create an atmosphere that could loosely pass as a casual bar. The real potential of this Taco Bell drink menu lies in its ability to transform your pre- gaming on your way to Short North bars. It’s a great quick stop before the rest of the night, or a way to bring it to a close with one last drink.

I’m not so confident that this new drink menu will go well in hours just before the south campus hotspot closes at 4am, but I can only imagine the level of intoxication that will be reached by some individuals. It’s no secret that Taco Bell is caviar to anyone under the influence. As long as the one security guard on duty can handle his own, you can bet we’ll be back for drinks at Taco Bell Cantina.

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