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Photo by Rosa Cautela

Left (and right) of Center

Downtown is getting all the love these days. While the city’s core explodes with food and drink options, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are interesting, amazing, and vibrant places to checkout that aren’t within walking distance of the Statehouse. After all, almost 1 million people live in the metropolitan area, while only 7,000, give or take, live downtown. From newbies to old favorites, there is plenty to eat and love outside the city center.

Prost Beer & Wine

7354 E Main St., Reynoldsburg

Prost (rhymes with toast) recently opened on the Main Street drag in Reynoldsburg, bringing with it a beer garden vibe, an outstanding menu, and a Cheers mentality—literally, the name means “cheers” in German. Taking over an old firehouse, owner Derek Maklezow made the most of the unique space. What could’ve been a bit too industrial—the high ceilings, exposed piping, hard cement floors—has been tempered with yellow and green paint tones, gorgeous warm lighting, and lots of wood.

There is also a huge people-watcher’s patio that will surely be the Reynoldsburg spot this summer. With a blackboard craft beer list, which favors Ohio brews, and a wine by the glass list of over two dozen, Prost encourages new adventures in beveraging. But one can’t have a pub without the grub and this is where Prost breaks out of the pack.

The favorite far and away is the bruschetta bar, a list of 10-plus topping options to choose from served as a quartet on a wooden paddle. Go all veg with brie, apple, and fig, or pick capicola. The caprese salad is a twist on the traditional version and is topped with prosciutto in a stacked, Napoleon-style presentation.

This is certainly the place to be in Reynoldsburg right now—it’s crowded, it’s trending, and it’s a place that far eastsiders have been craving for a long time.

Kitamu Coffee

3221 Hilliard Rome Rd., Hilliard

It’s hard to break the routine: up and out of the house, run by Brioso/Fox in the Snow/Mission/Upper Cup and get caffeine-amped for the day. Sometimes, though, various appointments and adult-type stuff takes us out of our comfort zone and sends us packing to another part of the city to take care of business. If this scenario happens to take you to Hilliard, put on the brakes at Kitamu Coffee. The bright walls are enough to shock your eyes open, but the coffee seals the deal. A special Kitamu blend roasted by the good folks at Stauf’s is bold but without that harsh acidic side.

It’s too bad if you have to brew and run because Kitamu is not just a coffee shop, it’s a community center as well. It’s a comfortable space to chat with friends, or read a book, or even write a book. Owner Mo Muhidin is welcoming and totally supportive of the local art scene—from hosting local bands to displaying local, emerging artists on the walls.

The coffee is good, but the coffee drinks, those sugary caffeinated dessert concoctions, are even better. Using coffee as the canvas for sweet, sweeter, sweetest, there are beverages that arrive with whole Oreos peering over the side as well as others drizzled in enough caramel and chocolate sauce to overflow Willie Wonka’s syrupy river.

There are the muffins and whatnot that are par for the coffeehouse course, but Mary’s Cookies are edible works of art that instill pangs of guilt—for biting into one, not because of the calories.

Hmmm, maybe don’t wait until you have to go to Hilliard, make Kitamu part of your routine today.

Lomonico’s

1506 Stonecreek Dr., Pickerington

Although we think of violets when we think of Pickerington—the suburb hosts a festival dedicated to the petite lovelies—it might just be time to replace that with “authentically awesome Italian food.” The Tigers have Lomonico’s to thank for that. Run by two chefs, Craig Lomonico and Andrew Bornstein, who tag-team the production of the ambitious and delicious menu, Lomonico’s is certainly worth the drive.

Another strip mall start-up, the restaurant is usually packed with everyone from families to first daters. Similarly, meal choices can lean family-style, meatballs to start, a classic meat pizza, and party cake to finish (complete with rainbow sprinkles!). Or they can go fancy, starting with carpaccio, an eggplant Napoleon, and the sublime cannoli dip. Taking either fork in the menu road leads to a satisfying evening.

Now that it’s nice out, hit up the patio for the fresh air; or stay inside and absorb the loud energy of the industrial dining room, with its exposed ductwork and concrete floor. While some people complain about the noise, the chatter of friends and the music of utensils on plates gives diners the “I’m part of an event,” vibe that makes the evening all the more exciting. 

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