German Village, Columbus, Ohio


By Janie Blank

One of the best known areas in Columbus is German Village( www.german-village.com/thevillage/gvhistory.htm). Sometimes you will meet someone who visited Columbus for a business meeting a number of years back and they will mention the neighborhood. The streets are brick and the area is bounded by City Park on the West, Jaeger on the East, Livingston Avenue on the North and Blackberry Alley to the South. You can walk for blocks and blocks and see darling homes and gardens in pristine condition. The area was settled by German immigrants between 1840-1860 and brought their style of building brick homes quite close together to Columbus.

The German Village Society conducts an annual Haus and Garten Tour to raise money and it is a highlight of the year. The Village also hosts an annual garage sale that is heavily attended. People love to get a glimpse of the beauty that lies behind the garden gates. Another fun event is the Macon Alley Art Crawl. They close off Macon Alley and guests meander the alley for several blocks partaking of food and drinks along the way as the garages are loaded with artists and art for sale. The Village is known for being a home to many artists.

There are scattered shops and restaurants throughout the village. There are two very authentic German restaurants in the area, Schmidts and Juergens. Schmidts is on South Fifth Street and caters to the tourist crowd and is well known for its Bahama Mamas and gigantic Cream Puffs. They also have a separate gift shop. Juergens is at Fourth and Jackson and is a smaller establishment and owned by a lovely German lady, Rosemarie, who is always there to greet you. There is an authentic German bakerei on premise and the apple strudel is to die for. Juergens also contains a German delicatessen. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day but Monday, with a brunch on Sunday. It is also a gasthaus with two rooms. I highly recommend the Jaeger Schnitzel! If you have ever been to a small town in Germany you will find this authentic. Both Schmidts and Juergens have off-street parking, a rarity in the village.

There are a number of other restaurants as well, many quite upscale. These include Lindeys, Barcelona and G. Michaels. All three number themselves among the most popular in Columbus and feature lovely garden seating areas. Barcelona was voted the best alfresco dining a couple of years back. Barcelona is best known for its tapas. Lindeys is a Columbus staple when talking about where to dine in Columbus. All three have great chefs, bars that are the in place to be seen, and G Michaels and Barcelona are one of a kind with no other locations. Lindeys was as well until it duplicated the decor for a second location at Polaris shopping mall. Barcelona is located in the location that once housed a famous German Village landmark called Deibels, where the crowd sang along to German tunes accompanied by an accordion!

Other German Village popular restaurants include The Olde Mohawk on Mohawk street, the original Roosters (now a franchised chicken wings spot), and Planks, a casual bar and restaurant that has long been the hangout of the softball crowd. The Thurman Cafe on Thurman Avenue boasts the largest hamburger in town. Jimmy Vs at High and Whittier across from Planks has a great patio and delicious Greek food.

Katzingers Deli is at the entrance to German Village and known far and wide. They say the President usually stops there for a sandwich when in Columbus. Something unusual they do is have olive oil tastings. Coffee houses on Third street include the hometown favorite Cup O Joe, and a newer Starbucks across the street. There is another German bakerei on south Fifth Street that is only open from Thanksgiving until Christmas that makes the best homemade cookies I have ever had. Between that and Juergens I know I will never bake again!

Probably one of the most memorable stores in German Village is the Book Loft
(www.bookloft.com). This is also a place people who have been to Columbus will instantly recall. The Book Loft is actually two houses joined back to back running between Third Street and City Park. It is famous for its thirty-two rooms meandering up and down stairs and incredible selection. It is open every day from ten in the morning until eleven at night and midnight on weekends. They have sale tables outside that are usually great buys. A nice find is the downstairs card room where unusual greeting cards are just fifty cents each. You have to match them up with an envelope but it is a great place to stock up on clever cards different than the local Hallmark.

Helen Winnemores is a lovely gift shop that has been on Mohawk Street for over thirty years where one of a kind items can be found. The Hausfrau Haven is a fun gift and wine store on South Third Street. As mentioned earlier. Schmidts restaurant also has a gift shop. And a newer entry called Caterina has nice European gifts and housewares. German Village is not an area for clothes shopping, however, not even lederhosen!

The Village, as it is known, also is home to some trendy hair salons. German Village is so easy to get to and is convenient off of the highways as well as just a bridge away from downtown. But when you cross into this area you enter another place in time. The German Village Society has very strict requirement that must be met when doing a renovation within its borders. Thus the area has some of the finest examples of German architecture you will find anywhere.

A discussion of German Village, and its tree-lined brick streets would not be complete without mentioning Schiller Park. The park is over twenty-three acres in size with lovely walking paths, a lake, gardens and a shelter house. You often see people fishing in the lake while you are walking or jogging by. There is a lovely stage area and during the summer months Actors Summer Theatre performs Shakespeare in the park free of charge and crowds bring lawn chairs and picnics for an evening of entertainment.

Other than the Juergens Gasthaus there is currently just one Bed and Breakfast in German Village. There is a Best Western called the Clarmont bordering the Village and the Westin Great Southern Hotel is a few blocks away.

Regardless of where you stay, spend a day walking through German Village (http://germanvillage.com/grouptours.htm), exploring its charming streets, the park, the shops, the restaurants and the bakerei and you will not forget Columbus, Ohio.

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