Since moving to Columbus, my husband and I have been so passionate about discovering all the hidden gems the city has to offer. All of the events, restaurants, fitness classes, and nature trails seem endless! We actually have a running list of 130+ restaurants to put to the test (call us foodies!). As we approach the end of March, we've officially lived here for 6 months and I am still learning about everything Columbus has to offer. Since my profession and passion roots in wellness, I approach almost every restaurant, event or activity with health in mind. So I thought it would be fun to share my experiences with you; from fitness classes I try, to nature trails we discover, along with how I break menus down for healthier alternatives. So, I am glad you're here to join me as we discover more health in the capitol city!
1. Song Lan
City: Dublin, Bridge Park
Date: March 3, 2023
Healthy Hack: tons of sashimi choices which decreases carbs and calories
Song Lan is a new sushi spot located in Bridge Park, Dublin. I could not wait to try it! I am a sucker for a classy lounge with cocktails and all the cool sushi spreads. On this Friday evening, I tried the sashimi platter. Nine different kinds of sashimi with two pieces each; I was one satisfied girl! I did not try a cocktail this night, so I am unable to give any feedback.
I love sashimi because it's very #diabetesfriendly. As a diabetic, I have a hard time with rice as my blood sugar tends to always spike. Rice isn't bad for you; but rice is very refined and has the tendency to need more insulin then I ever calculate. When I have nutrition clients that are working on cutting back refined and processed carbs, I introduce them to the beautiful sashimi choices to replace traditional tempura fried rolls. This dinner was pure protein, extremely tasty and not hight in calorie.
City: Downtown Columbus, Short North
Cuisine: sports bar
Date: March 4, 2023
Healthy Hack: look for simple proteins and swap fried foods for vegetables
Parlay is a sports bar located in the Short North. This was a perfect spot to watch some March Madness basketball! Each table has views of a TV and the ability to change the channel to the station your team is playing on. Of course, we were there to watch Duke play UNC so we made sure to request a good spot.
Parlay has typical bar food with some healthy options hidden throughout a fried food focused menu. I wanted to order one of their salads; however the restaurant claimed to be "out of salad". Not to fear, I opted for the salmon plate with an extra side of Brussel sprouts. The salmon was amazing; cooked perfectly and drizzled with an asian sauce. I am glad I ordered the Brussel sprouts because the cabbage mix wasn't that good.
Many times, sports bars have salads. That is always my go-to option when at one of these establishments. But when in doubt, always look for a dish that has a protein and a vegetable! These are easy to customize with requests like "sauce on the side" or "grilled instead of fried".
Date: March 10, 2023
Healthy Hack: Don't be afraid to customize your order; mexican food has amazing options like chicken, black beans, salsa and guacamole. But opting out of cheese, sour creams or fried tortillas can save you a belly ache later!
Local Cantina is a nostalgic spot for Mike and I. When I lived in Dublin years ago, we would frequent the Hilliard location. To this day, it remains one of my favorite spots despite how much they've expanded throughout greater Columbus.
Local Cantina has all of your mexican favorites. They have an array of taco selections, nachos, bowls, and all the chips and salsa. In fact, the chips and salsa are free and self-serve (you can get all the refills you want!).
At Local Cantina, I always order their taco salad with many modifications. I know, this is one of those moments I sound very needy. But here's the order: taco salad with no cheese and no tortilla shell, dressing on the side, add chicken. The salad looks plain in the photo, but that is only because all of the ingredients are tossed. It has black beans, pinto beans, corn, avocado, pulled chicken, tomato and onion. Instead of the dressing, I normally use the avocado and free salsa to make it healthier.
Cuisine: sports bar, wings
Date: March 11, 2023
Healthy Hack: Order the grilled chicken tenders (or naked tenders) with the dressing on the side. They are healthier than their wings which are traditionally fried and doused in sauce!
We went to Roosters (Sawmill) on a March Madness Saturday with friends. It was your typical sports- bar- meets- family- restaurant feel. Think BW3's but brighter and more community driven. Roosters had many healthy options in terms of food; I ordered the naked grilled chicken tenders with a side of BBQ sauce. I also got a side salad instead of fries or chips. They had a full salad menu too. The chicken was okay; I'd go back to Roosters for the right reasons like hanging with friends, watching sports, or wanting a lively place to hangout. I wouldn't go if I was looking for quality grilled chicken. When trying to order a healthy meal, Roosters has plenty of options that would fit the lower calorie bill.
City: New Albany
Cuisine: Upscale distillery, bar food
Date: March 17, 2023
Healthy Hack: All of their salads are super yummy, fresh and filling. Opt to order a salad when drinking more (more carbs).
I was very impressed with High Bank Distillery! The restaurant is massive and very clean, bright and lively on the inside. We went to High Bank on St. Patrick's Day so it was busy; but not too busy to be unenjoyable. High Bank has a very extensive menu for cocktails; granted it is a distillery. I had a gin cocktail as well as trying their seasonal espresso martini (pictured). We ordered two appetizers: the wings and the meatballs. We always try to get protein or a veggie tray when ordering apps. The wings were super tasty and not too saucy. The meatballs were heavy and cheese loaded, so I had probably 1/3 of one. Taste-wise, both were exceptional!
My main meal really hit it out of the park. I got a seasonal winter salad of kale, grapes, pistachios, squash, and loaded a salmon on top. It was awesome! The other friends in our party also ordered salads and said all of them were exceptional.
When we dine at restaurants known for their alcohol and drinks, I always opt to seek out salads. This ensures I get the important fiber and protein before drinking carbs.
City: German Village, Columbus
Date: March 18, 2023
Healthy Hack: It's hard to order for yourself here; opt to order many things and share with the table! All of their dishes are variations of vegetables cooked different ways. You won't go wrong!
This is the second time we've gotten to dine at Comune and it never fails. Comune is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant that creates seasonal menus based on what vegetables are just that... in season! We went with our fellow foodie friends to try their winter menu. I love this kind of food; discovering different healthy, yummy ways to create dishes focused on vegetables is such a cool concept. We tried almost everything! Some notable favorites were the beet tartare, the Brussel sprouts, the fried rice, and this incredible salad (pictured above).
Date: March 24, 2023
Healthy Hack: when eating italian food, first prioritize protein. I ordered the steak with green beans on the side. My steak came with another side, so my husband and I decided to try the Mac n' cheese. When I order heavy creamy dishes like this, I make sure to share with the table!
Vittoria was a great experience. Picture old-school italian restaurant that does everything right. You know what you're going to get; the steak will be tender, the spaghetti homemade, and the meatballs with no filler. We love to see it!
My husband and I split a bottle of cab and started with two appetizers. We ordered the shrimp cocktail and calamari. We LOVE calamari, but know our limits in terms of it being *fried*. After having a few bites of calamari, we move on and don't continue to graze. The shrimp cocktail was incredible; huge pieces of shrimp!
As for my main, I decided upon the 8 oz fillet. I rarely get pasta at italian restaurants. Personally, I don't do well eating super high carb rich meals. I feel lethargic, bloated, and tired. So ordering the fillet was a no-brainer. It came with two sides. After looking through my options, I knew I wanted the green beans. I also ordered the Mac n' cheese so my husband and I could both try it!
When I order something out-of-the-ordinary like this Mac, I normally remove it from my plate once it is served. This just creates the mentality the entire side does not need to be consumed. Instead, its in the middle of the table so I can try some along with anyone else. If I left the side on my plate, I'd be more likely to eat it all.
8. Fado Pub
City: Dublin, Bridge Park
Cuisine: Irish pub
Date: March 25, 2023
Healthy Hack: They have incredible salads! The salads all contain fresh ingredients, protein options, healthy fats and different dressings.
I love a good Fado salad. I've been to this Irish pub many times at the Easton location. They do an exceptional brunch and lunch job! I ordered a farmhouse salad that had almonds, cranberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and grilled chicken. I opted for the cheese and dressing on the side so I could control how much high fat items were consumed. I also ordered the salmon bites on cucumber slices. These were super fresh and yummy! My husband and I split them as we waited on our main meal.
Gyms + Fitness Classes
Class Type: Hot Yoga, Vinyasa, Slow Burn
Date: December 2022-March 2023
I have so enjoyed being part of the MELT community! For the last few months, I've been going every Wednesday and Friday to MELT to literally sweat and shed 5 lbs :P. Just kidding! But this studio is HOT. I have found a weird love for flowing through traditional vinyasas in a heated, sweaty room. It's humbling.
However, I say "traditional vinyasas" with a grain of salt. MELT has an array of instructors, and some veer towards providing you with a "workout class" and some keep the tradition of yoga alive. If you know me, you know I am all about traditional yoga with breath cues, alignment, meditation and all of the woo-woo. So, I've found an instructor that gives just that and I continue to go to her classes specifically (shout out to Rebekah.. she is awesome!!).
If you're looking for a hot yoga studio and want variety of class styles in terms of keeping traditional yoga alive along with workout based yoga, MELT has it all. They also offer lifting classes and spinning classes in the MELT garage. I did not utilize any of my 20 classes on those as I simply love yoga.
City: New Albany
Class Type: High Intensity Interval Training
Date: March 2023
I am no newbie to F45; but I had yet to join any Columbus F45 classes until this month. F45 offers a 7 week trial for 25$ which is well worth the cost. Each F45 class is 45 minutes of a different workout daily. The instructors are awesome and teach you every exercise before with demonstrations and cues. After having a short warm up, it's off to the madness with grind, grit and sweat! I loved the three classes I was able to attend that week and I am looking forward to going to another one this month. F45 is a fun gym to belong to because of the community. But, expect high intensity moves using weights, cardio, and plyometrics.
3. Mesh Fitness
City: Dublin, Bridge Park
Class Type: Open gym
Date: March 26, 2023
Mesh fitness is a small gym located in Bridge Park. Sometimes, Mike and I like to change things up a bit and come here to get our lift on. When walking into Mesh, you're greeted with Mikey D's Fitness Apparel and Visionary Meals stocked. Let's just say, vibes are good and you already feel swoll.
I wouldn't go to Mesh if you're looking for great cardio equipment. I always warm up with a walk on the treadmill and I honestly don't like them. Their equipment, on the other hand, is top notch. They are decked out in Rogue and Hammer Strength everywhere. You won't be in need of a piece that isn't there. They also have open floor to fling kettlebells, work with TRX's, or simply roll out. Their showers are clean and they provide towels.
Outdoors + Nature Spots
1. Kiwanis Riverway Park (Dublin)
City: Dublin, Bridge Park
Terrain: Mix of board walk, paved, and dirt
Date: March 2023
This trail is super cute! If you're in Bridge park or waiting for a reservation, venturing on this short hike is well worth it. Across the street from bridge park, you can walk along the paved path between the road and the river until it winds you closer to the river. There's really pretty lilypads in the water, wooden boardwalks, and more. This trail goes for about 1 mile total; however you can make it longer if you cross the bridge and continue to trails in Old Dublin.
Date: Feb-March 2023
My favorite running trail so far; Alum Creek! I use this trail weekly as it clocks in 44 miles total. No, I don't run 44 miles.. but I can get ample amount of training in on one path. To access, park at the Westerville park near Otterbein and you'll see the trailhead! If you start here and continue down 6 miles, it will take you right to Easton. I've never ran further than that (I typically turn around and run 6 miles back), so I don't know the next neighborhood after.
This trail runs along Alum Creek River and is really nice. Bikers, hikers and runners alike use this trail.
Other Fun Events, Businesses + Products
City: Dublin, Bridge Park
Cuisine: fresh fish
Date: March 2023
Every Thursday, I've been going to Bridge Park's North Market to pick up the freshest seafood from Coast To Local. I love this tradition because I am a seafood fanatic, and they are the first coast-to-home seafood source I've found since living here. We've bought everything from fresh tuna, swordfish, trout, scallops, you name it! I love making marinades, toppings, salsas etc to add to these fillets. Not only are they extremely tasty, but healthy too!
Mike also loves when I bring him home their lobster roll and chips. I think he expects his Thursday lunch to be from Coast To Local!
Massages, Facials, Aura Readings, Meditations, Gong Baths
Date: Sept 2022- Mar 2023
God bless the soul that told me to go to Paloma. I frequent this spot at least once a month. Paloma is that woo-woo wellness that every person needs in their life." Need a massage?" **Gets a CBD gummy to go with it**." Need a facial?" **how about adding a jelly mask and a neck massage ** "You've never seen our dome?" **gets an aura reading 5 minutes later**
I love this place. I will probably highlight different services throughout the blog posts I'll be writing; but today let's keep it simple. Their massages have been nothing less than extraordinary. As you make your way into a Moroccan style spa, you instantly slip into a zen. 60 minutes later, they'll ring the bell and awaken you as you feel more than refreshed, but rejuvenated. They keep great notes and details to the point that I had to tell them to take my broken ankle off their notes (they still wonder if they can touch the ankle I broke in October). Everything is meticulous, which I love! I also feel Paloma's prices are extremely affordable. Coming from someone who was paying almost double in Michigan to get a sub-par massage; Paloma.. please don't change!!