I love to find unique places to eat and local hidden gems when I visit an area.
There are so many unique restaurants in Ohio that you will want to add to your list!
Dine at a 100 Year Old Gas Station at Katalina’s in Columbus
1105 Pennsylvania Ave, Columbus, OH
Katlinas is home of the Original Pancake Balls.
Peace, love, and pancake balls…yes, pancake balls.
What’s a pancake ball?
Taking a love of pancakes to the next level, pancake balls are made with local Fowler’s Mill flour and then you add your choice of filling.
- Dulce de leche
- Katalina’s Pumpkin-Apple Butter Served with local Milligan’s Bourbon Barrel Aged maple syrup
Make sure that you add Katalina’s Original thick-cut Sweet N’ Spicy Bacon with your order. Or you can opt for Beeler’s bacon or vegetarian sausage.
You will also want to try Katalina’s most award- winning sandwich, “The Mazatlan” Slow-Roasted Pork & Egg Sandwich.
The Mazatlan is made with slow-roasted Beeler’s pork in Katalina’s secret sauce, plus fried eggs, local Amish provolone, avocado, roasted red peppers & aioli on two HUGE pieces of toasted Old World loaf.
You can also make it vegetarian with veggie sausage.
Heed my advice and get one of each and split them for the best of both worlds with sweet and savory.
Seriously, you do not want to leave without trying both of these menu items!
View the Bun Wall of Fame at Tony Packo’s Cafe
1902 Front Street, Toledo, Ohio
Yes, the bun wall of fame.
Tony Packo’s has autographed hot dog buns covering every wall with signatures from Presidents to astronauts and even Mr. T!
The very first signed bun was by Burt Reynolds, after that a new tradition was formed for each celebrity who walked through the doors.
There are only two remaining hot dog buns from the original collection. You can view Jimmy Carter’s original signed hot dog bun on the wall. The other hot dog buns from the 1970s disintegrated over time.
The over 500+ other signed buns on the wall are custom artificial buns signed by an assortment of celebrities and politicians from both parties that span decades.
Tony Packo’s is known for their Original Hot Dogs, Hungarian hot dog- sausage with chili that has a little kick to it and their wide assortment of pickles.
After your meal, check out the store that sells a variety of their famous pickles, hot dog chili, hot dogs, pickle-flavored popcorn, and more!
Dine inside a Former Classroom at The Schoolhouse Restaurant
8031 Glendale Milford Rd, Camp Dennison, OH
The Schoolhouse Restaurant is the only school your kids will want to go to year-round!
The Schoolhouse Restaurant offers a unique dining experience inside the former classroom of a school that was in operation from the 1860s-1940s.
This school was also believed to be the 1st schoolhouse in the midwest to feature a 2nd story which housed the auditorium and principal’s office.
The Schoolhouse is known for its fried chicken and comfort foods that will remind you of grandma.
You choose the meats and the refillable sides are served family-style on a Lazy Susan that’s built into your table.
The chalkboard in the dining area displays the menu that includes specials, craft beer, and wine in a room filled with historic reminders of years past.
If you need to wait for a table, you can kill time at the nearby gift shop, view the goats, or play a friendly game of tetherball. There is also a playground for younger guests.
Superhero Themed Menu Items at SuperChef’s Breakfast & More
1344 Cherry Bottom Rd, Gahanna, OH
The perfect restaurant for superhero fans.
SuperChef’s Breakfast & More has an assortment of creative superhero-themed menu items.
You’ll have a hard time deciding between the “Superwaffles,” “Superpancakes,” and “Superdillas” in addition to more traditional menu items.
The “Juggernaut” (pictured above) is a (Red) Waffle Sandwich made with Fried Chicken, Candied Bacon, Over Medium Eggs, American & Pepperjack Cheese Topped with Honey Drizzle & Maple Syrup.
The “HULK” is a (Green) Waffle Sandwich made with Eggs, American Cheese, Sausage, & Candied Bacon Drizzled W/ Maple Syrup.
Both of those sandwiches are very popular but you really can’t go wrong with any of their menu items.
Dine Inside an Ohio State Themed Railroad Car at the Buckeye Express Diner
810 OH-97, Bellville, OH
This is still a great stop for non-OSU fans and train lovers alike if you can get past your non-OSU college allegiance. We discovered this gem on the way home after a stay at The Mohicans.
I highly recommend trying the “Woody Burger” and “Brutus Philly Beef.” They were both FANTASTIC!
My friend and I split both so that we could try both sandwiches and styles of fries.
I also recommend trying BOTH the regular fresh-cut fries and the sweet potato fries. The sauce for the sweet potato fries also doubles as dessert.
On a hot day the train car can get a little warm but you can also opt for outdoor seating instead.
How Many Toppings Will You Try at Happy Dog
5801 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH
This dive bar is such a gem!
The Happy Dog is a great place to try a new twist on an all-beef hot dog or hamburger. Each patron selects their perfect combination on a menu that is reminiscent of a grocery list your grandmother might have used.
Be creative but remember that you still want it to be edible!
You are not charged per topping for the hot dogs or burgers so have fun with it (There are 50+) to choose from.
Don’t forget to try the tater tots and fries- their sauces are amazing!
Check out some of the suggested combos if you need some ideas and then modify them to your taste.
The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe
125 N Broadway St, Greenville, OH
I had not even heard of a Maid rite sandwich until my friend Heather from The Food Hussy told me about it. Apparently they are a big deal in Iowa, where the concept and franchise originally started.
What is the difference between a Maid-Rite sandwich and a Sloppy Joe sandwich?
Both Maid-Rite sandwiches and Sloppy Joes are loose meat sandwiches. A Maid-Rite sandwich is a loose meat sandwich without sauce on a bun. A Sloppy Joe sandwich has loose meat with a tomato based sauce.
A Maid-Rite sandwich is made with 100% Pure Beef with choice of Mustard, Pickle, and Onion.
We tried the Maid-Rite, Cheese-Rite and the “Big Jim” (Maid-Rite meat plus Ham & Cheese on a sesame seed bun.)
They are not much for presentation and I’m still not sure how I feel about them. They might be an acquired taste like our beloved Cincinnati style- chili.
The Gum-Wall at Maid-Rite
Seattle isn’t the only place with a gum wall. You can also see and add your gum to the Maid-Rite Gum Wall if you dare.
Try the Cincinnati Chili Trail
Speaking of Cincinnati-style chili, most people either love it or hate it. I’ve grown up eating it but I realize that it’s not for everyone.
A Mediterranean influenced meat sauce that is an acquired taste.
What is Cincinnati Chili?
Picture chili on top of spaghetti noodles with LOTS of cheese and oyster crackers. Only this chili does not taste like a traditional chili because the meat isn’t chunky.
WAYS TO ORDER CINCINNATI CHILI
- 3-way Chili + spaghetti + a mound of shredded cheddar cheese.
- 4-way (A 3-Way with diced onions OR beans)
- 5-way (A 3-Way with diced onions AND beans)
The most well-known local chains are Skyline Chili and Gold Star Chili both chains have passionate fans that insist that their chain is the best.
There are also many local chili parlors that can’t be overlooked.
- Camp Washington Chili
- Dixie Chili
- Empress Chili
- Price Hill Chili
- Blue Jay Restaurant
- Chili Time
- Cretan Grill
- Pleasant Ridge Chili
- Blue Ash Chili
- Gourmet Chili.
*Gold Star Chili also offers a vegetarian Cincinnati style chili option.
Which local Cincinnati style chili is the best?
Try a Unique Hot Dog at O’Betty’s Red Hot and View Their Hot Dog Museum
15 W State St, Athens, OH
This is definitely a unique stop for an even more unique hot dog.
The hot dog combinations are clever in name and flavors which makes for an unforgettable meal.
O’Betty’s Red Hot is also home to a small hot dog museum. You’ll discover a range of items with a hot dog theme.
I ordered a popular “off the menu” item. The “Taj Mai ” is a bacon-wrapped all-beef hot dog with peanut butter, chili and habanero salsa.
Normally, I would have never put this combination together but it worked well. I encourage you to try a combination that is a bit outside of your comfort zone.
Fly in for a “$100 Burger” at the Tin Goose Diner
3515 E State Rd, Port Clinton, OH
(Temporarily closed until February 5th)
This authentic diner in Port Clinton is nice to visit after a tour of the Liberty Aviation Museum.
The diner was built by the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the 1950’s.
Originally operated as the Sunrise Diner in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The diner later became a permanent part of the Liberty Aviation Museum in 2012.
It’s also known as the place to get a “$100 burger” because of it’s location next to the airport for pilots of smaller planes looking for a unique destination to fly to.
This is a great place to grab a burger, onion rings, and a milkshake.
A Meal on Wheels on the Cincinnati Dinner Train
2172 E Seymour Ave, Cincinnati, OH
(Operations resume in March)
There are only about 10 Dinner Trains still in operation in the United States which makes this experience even more special!
The Cincinnati Dinner Train is perfect for a date night or special occasion. I highly recommend that you make a reservation in advance to reserve your spot.
Up to 148 dinner guests are transported back to the era of the 1940s on a 3-hour train ride inside three vintage dining cars.
The dinner train adventure is for guests ages 12 and up.
Dine at the Top of a Former Incline at Incline Public House
2601 W 8th St, Cincinnati, OH
Incline Public House is located at the top of a former incline that dates back to 1874. The large outdoor deck is a very popular spot on a beautiful day because of its fantastic views of Cincinnati.
If you have to wait for an outside table, enjoy the view from the benches at Olden View Park located next to the restaurant.
There is plenty of seating inside with a wall of windows to allow guests to still enjoy the view.
Get Your Lucky Rubber Ducky at Sugar n’ Spice Diner
1203 Sycamore Street, Cincinnati, OH
Enjoy huge fluffy omelettes and wispy thin pancakes in a former diner in downtown Cincinnati. The portions are very generous so be prepared that you might want a to-go box.
The inside of the diner is fun, bright, and cheery.
After your awesome breakfast, don’t forget to ask for your unique souvenir rubber ducky.
Enjoy a Root Beer Float at The Root Beer Stand
11566 Reading Rd, Sharonville, OH
Opening in March.
The Root Beer Stand has been a family favorite of locals and out-of-towners since 1957 especially when the weather gets warmer.
The Root Beer Stand originally opened as an A & W franchise and then changed the name to “The Root Beer Stand” in 1982 when the A&W franchise expired.
You MUST get a root beer float or root beer in a mug if you are dining in.
You can also order a pitcher of root beer or get a gallon to go. If you don’t like root beer, you can order other options of soft drinks or a non carbonated orange drink.
The Root Beer Stand also has foot long chili cheese dogs and other family friendly menu options at an affordable price.
Authentic German Food at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant
240 E Kossuth St, Columbus, OH
Schmidt’s is the perfect destination for all things German food. What could be better than German food, in the German Village, in a restaurant dating back to the late 1800s?
There is a buffet and even a polka band playing, depending on the time that you visit too.
Schmitt’s Sausage Haus has incredible sausages along with amazing giant cream puffs. Make sure that you save room for the cream puffs! I love those even more than the regular food…but I have a sweet tooth.