This is one of the most difficult articles I’ve ever had to write. There are literally hundreds of hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Columbus, GA and I’m doing my darndest to try them all. But to whittle the list down to the 10 places I’d recommend trying before dying…dude…that’s hard. I’ve got SO many favorites! But, I figured, if I didn’t put a cap on it, this list would go on and on forever and I’d like to provide a somewhat succinct list where you could reasonably try them all…at least before you PCS. So here you have it folks, my list of must-try hidden gems in Columbus. You may recognize some of these places from other Right and Up articles!
I am constantly asked for recommendations for the best Mexican food in the area and my answer is always, “La Mexicana.” Located on Victory Drive just outside the Fort Benning gates, you could easily head here during your lunch hour…if you can find it, that is. The storefront is actually a Mexican grocery store and you have to walk all the way to the back before you stumble upon the restaurant. You wouldn’t know it was there from just walking in. Having been stationed in El Paso and being a California native, I feel like my knowledge of Mexican cuisine is decently on point. I’d have to say that La Mexicana boasts the best Mexican food I’ve had outside of Cali and El Paso.
Ria’s Indian Cafe
You may recognize Ria’s from our other article on good eats in Columbus, but since this place is about as hole-in-the-wall as they come, we would be remiss not to mention them here as well. Located in a tiny white house on Warm Springs Rd., this place serves up some legit Indian food on the daily. The front of the building houses Ria’s Ethnic Foods market, and nestled neatly in the back is the café. Order to-go or stay and dine. The owner and her family run this small establishment and cook traditional Indian food; making you feel like part of their family.
This place is truly one of Columbus’ greatest establishments. For those of you seeking the low-country boils and my personal favorite, blue crab, you MUST go to Skipper’s at least once. I’ve made it a habit of bringing friends and relatives who come to visit to this place just so they can get a true Columbus experience. The owner, Skipper, will always come out to greet you and makes you feel so incredibly welcomed. Their $5 cocktail menu is also quite a treat while you crack open each blue crab and dunk it in warm butter.
Normita’s Latin American Restaurant
One of my all-time favorite places in Columbus, Normita’s is a true hidden gem! Owned by a Peruvian-American family, they serve food from all over South and Central America. Think plantains, mofongo, empanadas, and tripe stew. If you’re looking to branch out in your Latin cuisine, then Normita’s is the place to go. Food is served buffet style for lunch, but don’t worry, it’s always fresh and clean!
Gus’s Drive In
Gus’s has been in business for quite a long time (the 1960’s I believe)! Another great place to go during lunch, Gus’s specializes in a number of different dishes: fried shrimp, steakburgers and Greek food. I know, weird right? It’s not an accident though as the owners have Grecian heritage and they make a mean gyro! The pita bread is lightly fried on the inside to give you that satisfying crunch when you bite into it. But my favorite is the shrimp basket! The shrimps are clearly fresh and fried to order. They come out beautifully butterflied and not greasy. You’ll be sure to be greeted with a smile here as their wait staff is so charming, and every time I’ve been there the owner comes out of the kitchen to make sure you’re pleased.
Jordan’s Girls Gourmet Dawgs
At the southern end of Uptown on Veterans, Jordan’s Girls is a local favorite hole in the wall. Everytime I go I have to stand back and gawk at the extensive menu for 5-10 minutes as it’s really difficult to decide which amazing combo of hotdog toppings to choose. But you really can’t go wrong. With a sports and military theme, all of their hotdogs have a fun name. Your dog comes out piled high with toppings and it’s just one of those places where you lick your fingers once your food is gone.
There are many reasons to love Rose’s. For one, they are one of the best places in Columbus to get real jerk chicken. Couple that with the fact that they are located right outside the Fort Benning gate (by the National Infantry Museum), and you can be sure to celebrate your love of all things Caribbean at almost any time you please. Their meat is falling-off-the-bone delicious!
Minnie’s Uptown Restaurant
If you’re wondering where to get the best fried chicken, then wonder no more! Minnie’s is a local favorite and serves lunch cafeteria style at the southern end of Uptown. Though they have a menu that rotates daily, they are best known for their fried chicken, which is served every day. It’s perfectly crispy and seasoned and you just cannot get enough of it. Top it off with a big swig of sweet tea!
Wynnton Pit BBQ & Diner
This soul food joint is right off the main drag in Midtown and is a true gem of Columbus. It’s a classic Southern diner and you’ll never tire of the sweet ladies calling you “baby” and “honey” as they take your order. Their specials change daily, but if they’ve got fried catfish on the menu, you best be ordering it. These hot and flaky fish are cooked to order; fins and all! Bite into a tasty cornbread biscuit and finish it off with some sweet tea and vanilla pudding.
Photo by Susan
Looking for a quick, affordable breakfast that’s packed to the brim with greasy goodness? CC’s is also located right outside the gates to Fort Benning on Fort Benning Rd. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior. This place is an absolute gem! It opens early at 0600 and closes right after lunch time, but it is best known for its breakfast. Give their biscuits and gravy a try and don’t forget to load up on their bacon. I’m not pumping sunshine up your a**…trust me, this place is good.