The USA vs. Mexico World Cup Qualifier has grown well beyond the 90 minutes on the field. Supporters will be reveling with pre-match festivities and U.S. Soccer has taken over the town in anticipation of the Friday night matchup.
Thursday’s Supporter Events
There are plenty of places to share a drink and get pumped up for the big game with fellow fans.
U.S. Soccer is taking over the Short North Pint House (780 N High St.) starting at 6pm with special guest appearances throughout the evening.
Fourth Street Bar and Grill (1810 N. 4th St.) is once again hosting the American Outlaws party kicking off at 7pm. The superlative Ray Ray’s Hog Pit Barbecue will be slinging meat on Thursday evening and Friday for pregame.
Land Grant Brewing (424 W. Town) will be hosting the Massive Report Podcast’s USAvMexico pregame show starting at 7:30. Talk some soccer with a tasty beverage.
Parking lots at MAPFRE open at 9am. The lots will fill rapidly with tailgating spreading throughout. U.S. Soccer’s Fan HQ will open at 3pm with gates opening at 6pm.
A short walk away, Fourth Street will open to host fans looking to celebrate early. Ray Ray’s will be back starting at noon to fuel hungry supporters.
If you're staying in town through Saturday, you'll have a chance to see the town outside MAPFRE stadium and Columbus will have all sorts of things to keep you occupied.
The Columbus Museum of Art opened it's expansion recently and 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 that are fun for all ages.
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. Little Eater has made a splash with their seasonal menus focused on the best of Ohio produce. The market also has an outpost of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
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. Order former Dispatch scribe Shawn Mitchell’s favorite: 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 each other off of I-71 and Morse Rd. 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. Saraga International Grocery has across the street.
If you make the short trek from downtown to Grandview, there are plenty of bars restaurants that you can take in. Feeling Italian? How about Spagio on Grandview Ave? Across the street is Balboa, which features plenty of food and drinks, including adult smoothies. Looking for something quicker and cheaper? If you like Chipotle then you’ll like Big Mama’s Burritos located just down the street and straight out of Athens, OH.
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.
We hope you have a great time in Columbus. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the Massive Report staff, or ask any of the locals at the various events. We won’t bite.