We sure do like to talk “best” a lot around here.
If we’re not passing around the latest “Columbus Named Best City to Waste Its Collective Time by Clicking This Article” lists on social media, we’re spending the rest of the time offering our own personal beliefs as to what businesses, bars, and burgers should be exalted on high.
Especially this time of year. There’s no shortage of passion during ColumBest month, and in the 2015 version, our readers flooded the online gates to the staggering tune of 729,710 votes.
Inside, you’ll see old veterans keeping pace with the constant influx of new restaurant and bar concepts, as well the upstarts savvy enough to demand award-winning praise in their first year. (Uh, Hot Chicken tookover pretty much immediately).
And while the results of our annual poll are a fantastic illustration of the interest we have in our city’s commerce, there’s so much more emotion and pride about Columbus’s intangible features that a true “best of” must include those little details, the stuff that’s in the Columbus sauce that really makes us special.
So, since this is the month we let the readers do the talking, I’ll step aside and let you get a few of those special little ingredients from them:
“I moved here from a bigger, hipper(?), more affluent city five years ago, and insofar as I’ve experienced it, the barrier to entry to new projects in Columbus is relatively low. Training, smart and enthusiastic people, cheap resources, and I think above all, an overall commitment to trying and failing are part and parcel with this town. It’s kind of a self-selected group of people who might read this, but seriously—how many people do you personally know who have started a business or an arts venture or political discourse that has blossomed into a Thing with a following. A following of both friends and haters because the city is small enough that we hear about everything and know enough to have an opinion about a lot of it? That’s really rare, right?” — Julia Kays
“I’ve lived a few places, and the sense of community here is unreal. In the macro sense of the people here as a whole, but more than anything in the micro. Once you get into the little sections—musicians, comedians, artists, burlesque—there’s overwhelming support in almost every aspect of life here. It’s a city of the perfect size, where you can prosper, but everyone still knows everyone.” — Dave Burkey
“The people. Columbus is growing quite quickly, but there’s still a sense of community and ‘togetherness’ that other cities don’t have. People are REAL. From someone who moved to San Diego and misses Columbus almost daily, that’s the thing I miss most. And that it’s got an awesome community of people wanting to push things forward and keep it on the leading edge of things that are fantastic: local artists, local music, local business, local fabulousness.” — Brianna Elsasser
“It’s true that we seem to have the best public library system in the country (and I have looked at a LOT of libraries). But the thing that gets me is the weird fact that whatever weird thing you need, Columbus will definitely have ONE of. Fountain pen shop? Naturally. Expert leather repair? Yes. Store that sells every possible kind of hat? Mais Oui. Some particular type of food, for cooking or for eating out? ALWAYS. I have yet to have some very specific urgent requirement that I haven’t been able to find someone or someplace in Columbus to go for it. And while NYC has multiple such ones or places, every other city I’ve lived in or spent time in will fail in multiple areas.” — Michelle Herman
Or as Joy Macke put it:
“Where else can you see a butter cow, see great live music every night of the week, get a Ph.D., make films, and get a top-shelf mixed cocktail for $3?”
Nowhere, dammit. ’Cause we’re the Best.
Travis Hoewischer, Editor-in-Chief