Eating at conventions with dietary restrictions is hard. Even the professionals making the food often don’t know the logistics of eating vegetarian or vegan. And, in convention settings, there are often slim pickings as it is.

Columbus, like many cities, can be difficult to navigate while vegetarian or vegan. Especially in a convention setting, where speed is as important as sustenance,

To combat this, we are starting a series on convention eating. This will hopefully give convention goers an idea of what they’re in for and where they can eat.

This list is based on information available online and will be updated as more information is discovered.

Inside the Convention Center

Columbus Convention Center houses the South Cafe & Marketplace. This is the closest food options to the convention. The second level of the facility is available via escalator.

2nd Floor

Neilsen’s Convenience Store

Vegetarian and vegan

This shop is available for convention goers who want a quick snack and drink. Their menu is akin to most convenience stores and gas stations. Vegetarians will easily find standard snack food, and there may be some accidental vegan options as well (Oreo’s, chips, etc).

Starbucks

Vegetarian and vegan

Again, this store is fairly standard and many will have had experience with Starbucks in the past. Many of their drinks are vegetarian or vegan, or can become vegan with simple replacements. Their food is similar, though concerned eaters will want to double check ingredients.

1st Floor

Charley’s Philly Steaks

Vegetarian

A Columbus, Ohio original, Charley’s has one vegetarian sub on their menu. The Veggie Delight features grilled mushrooms, onions, green peppers, provolone, swiss, and American cheese. It’s likely, however, that they may be cooked on the same grill as meat products. It’s unclear what oil the fries are cooked in.

Donatos Pizza

Vegetarian

Donatos’s is a Columbus staple. This pizza place features all vegetarian cheese and a variety of pizzas, subs, and sides. Their website lists vegan Daiya cheese as an option, but it’s not clear if this is available at every location.

Kooma

Vegetarian and vegan

Pescetarians should find a great number of options here. However, this sushi restaurant also serves vegetarian and vegan sushi. Additionally, they also serve vegetable tempura and steamed edamame.

Siam Express

Vegetarian

Vegetarians will easily be able to find hefty portions of fried rice or other vegetarian thai staples. However, there doesn’t seem to be any vegan options (the fried rice, like most, comes with egg).

Subway

Vegetarian and vegan

Ordering the veggie delight sub will provide both vegan and vegetarian options. The hearty Italian, Italian, and sourdough breads are all vegan. The yellow mustard, deli brown mustard, oil, vinegar, vinaigrette, sweet onion sauce, fat-free Italian dressing, and buffalo sauce are all vegan-friendly.

Velvet Cafe and Ice Cream

Vegetarian

Along with ice cream, this shop has breakfast items and sandwiches. While most of their sandwiches contain meat, there are options to order a veggie fresh deli sandwich. These sandwiches may be vegan, or easily substituted to become vegan, but their ingredients are not listed online.

Outside the Convention Center

Brew Pubs

Barley’s Brewing Company (467 N High St – 4 minute walk or .2 miles from the convention center)

Vegetarian, some vegan with substitutions

Barley’s has typical brew pub food. Vegetarians can order nachos, burgers, salads, desserts, and several other items. Each vegetarian item is marked on the menu for convenience. However, vegetarians should note that the butternut squash ravioli lists parmesan as an ingredient. Some restaurants use vegetarian parmesan while others do not. Vegans can substitute ingredients in two of the vegetarian salads (house and roasted apple), to create a vegan-friendly meal, but for vegans who have grown tired of salads, it’s best to go elsewhere.

Elevator Brewing (161 N. High Street – 8 minute walk or .4 miles from the convention center

Vegetarian and vegan

This menu has indicators for which items are vegetarian and vegan/can be made vegan. Only one of the appetizers is vegan, but there are more options for vegetarians and vegans in the salads, entrees, and burgers. Note that parmesan is listed on vegetarian dishes, but the restaurant does use parmesan that contains rennet.

Gordon Biersch (401 N. Front St. – 7 minute walk or .3 miles from the convention center)

Vegetarian

This restaurant is a bit on the pricier side. There are a few options for vegetarians, including a veggie burger, appetizers, and a hummus plate.

Novak’s Tavern & Patio (475 N High Street – 4 minute walk or .2 miles from the convention center)

Vegetarian

Novak’s has several standard vegetarian items including a veggie burger and house salad. They also feature a grilled cheese with apples and mac and cheese.

Burgers

Bareburger (463 N. High St. – 3 minute walk or .2 miles from the convention center)

Vegetarian and vegan

It’s ironic that the restaurant with perhaps one of the most options on this list is a burger restaurant. Bareburger features a variety of burgers, all clearly marked on their menu. Vegans and vegetarians can get burgers made from sweet potatoes, kale, wild rice, quinoa, black beans and roasted corn, and, in the first time I’ve seen this on a menu, they have both The Impossible Burger AND The Beyond Burger (both of which I highly recommend to herbivores looking for a meaty texture and taste who don’t want to sacrifice their morals). There’s options for those who aren’t in the mood for a burger as well.

Casual Dining

Boston’s Gormet Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar (191 W. Nationwide Blvd. – 8 minute walk or .4 miles from convention center)

Vegetarian

Vegetarians can find pizzas and flatbreads loaded with veggies. There’s also appetizers available.

Max & Erma’s (55 E. Nationwide Blvd – 2 minute walk or 440 feet from the convention center)

Vegetarian, some vegan

Like most casual dining restaurants, the vegetarians and vegans will be ordering a lot of sides and apps at Max & Erma’s. The restaurant does offer a veggie burger and a vegetarian house salad for vegetarians in the mood for an entree. There aren’t a lot of vegan options that aren’t steamed vegetables.

Ted’s Montana Grill (191 W. Nationwide Blvd. – 8 minute walk or .4 miles from convention center)

Vegetarian

There’s a veggie burger. There isn’t too much to say about Ted’s menu other than they have a diverse selection of side salads that are vegetarian and vegan (though, oddly, they aren’t sized up to entree salads) and a veggie burger with a few vegetarian side options.

Fast Food

Chipotle (401 N. Front Street – 6 minute walk or just over a quarter mile walk from convention center)

Vegetarian and vegan

With the addition of the vegan sofritas, con goers can have their bowls, burritos, salads, or tacos with either the spiced soy protein (my personal favorite) or a veggie options with free guac.

Ice Cream

Cold Stone Creamery (200 W. Nationwide Blvd – 8 minute walk or half mile from convention center)

Vegetarian and vegan

While it may be counter-intuitive to think that an ice cream shop would have vegan flavors, Cold Stone carries many different flavors of sorbet, all of which are vegan. Vegetarians should be good ordering most items on the menu–just watch out for gelatin products.

Italian

Bucca di Beppo (343 N. Front St. – six minute walk or .3 miles from convention center)

Vegetarian, some vegan options

This is the most expensive restaurant on this list, with entrees averaging around $20 (though many are intended to be shared). Their marinara sauce is vegan, as are all over their pasta noodles. Only the fettuccine noodles contain eggs.

Market

The North Market (59 Spruce St. – 6 minute walk or .3 miles from the convention center)

Vegetarian and vegan

At The North Market, con goers can find a wide variety of both vegan and vegetarian food. This is the best option for a groups who cannot decide on one type of food.

Stir-fry

BD’s Mongolian Grill (295 Marconi Blvd. – 7 minute walk or .3 miles from convention center)

Vegetarian

This restaurant features build-your-own stir-fry bowls. There are also pre-made recipes for the indecisive. There are plenty of veggies to choose from as well as a tofu protein option. It’s unclear how much cross-contamination with meat products there will be while the food is being cooked.