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The Best Cheap Eats in Columbus

The growing city of Columbus, Ohio, is one of fastest-rising cities in America; featuring a thriving college community, an expanding economy, and an exciting cultural and culinary scene, Columbus is a place to go to and a spot to be in. The best cheap eats in Columbus provide an inexpensive and delicious flavor to the city, feeding the locals and visitors with a potent combination of delicious Midwest style and diverse tastes. But where are the city's in-the-know diners headed out to when they're looking for some cheap eats in Columbus? Welcome to our Tastemakers List. Here, we've put together a list of the best, most inexpensive places to eat in the city. From local pubs and taverns to get a good meal and watch the Buckeyes or Blue Jackets to downtown favorites, the best cheap eats in Columbus have something for everyone. Grab a table tonight and enjoy!

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The OpenTable Team
18 Restaurants
Updated 01 October 2021
Restaurants:Rusty Bucket - Bexley, Fireproof Restaurant, Rusty Bucket - Westerville
Price Range:$$ - $$
Cuisines:American, Cocktail Bar
Neighborhoods:Bexley, Short North - Arena District, Columbus
A photo of Rusty Bucket - Bexley restaurant

Rusty Bucket - Bexley

$$$$
American
Bexley
4.7
179 reviews
The comfortable sports bar chain called the Rusty Bucket features some of the best cheap eats in Columbus. The Bexley installment of this pub delivers a fine, fun time perfect for some sports-watching and some good times with friends. The burgers are the highlight at the Rusty Bucket. Try the trademark Rusty Bucket burger with sweet pickle relish and American cheese, or the beer cheeseburger with house-made beer cheese and stacked with crispy onion rings. Another great option at Rusty Bucket? The "Big Sicilian" pizza, with pepperoni, sausage, and capicola.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Fireproof Restaurant restaurant

Fireproof Restaurant

$$$$
Cocktail Bar
Short North - Arena District
4.6
1394 reviews
Right in the heart of the Italian Village in Columbus, Fireproof provides some of the best cheap eats in the region. Fireproof is a stylish, elegant tapas restaurant and wine lounge. Seafood is one of the Fireproof restaurant's highlights. Try the grilled Spanish octopus with chives and spicy vinaigrette, seared scallops with green tomato jam, or bronzini with crispy skin and uni coulis. Small-bite snacks include dry roasted nuts with warm spices, warm marinated olives with chili, and queso fondue with chihuahua cheese and piquillo.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


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A photo of Rusty Bucket - Westerville restaurant

Rusty Bucket - Westerville

$$$$
American
Columbus
4.5
365 reviews
The Westerville location of this venerable local chain features some of the best cheap eats in Columbus. Head out to the Rusty Bucket for the big game and a great time out. The daily "Blue Plate" specials feature favorites like Cincinnati three-way chili. and a Kentucky "Hot Brown." Try the Rusty Bucket's green chili burger, with house-made beer cheese, serrano, and jalapeno relish. Stick around for dessert and try the New York-style strawberry cheesecake, cookies and cream, or sticky bun bread pudding.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Rusty Bucket - New Albany restaurant

Rusty Bucket - New Albany

$$$$
American
New Albany
4.8
256 reviews
Head out to New Albany for one of the finest outlets of the Ohio-favorite Rusty Bucket neighborhood pub. This fun and lively pub chain is full of hearty food and drink and offers some of the top cheap eats in Columbus. Try some of the Rusty Bucket's signature sandwiches. A chicken finger BLT features the sandwich favorite alongside chicken fingers. The Italian torpedo includes grilled Italian sausage, capicola ham, salami, and provolone cheese. Try the Rusty Bucket Reuben, with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Rusty Bucket - Dublin restaurant

Rusty Bucket - Dublin

$$$$
American
Dublin
4.6
307 reviews
Trek to Dublin to find some of the best cheap eats in Columbus at the local Rusty Bucket restaurant. The Rusty Bucket is an exciting, friendly spot that's the perfect option for a beer and a burger during a ballgame. Start with deep-fried pickles and ranch dressing, a double-stacked quesadilla, spinach con queso, or a bucket of shrimp. Go for the double bacon cheddar burger topped with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, and a healthy serving of bacon. Pair the meal with one of the fine Rusty Bucket beers, including the Rhinegeist Truth, Kentucky Bourbon Barrell stout, or Rhinegeist Cheetah.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Rusty Bucket - Easton restaurant

Rusty Bucket - Easton

$$$$
American
Easton
4.4
196 reviews
The Easton outpost of the local Ohio chain called the Rusty Bucket is a fun and lively spot full of great beer and excellent food. Grab one of the many fantastic local beers on tap with dinner. Try the Rhinegeist Truth or Cheetah, the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel stout, or a selection from BrewDog. Pair those with one of the Rusty Bucket pizzas, like the pepperoni and peppers pie, "Big Sicilian," or veggie pizza. Stop in for the weekend brunch and grab the Rusty Bucket cinnamon sugar donut holes, chicken and waffles, or braised short rib hash.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of bd's Mongolian Grill – Arena restaurant

bd's Mongolian Grill – Arena

$$$$
Asian
Columbus
4.2
168 reviews
Right in the heart of the Columbus arena district, BD's Mongolian Grill is an excellent spot for a hearty meal before or after an event downtown. Head in for the fabled create-your-own stir fry meal at BD's, with plenty of proteins, veggies, and sauces for the famous grill. Pair that with a trip to the salad and home-made soup bar for a full meal. Grab one of the BD's draft beers, like a Blue Moon, Bud Light, or New Belgium seasonal. Specialty bottles at BD's feature favorites like the New Belgium Citradelic Tangerine IPA and the Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop.

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A photo of Houlihan's - Upper Arlington restaurant

Houlihan's - Upper Arlington

$$$$
American
Upper Arlington
4.2
838 reviews
Trek out to the Kingsdale Shopping Center for a relaxed, casual dining experience and some of the best cheap eats in Columbus. The vast and varied dinner menu includes favorites like Sedona shrimp pasta, Bavette steak, seared salmon pesto, and pan-fried pork dumplings. Try the "Melty Cheesy Cheeseburger," a hearty burger topped with a five-cheese blend melted on a raclette skillet. Another specialty burger at Houlihan's is the Kansas City burger, with brown sugar bacon, barbecue carnitas, onion straws, and cheddar.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of BRU Burger Bar - Westerville restaurant

BRU Burger Bar - Westerville

$$$$
Burgers
Westerville
4.6
346 reviews
The Bru Burger Bar in Westerville offers some of the best cheap eats in Columbus. The creative menu features plenty of hearty burgers for all tastes. Try the traditional patty melt, with Thousand Island dressing on rye. A burger "snack" boasts American cheese and special sauce. The impossible burger boasts vegan cheese, vegan mayo, mustard, and house ketchup. Try the Memphis barbecue melt with pulled pork, white cheddar, house-made barbecue sauce, and Southern slaw.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Bravo Italian Kitchen - Columbus - Bethel Road restaurant

Bravo Italian Kitchen - Columbus - Bethel Road

$$$$
Italian
Northwest Columbus
4.4
919 reviews
This authentic Italian space in the middle of Columbus offers plenty of great cheap eats and great times for visitors. Head in for lunch to try the crispy calamari, organic chicken meatballs, and pecorino cheese dip. Try some of the unique Imbriolio family recipes. These include spaghetti pesto, spaghetti Pomodoro, and spaghetti bolognese. Pizza selections at BRAVO include Margherita with fresh basil and chicken and spinach with green onions. BRAVO also features an excellent brunch menu, with a Sicilian omelette, eggs and bacon, and stuffed French toast.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse - Polaris restaurant

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse - Polaris

$$$$
American
Polaris
4.3
163 reviews
The Columbus Polaris Fashion Place is the spot for BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse. This fun, lively restaurant features an expansive menu full of hearty dishes and craft beers. Try the BJ's Oktoberfest lager, "Tripel Around the World" IPA, and "Zany Zitrus Hazy" IPA. Trek in during the daily happy hour on Mondays through Fridays for deals on domestic beers and chips and dips. For main courses, try the Nashville hot chicken sandwich or Mediterranean chicken pita tacos.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Cap City Fine Diner & Bar - Gahanna restaurant

Cap City Fine Diner & Bar - Gahanna

$$$$
American
Gahanna
4.8
3209 reviews
This modern twist on the classic diner has a menu full of hearty favorites and some of the best cheap eats in Columbus. Try the blue cheese potato chips with alfredo sauce or the hour and sour calamari for starters. The traditional "diner sandwiches" menu features a triple-decker grilled cheese with fried egg and scallions. Diners can also get a Philly cheesesteak or the diner meatloaf melt with Muenster cheese, barbecue, and mayo. Go for one of the diner's famous large plates like the four-egg omelet with ham, cheddar cheese, and tomato.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Fado Pub & Kitchen restaurant

Fado Pub & Kitchen

$$$$
Bistro
Dublin
4.5
519 reviews
A welcoming, intimate Irish pub in Easton Town Center, the Fado Irish pub is the spot for some of the best cheap eats in Columbus. Head in early in the morning on the weekends to watch some European soccer and get some excellent brunch food. The menu features banana pecan pancakes, avocado toast, an Irish breakfast sandwich, and eggs Benedict. For lunch or dinner, try some of the Fado sandwiches. Highlights include a black bean burger with roasted corn, lamb dip with rich au jus sauce, and a grilled chicken baguette with goat cheese.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Hang Over Easy restaurant

Hang Over Easy

$$$$
American
Columbus
0 reviews
This Columbus favorite has the slogan of "breakfast cures all." It's the place to go for a restoring, hearty meal after a night out on the town. This cheap eats in Columbus destination offers a menu full of large-plate favorites ready to combat any early-morning blues. Go for the chicken and waffles with a hot sauce maple glaze or the "Frog Eyes," house-made biscuits with sausage gravy and two eggs. Try the Hangover Easy burger, a ground beef patty with grilled onions, cheese spread, and bacon aioli. There's another sandwich on the menu (name too vulgar for printing here) that features a burger with pepper jack and chorizo smothered in queso.

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A photo of Little Palace restaurant

Little Palace

$$$$
Greek
Columbus
0 reviews
Take a trip back in time to classic Americana at Little Palace, one of the best cheap eats places in Columbus. Little Palace's decor is straight out of 1950s and 1960s kitsch, and the spot is always lively with a young and hip crowd. Stop in for the cheap eats on the appetizers, subs, and pizzas menu. The meatball sandwich features peppadew cheddar and grilled pepper, and the intriguing Brussels sprouts pizza includes garlic and pancetta. Try the local fried cheese curds appetizer or the fire-roasted meatballs with parmesan and basil.

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A photo of Hubbard Grille restaurant

Hubbard Grille

$$$$
Contemporary American
Columbus
4.7
1221 reviews
A stylish spot in the heart of Columbus, this refined restaurant in a historic building is a cheap eats destination for locals and visitors. Head in for the Grille's acclaimed $5 happy hour menu for a menu full of snack and drink specials. Fresh-baked jalapeno cornbread comes with maple honey butter, and fried chicken sliders feature a cider-honey glaze with mayonnaise and pickle. Drink deals include the agave cooler with New Amsterdam vodka, pink grapefruit, and lime juices. For a unique taste, try the chipotle margarita with peach schnapps and agave nectar.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Lemongrass Fusion Bistro restaurant

Lemongrass Fusion Bistro

$$$$
Asian
Columbus
4.2
977 reviews
This hip and trendy downtown Columbus bar is a happening High Street destination. It also features some of the best cheap eats in Columbus. Stop in for the Lemongrass happy hour for a special menu of inexpensive bar bites, including veggie spring rolls, seared scallops, chicken wings, and pan-seared dumplings. Pair those with some of the Lemongrass cocktail favorites from its acclaimed bar. Try a Bulleit old fashioned, Titos martini, Moscow mule, or grapefruit cosmopolitan. For dinner at Lemongrass, go for the Hawaiian duck with chili, coconut milk, basil, and pineapples.

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A photo of Thurman Cafe restaurant

Thurman Cafe

$$$$
American
Columbus
0 reviews
A longtime Columbus favorite, this cheap eats destination boasts a menu full of oversized burgers. Before the famous burgers, be sure to grab a Thurman's appetizer. Highlights include fried jalapeno "bottlecaps," pepperoni pizza rolls, and mini corn dogs. For the burgers, be sure to try the fabled "Thurmanator." This intimidating favorite includes two burgers with sauteed onions, mushrooms, ham, and bacon. On top of those traditional toppings? Mayonnaise with cheddar, mozzarella, and American cheese. It's one of the heartiest dishes in all of Columbus.

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