With the 2015 MLS Cup final being hosted here in Columbus our city will see an influx of traveling fans, media, and other league officials, so we here at Massive Report thought we'd offer up a small guide to the Capital City. Despite what you may have heard, we are far from a cow-town, and there are all sorts of activities to hold you over until 4pm Sunday, no matter what you're interested in.
What to See
If you're coming up on Friday or Saturday, you'll have a couple of days to burn away before the big match, and Columbus will have all sorts of things to keep you occupied.
The Columbus Museum of Art just opened it's expansion. The new wing houses the expanded contemporary art wing. If Science is more your thing, COSI is located just over the Scioto river, within minutes of downtown, featuring hands-on science exhibits.
If you feel like adventuring a little further out, the Columbus Zoo, technically just outside of town, remains open, even offering their "Wild Lights" Holiday Light exhibition after dark.
Architecture and History more your speed? Then downtown is where you want to be, where there are several different self guided "walking tours" marked out through signs, including the Columbus Art Walk, which will take you through some of the city's public art installations.
If you want something a little quieter and indoors, the Franklin Park Conservatory is just east of downtown. The botanical gardens offer a beautiful space examine the garden collections.
On the Menu
The North Market
First and foremost is the North Market. This collection of independent shops is dedicated to the best of what the farms and chefs of Central Ohio can produce and create. There are plenty of highlights, but Hot Chicken Takeover has - ahem - taken over since they started in a food truck two years ago. They imported the spicy fried chicken style from Nashville to create something unique and tasty. The market also has an outpost of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and the sweet treats of Pistacia Vera.
The walk along high street offers plenty of options. Marcellas serves up a variety of Italian favorites well executed. More casually, you can get a little messy with a kebab at The Happy Greek or grab tacos at Condado. Pies and Pints is a pizza place that make a great pie and of course pairs them with great variety of beers. Melt has every variety of grilled cheese you could want and is worth the wait for aficionados.
Downtown has plenty of casual bites and trendy restaurants. Dirty Franks has quickly become a downtown institution in the brief time it's been open. If that's too busy for your tastes, then you can pop into El Camino Inn and Little Palace next door or pass the time with some vintage arcade games at 16-Bit Bar+Arcade.
Wolf's Ridge Brewery is a new entry into the Columbus dining scene, but they've built a taproom with some of the best upscale dining in town. Close by is Tip Top. Grab order up a pot roast sandwich and sweet potato fries.
Tasty bites around town
Not all the great food in town is in town. For those that find themselves in Dublin and Hilliard, excellent Cuban food is close by. Starliner Diner has one of the best brunches around and plenty of tasty sandwiches and burritos with latin flair. Over in Dublin, 101 Beer Kitchen blends the gastropub with something a little more upscale.
Some of the best Asian dining in Columbus is within a block of eachother off of I-71 and Morse Road. Huong Vietnamese's Pho is the best around town and just down the street Little Dragons has an authentic Chinese menu beyond the normal Chinese-American fare. You can then pick up some hard to find grocery items and popup shops at Saraga International Grocery across the street.
Raising a Pint
Portland may be one of the top craft beer cities in the country, but Columbus can hold its own too. If you're here for the match and want to drink the best suds that Columbus has to offer, we have some recommendations. Obviously, this is just an overview, and we heartily recommend checking out each brewery's website to see if their styles of beer match your personal tastes.
First on the list is Land Grant Brewing, to the west of downtown, over the Scioto River, in Franklinton. They make "Glory", an official Crew SC beer, and also happen to sponsor our podcast. They feature several different delicious IPA's, and may still have some of their seasonal beer "Beard Crumbs", which is one of my favorites so far this winter. Their taproom doesn't have a kitchen, but every time I've been there's been a food truck, so plan accordingly.
A personal favorite is Seventh Son Brewing, located in Italian Village, just to the east of the Short North, at the corner of 4th and 4th. They make a wide range of beers, but their two most popular are the Seventh Son American Strong Ale (fun fact: the Brewery is named after the beer, not the other way around!) and the Humulus Nimbus Super Pale Ale. Both of which are available in cans around town, if they haven't sold out as soon as they're stocked. They also have rotating seasonal beers, including the Rime, a winter IPA that is a great balance between hops and spice, if that's your thing.
Columbus Brewing Company can be found around town. They produce some of the highest rated IPAs in the US. The Bohdi is the CBC take on the Double IPA. You can check if it's on tap at the Brewery's sister restaurant.
Around the Stadium
There will be lots going on around MAPFRE Stadium come Sunday, but if you're looking for a pre-match drink, you'll have options. Fourth Street Bar and Grill (on, surprisingly enough, Fourth) and Hendocs Pub (on High Street near Hudson) are fairly near the Stadium, and are both official Crew SC Supporters bars (for Crew Supporters Union and Hudson St. Hooligans, respectively). It's expected that they'll be doing brisk business in the build up to the match, and though traveling fans can expect the typical banter and friendly razzing, they should have no fear of heading to either of these locations, so long as they don't attempt to start any trouble themselves.
The same can be said of the MEGATAILGATE, which happens every match in the MAPFRE Stadium parking lot. I can personally attest to seeing several well behaved RBNY fans before the last home match there. It's always a good time, and I expect the atmosphere will be something special this Sunday. It's on the east side of the main parking lot, just look for the tents and follow the music. Word is festivities are starting bright and early at 11 AM this week, and ending a bit earlier than usual to give everyone a chance to get inside without missing a moment of the match.
We here at Massive Report hope that everyone traveling to the match enjoy their time in our fair city. If you're in need of more specific recommendations, or have any questions, feel free to reach out on twitter, I'm @krislandis and I'm @GuldanMR. Hope to see y'all Sunday.