The novel centers largely on the happenings of a small, wealthy suburb of Columbus called Belmont. If you’re familiar with the city at all, you’ll know that Belmont is not a real place—for reasons that become clear when you read what happens, I didn’t want to malign the reputation of any of our actual suburbs. But Columbus itself is an undeniably real, vivid place, and during the course of her investigation, she visits many undeniably real businesses here in town. Most of them are in her neighborhood (and my former neighborhood), Olde Town East.
Scotch + Chinese food…a match made in heaven? Wing’s is a Chinese restaurant with a truly killer Scotch list. I’ve never patronized the restaurant side of the business, only the bar, but it’s worth a trip out to the east side just to take in their offerings.
Every city has a good hot dog shop. I think it’s some kind of rule. Dirty Franks is ours: a teeny, tiny restaurant on Fourth Street where, more often than not, you’ll have to sit on a stranger’s lap in the three-by-three foot waiting area until your table is ready. But it’s worth it, because they make inventive, tasty food (think hot dogs with mango chutney), play only local music, and serve a $3 cocktail made with whiskey and orange soda (a Buckaroo Banzai, named after the weird 80s sci-fi movie) that is both trashy and amazing. I’m partial to a veggie dog with sriracha cream cheese and Fritos, a dog of my own invention. My dream is that someday, I’ll order it so often that they actually put it on the menu.
This one is a good choice when Dirty Franks is too crowded and all the strangers’ laps are taken (it’s right down the block), but it’s also awesome in its own right. They make the best brussels sprouts I’ve ever had.
Patisserie on Oak Street
This one’s out of business, alas. But white African sweet potato tart was truly, truly amazing.
Their pesto is amazing, and so is their beer selection.
Across the street from Yellow Brick, this is a cute little bakery/café with many enchanting pastries (including vegan ones) on their menu. They have a nice patio for when the weather is good (which, honestly, isn’t often in the Midwest…but occasionally).
Next to the Angry Baker, this one is a newer bar in a cool old space. There’s an awesome pressed-tin ceiling to gaze at when you’re tired of staring into your whiskey glass for answers.
Coolest bookstore ever. Instead of a big rectangle full of parallel shelves, the Book Loft has thirty-two twisty rooms and hallways. You can lose yourself for hours and may need assistance getting out of here, which is the best kind of problem to have.