It’s hard to say what makes a good diner, but we can all agree that—when the timing is right—the diner experience can’t be beat.
We say experience because, while the food at all these Columbus spots could absolutely stand alone, the aspect of dining in is an integral part of diners, whether it’s an after-hours bite with friends or an early-morning breakfast to kick off the weekend.
Luckily for us, Columbus has no shortage of top-tier diners, from spots that are new and flashy to ones rich with history. We’re about to take you on a crash course of some of the top spots in the Columbus area, so hang on to your red vinyl stools.
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Tommy’s Diner, 914 W. Broad St.
A Franklinton staple for more than 30 years, Tommy’s has a retro-fun interior with great food to match. As of early December, 2022, it’s the best diner in the state of Ohio, according to net Google review scores.
Jack and Benny’s Barnstormer Diner, 2160 W. Case Rd.
If you didn’t know where to look, you would likely never find this unique spot. That’s because it’s located inside a hangar on the OSU Airport. Rife with airplane memorabilia, Jack and Benny’s was also named best breakfast in Ohio by “Ohio Magazine” in 2008.
Starliner Diner, 4121 Main St. (Hilliard)
While Hilliard is a hike for some, Starliner is worth the drive. Not only has this eatery been serving up some of the best Cuban food in the area since 1995, it also features some truly immersive inter decor, including its iconic dining room mural.
German Village Coffee Shop, 193 Thurman Ave.
While the real estate in German Village is not cheap, this eatery sure is. French Toast for under $2? A hamburger for $6? These and a whole lot more cheap eats can be found at the Thurman Avenue spot, which also features classic, red-vinyl diner stools and booth seating.
DK Diner, 1715 W. 3rd Ave. (Grandview)
Fun fact: The DK in this classic Grandview diner’s name stands for donut kitchen, since before it started offering breakfast or lunch, donuts were the main attraction. All three are offered today, including a wide variety of donuts that are still house-made.
Hamburger Inn, 16 N. Sandusky St. (Delaware)
While Hamburger Inn is located in Delaware, you can bet dollars to diner donuts it’s worth the drive. Breakfast is great as well, but this Delaware eatery is also known for its late night diner fare, including burgers, fresh cut fries, and classic milkshakes.
Buckeye Donuts, 1998 N. High St.
This iconic campus spot does a whole lot more than donuts, although you probably already knew that. In addition to its classic fritters and Maple Long Johns, Buckeye Donuts offers 24/7 breakfast (and gyros) all in its endearingly stripped-down dining room.
Beechwold Diner, 4408 Indianola Ave.
After working up from busboy to line cook at Tommy’s Diner in Franklinton, Albanian immigrant George Cela opened Beechwold Diner with his brother, Samir, in 2010, and this snug, no-frills Clitonville spot has served daily breakfast and lunch ever since. George’s Linworth Diner (also owned by George Cela) was opened on W. Dublin Granville Road nearly a decade later.
The Pancake House Family Diner, two locations (both in Westerville)
As its name implies, this Westerville-based eatery is family owned. A sizable breakfast menu features creative takes on old-school classics, with items like Churro, Cinnamon Roll, Cookies and Cream and even Buckeye Pancakes. These are served alongside savory breakfast staples and a variety of lunch options.
Hangover Easy, multiple locations
This well-known breakfast spot first opened just south of OSU’s campus in 2007, and today it boasts two locations in Columbus, plus restaurants in Athens, Cincinnati and Perrysburg. One of the more contemporary examples on our list, the eatery offers the perfect balance of delicious food trends with tried-and-true breakfast stalwarts.
Chef-O-Nette, 2090 Tremot Center (Upper Arlington)
If Hangover Easy is one of the newest diners on our list, CHef-O-Nette is one of the oldest, having first opened in 1955. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the unique Upper Arlington spot also boasts one of the country’s first drive-thru windows, which is still in operation.
Dan’s Drive-In, 1881 S. High St.
One look at Dan’s vintage marquee signage and striped awning, and you already know it’s a vintage diner you’re looking at. This south side staple is listed on the Columbus Register of Historic Places, and even boasts its own Wikipedia page. Did we mention the food is great as well?
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