2018 has been quite the year for Top Spots. We’ve ranked your favorite burger joints, breakfast diners, coffee shops and more.
This week, we’re finishing our look back at your favorite spots in central Ohio. Here’s everything you voted, from best summer festival to best Chinese food, during the second half of 2018.
Best Summer Festival: Jazz and Rib Fest
The annual Jazz and Rib Fest on the Scioto Mile takes the top spot in festivals for NBC4 viewers. This yearly tradition features only the finest in music and barbecue. In 2018, 23 award-winning barbecue teams competed for the bragging rights of “Best Ribs.”
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Best Locally Owned Burger Joint: The Thurman Cafe
For the second year in a row, The Thurman Café takes the top spot to get a burger for NBC4 viewers. Thurman’s has been a German Village staple since the 1940s. The (in)famous Thurmanator was even nationally recognized when the host of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food took on the hefty sandwich back in 2008. For those who aren’t familiar with the Thurmanator, is two 12-ounce burgers, with mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle, banana peppers, bacon, cheddar, sautéed mushrooms and onions, ham, mozzarella and American cheese, served with fries and a pickle spear, and it will set you back $21.99. If you’re not up for the challenge, the Johnny Burger is always a good choice, too.
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Best Barbecue Joint: Tennessee Pitt BBQ
Tennessee Pitt BBQ takes the top spot for best barbecue joints among Columbus viewers. This food truck serves up barbecue classics cooked the right way — with cherry wood and coals. Viewers love the pulled pork and their tasty and tender ribs. Customers also rave about the friendly service.
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Best Farmers Market: Smith Farm Market
Smith Farm Market has been delivering local produce, plants and baked goods to central Ohio for nearly 40 years. More than 80% of the year-round market’s produce is grown in Beverly Ohio at the Witten Family Farm. NBC4 viewers cannot get enough of the sweet corn or their fresh-baked pies.
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Best Golf Course: Foxfire Golf Club
Boasting 36 holes, the Foxfire Golf Club offers two courses for golfers: The Foxfire Course and the Players Club Course. The Players Club Course offers a bit more of a challenge, combining American and traditional British designs. NBC4 viewers say both courses are among the best here in central Ohio, and it’s nice to have the option to take it a little easier on the Foxfire Course or to step their game up on the Players Club Course. Foxfire Golf Club offers lessons in both private and group settings. The course’s summer rates range between $13 and $32 for the Foxfire Course and $23 to $45 for the Players Club Course.
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Best Yoga Studio: Engage Higher Degree Fitness
Engage Higher Degree Fitness takes the top spot for yoga studios among NBC4 viewers. The heated studio is perfect for hot yoga and they offer a variety of yoga classes, including HD Power Yoga Fusion, HD Yoga Classic I and II, Sekoia Yoga and HD Yoga with Weights. The studio also offers barre and strength training classes.
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Best Burritos: Senor Antonio’s
Owner Antonio Moreno grew up in Jalisco, Mexico and has been working in the restaurant business since he was just 16 years old. Moreno opened Senor Antonio’s in 2000, and most of the recipes on the menu were handed down from Moreno’s grandmother. Viewers love the signature Burrito Antonio (grilled chicken breast, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers inside a tortilla, topped with sour cream, green and red salsa and smothered in cheese sauce).
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Best Place to watch Red, White & BOOM!: Bicentennial Park
Obviously, the best RWB viewing will be downtown, and there are plenty of festivities leading up to the fireworks. Bicentennial Park has some of the best viewing and is adjacent to some of the best activities, including Food Truck Alley, alcohol stands, live music and more. Plan to arrive early to snag a prime spot.
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Best Locally Owned Ice Cream Shop: Johnson’s Real Ice Cream
Johnson’s Real Ice Cream has been serving up dreamy desserts for nearly 68 years. The business was founded in 1950 when Robert N. Johnson and his son-in-law, James Wilcoxon, Sr. opened the first shop’s doors in Bexley. Johnson’s is still family-owned and operated with three locations throughout central Ohio. Viewers love the banana cream pie ice cream and the hot fudge sundae.
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Best Hot Dogs: Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace
Dirty Frank’s has been a Columbus staple since 2009, so it’s no surprise they’re taking top honors among NBC4 viewers. The casual, hipster restaurant serves Vienna beef, vegan and vegetarian hot dogs and will even go the extra mile to make particular orders vegetarian, even if they’re not originally vegetarian on the menu. You can even build your own dog with just about any topping if none of their 44 menu options appeals to you. Viewers recommend the Cowgirl Carmen (coney sauce, cheddar cheese and crushed Fritos) for just $3.75.
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Best Wings: Squeek’s Chances R Bar & Grill
Coming in at No. 1 among NBC4 viewers this year is Squeek’s Chances R in Pickerington. Viewers rave about the “Bubba” sauce – a unique wing sauce that is a little sweet, a little tangy, and delivers just the right amount of bite.
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Best Food Truck: Pitabilities
Coming in at No. 1 among NBC4 viewers is Pitabilities. This food truck fleet has been serving up great food in Columbus since 2010. Pitabilities has fresh ingredients delivered daily to their trucks so they can make the best fresh, made-to-order pitas around. Viewers not only love the food, but they also love the stellar customer service, something owner Jim Pashovich takes great pride in.
“The one thing that sets us apart is our service team,” Pashovich said. “We want you to feel important, we want you to feel like you’re the one and only.”
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Best Independent Bookstore: The Book Loft of German Village
For the third year in a row, The Book Loft is coming in at No. 1 for NBC4 viewers. Located in historic German Village, this treasure trove of literature takes up an entire city block had has 32 rooms stuffed full of books. The Book Loft has also been recognized as one of the best bookstores in the state multiple times. Be sure to check out their event calendar to see a list of book signings with both national and local authors.
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Best Thrift Store: Volunteers of America
With six locations throughout the NBC4 viewing area, you’re never far from a Volunteers of America thrift store. Each and every purchase made at VOA shops help support programs that provide housing and assistance for the homeless, families and veterans in Ohio. On Friday, Aug. 17, central Ohio VOA stores are celebrating National Thrift Store Day with 50% discount all items in store. NBC4 viewers love the locations in Grove City, on Indianola Avenue and on West Broad Street.
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Best Place To Go Apple Picking: Lynd Fruit Farm
Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala is the overwhelming favorite of NBC4 viewers, and it’s easy to see why. This eighth-generation family farm has been a Central Ohio staple since the early 1900s. With a pick-your-own-apples program and 60,000 apple trees, the selection is unbeatable. Their U-Pick season begins this weekend!
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Best Gyros: Yanni’s Greek Restaurant
Boasting some of the best Greek food in town, Yanni’s takes the top spot for gyros among NBC4 viewers. The small, unassuming north Columbus eatery regularly draws enough of a crowd that people are lined up just to get inside. Their generously sized gyros are perfectly seasoned, nestled in a deliciously soft pita and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and their specialty house-made dressing. Make sure to save room for dessert because their traditional baklava is some of the best around. If you’re planning on stopping by on a Friday or Saturday night, try to come early to avoid the wait. Bonus: Yanni’s delivers through Doordash.
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Best Fall Festival: Circleville Pumpkin Show
The annual Circleville Pumpkin Show is the most anticipated event of the season for NBC4 viewers, and it’s easy to see why. It literally does not get anymore fall-like than four days of pumpkin EVERYTHING. From the weigh-in to the parade to the delicious pumpkin treats from Lindsay’s Bakery, this is the can’t-miss fall festival.
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Best Arcade/Arcade Bar: Old North Arcade
Move over, Chuck E. Cheese: this ain’t the arcade of your childhood. Old North Arcade is everything your inner nerd could ask for as an adult. They have one of the state’s largest collections of classic arcade games, pinball, air hockey, console games as more. What’s more: If you’re drinking, you play for free. Bonus: Their drink menu has over 20 craft drafts and tons of gaming-inspired cocktails (my go-to: the On Like Donkey Kong made with root beer, vanilla vodka and crème de banana with a cherry garnish).
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Best Breakfast: The Pancake House
Coming in at No. 1 with NBC4 viewers this year is The Pancake House, located on Schrock Road in Westerville. Don’t let the unassuming outside fool you — the breakfast here is seriously awesome, and I find it surprising this is the first year the establishment has made the list. The Pancake House opened its doors in 2009 and has been serving up classic breakfast dishes and newer fare ever since. Pro-tip: Try the blueberry pancakes. I promise you won’t regret it.
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Best Coffee Shop: Fresh Start Cafe & Bakery
Coming in at No. 1 among NBC4 viewers is Fresh Café & Bakery in Delaware. Fresh Start first opened its doors in 2016 and quickly became a local favorite. The coffee shop offers a wide selection of caffeinated (and caffeine-free) beverages, almond and soy milk, flavor shots and much more. Their entire food menu is made from scratch daily (you HAVE to try their famous cinnamon rolls). The shop also has a packed calendar, hosting events like Yoga + Java, a community art gallery, painting nights, an open mic reading series and even cake decorating workshops.
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Best Pumpkin Patch: Van Buren Acres
Located in Herbron just off Interstate 70, Van Buren Acres comes in at No. 1 among NBC4 viewers. This family owned and operated farm offers something for everyone. Pick out a locally grown pumpkin, get lost in the corn maze and make memories that will last a lifetime.
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Best Haunted Attraction: Carnage Haunted House
Featuring 30 rooms filled with gore, horror and plain old scare-your-pants-off frights, Carnage Haunted House is the highest-rated haunted attraction in the Columbus area, according to ohiohauntedhouses.com. Carnage also has food trucks on site and plays outdoor movies, so you can make an entire fright-filled night of it. Tickets start at $20 for general admission, and anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
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Best Doughnuts: Crispie Creme Donut Shop
Not to be confused with the Krispy Kreme chain, this Chillicothe shop came in at No. 1 this year among NBC4 viewers. Crispie Creme has handcrafted their own doughnuts fresh every day since 1929. Some customers even make sure to stock up when they come to visit from out of state.
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Best Cheap Eats: Tony’s Coneys
Coming in at No. 1 among NBC4 viewers is Tony’s Coneys. This little hot dog joint has been serving the Columbus area since 1951. With dogs starting at just $1, Subs for just $3, and large milkshakes for just $3.50, you can’t go wrong. In fact, the most expensive thing on the menu is a hand-dipped banana boat dessert for $4.50.
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Nancy’s has been a Columbus breakfast favorite since the late 1960s. The staff strives to make the diner a comfortable, friendly establishment with some of the best breakfast food around. Nancy’s is the epitome of a greasy spoon, so make sure to bring your appetite. Try the Chicken N Noodles.
3 Brothers Diner has only been around since 2017, but they’re making a big splash. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, so you know your meal is cooked to order. Viewers recommend the 3 Brother’s Roasted Chicken (half of a roasted chicken marinated with vinegar, onions, garlic and oregano and served with black beans, rice and homemade bread) for $12.
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Best Chinese Restaurant: Ding Ho Restaurant
Ding Ho has been a Columbus staple since the 1950s, so it’s no surprise this Cantonese eatery takes the top spot among NBC4 viewers. Many have frequented the restaurant for years and love the price point, portion sizes and friendly service. Viewers say the egg rolls are perfect and recommend the wonton soup as well.
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