“Not Pad Thai” dish at Joya’s in Worthington (photo courtesy of Joya’s)
Food + Drink

How Chef Avishar Barua’s Mom Helped Shape Joya’s

The Columbus restaurateur, whom many of us first met on “Top Chef” season 18, named his Worthington spot after his mother and borrowed inspiration from her when crafting his menu. 

Before he opened Joya’s in the summer of 2022, chef Avishar Barua was well-known to central Ohio diners through notable eateries like Veritas and Service Bar. But he was introduced to the rest of the country with his appearance on season 18 of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” where he wowed the judges with dishes like his creative interpretations of a buckeye dessert.

Following his stint on “Top Chef,” he had the momentum to open his own Columbus restaurants, starting with Joya’s in late 2022 and Agni, a live-fire, tasting-menu spot in early 2023. Since its opening, Joya’s has been an immediate hit. Barua and his team went back and forth on a name until the chef decided to name it for his mother, Joya. 

“I didn’t tell her about the name until we reviewed the logo,” Barua says. “Now we ask, ‘What would Joya do?’ That’s our model now. We didn’t have to write a mission statement.”

Parathas at Joya’s in Worthington (photo courtesy of Joya’s)

Joya’s took over a former bakery in charming Old Worthington, making the most of the narrow storefront by adding a long counter and building out a back kitchen. Barua credits his mother’s cooking, which he describes as “Bengali American,” as helping build his palate. She often cooked large meals for guests and friends. 

“As I got older, I’d sometimes bring in my mom’s food [to the restaurants], and people would say, ‘Why don’t you make that?’ ” Barua says. 

When Joya’s opened, the restaurant’s namesake showed up every Saturday, checking on customers and serving tea to people in line. Many of the drinks on the coffee menu, including the latte and chai, all use her recipes and bear her name.

Breakfast Sandwich at Joya’s in Worthington (photo courtesy of Joya’s)

First-timers should try the Joya’s Breakfast Sandwich. It’s one of the first dishes Barua designed for the cafe. He took inspiration from his time cooking at the renowned wd~50 in New York City, when he used to snag bodega breakfast sandwiches to start the day. Like everything at Joya’s, the breakfast sandwich is thoughtfully composed and loaded with flavor. It layers soft and cheesy scrambled eggs, two types of bacon, a special sauce and a creamy herb salsa on a soft potato pav, a type of Indian roll. 

“It really has everything, and it looks small but it’s three eggs,” Barua says. “I can only eat half.”

Another must-try is the Kati Roll, a long, crispy paratha flatbread brimming with flavorful components: tender lamb kebab, egg, pickled red onion, maple chaat yogurt, a house-made apple chutney and herb salsa. As if the dish didn’t stand out enough on its own, Barua appeared on “Beat Bobby Flay” in 2023 and bested the host with the Kati Roll.

Joya’s is open for breakfast and lunch, and along with the Breakfast Sandwich and Kati Roll, diners will find a full coffee bar, baked goods, fried rice, a burger, a chicken sandwich and one more Barua signature: the Taco Bell-inspired Cheesy Double Crunch.

657 High St., Worthington 43085, 614/468-1232, eatatjoyas.com