Louisiana Crawfish Etouffee at Columbus‘ Way Down Yonder (photo by Brian Kaiser)
Food + Drink

Way Down Yonder, Columbus

Chef Yonder Gordon’s Way Down Yonder restaurant serves up incredible tastes of her native New Orleans on the south side of Columbus.

On a stretch of Columbus’ south side lined with strip malls and chain restaurants, Way Down Yonder stands out with its deep purple exterior with green-and-yellow trim. Housed in a former Long John Silver’s, the restaurant led by Yonder Gordon and her team serves up some of the city’s best New Orleans-inspired meals, from rich gumbo to giant po’ boys, flavorful crawfish etouffee to perfectly fried catfish.

The interior of the restaurant, which opened in 2019, is just as colorful. Tables wrapped in purple, green and yellow tablecloths fill the dining room. Sparkling beads and ornaments dangle from the ceiling. Table signs feature names of New Orleans landmarks, from Bourbon Street to Rue de Chartres to Canal Street. Gordon hails from New Orleans, having grown up in the Ninth Ward and learning to cook from family members at a young age.

“Everybody cooks in New Orleans,” she says with a laugh. “Even babies cook.”

Gordon made Columbus her permanent home in 2002 and worked 12 years with Columbus City Schools, but her passion was always showing others love through her food. She catered and cooked for family before feeling drawn to open a restaurant. In 2017, she was invited to start up in the Columbus Food Hub.

Gordon soon moved to a cafe space in the Linden neighborhood. Despite a series of setbacks in late 2018, including losing the cafe space and a major fire in her family’s home, she remained undeterred. With her children’s encouragement, Gordon found the restaurant’s current space on the city’s south side and renovated it for a May 2019 opening.

Chef Yonder Gordon of Columbus’ Way Down Yonder restaurant (photo by Brian Kaiser)

“Everything on the menu sells,” she says. “The people can taste the love and the patience and the time I put into it. I cook with love, I cook with fresh vegetables, nothing comes pre-packed. Everything is cooked in that kitchen from scratch. I’m like the preacher behind the pulpit; I have to send the message the right way. I want people to get the right message every time they visit.”

She’s quick to suggest her rich and smoky seafood gumbo, flavorful jambalaya, zesty and tomatoey crawfish etouffee or shrimp po’ boy piled high with shrimp and crisp vegetables. The portions are filling, and the food is boldly seasoned and comforting.

Gordon’s daughter brought more New Orleans goodness to downtown Columbus when she opened Way Down Yonder Beignets & Coffee in early 2022. It’s a small outpost featuring fluffy beignets drowned in powdered sugar, rich coffee and breakfast classics.

“People say, ‘I want to go to New Orleans for the food,’ ” Gordon says. “You don’t have to go there no more. You can go right here.”  

Restaurant: 3847 S. High St., Columbus 43207, 614/662-8623, waydwnyonder.com; Beignets & Coffee: 386 E. Main St., Columbus 43215, 614/696-5522, wdybeignets.com