During my trip home, I am highlighting my favorite restaurants in Columbus, Ohio.

Liz Lessner is running a restaurant empire in Columbus.

Everything she touches turns to gold.  I couldn’t just choose one of her restaurants, so I’m giving you my top picks.

I have been a huge fan of Liz’s restaurants for years.  I was very excited to have the opportunity to sit down and talk with the woman who has re-invigorated the Columbus dining and bar scene.

Put simply, she is kicking ass.

We have something in common.

During our chat, I shared a lot about my Latin America travels with Liz and her business partner Carmen.  They were curious about the places I have been and how I’m traveling solo long-term. I discovered that we have a shared love for travel and that they have both traveled extensively.

I think I may have convinced to them to take a trip to Buenos Aires.

My Favorites

I have 1 or 2 favorites on the menu at each restaurant.  Here are my top picks.

Tip Top:  Best Sandwich

Tip Top is known for its comfort food menu.

One of my favorite sandwiches ever is the pot roast sandwich served on a pretzel bun with a slice of cheese.

Yep, that’s right.  Something so simple can be that delicious.

And this is the only restaurant where I do not substitute a vegetable for my fries. That is because they serve sweet potato fries, and they are the best I’ve ever had.

Photo of pot roast sandwich at Tip Top

Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails is located downtown at 73 E. Gay Street.

Surly Girl Saloon:  Great Beer Selection & Best Ambiance

Surly Girl takes home two awards.  There are lots of good bars with excellent beer selections in Columbus.

But what really sets Surly Girl apart is that they carry a very diverse selection, and they call out on the menu which ones are women-brewed, Ohio-brewed, organic, and premium high alcohol content.

Photo of menu at Surly Girl

The design/ decoration is sort of pirate meets cowgirl bordello.  Eccentric but not over-the-top.

Photo of bar in Surly Girl

Surly Girl is located in the Short North at 1126 N. High Street.

Betty’s:  Best Mac ‘n Cheese & Best Location

This is one of my favorite places in the Short North to grab dinner.  Their Mac ‘n Cheese and Veggie Burrito are my favorites.

Photo of mac n cheese

I also enjoy the fun 50s/60s pin up girls theme.

Photo of menu

Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace:  Fun & Creative

You have to love a hot dog place with a menu that includes 20 types of hot dogs.

First choose your dog.

Vienna All-Beef, Tofurkey Veggie, Jumbo Beef, Polish Sausage (meet or veggie), or Bratwurst (beef or veggie).  And for you carb-counters or gluten-haters, you can even cheese a romaine lettuce wrap or a gluten-free wrap.

Second choose your style.

Ohioana and Cowgirl Carmen are my favorites.  Ohioana is topped with spicy corn relish and celery salt.  Cowgirl Carmen is topped with coney sauce, cheddar cheese, and crushed Fritos.

I also love the names of some of their other dogs.  The Glenn Beck dog is “just a plain, old weiner.”

I did not make it here on this trip, but it is definitely a favorite of many downtown dwellers and downtown workers.  This place always has a line out the door at lunchtime on weekdays and dinnertime on weekends.  Get there early!

Dirty Frank’s is located downtown at 248 S. Fourth Street.

Have you been to a Liz Lessner restaurant?  Which is your favorite?