Welcome to EAT THIS CITY , your tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by a world-class chef, celebrity, or local hero.
This week, we are taking some time to celebrate the food scene of Columbus, Ohio. It’s not just the home of R.L. Stine and Guy Fieri. No. Columbus is truly a dining and drinking destination, and who better to ask about it than Jeni Britton Bauer who founded Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, in 2002. A forward thinker, she led the artisan ice cream movement by using whole ingredients and grass-pastured milk, while eschewing commodity ice cream mix and synthetic flavorings. And, she was doing it ten years before the trend hit. Called one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company, Britton Bauer operates 30 scoop shops across the country, and her pints are also available at more than 1,500 American grocers.
But, that’s not all. Britton Bauer is also the author of multiple cookbooks. Her first, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, was called the “homemade-ice creammaking Bible” by Wall Street Journal, and earned her a James Beard Award in 2012. In May of 2014, she released her follow-up, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts with more than 100 new recipes for ice creams and ice cream desserts. Food & Wine Magazine declared “No one else makes ice cream like Jeni Britton Bauer.” And, they were right. She has elevated the dessert in ways that few others have.
You can get lost in the Instagram for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. It’s one picture after another of smooth, rich deliciousness. Here’s a sample spoonful:
Jeni Britton Bauer clearly knows her what’s up, so let’s get started learning about her favorite food experiences in Columbus.
There is fancier pizza out there, but there’s none I’d rather eat than Tommy’s Pizza. I eat Tommy’s at least once a week (though I took a full six months off when they put Trump’s photo on the wall). It’s an Upper Arlington staple and has been for more than 50 years. The crust is really thin and crackly, and unleavened but somehow tastes wonderfully of yeast, with an almost beer-like quality. I always get their house salad with Italian dressing, and then put that on pepperoni pizza. It’s so good. You have to say “old oven” when you order because they got a new oven many years ago and everybody still thinks the old one makes better pizza.
Even though I’m pretty sure there isn’t an old oven anymore, if you say “old oven” they’ll leave the pizza in a little longer. Which is the way you want it.
Columbus has a lot of really good taco places. My friends Andy and Bethia of Columbus Food Adventures even host a tour of some of the best authentic neighborhood taco trucks (a must if you’re in town). But I always come back to Junior’s Tacos. It’s just a truck slinging cheap and ridiculously good tacos. The carnitas is my go to. With fresh tortillas, cilantro, onion. That’s all you need. You can find it parked off Fifth Avenue in Victorian Village or Northwest Boulevard near Upper Arlington. Locals know it, and love it.