What To Eat in Ohio
A big state with a sprawling culinary personality, Ohio is home to outstanding Polish and Hungarian food in and around Cleveland and to the unique layered-spaghetti chili known as Five-Way in Cincinnati. Cincinnati also is the place to sample goetta, a pork and pin-oat loaf that is outstanding breakfast meat. Barberton, just outside Akron, is famous for its super-succulent fried-in-lard chicken dinners; and the tiny town of Waldo has gained great notoriety for its world’s-best bologna sandwich. If you are making it your business to visit America’s greatest steak houses, the Pine Club of Dayton belongs near the top of your itinerary.
Nothing like Texas chili, Cincinnati Five-Way is a layered dish of spaghetti noodles, spicy sweet (but not four-alarm) ground beef sauce with a distinct Greek accent, kidney beans, raw onions, and shredded yellow cheese. Every Cincinnatian has a favorite among the city's dozens of chili parlors.
For Cincinnatians, goetta (say getta) is a soothing taste of home. A pork-and-pin-oat loaf laced with herbs and onions, it is cut into thin slices and fried. While it may be on the same family tree as scrapple, it is more rugged textured and perfumy. It is primarily breakfast meat, served plain alongside eggs or pancakes, but also possibly adorned with syrup or apple butter or simply put between pieces of buttered toast in a sandwich.
Fried in lard, Barberton chicken is distinguished by a brittle red-gold crust that encloses juice-laden meat. In the restaurants of Barberton (at the edge of Akron, Ohio), this indulgent Serbian-ancestored dish is the anchor of a ritual feast that also includes a timbale of tart cole slaw, French fries, and a bowl of spicy tomato-rice hot sauce. Dinners come large, medium, or small with whatever pieces the customer specifies. Recipes for the hot sauce have been batted around in newspaper food columns for decades.
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State Meats is a butcher shop and smoke house specializing in all things central European, including a beautiful kielbasa sandwich, served warm, ready to eat.
Camp Washington makes the best 5-Way chili in Cincinnati. Open round the clock, it also offers great chili-cheese Coneys and mile-high double-decker sandwiches.
Kennedy's is a tiny eat-shack in Ohio with a short sandwich menu of BBQ ham, pork, turkey, & beef topped with famous proprietary relish.
A century-old sweet shop with an all-pink dining room, Cincinnati's Aglamesis Bros. makes great, unique-flavor ice creams and memorable sundae toppings.
Strickland's custard is dense, thick and full-flavored, a Midwest best in Akron, Ohio. Plain chocolate and vanilla are both superb, as is the turtle sundae.
Roadfood paydirt in Barberton, Ohio. Al's is a hospitable restaurant serving from-scratch Hungarian plate lunch at low prices. Service is cafeteria style.
Flury's Cafe is a tiny Cuyahoga Falls diner serving breakfast all day ('til 2pm closing), as well as from-scratch square meals at lunch.
A take-out bakery with limited indoor seats, serving pierogies, Eastern European cakes, buns, and memorable baked goods, Perla is a Cleveland area best bet.
Little Polish Diner daily specials include bigos (hunter's stew), chicken paprikash, and Friday lake perch. Pierogi and kielbasi always are available.