Hal and Al’s in Columbus, Ohio

We had the pleasure of a whirlwind eating spree in Columbus earlier this week. Of course, we hit the tried and true Dragonfly and managed to eat at Vegiterranean both on our way down and on our way home, but we also got to try a few new places, too. One of these was Hal and Al’s, which is located in a windowless, but brightly colored building on Parsons, which I think is beyond German Village. It’s actually a vegan bar/restaurant. I admit it, I’ve got a thing about a lack of windows, but I’ve got an even bigger thing about vegan food so we gave it a shot.

The bartender (I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name) was extremely helpful in going over the menu with us and happily shared her favorites. It was fun to chat with her about the club itself and the types of music they book. This place would be a terrific place to see a band, and of course, feast on some great food while doing it.

First up, we had to try the Fried Sampler. We didn’t really have a choice: fried mushrooms, fried pickles and fried avocados, all coated with an incredible beer batter and accompanied with two sauces. Having recipes in American Vegan Kitchen for both fried pickles and avocados, I was excited to try someone else’s versions. Obviously, we were off to a good start.

We really didn’t need it but it’s hard to ignore mac and cheese on a vegan menu, so we tried that, too. It was slightly tangy (mustard?) and we think nooch based. It was very flavorful and actually kind of addictive.

Jim chose the Tacos, which he requested be made spicy. They were made from tvp and were indeed spicy. While they were good, my sandwich was the best.

Luna Burgers are a locally made burger which I saw for the first time while browsing about a Columbus Whole Foods. We intended to go back and get some to bring home, but never made it. So when I saw it on the menu, I was excited to try it. It’s a really tasty burger. Mine was topped with barbecue sauce, cheddar and grilled mushrooms and onions, all served on a locally made Brezel pretzel bun! It was straight-up, honest, comfort food and it really hit the spot.

There are many fantastic things about this place, but one more thing I really need to mention is the fact that you can get any of the dishes made just the way you like it with no charge for extra toppings. I went the purist route and tried my burger the way it is on the menu, but what a terrific thing to offer your customers! I’m not a beer drinker, but according to Jim they had a lot to offer and feature beer specials as well. The portions are large, the service is wonderful, the food is great and as local as can be, the prices are low and the ambiance is just fine once you get in the door. It’s probably the cleanest “dive”, “joint”, whatever you want to call it that I’ve been in.

If you find yourself in Columbus and looking for a good affordable vegan option, this place tops the list. We’ll definitely be visiting again the next time we’re in town. And next time, we’re getting the pretzel bites for dessert, even if we have to be rolled out of there. More fun food from our trip coming soon!

Hal and Al’s
1297 Parsons Avenue
Columbus, Ohio

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  1. Posted September 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I stop by your blog occasionally and I just had to de-lurk to say… I live in Columbus and I’ve actually never been to Hal and Al’s! I heard some not-so-good things from people about the food, and it’s in a part of the city I just never really venture into, so I haven’t made an effort to go. But your food looks like some seriously awesome greasy bar food and I’m totally going to have to go down there now! Thanks for posting about it :o)

    If you make it back to Columbus ever there are some really other amazing places you should try. There’s a hipster-ish restaurant/bar downtown called Tip Top that has vegan philly cheesesteak and lots of other really good choices (fried green beans? yes please). And there’s a place near OSU campus called Mad Mex that has vegan cheese and vegan sour cream that they make in-house, and I really love nearly everything I’ve had on their menu. In my neighborhood we have a vegetarian little cafe called Whole World, a deli called Cornerstone with an “herbivore” wrap, and Northstar for the best veggie burger you’ve ever had in your life (seriously). AND Pattycake Vegan Bakery (did you make it there?!)

    And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…there are so so many good vegan eats here! So I hope you make it back sometime, and meanwhile I gotta get to Hal and Al’s :o) Thanks!

  2. Posted September 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I am so impressed to see great vegan eats in Columbus! I am taking a look at your previous commenters suggestions too. I have a feeling I’ll be headed up 71 more often now that my sister in law is living there, and I’m going to be prepared with lots of restaurant suggestions.

    All this food looks great – and I agree, the extra toppings is a great option especially when you don’t find an extra $3 on the bill.

  3. Posted September 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I think the Tip Top cheesesteak uses some form of ground crumbles and not seitan, but it’s hard to tell (though, I don’t think I’ve ever really saw seitan take a crumbly form…) I’ve never actually had a real cheesesteak and I like it mostly for the novelty and because it’s awesome to be at a bar eating bar food. And, well, it tastes good. :o)

    Another place I thought of is this restaurant called Banana Leaf (on Bethel Rd.) I suppose it might sound kind of unspecial to travel and eat Indian food when you can get Indian food at a lot of places but this place is really something special. For about $12 at dinner, you get unlimited mango juice, a “chaats” course where they bring you 5-6 little pre-appetizers (all of which are different, flavorful, amazing, etc). Then there are appetizers on the buffet, and a buffet with lots of options. THey will bring you vegan bread instead of the regular bread. And they always have a special vegan dessert included in your dinner cost. They also have hot tea included (the owner is so amazing… he always remembers me and makes me hot chai with no dairy in it).

    It’s a tiny restaurant and doesn’t look like much, but the owners make the food and serve you, and they really go out of their way to make you feel like you’re eating at their home. They’re so kind and friendly and a cute couple, and sometimes they bring extra things for free, like more of anything you like that isn’t on the buffet. And they are so careful to make sure vegans go away having the same amazing experience that nonvegans do. I’ve never had so much delicious food for $12 in my life.
    Website: http://www.bananaleafofcolumbus.com/
    We have other great Indian restaurants here too (like Udipi), but Banana Leaf definitely steals the show.

    Ok I’m done raving about this place now, I swear :)

  4. Posted September 19, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Tami! can you believe I have never actually been to Columbus? This place looks like so much fun.

  5. Posted September 19, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Jessica, you’ll eat well in Columbus! It’s a fun city, too.

    Frances, I’m surprised you haven’t biked your way there!

    VegetariRun, thanks for all the ideas!

  6. Posted September 20, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    that comfort food looks pretty legit. The Brezel pretzel bun sounds intriguing as well!

  7. Posted September 23, 2010 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the heads up, Tami. All your food looks delicious, and I really like the other suggestions too.

  8. Posted September 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Oh my Gawd!!! Maybe we need to meet in Columbus instead of Chicago next year.

  9. Posted September 27, 2010 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    I had the opportunity to eat at Hal and Al’s and thought the veggie burger was the best I ever had especially paired with that pretzel roll!!

    Hal and Al’s is the perfect place … bar … vegan. Grab a Horny Goat and you’re (well I was), in heaven.

    Now I’m usually pretty close to the airport so either I don’t have a lot of time or don’t have a car. That being said I’m looking over the other Columbus vegan possibilities and can’t wait for my next ron at CMH.

    Marty’s Flying Vegan Review

  10. Gauri Radha गौरी राधा
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    That vegan macaroni and cheese looks good!!

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