Al’s Corner Restaurant

Review by: Michael Stern

What to Eat in Barberton, Ohio

Food-focused travelers know the city of Barberton for its unique fried chicken dinners, first served at Belgrade Gardens. Those dinners belong on the must-eat list of anyone looking to savor unique regional specialties. But there’s something else in this Akron suburb: Al’s Corner Restaurant. It’s a Hungarian best in Barberton Ohio.

It’s neat as a Pin

Al’s doesn’t look all that intriguing from the outside. But the moment you walk in and look around, you know you have found a unique luncheonette. Chairs at the U-shaped counter in the center of the dining room and bench seats in booths along the wall reveal a reassuring sense of order. We’re not neat-freaks, but the precision and cleanliness on display makes us very happy.

Blue Plate Meals, Blue Collar Prices

The food makes us even happier. Al’s customers come to enjoy blue plate Hungarian meals at blue-collar prices. Service is cafeteria style. Place your order at a short counter up front. The servers gather what you want and present it. Carry the meal to a place of your choosing.

Lunch specials cost under $10. Choose from such entrees as stuffed cabbage, pierogies, and Al’s sausages. Down the street, Al’s Quality Market makes these sausages. They are stupendously delicious. Here at the restaurant they saute the taut, muscular, juice-oozing lengths of well-seasoned pork and accompany them with sauerkraut and sauteed green peppers. Add dumplings, mashed potatoes, or a couple of pierogi and you have created an exemplary Old World meal.

Must-Eat Paprikash

Jane, whose father was an Hungarian epicure and taught her well, declared Al’s chicken paprikash to be one of the best she’s ever eaten. Fall-off-the-bone tender, the chicken lolls in creamy sauce and delivers energetic paprika zest. The only problem we had eating the paprikash was deciding which starch to eat more of alongside it. The buttery dumplings deliver deep satisfaction. We cannot resist mashed potatoes this homey. Most wonderful of all is halushka: a buttery mix of dumplings and cabbage. This truly is a Hungarian best in Barberton Ohio.

Note that Al’s opens only for lunch, Monday through Friday.

What To Eat

Chicken Paprikash

Sampler Plate





Al’s Corner Restaurant Recipes


What do you think of Al’s Corner Restaurant?

2 Responses to “Al’s Corner Restaurant”

Raelene Charles

April 2nd, 2011

We drove from Central Indiana to visit a friend in Barberton AND to visit Al’s. Our Barberton friend had never eaten at Al’s (believe it or not) and tried to steer us to one of the locally famous “Barberton Chicken” restaurants. But as I was on a mission for Hungarian food, I insisted on Al’s and am I ever happy I did!

The sampler platters are HUGE and the paprikas and dumplings are as rich and wonderful as my Hungarian grandma’s. This is most excellent comfort food. My husband, with a New Mexican cuisine background, enjoyed the sausages and the cabbage and dumplings. Everything was wonderfully good and we will drive several hundred miles to enjoy this place again. We may never get around to that Barberton Chicken!

While dining at the retro-cool counter, another customer came in and ordered a side of real mashed potatoes with the red paprikas sauce. What a brilliant idea! I immediately craved a taste but the sampler platter in front of me was too large to even contemplate it.

So we will be back to Al’s, and the next time I will bring some containers to carry away the leftovers: my only criticism is the leaky, flimsy go-boxes that leaked the aromatic sauce all over the back seat and deprived us of the “seconds” we were saving for supper at the motel. And we *really* wanted it, after smelling the sauce all day!

If you are a Hungarian food fan (or even if you are not) I can also heartily recommend Tulipan Bakery in Wooster for fabulous Euro-style pastries. They have several mouth-watering traditional Hungarian cookies and pastries I haven’t had since Mom quit baking. They also offer slices of kolatch, a nut or poppy seed-filled, not-sweet-but-rich Hungarian pastry roll. Another great destination eatery.

We also sampled Amish food on this trip but the Hungarian food was the highlight. We are crazy about the Amish Door’s pepperoni bread and will certainly return to fill the freezer again! And I won’t forget the containers for my Al’s leftovers.


Nathan Gabay

March 30th, 2011

Barberton, Ohio is referred to as “The Magic City,” and if Al’s Corner Restaurant is any indication, it’s a moniker that’s well-earned.

Barberton was an industrial boom town in the early 20th century; the population doubled between 1900 and 1910, then again between 1910 and 1920. With the great waves of immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe settling in the area, traditional ethnic food became the norm. And in the case of Al’s, it’s still going strong.

The fairly small menu is dominated by the traditional foods: chicken paprikas, haluska (sauteed cabbage and dumplings), cabbage rolls, pierogies, fresh-made sausage (two different options), and sauerkraut. If the sampler platter is ordered (which I strongly recommend), a decent serving of each of the above is provided. Add in a fountain drink and it still doesn’t hit $10 for one person.

Although I personally am not a fan of haluska, Al’s serves exactly what it’s supposed to be. The size of the dumplings and the cabbage are spot-on, the main ingredients are slightly bonded without being packed, and the texture has that perfect buttery mouthfeel. The cabbage rolls are succulent and flavorful without being overwhelming, the pierogies are cooked al dente, and the sausage (which comes from Al’s Quality Market just down the street) has that familiar, powerful depth of flavor.

But the real mark of quality is clear in the chicken paprikas. With that beautiful, vivid orange-red color, it passes the eyeball test easily. But it has the flavor to match, which in itself is extremely uncommon. The chicken falls off the bone and that beautiful sauce tastes simply exquisite. It’s far and away the best paprikas I’ve had in the state of Ohio that doesn’t come from my own kitchen.

For a true taste of Magic, Al’s in the Magic City is an absolute must-stop.


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