In light of the recent presidential executive order on immigration, Columbus points to its large immigrant population as a source of pride, strength and cultural diversity that enhances life for both visitors and locals. The city’s growing influx of foreign-born residents has resulted in a colorful culinary melting pot that strengthens the city’s economy and contributes to the region’s celebrated diversity.
The city’s sizable international population has driven a boom in Columbus’ ethnic food scene. It has sparked rebirth in once-defunct suburban strip malls as immigrant restaurateurs from around the world set up shop. As a result, visitors and locals alike can travel the planet in one strip center.
In order to help adventurous eaters navigate these diverse global offerings, Columbus food blogger Bethia Woolf launched Columbus Food Adventures in 2010, creating a food tour company that turns taste testing into a rich cultural experience. Because Columbus’ ethnic population is interwoven, it’s easy to experience incredible diversity of cuisine in one trip; visitors can try local Vietnamese, Somali, Nigerian, Persian, Mexican, Salvadorian, and other cuisines — all within a few blocks of one another.
The owner of Momo Ghar, a Nepalese restaurant in Columbus, joyfully introduces guests to her country’s food while describing its popular momo dumplings. As a result, Momo Ghar has quickly risen to become Yelp’s No. 1 restaurant in Columbus and was just listed in its Top 100 Places to Eat in 2017. At longtime local Laotian restaurant Indochine, every guest is treated like a regular, despite possible unfamiliarity with the cuisine. The result is a comfortable and welcoming experience — even for first timers.
“Columbus has incredible breadth of the diversity of ethnic restaurants, beyond the typical offerings found in even much larger cities,” said Woolf, co-owner and tour coordinator at Columbus Food Adventures. “The fact that we have so many African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Latino restaurants, and the fact that you can find them all within one neighborhood, makes the experience ideal for travelers. Our Alt Eats Tour is special because it lets our guests explore ethnic diversity and new American cuisines, such as Somali food, with which people may be unfamiliar.”
Columbus’ international flavor is embraced by locals, as well. In recognition of the many contributions of the city’s immigrant population, City of Columbus mayor Andrew J. Ginther announced his continued commitment to accepting refugees in Columbus, regardless of immigration status.
“Our immigrant population is part of the fabric of what makes Columbus so vibrant,” Mayor Ginther said in a press release. “They are our neighbors. We must not turn our backs on them, now or ever.”
Columbus has become a safe haven for refugees. According to recent data, foreign-born residents make up 9.3% of the city’s population and contribute $258 million in local and state income, property and sales taxes. The local refugee community supports an estimated 21,000 jobs in Columbus.
Columbus is a city unlike any other. Vibrant and alive, Ohio’s capital is known for its open attitude, smart style and entrepreneurial spirit. Columbus’ uncommon blend of neighborhoods, arts and culinary experiences, events, attractions and accommodations are made unforgettable by its diversity of outgoing locals who warmly welcome visitors. Free travel guides, maps, online booking and detailed information are available at www.ExperienceColumbus.com or 866.397.2657 (866.EXP.COLS). Visitor information is also available on Facebook: facebook.com/ExperienceColumbus and facebook.com/ColumbusFoodScene, Twitter: @ExpCols and Instagram.