Meet Columbus, Your New Hipster Headquarters
Columbus, OH has taken the crown for the hipster capital of the US, but what makes it so attractive to those with quirky, non-conforming tastes?
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Move over, coastal metropolises; there’s a new hipster king in town. Yes, you read correctly: Columbus is now the hipster capital of America according to yelp.com. The Midwest isn’t traditionally where you’d think you would find great hipster hangouts and eateries, but cities like Columbus are seeing a surge of young, hipster residents who are ace at finding the real up-and-comers of neighborhoods and businesses (though it probably helps that The Ohio State University is here). So what about Columbus is drawing such a unique crowd?
Sure, everyone has a different idea for what constitutes “hipster” food or restaurants, but there’s no denying the robust scene in Columbus with plenty of trendy places to choose from serving up tasty dishes and awesome experiences. Here’s just a taste of some places you can choose from if you’re in the mood for avocado toast or a Buddha bowl:
Honestly, you can’t claim to be a hipster if your joint doesn’t somehow deviate from your typical sit-down family restaurant. Katalina's is nestled nicely in a 100-year-old gas station in Columbus where you can find all sorts of homey foods with a Latin and Southern twist. Beyond the cafe’s famous Pancake Balls™, you can dine on all sorts of tasty dishes like Biscuits and Veggie Sausage Gravy, Mazatlan Slow-Roasted Pork & Egg sandwich, or Katalina’s Latina Sandwich featuring her Original Sweet ‘N Spicy Bacon. Katalina’s is dedicated to supporting local businesses and farms, so when you spend, you’ll know your money is headed toward good things.
Family-owned and operated, Northstar has a few Ohio locations, but let’s focus on their Westerville location, which is just outside Columbus. They’re hyper-focused on practices that’ll keep the environment protected and local economies thriving. So if you’re a hipster (or any type of person, really) who won’t eat anywhere that doesn’t have a robust philosophy like Northstar, then you’re going to love Northstar. Chow down on a delicious Buddha Bowl, Sweet Basil Burrito, or the Northstar Black Bean Burger. They’ve also got a sweet wine list and tons of local Ohio brews. The place has a modern, industrial feel with a farm-to-table experience, so what’s not to like?
Watershed Kitchen & Bar
If it wasn’t already completely obvious, hipsters are big fans of locally-owned businesses that do their own stuff. Who wants a mainstream beer when you can have one that was brewed in the very building you’re standing in? Watershed's story is lovely and filled with Columbus history, and their distillery churns out some truly unique spirits. You can tour it too! Even if you’re not a fan of drinks, they have a seasonal menu with great options like the Watershed Cassolita, Vadouvan Roasted Cauliflower, or Duck Confit. In addition to its trendy, upscale atmosphere, you can actually see the distillery across the bar. How’s that for transparency?
The Art & Culture
Columbus has a strong art scene thanks in part to The Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts, and there’s plenty to see and do for even the self-proclaimed non-hipster. If you’ve got your knit beanie and skinny jeans on, check out a few of these hotspots:
Short North Arts District
The pinnacle of all things hipster in Columbus, this area is a long stretch of artsy shops and galleries with public art displays on just about every building. If you’re into just looking at art—in addition to the plentiful graffiti, of course—you can visit one of its many galleries like Brandt-Roberts Gallery or Lindsey Gallery. If you’re more into vintage and antiques, you can find just about anything to suit your style at one of their markets like Revue or Mary Catherine’s. For a caffeine fix, Short North has some of the best cafés in Columbus like Impero and ZenCha Tea Salon, and you’ll find plenty of awesome places to have a bite like Bodega, Black Brick, and The Angry Baker. Even if you’re in denial about your hipster tendencies, there’s something for everyone here.
If you’re the kind of hipster who reminisces about the good ‘ole days when there were cobblestone roads and buildings made of brick, German Village will be the promised land for you. The entire community is filled with restored Victorian homes no higher than three stories. Stroll the streets to find unique shopping and dining experiences, but don’t forget to visit the famed Book Loft, which is one of the nation’s largest bookstores featuring 32 rooms of bargain books. What’s more hipster than a multi-story, multi-room, bargain bookstore? If you end up falling in love with this little hipstery community, there are residential opportunities to explore.
While North Market is technically located within Short North, it stands alone as a large market that caters to anyone looking for the truly offbeat and unique. You’ll find huge selections of fresh fish and meat from merchants like The Fish Guys and Two Brothers, and great produce from Little Eater Produce & Provisions. For all the sweet-toothed hipsters, there are a plethora of merchants selling baked goods and specialty items like Destination Donuts and Bubbles: The Tea & Juice Company. Looking for gifts or other knick-knacks? Check out Better Earth, which has local soaps and potteries, Amish jams, handcrafted jewelry, and so much more as the market’s premier boutique.
Columbus is a thriving start-up city, with tons of innovative businesses moving in and spreading the word. They’re heavily into tech startups with businesses like Beam Technologies—which is rethinking dental care and producing smart toothbrushes—and Brand Thunder—which connects businesses with potential customers through branded web browsing—leading the charge. The city even hosts Startup Week every year in May to highlight the opportunities created through entrepreneurship to the community. Hipsters and millennials are not the same thing, but there are a lot of hipsters who fall into the “millennial” category, and millennials are all about startups. So the more businesses cropping up in Midwestern cities, the more hipster culture it’ll experience.
There’s much more to a hipster lifestyle in Columbus, and you can definitely seek out arrangements to make sure you’re there to see it all. From food to art to business, it looks like Columbus and other Midwestern cities may be dominating the hipster charts for a while yet.