Photo by Collins Laatsch.

You’re Covered

If you get panicked about bringing a dish to a local soiree—like a few folks on our Stock & Barrel team—use this guide as the perfect stop-and-shop.

Portia’s Cafe. What’s being served off the grill at this BBQ, over there on the “far side” of the picnic table? The vegetarians and vegans need more than chips and dip to survive the summer heat, and join in the volleyball game. Without something more substantial, one or two of those mojitos will have them down for the count, snoozing under a lawn chair.

Why not surprise them by bringing Super Power, Mediterranean, and Great Tofu Wraps from Portia’s to nosh on? Slice them up to share, and they will look so tasty that you may need to swat the carnivores away. Her 7-layer Sombrero Dip could constitute a meal in itself, with guacamole, salsa, black beans, onion, and Daiya cheese among the ingredients. Just add tortilla chips, and the whole crowd at the BBQ can avoid growing unnecessarily “hangry.”

– Kathleen O’Dowd

Mosley’s Meat Market. Don’t the hosts usually supply the beef patties? Be a BBQ iconoclast and show up with gourmet burgers that put the rest to shame. Preservative-free, 100 percent grass-fed and always local, these mouth-watering pleasure pucks are infused with goodies like bleu cheese and bacon. Go for the Buckeye Burger, a robust blend of hormone-free beef, bacon, cheddar and jalapeño. What, the meat’s already cooking when you show up? Never mind. Those chain-store, allegedly gourmet patties will get spatula-tossed to the back of the grate. Your hosts will thank you, and so will their grill.

– Robert Hunt

Red Door BBQ. Look, you’re probably already there for the burnt ends, which have wafted their way into my nostrils like a cartoon cat, from all the way on the other side of the river. A little secret, though: you can skip the kitchen cleanup and flour hour at home and sneak out 3-4 of their homemade pies to ball at a BBQ. Bringing a delicious dessert at least made by a BBQ place counts, right?

— Travis Hoewischer

Massey’s Pizza. You know what they say about pizza and sex, so how can you really go wrong with pizza? I don’t wanna like thin crust pizza, but the crushed cornmeal on the bottom of the crust, the pepperonis pulling themselves into little greasy cups, the toppings that cover every damn inch of the pie, makes this a Columbus classic that you can pair with just about anything. (If you’re feeling especially nice/guilty, pick up a cinnamon pizza as well).

– Laura Dachenbach

Ever been threatened to be kicked out of a cookout? It’s happened to me once or twice for the unforgivable offense of flaking on bringing my deviled eggs. (Look, they’re time consuming and a pain in the ass to transport!) But should I ever find myself struck with debilitating laziness again, Jordan’s Pub and Deli in Gahanna has got me covered. Their deviled eggs are made fresh daily and never fail on flavor. I’d also go ahead and scoop up a heap of their pasta salad as well, because chances are I dropped the ball on that one, too.

– Johanna Vissman French

Who’s gonna get mad that you didn’t bother to cook if you’re pushing a fresh cocktail into their hand? Stop by Middle West Spirits and get a bottle or two of their original recipe vodka. Arrive to play personal bartender with cups, ice, limes, lemons, and a few choice mixers, like your favorite soft drink, cranberry juice, and Bloody Mary mix. You can make virgin cocktails for kids, or grownups who forgo booze. Muddle in some sugar or a few berries, and your fellow BBQ goers will be feeling fancy in no time. Tiny umbrellas optional but encouraged. 

– Jeni Ruisch