15 Unique Restaurants in Ohio

I’ve discovered so many cool places to eat in Ohio from my travels all over the state.

I love to find unique places to eat using repurposed buildings and the best hidden gem restaurants when I visit an area.

There are so many unique restaurants in Ohio that you’ll want to add to your list!

Katalina's in Columbus Ohio

Dine at a 100 Year Old Gas Station at Katalina’s in Columbus

1105 Pennsylvania Ave, Columbus, OH

Katlinas is home to the Original Pancake Balls.

Peace love and pancake balls Katalina's in Columbus Ohio

Peace, love, and pancake balls…yes, pancake balls.

pancake balls at Katalina's in Columbus Ohio

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.

  • Nutella
  • Dulce de leche
  • Katalina’s Pumpkin-Apple Butter Served with local Milligan’s Bourbon Barrel Aged maple syrup

You’ll want to add Katalina’s Original thick-cut Sweet N’ Spicy Bacon with your order. Or you can opt for Beeler’s bacon or vegetarian sausage.

Mazatlan Slow-Roasted Pork & Egg Sandwich at Katalina's in Columbus Ohio

You’ll 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, order one of each sandwich and split them for the best of both worlds with sweet and savory.

Seriously, you do not want to leave without trying these menu items!

autographed hot dog buns at Tony Packo's

View the Bun Wall of Fame at Tony Packo’s Cafe

1902 Front Street, Toledo, Ohio

Yes, the bun wall of fame.

NASA astronaut autographed bun at Tony Packo's

Tony Packo’s has autographed hot dog buns covering every wall with signatures from Presidents to astronauts and even Mr. T!

Mr. T autographed hot dog bun at Tony Packo's in Toledo Ohio

The very first signed bun was by Burt Reynolds, after that, a new tradition was formed for each celebrity who walked through the doors. 

autographed buns on the wall at Tony Packo's in Toledo

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 a wide range of celebrities and politicians from both parties that span decades.

Tony Packo’s is known for its Original Hot Dogs. It’s a Hungarian hot dog/ sausage with chili with a little kick to it and a wide assortment of pickles.

Pickles from Tony Packo's in Toledo Ohio

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!

family style meal at The Schoolhouse Restaurant

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 attend year-round!

dining area insideThe Schoolhouse Restaurant

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.

lazy susan on dining table at The Schoolhouse Restaurant

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.

chalkboard menu at The Schoolhouse Restaurant

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.

tetherball court outside The Schoolhouse Restaurant

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.

The Juggernaut at SuperChef's

Superhero Themed Menu Items at SuperChef’s Breakfast & More

1344 Cherry Bottom Rd, Gahanna, OH

The perfect restaurant for superhero fans.

SuperChef's Restaurant

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" at SuperChef's Breakfast & More

The “HULK” is a (Green) Waffle Sandwich made with Eggs, American Cheese, Sausage, & Candied Bacon Drizzled W/ Maple Syrup. 

sandwich at SuperChef's Restaurant

Both of these sandwiches are very popular. You can’t go wrong with any of their menu items.

dining train at Buckeye Express Diner

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. But you may have to first get over your non-OSU college allegiance. We discovered this gem on the way home after a stay at The Mohicans.

burger at Buckeye Express Diner

I highly recommend trying the “Woody Burger” and “Brutus Philly Beef.” They were both FANTASTIC!

Brutus Philly Beef at Buckeye Express Diner

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 their sweet potato fries. The sauce for the sweet potato fries also doubles as dessert. 

Buckeye Express Diner

On a hot day, the train car can get a little warm but you can also opt for outdoor seating instead.

Happy Dog in Cleveland Ohio

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 reminiscent of a grocery list your grandmother might have used.

*Check their hours before you go!

The Happy Dog Cleveland

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 you can modify them to your taste.

The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe in Ohio

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. Maid-Rite sandwiches are a big deal in Iowa, where the concept and franchise was 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 a choice of Mustard, Pickle, and Onion.

The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe in Ohio

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 unsure how I feel about them. They might be an acquired taste like our beloved Cincinnati-style chili.

The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe Gum Wall

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.

Cincinnati chili

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 understand it’s not for everyone.

A Mediterranean-influenced meat sauce that is an acquired taste.

What is Cincinnati Chili?

Picture chili on spaghetti noodles, piled high with cheese and oyster crackers. This chili does not taste like a traditional chili because the meat isn’t chunky.


  • 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.

Camp Washington Chili in Cincinnati

Many local chili parlors to choose from around Cincinnati:

*Gold Star Chili also offers a vegetarian Cincinnati-style chili option.

Which local Cincinnati-style chili is the best?

You decide.

O'Betty's Red Hot Dog Museum

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 flavor for an unforgettable meal.

O'Betty's Red Hot in Athens Ohio

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.

I normally would have never put this combination together but it worked well. I encourage you to try a combination that’s outside of your comfort zone.

burger at the Tin Goose Diner

Fly in for a “$100 Burger” at the Tin Goose Diner

3515 E State Rd, Port Clinton, OH

This diner is open seasonally.

This authentic diner in Port Clinton is nice to visit after a tour of the Liberty Aviation Museum.

The Tin Goose 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 became a permanent part of the Liberty Aviation Museum in 2012.

Tin Goose Diner in Ohio

It’s also known as the place to get a “$100 burger” because of its 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. 

Cincinnati Dinner train

A Meal on Wheels on the Cincinnati Dinner Train

2172 E Seymour Ave, Cincinnati, OH

(Operations resume in March)

There are only around 10 Dinner Trains that are still in operation in the United States. That makes this experience even more special!

Cincinnati Dinner Train

The Cincinnati Dinner Train is perfect for a date night or special occasion. I highly recommend making 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.

Incline public house in Cincinnati

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 popular spot on a beautiful day because of its fantastic views of Cincinnati.

Incline Public House

If you have to wait for an outside table, enjoy the view from the benches at Olden View Park located next to the restaurant.  

It has plenty of seating inside with a wall of windows to allow guests to still enjoy the view.

Lucky Rubber Ducky at Sugar n' Spice Diner

Get Your Lucky Rubber Ducky at Sugar n’ Spice Diner

1203 Sycamore Street, Cincinnati, OH

whispy thin pancakes at Sugar n' Spice Diner in Cincinnati

Enjoy huge fluffy omelets and wispy thin pancakes in a former diner in downtown Cincinnati. The portions are very generous so be prepared that you may want a to-go box.

inside Sugar n' Spice Diner in Cincinnati

The inside of the diner is fun, bright, and cheery.

inside Sugar n' Spice Diner in Cincinnati

After your awesome breakfast, don’t forget to ask for your unique souvenir rubber ducky.

The Root Beer Stand

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

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.

ice cream float and foot long hot dog at The Root Beer Stand

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.

creme puff at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in Columbus

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?

Bahama Mama Schmidt's Sausage Haus

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.

There may even be a polka band playing music at the restaurant while you dine.

Which Unique Ohio Restaurant Do You Want to Visit Next?

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