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Level Up: Everything you need to know about rooftop bars

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You may not know it, but we are in the midst of a very exciting week for rooftop patios!

For starters, Dublin’s winter wonderland rooftop at VASO will be changing out it’s Instagram-worthy igloos for patio furniture for the first time this season. On May 1, the tapas restaurant in Bridge Park will invite guests out onto the patio for entertainment by DJ Anthony and spectacular sunset views.

Seats are limited and outside tables are first come, first serve. Visit VASODublin.com to reserve your spot.

Also this week, we have a new rooftop bar player entering the game: Lincoln Social. With a retractable roof and a fire pit, Lincoln Social Rooftop guest can experience a superb bar program, carefully crafted bites, Instagrammable features, and a beautiful view of the Columbus skyline year-round.

With an expectation like Cameron Mitchell’s this grand opening celebration on April 30 is sure to draw a crowd. Visit cameronmitchell.com for more info.

Scroll down for a look at 8 of our favorite rooftop bars in Columbus!

VASO • 6540 Riverside Dr.

Look, we know that it gets cliche to say something, or someplace provides a whole new view of the city, but atop VASO doesn’t feel Dublin, and it certainly doesn’t feel like Columbus. One of the more exciting facets of the suburb’s new Bridge Park development, it’s upscale rooftop space is cozy and contemporary at once, and it’s see-for-miles perspective of the county is as impressive as they come. (Plus, you can see all the Wendy’s from there!) there is this thing

Novak’s Tavern & Patio • 474 N High St.

The OG of the OT (on top) drinking space. Back in the day, there tiny square of fire-escape-adjacent was what sufficed for legal rooftop revelry, and when the new owners took over a few years back they made sure to put dollars and thought into the space. It’s really just a bar—but that’s part of its charm. No dance parties; no Jenga, just a place to belly up the bar—where you can turn your back to the world and get a little sun on your neck.

Callahan’s • 520 Park St.

One of old-school rooftop spaces, Callahan’s is one of the few bars that may be better known for their second floor than their ground floor space. After recently renovating their space, it’s alive again with a good old-fashioned bump-and-grind dance floor, something we could all use a little of every once in awhile.

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Juniper • 580 N Fourth St.

You’re not really doing Columbus right now if you haven’t made at least one visit to Juniper. Doubling as the best wedding view and patio, this venue on the weekends, bar/restaurant during the week has made quite the splash atop the Smith Brothers building since its opening last year. Mind the calendar, though: it’s only open to the public Tuesday-Friday, and could be booked for a private event.

Platform Beer Co. • 408 N Sixth St.

Just like their Cleveland birthplace, Platform is the blue-collar lunch pale patio of the capital city. Come by on Tuesdays to drink for a good, rotating cause and take a pint up-top where you can once say you saw the city before it developed into what it is today (tomorrow).

Little Rock Bar • 944 N Fourth St.

One of the first new bars to kick-start the rooftop rally, Little Rock is on their second summer of secondary space—a small L-shaped outdoor lounger that complements the main floor’s beer-and-shot simplicity. No smoking, no cover, and no worries overlooking Fourth Street’s busy buzz.

BrewDog Franklinton • 463 W Town St.

The rakish lads from Scotland never do anything without fanfare, and the second of their two new brewpubs is no exception. It’s open-air, two-story concept is imposing addition the Town Street block of Franklinton, the literal crowning achievement being the second floor patio. One of the best, and perhaps the only patio view of the city from the westside, you can easily gather the crowd in front of the corrugated steel covered container bar from street level. Extra points for massive bean bag chairs and access from indoors and out, having a Friday night surrounded from a fun standpoint.

Seventh Son • 1101 N Fourth St.

It was a 4/20 miracle when Seventh Son pulled off a last-minute open of their new second floor space just in time for Willie Nelson’s birthday (needs fact-checking). Never afraid to do their own thing, Seventh Son’s next-level expansion isn’t open to all of Columbus—but to all people, of course. Retractable roof tiles give them the advantage year-round use, giving it adaptability for all seasons. It’s not the old Seventh Son, but it’s same vibe—even if it feels transporting taking an astroturfed elevator to get to it.

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Restaurant Review: El Lugar and Alpine bring Spanish, German tapas to German Village

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Displayed proudly along the wall behind El Lugar’s bar are rows and rows of canned seafood—not the ingredient of choice one might expect from an upscale tapas and pinchos restaurant, located in a city with a culinary scene that typically fawns over either traditional American, or fresh and local food. Nevertheless, the Espinaler cans of tuna, razor shells, and cockles reside there like a dare for those with adventurous enough appetites to try some of the finest seafood in the world. 

Photos by Julian Foglietti

El Lugar is a shared effort by co-owners Enis and A.J. Ndreu and Elidon Hizmo to bring new and authentic European flavors to Columbus. Their two new restaurants, El Lugar and Alpine, sit next door to one another and provide different, yet complementary experiences of Spanish and German cuisines. One side boasts a more family-friendly selection of meats, cheeses and hearty vegetables, while the other is fresh Mediterranean flavors of citrus and seafood. Both share an intriguing selection of signature cocktails. 

In contrast to El Lugar, Alpine features cuisine that showcases flavors from across Germany. Nicholas Paxton, the executive chef at both restaurants who was tasked with transforming the owners’ vision into menus, is neither German nor originally familiar with German food, so he brought in consultants more familiar with the region to help develop the recipes. “I love the authenticity that we provide here on the Alpine side,” Paxton said. “There’s a broad spectrum of what German food can be.”

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Alpine is continuing the tradition of authentic regional food that has helped characterize German Village, where it and El Lugar are located. The two restaurants replaced Juergen’s Bakery, a community staple that provided Columbus with Bavarian-style fare for 50 years. Co-owner A.J. Ndreu said they’d been looking for a spot in the area to open up another German restaurant (they also own Wurst und Bier in Worthington), so when the opportunity presented itself, they jumped.

“I used to buy all my pastries from Rosemarie [Keidel, Juergen’s Bakery’s owner],” A.J. Ndreu said. 

“We just connected and she’s like, ‘I’d love for you to take over and make a German restaurant out of it.’ ”

With that, he and his cousin launched into bringing to life their concepts for German and tapas restaurants, which they’d been developing for a decade.

One of the most instrumental sources of inspiration for A.J. has been traveling around Europe. He lived in France, where he fell in love with French food. But once he experienced all the different ways Spanish cuisine used seafood, beef and pork, he was convinced otherwise. “I thought French food was the best cuisine in the world until I started going to Spain.”

The simplicity of Spanish food is a challenge for Paxton, who says his tendency when developing a recipe is to mess with its components. Spanish cuisine, in contrast, consists of ingredients that can speak for themselves; all Paxton has to do, he says, is figure out how they work together and wait for inspiration to hit.

Back in 2008, Anthony Bourdain traveled to Catalonia for his show “No Reservations” to explore the same flavors that intrigued Ndreu and Paxton. At a little bar about half an hour outside of Barcelona, Bourdain tried Espinaler’s canned seafood, and asked, “How can any chef do better for you than that?” Ndreu was captivated.

“I was like, ‘What the hell is he talking about? It’s canned,’ ” Ndreu puzzled. “So […] I went, and I was amazed. It’s unbelievable. It’s some of the best seafood I ever ate.”

After that, A.J. spent years trying to find a way to bring Espinaler’s products to Ohio, and he finally uncovered an opportunity in El Lugar. But besides the seafood, El Lugar also features Vermut Lacuesta—not the vermouth used for lining a martini glass, but a wine-like drink to be enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail. It also offers the Spanish serrano and ibérico hams, which can be cured for years. The more expensive of the two, ibérico ham comes from black pigs fed an acorn diet and can take up to five years to reach peak flavor.

Next door, Alpine’s menu describes dishes like leberkäse (a meatloaf) and wurstteller (a selection of sausages). Diners can also order raclette, available by the scrape, over any meal. But not forgetting that it’s still in the United States, Alpine offers a handful of American classics during happy hour. These include mini cheeseburger sliders, tater tots with beer cheese dip, and fried chicken wings, among others. 

Alpine and El Lugar present their guests with foreign foods that encourage diners to explore the culinary diversity of Europe. Portion sizes, particularly at El Lugar, may be a bit smaller, but Paxton hopes Columbus diners will recognize the value in great, unique-tasting food and finding excellence in unexpected places.

“We don’t want you to fill up on it. We want you to taste some amazing flavors that nobody else is doing,” Paxton said.

Alpine and El Lugar are located at 525 S 4th St. in German Village. Find out about Alpine at alpine614.com and El Lugar at ellugar614.com.

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They’ll be nothing to wine about at these 9 local wineries

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Everyone knows that Columbus is a craft beer city, but fortunately for those who never got acclimated to the yeasty drink, there’s wine. We may not have the best climate for grape growing, but these nine wineries around Columbus are breaking down barriers and serving up delicious bottles to vino lovers.

Camelot Cellars Winery | 901 Oak St, Columbus

Camelot Cellars, an award-winning Urban Boutique Winery, handcrafts all their own wines sourcing premier juices from vineyards all over the world. Offerings include retail wines by the bottle, wine tastings, flights, and event spaces.

Via Vecchia Winery | 2050 S High St, Columbus

This family-owned, urban winery is tucked away off a private lane and hosts 7700 square feet of exclusive venue space. With original exposed brick archways, wood ceiling beams and limestone walls, every experience is sure to be unforgettable.

Wyandotte Winery | 4640 Wyandotte Dr, Columbus

Wyandotte Winery is the first and oldest winery in Central Ohio, conveniently located just miles from Easton Town Center. With wines made from Ohio grapes and a beautiful patio to enjoy them on, you’re sure to enjoy your experience at Wyandotte Winery.

Signature Wines | 3816 April Ln, Columbus

Unlike many urban wineries, Signature Wines makes wines predominantly from whole grapes  and juices brought into Columbus from predominately California and Ohio using traditional, small scale winemaking techniques.  Stop into the Winery to enjoy a glass of wine in a comfortable atmosphere.

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Hidden Lakes Winery | 650 Winchester Pike, Canal Winchester

Hidden Lakes offers a delightful selection of house-made, award-winning wines and unique craft beers. Along with beverages, enjoy food from the newly-updated kitchen while taking in the scenic lakeside view.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant | 4230 The Strand, Columbus

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants celebrates moments that matter with chef-crafted food, award-winning wines, and life-long friendships. Outstanding wine, modern fare, Napa-inspiring tasting room: Cooper’s Hawk.

Good Vibes Winery | 2 S State St, Westerville

Good Vibes Winery is an urban winery located in Uptown Westerville, offering guests a wine experience, bistro samplings, and a beautiful environment to be enjoyed by friends and family.

Plum Run Winery | 3946 Broadway, Grove City

Plum Run Winery is a family-owned winery focusing on small batches of quality wines made from locally sourced fruit. A 3-acre vineyard located five miles south of the winery provides many of the grapes for the estate wines. Stop by and enjoy the wine and hospitality!

Powell Village Winery | 50 Liberty St, Powell

As one of the first wine négociants in Ohio, Powell Village Winery sources, blends, and produces small lots of high quality vinifera wines from America’s notable grape-growing regions. From bold & dry to sweet & fruity, they strive to create a diverse range of distinct wines for every taste.

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Tuttle Mall getting a lot sweeter thanks to 2 newcomers

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Malls have changed a lot over the years. Remember Waldenbooks? Was KB Toys your go-to as a kid? Heck, even Sears will soon be nothing more than a memory.

While mall establishments are frequently lost to the sands of time, it’s rare that you see a former retailer return to a mall it’s already vacated once. Well brace yourselves, sweets fans, because a gooey, sugar-frosted favorite is making a comeback at Tuttle Mall.

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Of course we’re talking Cinnabon, which was last in operation at Tuttle some years ago, and is now listed as “coming soon” on the mall’s directory. But wait! As tempting as it will be to fill up on cinnamon rolls after this long absence, you’ll want to save room for this other coming attraction: it seems Duck Donuts is also setting up shop in Tuttle.

Hop on the treadmill and give your dentist a heads-up, mall lovers—sweets are back at Tuttle in a big way!

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