This new Chinese restaurant at 4545 E Broad in Whitehall is a winner so far, based on our first visit tonight. They are especially good with fish; we had a very spicy sour fish and cabbage soup and a Szechwan fish, both with flounder, and both were terrific. We also enjoyed kung pao tofu. Prices are reasonable and portions are generous. We hope this place is here to stay; we will be regulars.
One of my favorite restaurants in the world fits your criteria: T'mol Shilshom on Yoel Moshe Salamon Street in Nahalat Shiva. A little hard to find -- it's upstairs in one of the courtyards off the street, but look for the sign on the wall next to the archway to it. Sort of across from Turquoise jewelry store.
It's a bookstore as well as a cafe, and they let you sit all day and read. They have wonderful authors' nights, too. A great place; you'll love it.
Chakra restaurant is spectacular and by far the best overall restaurant in J-town, but it's neither cheap nor dairy/parve (or kosher, for that matter). People even come from Tel Aviv just to eat there, and that has to be a first in history for a Jerusalem restaurant!
I have lived here for 28 years, and I still don't get Rubino's pizza. Our friends who grew up in Bexley adore it; anyone else wonders how they can even stand it. To me, it tastes like cardboard with bland tomato sauce. But I guess that's exactly what makes for a real local flavor.
Try Darbo for Somali and Blue Nile for Ethiopian.
Of course, Jeni's ice cream!
The Refectory is wonderful fine dining, and the service is exceptional.
North Star and Katzinger's are great for casual dining.
Hunan House and Hunan Gourmet are our favorites for Chinese, and Bangkok is great for Thai.
Udipi is a really good and reasonable vegetarian Indian restaurant.
Skillet in German Village is great for breakfast/brunch, if you can get a table. Worth waiting, though.
Basi Italia, Lindey's, G Michael's, Cafe Istanbul, Ocean Club, and Barcelona are other favorites.
North Star Cafe
There's ice cream, and then there's Jeni's. A revelation. It was the darling of the New York Times food section a couple of years ago, and a few pints shipped was a hot (ha ha) Xmas gift.
When all those volunteers came to Columbus for the 2008 election from San Francisco, NYC, DC, etc., we would take them to Jeni's. They would say something condescending like, "Well, you know, we have excellent ice cream in ... OH MY GOD!" And after that if felt like we couldn't get any work out of them -- it was Jeni's at least once a day.
I still do love Johnson's, for the neighborhood atmosphere, though, and the ice cream is good -- they have an especially excellent vanilla, so I buy there when I bake pie. And certainly if I were taking a crowd of kids, I would take them there over Jeni's (all flavors there are now $10/pint, so you can imagine what a scoop is). I don't understand why anyone in Bexley goes to Graeter's when Johnson's and Jeni's are both right there.