Photos by OHventures. Clockwise From Top Left: Youngstown Crab Company, Melt Bar & Grilled in Cleveland, Crave in Akron, Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace in Columbus, Olive: An Urban Dive in Dayton.
It's time to get adventurous with your food! Here are some of the handpicked best Ohio restaurants that are not afraid to be bold and different with their flavors! Make this a checklist for you to use while traveling the state in search of some unique, memorable meals!
1. Olive: An Urban Dive (Dayton): A true Dayton original, Olive: An Urban Dive is refreshing, eclectic, and surprising in a very good way. Its motto is: "local over import, labor over convenience and service over everything else." It discretely blends in with the metropolitan backdrop of Dayton's downtown roads and humbly presents total knockouts on every dish.Everything found at Olive: An Urban Dive was flavorful, fresh, and fantastic (how is that for alliteration?). The restaurant prides itself in all of these things, along with the fact that they don't even own a microwave or can opener! They have an abundance of gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, and kosher offerings without sacrificing taste. The feel of the diner also adds to the overall experience.
2. Der Dutchmann (Sugar Creek, Walnut Creek, Berlin): The perfect place to become educated and experience the minimalist lifestyle of the Amish is at one of the five Der Dutchman Restaurants in Ohio. The menu consists of many hearty "comfort" foods in generous portions that will leave you stuffed (trust me). I opted to order the Amish Kitchen Buffet so that I could get a sample of all of the different foods offered at Der Dutchman. I piled my plate high with mashed potatoes, salad, baked beans with bacon, ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and "broasted" chicken (breaded roasted chicken), which melted in my mouth! I also quenched my thirst with their homemade iced tea, as well as bread rolls slathered with their specially made apple butter and sweet syrupy peanut butter (which surprisingly had hints of marshmallow and maple).
3. Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace (Columbus): Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace is the epitome of novelty. It's not a tacky kind of novelty, but a breath of fresh air to the downtown Columbus scene. Dirty Frank's boasts a bright yellow awning that begs you to come inside. The hot dog joint has creative combos you'd never think to cook up back home. Or if you have, it has catchy quirky names to refer to them by. For instance, Laura's Pittsburgh Princess (french fries, coleslaw, and vinegar ON the hot dog), Zippity Zam (sriracha cream cheese with roasted red peppers), or one of my favorites, the Classy Lady (crumbled potato chips and cheddar cheese).
Photo Courtesy of The Golden Lamb
4. Golden Lamb (Lebanon): The legendary Golden Lamb in Lebanon (Warren County) is known across the state (and country) for its extensive history and impressive guest list! Established in 1803 (the same year that Ohio became a state), the restaurant and inn holds the title of the oldest continuously operating business in the State of Ohio! In over 200 years of operation, The Golden Lamb has served up hearty comfort foods and offered overnight stay for such prominent figures as authors Mark Twain (Samuel Clemons) and Charles Dickens, as well as twelve United States Presidents, including William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Ulysses S. Grant, Howard Taft, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and more!
5. Melt Bar & Grilled (Cleveland): Everyone loves cheese! Which is what makes "Melt" such a smashing (seemingly overnight) success! Melt has taken our favorite childhood food staple and revoluntionized it! What used to be nothing more than two pieces of Wonderbread, a slice of Kraft Singles American cheese, and a side some Campbell's tomato soup has now become an artform with dozens and dozens of creative, wacky and delicious fixings. Some examples of their fun grilled cheese sammies are: "Parmageddon" which includes 2 cheese and potato pierogis, sauerkraut, cheddar cheese and onions, "The Godfather" which has three-cheese lasagna, provolone and red sauce; and the "Purple Parma" (eggplant, tomato, pesto and provolone).
6. Youngstown Crab Company (Youngstown): Growing up near Youngstown, I have long known the splendor that is the Youngstown Crab Company. Tthis place will knock your socks off with its quality of food. This place is more than a few notches above your run-of-the-mill Joe's Crab Shack or Red Lobster. If you're willing to dish out a few more bucks than normal for a meal, then you should be sure to treat yourself to the Youngstown Crab Company for an absolutely delicious meal of crab legs, mussels, steaks, and other seafoods
7. Crave (Akron): Downtown Akron's hottest restaurant is - hands down - Crave. It's modern, chic, affordable, and adventurous with its food. Crave isn't afraid to push the envelope when it comes to finding fantastic flavors that are both interesting and mouth-watering. Dining at Crave makes you feel like you are at a five-star restaurant in Manhattan. The decor is eye popping: from the flowing curtains, to the blown-glass light fixtures, down to the curve-shaped glassware.
8. Tony Packo's (Toledo): When I went to Toledo to visit my friend Tim, all kept hearing about was Tony' Packo's. The place is a MUST for anyone visiting Toledo. Right when you walk in you will find out part of the reason: there are hot dog buns displayed throughout the restaurant that are signed by famous celebrities, politicians and other prominent figures that have been there to eat. Serving up delicious Hungarian-style chili dogs, chili, soups, and other fine foods, Tony Packo’s is both a tradition and a great home-style place to go.
Lucca in Canton
9. Lucca (Canton): Lucca is a fantastic up-and-coming Italian restaurant located on 4th Street and Cleveland Avenue in downtown Canton. Walking in, you'll see a swanky bar area where you can treat yourself to an array of fantastic wines, fresh greens, locally made pecorino cheese, delicious garlic bread, and other delicious menu items! It's a popular stop on the new and exciting Canton Food Tours.
10. Graeter's Ice Creams (Cincinnati): Graeter's Ice Cream was established in the suburbs of Cincinnati in the late 1800s and has been an Ohio staple ever since. Graeter's continually is awarded as having some of the best ice cream in the state, having prominence in Columbus, Dayton, and even in some surrounding states such as Kentucky. Go there to get the biggest chocolate chips you could ever imagine in one scoop of ice cream! Their signature chocolate chip flavors (mint chocolate chip, black raspherry chip, coconut chip, the list goes on) are delectable, which is why Graeter's is the only dessert joint to make the list!