I’ve only been in Columbus for a few days, and I’ve already eaten some great food.
It’s research for my new gig.
I am now the Ledger-Enquirer’s Southern Trends and Culture reporter — which is just a complicated way to say that I’ll be painting a picture of what daily life is like for the residents of Columbus, Georgia, and the southern United States. If it’s about the effect various state and federal policies have on the people of this region, cool southern stories rooted in history or where to get a damn good biscuit, I’ll probably write about it.
I’m a Georgia native called home from Shreveport, Louisiana, after almost two years away from my beloved Peach State. There, I covered various beats for The Shreveport Times including city government and investigations.
My fiancée and I moved into our new home March 9, and many of our boxes remained unpacked. Aside from beer, Mountain Dew and lunch meat, there is little food in the house. But that’s not a bad thing. What better way to explore my new town than to eat some of its foods?
Food operates as an expression of cultural identity. It is an embodiment of civic pride and a physical snapshot of a region’s history, values and beliefs. I wanted to taste Columbus.
Here are the four places I’ve eaten since being in town. Not included in the list are the fast food joints I ate at that first tired night after getting here. Those meals don’t count.
I certainly haven’t eaten at all the right places, so go easy. Please send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
March 10, morning: Metro Diner, 5524 Whitesville Road, Columbus
We stumbled upon Metro Diner by accident. My father wanted to take us to Lizard’s Thicket, a South Carolina-based diner chain. He thought he saw one in Columbus and it must have brought back memories of our old family trips. He seemed excited.
Unfortunately, what he saw was Lizard Thicket, a clothing and accessory boutique. In the same shopping center, however, was Metro.
We walked into the diner Sunday morning where the soldiers, old men and large families were talking, laughing and eating. I got the corned beef hash with poached eggs, sourdough toast and coffee. The corned beef hash was fresh with the occasional hint of citrusy coriander that sneaks up on you. The eggs came in a separate bowl but I would have preferred them on top of the hash. The coffee was hot and smooth.
It seems like a perfect place to drink a cup of coffee and read the paper — once the crowd thins a little bit. Sure, it’s a larger chain but it’s new to me.
March 10, evening: Ed’s Southern Cooking, 5435 Woodruff Farm Road, Columbus
Ed’s isn’t too far from the new house, and I really wanted some good country cooking. My landlord left Ed’s menu on the wall, and I can’t thank him enough for that.
The line in front of the serving area looped around the restaurant but we quickly made our way towards the front. I got the fried chicken, collards and mac and cheese. The collards were some of the freshest I’ve ever had. The chicken was tender and its well-seasoned skin was so crispy that it could be pulled off in large sheets.
I didn’t get dessert, and I regret it. My fiancée’s key lime cake was tart and rich. This might be one of my go-to restaurants in Columbus.
March 11, lunch: Chili Thai, 19 W 10th St., Columbus
It was my first day at the paper, and naturally, I went to lunch with my coworkers. They suggested Chili Thai which is walking distance from the Ledger-Enquirer’s office downtown.
After all the heavy fried foods consumed, it seemed like a good idea to get something with a lot of green veggies. I got the broccoli and mushrooms with beef. It was a simple, filling dish that will bring me back to try something a little more adventurous like their take on spicy spaghetti.
March 12, lunch: Dinglewood Pharmacy, 1939 Wynnton Road, Columbus
Of course, I had to have a famed scrambled dog. I got mine with the standard pickle slices and crackers. I also added cheese and got fries on the side.
The red weiners didn’t scare me. I first encountered them while I attended Mercer University. Macon’s famous hot dog shop, Nu-Way, serves up weenies of the same hue.
The scrambled dog is a thing of beauty. The chili and the hot dog bun are very soft and the pickle adds some tang to the chili with the crackers adding that last little, needed crunch. Together, they meld for the perfect frankfurter symphony. As a self-described hot dog enthusiast, I’m sure I will be back making small tweaks to my order each time until I find the right balance.
As I finished my last bite, I couldn’t help but think that I’d eaten the same meal as a prince — Charles, Prince of Wales to be exact.