The newest restaurant venture by Smoke Bourbon and Barbecue and The Black Cow owners is out to prove you don’t need to leave Columbus in order to experience south-of-the-border cuisine.
Vertigo Fusion Kitchen, located at 117 12th Street and directly next door to Black Cow, is just one more step towards turning 12th Street into Columbus’ own Hell’s Kitchen, said co-owner Stephanie Woodham.
“It would be super awesome and amazing for this block to become that little Hell’s Kitchen part of Columbus,” Woodham said.
Hell’s Kitchen in New York City is an area that is typically known for having the best restaurants in the world and where tourists tend to travel to eat a wide variety of cuisines.
Vertigo, on the same block with other restaurants like My Boulánge and Bare Roots Farmacy, brings a variety of new dishes to the area. While the restaurant is heavily Mexican-influenced, Asian, American and other cuisines can also be found on its menu, which includes dishes like “Dirty South Chicken and Waffles,” and a variety of tacos with names like “Seoul Train” and “Pig Latin.” They also offer salads and vegetarian options.
Having a variety of dishes on the menu was something that was especially important to Woodham and Stickney.
“Our goal is to expose our community to dishes from all over the world. We want you to be able to come in and sit down with your family or your group of friends and have somebody try a dish from India, all the way to Greece but also have an appreciation for the Mexican culture,” Woodham said.
The journey to Vertigo’s opening began when Woodham and co-owner Denise Stickney decided it was time to move forward with a different business concept once the building became available. 12th Street Deli, the restaurant formerly occupying the space, closed at the end of 2018 after nearly 30 years in business.
Woodham said it was really a “no-brainer” for the two of them to try and open another restaurant located right next to Black Cow.
While Black Cow is very much rustic and country-themed, Vertigo is a very different style. Colorful sugar skulls adorn the dark walls and the space includes off-beat features like a black-and-white bathroom lit up by blacklights.
“Immediately we knew coming into the concept that we wanted it to be the exact opposite of The Black Cow,” Woodham said. “It kind of causes vertigo because you’re walking out of a country, all wood, rustic, Coca-Cola mural on the wall place, to this awesome, colorful and vibrant atmosphere.”
What is likely to catch most diners’ eyes is the 60-by-16 feet mural painted by local Columbus State University student, Jori Kent, a long-time family friend of Stickney. After seeing how Kent’s talents improved as she grew older, Stickney decided she was the right person to bring Vertigo’s unique theme to life.
“I’ve seen her work as she’s grown up and I asked if she wanted to do a mural. She’s been thrilled to be apart of this and to have the opportunity to show her talent,” Stickney said.
Vertigo is currently open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Vertigo has a full bar with craft, domestic and Mexican beers, in addition to wines and cocktails with names like “Takes Two to Mango” and “El Chapo.” Also, straws are available on request.
“We’re very passionate about turtles. We’re just trying to do our party and stay cost effective at the same time,” Woodham said.