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Order up: 12 diners offer minimum space, maximum taste

J.R. McMillan

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Somewhere between East Coast delicatessens and West Coast cafés is the culinary intersection of utility and community. Though the Midwest didn’t exactly invent the diner, it has arguably perfected it. But defining a diner isn’t as easy as it seems.

Tommy’s urban appeal and Nancy’s down-home feel are two sides of the same coin. Cap City and Starliner both push the envelope with avant-garde offerings, while Hang Over Easy and Chef-O-Nette certainly deserve a nod. But none really meet the standard for tiny diners, the neighborhood haunts only the locals seem to know.

Despite our critically-acclaimed restaurant scene, the classic diner is working class by design. Most offer open kitchens and open seating without a sous chef or sommelier in sight. Better still if there’s a guy with a gallery of tattoos behind the grill and the coffee is strong enough to stand up a spoon. Breakfast hours are essential; breakfast anytime is understood.

There’s an implicit social compact to rubbing elbows with strangers at tightly-grouped tables or a crowded counter. Enough original or inspired decor with knickknacks and nostalgia so that even regulars find something new every time combined with off-the-menu specials and predictable patrons the staff know by name are all part of the charm.

Unfortunately, that social scene is also what may make these esoteric eateries intimidating for the uninitiated. So here’s an insider’s guide to some of the city’s best tiny diners and the plates that make them great.

For Breakfast

George’s Beechwold Diner

4408 Indianola Ave., North Clintonville

Dinky diner meets neighborhood dive on the edge of Clintonville. The steak and eggs and biscuits and gravy are both solid. If you can’t decide, you can’t go wrong with the garbage omelet, which varies from visit to visit, but includes every meat, cheese, and veggie on the menu.

Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer

2160 W Case Rd., Dublin

Hidden gem is an understatement for a joint tucked away in the back of a hanger at the recently remodeled OSU Airport. Try the legendary Gut Buster at least once—layers of egg, cheese, sausage, bacon, ham, and hash browns with a potato pancake and peppered gravy for good measure.

Stav’s Diner

2932 E. Broad St., Bexley

Skip the standard French toast and substitute challah bread instead for something unexpected. Buttery pancakes with fresh blueberries are always in season. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Order the gyro omelet with feta, but add spinach and tomato for even more Mediterranean flavors.

Louie’s Daybreak Diner

1168 E Weber Rd., Linden

This Linden destination offers all the standard breakfast fare with some signature standouts, like their famous Panhandler, or a personal favorite, the Philly Omelet. Sliced roast beef and Swiss with mushrooms, peppers and onions is like a cheesesteak wrapped in an egg instead of a bun.

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For Lunch

German Village Coffee Shop

193 Thurman Ave., German Village

Don’t let the name fool you. The patty melt is superb, covered in grilled onions, Swiss and American cheese, and Thousand Island on rye—as is the Monte Christa, the comfort food cousin of the classic club sandwich with egg-battered bread stuffed with hot turkey, ham and cheese.

Delaney’s Diner

5916 Westerville Rd., Westerville

With a new name, more tables, and a few menu holdovers, you’ll still find the best corned beef hash in Columbus, carved into huge chunks, served with grilled red potatoes and onions, and eggs to order. Crispy country fried steak smothered in sausage gravy also remains a reliable staple.

Jack’s Downtown Diner

52 E Lynn St., Downtown

Hard to find, even in the heart of downtown, is a time capsule of the prototypical American diner. You could shoot a period picture at Jack’s and not have to change a thing. It’s already perfect. Order the meatloaf sandwich on sourdough with a side of hash browns, just to mix it up.

Grill & Skillet

2924 E Main St., Bexley

Nothing says nostalgia like grilled liver and onions with homemade mashed potatoes, or a thick-sliced, fried bologna sandwich—not even the checkerboard floors. But don’t overlook the weekend specials, like peanut butter and banana French toast, salmon patties with Hollandaise, or their killer kielbasa and eggs.

For Dinner

3 Brothers Diner

3090 Southwest Blvd., Grove City

The three brothers from Oaxaca helped establish the style of another local diner before opening their own. Try their namesake omelet, with bacon, ham, plantains, and Monterey Jack covered in chili sauce and sour cream—or their signature scramble with poblanos, onions, corn, and zucchini, topped with Jack and queso fresco.

Westerville Grill

59 S State St., Westerville

 On the south end of Uptown, evening hours are often the exception when it comes to diners. Don’t miss the smothered chicken, grilled with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and melted cheddar with a side of mashed potatoes, or the weekend-only prime rib, slow-roasted and served with au jus.

Philco Diner + Bar

747 N High Street, Short North

The only entry on the list where all-day breakfast meets beer and cocktails, this upscale Short North pit stop offers a modern twist on every recipe. Seriously consider the coffee-braised pot roast, served with butternut squash, red potatoes, poblanos, and goat cheese, with rosemary onion rings.

Fitzy’s Old Fashioned Diner

1487 Schrock Rd., Worthington

It’s never too late or too early at Fitzy’s, the only 24-hour diner on our list. Go for the breaded and fried, sliced pork tenderloin, served as an entrée, on a sandwich, or with your eggs—or keep it simple with the Fitzer: eggs your way, home fries, and a biscuit all covered in sausage gravy.

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Food & Drink

Too Good To Eat: SuperChef’s stuffed Scriddle Pancakes

@findyourfork

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Pancake my eyes off you, sweet cakes, cause no one stacks up to you.

Feast your eyes on the thickest thiccest pancakes that Columbus has to offer. SuperChef Ohio serves up these jumbo stacks of comfort in style, by combining the culinary flavors of savory and sweet—essentially, the best of both worlds.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuRtmUYAMhu/?igshid=19h0q3u82h40e

Stuffed to the brim with scrambled eggs, deliciously sweet candied bacon, and house-made sausage all covered up in warm maple syrup, these cakes are not to be missed.

Picture this: four of the thiccest, fluffiest, and softest pancakes stacked one on top of each other with hot maple syrup cascading down the sides.

Grab that knife in your hand and take that first slice down all four pancakes all at once. Watch as the warmth from the layered cakes is released, and along with it all the combined flavors of sweet and salty bacon and sausage.

Shove a generous helping of the cakes into your mouth and close your eyes. Feel instantly comforted by the penultimate flavors of breakfast all in one bite.

Take a big swig of coffee (or milk, whatever suits you) and prepare for another bite of breakfast dream come true. Fancy yourself a one-stop-shop for all your breakfast needs? SuperChef Ohio has got you covered.

SuperChefs has locations in Downtown and Gahanna. Visit mysuperchefs.com for more information.

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Food & Drink

5 tasty merchants announced for North Market Dublin

Regina Fox

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You now have five more reasons to be excited for Dublin's North Market with its recent announcement of merchants. North Market veterans and newbies alike are coming together for the first phase of committed businesses for the Bridge Park public market.

Momo Ghar, Dough Mama, Market Bar, Coastal Local Seafood, and The Dublin Farmer's Daughter will occupy five of the 19 stalls.

“Like we have done for 143 years at our downtown location, we are successfully curating the best-in-class fresh meats, seafood, bakery, and produce categories for the Bridge Park facility that will provide a unique experience for visitors,” said North Market Executive Director Rick Harrison Wolfe.

In case you're not hip to the dynamite dumplings, Momo Ghar will be opening a third location inside North Market Bridge Park. As Food & Wine so affectionately wrote, “Once you try this food, you will never have any problem finding your way back here.”

Dough Mama is yet another Central Ohio favorite, serving "stick-to-your-bones" comfort food with a twist, according to the website. Guests can enjoy homemade biscuits, sandwiches, soups, desserts, pastries, and more.

Market Bar will be quenching the adult thirsts of North Market Bridge Park goers with a variety of craft beer and fine wines to go. This concept is owned by Pete Volker and Wayne Lin.

Central Ohio seafood distributor Ian Holmes, owner of Coastal Local Seafood, will bring his expertise to the North Market Bridge Park merchant community. Upon opening their first retail shop at North Market Bridge Park, Coastal Local Seafood will be able to provide the same wonderful seafood ingredients for home chefs and will also serve on-site menu items such as lobster rolls and crab cakes. Dublin residents and guests can look forward to enjoying fresh oysters at the New England-themed raw bar.

The Dublin Farmer's Daughter is a new concept from the owners of Copia Farm, partners Caitlin Bergman and Dan McLeod. This venture will focus on the highest quality ingredients sourced from our farm and other local farms said Bergman in a release.

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Game Day Destination: Urban Meyer’s Pint House offers food, fun, and football

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Head coach, decorated collegiate champion, and the reason Jim Harbaugh probably can’t sleep at night; these are just a few of the many hats former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer wears. Though Meyer has stepped down as head coach of the Buckeyes’ football team, his tenure with the program has grown roots in the Columbus area. And now that Meyer is fully into his life after football, he’s added the hat of restaurateur to his repertoire.

Now open in Dublin Bridge Park is Urban Meyer’s Pint House—a joint venture between the former Buckeye coach and Corso Ventures. According to Justin Kintz, Corso’s Marketing Director, the restaurant will riff off the concept of Corso’s Short North Pint House with Meyer calling some of the shots just like he did on the sidelines with the Bucks.

“It’s still a pint house, a great place to come and watch the game, we just gave it a Dublin twist,” Kintz said.

This Dublin twist and location comes from Meyer himself as he and his family currently call the suburb their home. The restaurant’s interior matches this Dublin description as it features a simple and approachable setup that still manages to feel quietly chic. Multicolored wood paneling on the walls gives way to strings of simple but tasteful exposed bulbs across the ceiling, as rows of high definition TVs line the walls, playing sports.

The new eatery’s menu contains the expected (and solidly crafted) slate of sandwiches and pizzas one would expect from a sports pub, but with an elevated twinge. One of the Pint House’s featured dinner entrees is linguine with clams which is a borrowed recipe from its sister restaurant, Forno Kitchen + Bar. Kintz explained that Meyer had become somewhat of a regular at the Short North bar and restaurant.

“Urban loves Forno, and his favorite thing there is the linguine with clams,” said Kintz, “So he brought it over.”

The dish is made up of littleneck clams on linguine with Roma tomatoes, white wine, garlic, and lemon, and is available for $19. Other dinner entrees include salmon, petit filet, house battered buttermilk chicken tenders, and Pasta Forno, a rigatoni dish in vodka sauce.

Another menu item borrowed from Forno is their arancini appetizer. The fried risotto balls with Fontina cheese and San Marzano sauce, are now also a favorite appetizer at the Urban Meyer Pint House as well.

“It’s the best-selling item there,” said Kintz.

While the eatery serves lunch and dinner currently, they will soon be rolling out a brunch menu of their own as well. Additionally, each Wednesday the restaurant will feature a special of beer-broiled chicken, fries, and beer for $10, with drinks coming from a rotating series of breweries that is scheduled to change bi-weekly.

Take one look at the restaurant’s name though, and you should know that it isn't just known for its eats. In fact, it’s in the establishment’s libations that patrons will find the most direct nod to the former Buckeyes football coach. 

In a collaboration with the Columbus-based Land-Grant Brewing Company, the pint house worked to create its very own beer in tribute to Meyer. 7-0 Ale is a 5% ABV Kolsch-style Ale that’s light-bodied, crisp, and easy drinking. The beer is available in both cans and on tap.

It’s name, 7-0 Ale, is a figure that appears frequently throughout the taphouse, one that diehard Buckeyes fan will likely catch. It references Meyer’s perfect 7-0 record in tilts with the rival Michigan Wolverines during his seven seasons in Columbus.

Additionally, the pint house features over 20 $7 craft pours alongside a list of canned and bottled beers and ciders for $4.50 and $5.

And beer isn’t the only thing on the drink menu either. In addition to a litany of champagne and wines with both glass and bottle prices, a menu of fun cocktails are available for purchase.

According to Lintz, the Frosé cocktail at Forno (made up of frozen rosé wine, Absolut Grapefruit, fresh strawberries, and lemon) has become a favorite of Meyer’s wife, Shelley Mather Meyer, so much so that it’s been given space on the menu at Urban Meyer’s Pint House, referred to as Shelley’s Frosé. Beside a list of signature and custom cocktails, the restaurant offers the Monster Mule, a 96-ounce Moscow Mule; a jumbo martini that serves four; and Shelley’s Punch Bowl, a mixture of Belvedere, Lustau rose vermouth, lemon, hibiscus tea, Peychaud’s, raspberry, and cava, served out of a giant flamingo vessel.

The restaurant, located at 6632 Longshore Dr. in Dublin, is Monday through Thursday from 3 pm until closing, Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. until close.

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