Columbus satisfies a taste for design and dining

by | Places, Featured Destinations

The Columbus Bar's famous tenderloin.

Known for masterworks of modern architecture and public art, Columbus, Ind., offers a food scene that reflects its evolving history. From a century-old ice cream parlor to bars and upscale dining establishments, there’s something for everyone in the Bartholomew County seat.

But do start by perusing some of the landmark buildings. Indeed, the small city is such a mecca for design that New York Times‘ architecture critic Paul Goldberger said that ”Columbus, Indiana, and J. Irwin Miller are almost holy words in architectural circles.”  

Whether taking a Visit Columbus tour bus or enjoying a self-guided exploration of some famous architectural works (like the J. Irwin Miller House), visitors will undoubtedly work up an appetite. But happily, there are spots like historic Zaharakos and Columbus Bar or newcomers such as Henry Social Club and Gramz Bakery to handle your hunger.

Before visiting the local landmarks, stop for breakfast at the family owned Gramz Bakery, which opened in 2013 selling baked goods like scones, sweet rolls, cakes, breads and an assortment of brownies and cookies. In 2020, the Coles, consisting of husband and wife, Jay and Karen and their two daughters, Rachelle and Meaghen, launched and began roasting their coffee at Sojourn Coffee Company. Today, the java and sweets place serves breakfast throughout the day, as well as quiches and sandwiches, primarily made in-house. 

After a two-hour architectural tour, enjoy lunch at Zaharakos, an old-school soda shop and museum. Guests can order the GOM, a grilled sloppy joe (think patty melt but messier) followed by housemade ice cream, a milkshake or a classic ice cream soda. While sipping on one of the sweet treats, stroll through the brass and marble emporium with the largest collection of 19th century beverage fountains or tap your toes to the still-operating 1908 self-playing organ. 

Columbus Bar, the city’s oldest operating establishment, sits across the street. Easily identifiable with its vintage neon sign, the CB, as locals call it, is known for its pork tenderloin sandwich, a hand-coated monster of fried goodness.  

At the Henry Social Club, chef/owner Gethin Thomas focuses on classic American cuisine featuring a changing menu of seasonal dishes. The restaurant’s stylish and modern decor creates a sophisticated dining environment with vintage Eames chairs and mirrors. 

With plenty of architectural history and lots of good eats, Columbus offers dining options for all. Whether you’re craving farm-to-table, sweet treats or Midwest comfort food, Columbus offers an array of possibilities.

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