Starliner Diner

Review by: Jim Ellison

From Columbus, one must travel over the river and through the strip malls, and still drive a bit more, before arriving. The journey is a taste of suburbia and urban sprawl but the destination is worth the effort.

The genesis of the Starliner Diner began when Jerry Burgos rocketed away from The Galaxy Cafe (a Columbus foodie favorite in the 1990s). The food is a fusion of Cuban/Tex-Mex/diner cooking styles. The Starliner features eclectic furnishing, mismatched tableware, a space-themed mural on the wall, and assorted flea marketesque everything else. Since this is South of the Border fare, the sounds of Spanish coming from the kitchen give me a good feeling. The serving staff is a mix of young and middle-aged folks, as are the patrons.

I have enjoyed anything ever served for breakfast here. The huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos are among the best in the Columbus metropolitan area. Several breakfast specials are offered which vary by the day. These specials are so good, I have been prevented from fully exploring other items on the regular breakfast menu. The crabcakes are my favorite breakfast special – two crabcakes, black beans, two poached eggs, plus red and green salsa. The sweet potato omelet is a close second. Expect plenty of fresh cilantro infused into many of the dishes.

An array of appetizers helps pass the time while you struggle and ponder about which main course to get. The quesadillas are a personal favorite and the sweet potato tamales are worth a taste, if just to support this unappreciated tuber.

The dinner selections include pizzas, pastas, and large plates of food in various combinations. The media noche is a traditional Cuban sandwich, with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard on a grilled bun; a safe introduction to Cuban cuisine. For something more traditional the Cuban-style roast chicken seems to please the meek of palate, served with a side of perfectly cooked rice and black beans. The pizza and pasta category choices include: cheeseless veggie pizza , chicken BBQ pizza, and one of my favorite pasta dishes, Vegetable Caliente: mixed vegetables and smoked chipotle cream sauce tossed with spinach fettuccini. There is something for everyone (from conservative eater to culinary snob) on the menu. You will also find exceptional plantains as an appetizer or as a side with some dishes.

The Starliner is the type of place which people could drive by, or even take a quick peek at then decide to head down the road for a more familiar meal. However, once someone makes it through the door, they are hooked.

Directions & Hours

  • Monday: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Thursday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Friday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Saturday: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Sunday: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

What To Eat

Sweet Potato Omelet

DISH
Crab Enchiladas

DISH
Roast Pork Omelet

DISH

Starliner Diner Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Starliner Diner?

3 Responses to “Starliner Diner”

Carrie Hill

March 11th, 2011

Upon recommendation by people in the office, I went to the Starliner Diner for dinner recently. Oh, my! Eclectic, funky, and unique.

The Creole macaroni (THE recommended dish) was fabulous! It contained the best andouille sausage I can remember eating, and the shrimp was meaty and perfectly cooked (though the chicken was a tad dry). All in a slightly spicy cream-based sauce. Most pleasantly, the macaroni is just another component; it’s not used as filler to make up for skimpy main ingredients.

The location adds to the ambiance, as the restaurant is suitably situated in front of a rusty grain elevator and next to the railroad tracks. I’m told the weekend brunch is standing room only. I recommend the Starliner to anyone coming to, or passing through, the area, as it is conveniently located right off of I-270 on the west side of Columbus. Probably only a 15 minute drive north from I-70.

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Bruce Friend

February 10th, 2011

My wife and I were in Columbus and stopped by the Starliner. We love the eclectic decor including the 60s-era clocks. The tables are nice-sized. Four people will not feel crowded by plates. There were a number of customers even though it was after 1 p.m. Service was great.

We took quite a while looking at the menu, then ordered from the list of specials. My wife wanted the fish wrap which came with sweet potato fries, and I got the Creole (Cajun?) macaroni which came with some great bread. The fish wrap was a nicely cooked piece of fish with lettuce, tomato, etc. topped with a nice avocado ranch dressing, wrapped in a tortilla and then fried. The golden brown wrap had the right amount of crunch, and was not oily or over-fried.

The excellent macaroni dish included chicken and peppers and sausage (andouille?) in a red sauce, and had a little heat. For extra fire there was a selection of hot sauces on the table. The piece of creme brulee cheesecake we shared for dessert made for a fun ending to the meal.

A driving note: we missed the place as we went west on Cemetery Road. It’s the first right after the second underpass. If you get to the circle you have gone too far. There’s an old grain elevator behind the diner. It’s worth the effort to find it.

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John Blatz

June 18th, 2009

My wife and I wandered into the Starliner for a late lunch on a weekday. Though she has timid tastebuds, there were plenty of menu items to tempt her. I began with a cup (bowl?) of jalapeno soup, which is just delicious: cream-based and thick, and no utensil is required unless you include the thick slice of Cuban bread that comes with it. More slices arrived shortly. Wifey tasted… and liked! There is just a hint of jalapeno flavor, but nearly zero heat: perfect for her, while I would have enjoyed more Scoville presence. In any event, it was a great beginning.

Mostly because the menu selections looked so tasty that we ended up not being able to make up our minds regarding a main course, we both ended up having Cuban sandwiches. I’ve enjoyed great ones down south, and this one was, I guess, too far north to qualify as memorable. The bread was fine, the whole thing was heated through nicely, but it seemed somewhat bland overall. Too mild a pickle? I don’t know. It was good, filling, but not great.

The service was top drawer, the menu enticing, and I know I’ll be back in the Starliner soon to try out some more of the offerings. Can’t wait!

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