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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G&R's thick-sliced bologna is a flavorful pork and beef blend that gets skillet-sizzled and packed into what may be the best bologna sandwich anywhere.
New Sandusky fries lake perch fillets with expertise and piles them into a hamburger bun. Take-out only, with nice-weather seats across the street.
A genuine car-service drive-in restaurant, Swensons serves handsome burgers on butter-toasted buns. Best bet: Galley Boy double cheeseburger, fully dressed.
Giannamore's serves the local regional specialty pizza, on which toppings are added only after it comes out of the oven.
Blue Ash is one of Cincinnati, Ohio's great chili parlors, serving bountiful layered plates of 3 to 5 way. Double-deck sandwiches are some of the best in town.
While there are non-seafood options, Jolly Roger's location by Lake Erie suggests that fish is what you want. Perch or walleye, please!
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.
Price Hill serves such Cincinnati faves as 5-way chili, Coney Islands, and double-decker sandwiches. A house specialty is a wiener bun -- two dogs in one.
Hathaway's is a civilized urban coffee shop serving inexpensive lunch counter meals, including the scrumptious Cincinnati specialty breakfast meat, goetta.