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Al's Corner Restaurant

545 West Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton, OH - (330) 475-7978
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/27/2007 5:15:00 PM
Cruising around a strange town or city, whether or not we find a place to eat, we often wonder about great restaurants that we may not have noticed and just driven by. That very well might have been the case in Barberton, for Al's Corner Restaurant doesn't look too intriguing from the outside. But we were guided here by infallible Akron food authority, Jane Snow of the Beacon-Journal; and the moment we walked in, we knew we had hit Roadfood paydirt. Our hats are off to you, Jane!

The immaculate storefront luncheonette, open only for weekday lunch, is a treasure-trove of blue-plate Hungarian meals at blue-collar prices. Service is cafeteria style. Step to the right when you enter and there Beth Gray will show you what's to eat, put it on a plate and then a tray. Dine either at a table or the long U-shaped counter in the center of the room.

Lunch specials, at about $6 each, include the likes of chicken paprikash with dumplings, pierogies, cabbage and dumplings, and Al's sausages. The sausages are made down the street at Al's Quality Market, and they are stupendously delicious: taut, muscular and oozing savory juices. Jane, whose father was an Hungarian epicure and taught her well, declared the paprikash to be one of the best she ever ate: creamy with a real paprika punch (they grind their own!), the chicken falling-off-its-bone tender. The only problem we had was deciding which starch to eat more of: the dumplings are buttery and satisfying; the mashed potatoes are … buttery and satisfying, too! And best of all is halushka: a buttery mix of dumplings and cabbage.

Note that Al's is open only for lunch, only Monday through Friday.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

I was fortunate enough to snag the first piece of cherry strudel after it came out of the oven.
"I was fortunate enough to snag the first piece of cherry strudel after it came out of the oven."
Cliff Strutz





Here's Al's sampler plate, going clockwise from 9 o'clock:  stuffed cabbage roll, dumplings and cabbage(barely visible), sausage and sauerkraut, pierogie sauteed in butter and onions. In the center is chicken paprikash.
"Here's Al's sampler plate, going clockwise from 9 o'clock: stuffed cabbage roll, dumplings and cabbage(barely visible), sausage and sauerkraut, pierogie sauteed in butter and onions. In the center is chicken paprikash."
Michael Stern


On the left, mashed potatoes; on the right, halushka: carboheaven.
"On the left, mashed potatoes; on the right, halushka: carboheaven."
Michael Stern


Paprikash is a brilliant balancing act of spice and cream cosseting painfully tender hunks of chicken.
"Paprikash is a brilliant balancing act of spice and cream cosseting painfully tender hunks of chicken."
Michael Stern


Here are some of the different spice mixes that butcher Denny Gray uses to make sausages at Al's butcher shop.
"Here are some of the different spice mixes that butcher Denny Gray uses to make sausages at Al's butcher shop."
Michael Stern


Dumplings are a side dish that automatically come with chicken paprikash, but if you order anything else, do yourself a favor and accompany it with these buttery beauties, here mixed with bits of cabbage.
"Dumplings are a side dish that automatically come with chicken paprikash, but if you order anything else, do yourself a favor and accompany it with these buttery beauties, here mixed with bits of cabbage."
Michael Stern


The ham and corn chowder is wonderfully creamy.
"The ham and corn chowder is wonderfully creamy."
Cliff Strutz


We were first in line when Al's doors opened at 11am, walking in to see this clean and well-ordered dining room. While not neat-freaks, we swooned at just how tidy everything was.
"We were first in line when Al's doors opened at 11am, walking in to see this clean and well-ordered dining room. While not neat-freaks, we swooned at just how tidy everything was. "
Michael Stern


For a first time visitor to Al's, the sampler plate is the way to go.  But with food this good, it is impossible to make a bad choice.  (Click on the photo to read the menu.)
"For a first time visitor to Al's, the sampler plate is the way to go. But with food this good, it is impossible to make a bad choice. (Click on the photo to read the menu.)"
Cliff Strutz


At the corner of Fourth and Tuscarawas in downtown Barberton, Ohio: a beacon of fine Hungarian plate lunch.
"At the corner of Fourth and Tuscarawas in downtown Barberton, Ohio: a beacon of fine Hungarian plate lunch."
Michael Stern


A half block away from the lunch room is Al's butcher shop, where the restaurant's sausages are made, and where the shelves hold a full repertoire of smoky links, netted cottage hams, stingers (extremely spicy snack sticks), twice-smoked bacon frosted with garlic and paprika, and head cheese.
"A half block away from the lunch room is Al's butcher shop, where the restaurant's sausages are made, and where the shelves hold a full repertoire of smoky links, netted cottage hams, stingers (extremely spicy snack sticks), twice-smoked bacon frosted with garlic and paprika, and head cheese."
Michael Stern



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