The Rail proudly waves its all-Ohio banner by sourcing all its ground beef and beer from the Buckeye State.
From a small Wooster-based chain of restaurants, the Rail occupies a new 4,800-square-foot standalone building at 5839 Frantz Road in the Karric Square shopping center near Dublin.
The restaurant is just the latest in the gourmet- or better-burger market, joining spots such as B Spot Burgers, Bareburger, Flip Side and Stack City Burger Bar.
"We've been looking at Columbus for at least two or three years," said Mike Mariola, founder and president of Mike Mariola Restaurants. "I would have been happy to be in a mixed-use development but wanted to be in a more neighborhood setting."
Burgers are the name of the game at the Rail, with 10 custom options (most of them $10 to $13), including the Mojo, a blend of beef and Ohio andouille sausage, cheddar, traditional garnishes and jalapeno slaw.
The traditional Rail burger starts at $9.75, $10.50 with cheese, with a number of toppings available, from sauteed mushrooms (50 cents extra) to Ohio pulled pork ($1.50).
All are served with shoestring fries.
"I would put our burger against any burger, grilled or (cooked) on an open flame," Mariola said.
Other menu items include sandwiches, entree salads, appetizers and sides, including homemade potato chips and tater tots. Steak and pork-chop entrees also are available.
The Rail also specializes in a burger's BFF -- the hand-dipped milkshake.
A brunch menu, served from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, offers traditional dishes and several breakfast sandwiches served on homemade biscuits using Ohio buttermilk.
Then there's the beer: 24 on tap, all brewed in Ohio.
The Karric Square location marks the fifth overall Rail in Ohio, with the original founded in 2011 in Akron. It was inspired by the successful opening of the City Square Steakhouse in 2008 in Wooster -- at the height of the Great Recession.
"I'm thinking, this is fun," said Mariola, who founded the restaurant with his wife, Emily.
Mariola, a chef by training, said a lot of thought has gone into the restaurant's primary attraction.
"I think for us it started with doing the classic burger really, really well," he said.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 614-725-3200.
The Winking Lizard Tavern opened last week at 7995 E. Broad St. in Reynoldsburg.
The 5,500-square-foot storefront has a familiar look for the business: 32 high-definition TVs, a large dining room seating 170 and an expansive patio complete with a fire pit and garage doors leading to the bar, beverage manager Sean Avren said.
Winking Lizard also should not disappoint with its beer selections, for which the Cleveland-based chain is known, with 35 brews on tap, mostly microbrews, and another 140 by the bottle, Avren said.
The restaurant also should become known for having one of the finest bourbon lists in the city, keeping pace with other Winking Lizard stores, he said.
As for the food, the Reynoldsburg location features a laid-back tavern menu, including a $5.99 burger at lunch Mondays through Fridays.
The opening follows the Feb. 16 closing of the Winking Lizard in Crosswoods.
The Crosswoods site will be razed in favor of an extended-stay facility now under construction.
Stack'd, a burger joint at 88 E. Broad St. in downtown Columbus, will reopen May 1. A sign posted to the door reads, "Sorry. We flew south for the winter."
Banadir Cuisine Restaurant, 3246 Cleveland Ave., will not, however. Banadir was closed Feb. 13 by Franklin County Public Health because of repeated failures to meet rules in the state's food code.