Can't Miss - Hamburgers and Doughnuts - OH, Rts. 52 and 23
I am originally from Portsmouth, OH (bottom center of the state, along the Ohio River) on Rt. 52 (Cincinnati and points west, and Huntington, WVa and points east) or Rt. 23 (Columbus and points north), and though I've lived in three major east coast cities, there are two food places for which I've never found equals...
If you're traveling anywhere near the area, I strongly encourage you to stop at:
Hamburger Inn (1547 Gallia Street, 740-353-9248) - this tiny hole in the wall has been around since the 20s, and serves the most amazing small burgers you will ever find - cooked in oil on a grill installed in the 30s (after the original was destroyed in a flood), the burgers are moist and perfectly cooked (if you order a cheeseburger, the cheese is placed on top of the burger and a little oil flipped onto it), placed on a soft bun, sprinkled with a little salt and topped with pickles (other condiments available). I also highly recommend a side of their chili or bean soup. You'll have to take a break from watching your diet, but you won't regret it!
Down the street, you will find the best doughnuts in the entire world:
Mrs. Renison's Crispie Creme Donut Shop (not related to the other major doughnut maker) (1202 Gallia Street, 740-353-5890) - this shop has been in business for what seems like forever and makes the best doughnuts I have ever tried - all varieties are outstanding, but be sure to try the glazed Crispie Creme original and the "Mountain Top" (chocolate yeast doughnuts with chocolate icing and a center puff of white creme). The doughnuts are always light and nearly greaseless, and the glazes melt almost instantaneously. Open 24 hours, they make fresh batches throughout the day (I know for sure around 10pm, but call ahead for the best time to get them warm). These doughnuts are so good, that I can't bring myself to eat any other kind - you really need to try them!!
I'm originally from Lucasville, Ohio and now live in Kingsport Tennessee. I'm sad to say Mrs. Renison's has closed!! However, there is still an Original Crispie Creme in Chillicothe that's open and serves all the same donuts. My parents just returned from a trip to Athens and I had them bring me back all the Fudgies that they had. (2 1/2 dozen!)
47 North Bridge Street
As for restaurants that don't compare, I'd agree with Hamburger Inn and Mrs. Renison's. Sad to hear they have both closed. I can't believe you didn't mention the Scioto Ribber though! I joined this site just to talk about it. Awesome steaks cooked out back on a huge smoker, and man those Ribber fries are to die for! The steaks are served in two sizes, large and small. The large is 32 oz. and the small 16. They also serve some local brew if you're into that sort of thing. Here is a link to their website. http://theribber.com/.
We just tried to go to Hamburger Inn in Portsmouth and it's closed! So sad! We were looking forward to trying this. But Portsmouth looked as if it had seen better days and many businesses were shuttered. We found good burgers and shakes down the road in West Portsmouth at the Buckeye Dairy Bar. You can sit outside on picnic tables on a grassy line. Very clean. Friendly service from young kids. Pretty good burgers. Cheap--a family of four at for $13. Connected to a small miniature golf course. Great for kids. 13066 Us Highway 52
I don?t know who you are, but I?m from the phs class of 1955 and I agree strongly. I cannot go back and not stop for those burgers. I also publish a newsletter for my class and am thinking of writing an article about hamburger inn(s). Blaine Bierley has already written about the donuts.
There used to be a place in Portsmouth, on U.S. 23 -- I hope it's still there -- called Harold's. They served absolutely great French fries, cut and cooked to order. My wife and I even drove from Columbus to Portsmouth a few times just for the fries. The coffee was terrific, too.
re: Michael Hoffman
Unfortunately, Harold's has been out of business for quite some time (after the owner passed away). I didn't eat there often because I was pretty young when it was in full swing, but in 7th grade, one of my classes went there for an etiquette lesson :)
There isn't much creative food in the area now, but in my previous email I neglected to mention my favorite place to eat when I go home - there's a small convenience/grocery store on Rt. 104 (near the intersection of 348, which takes you to Rt. 23 and Lucasville), I think it's C&V Convenience (740-259-4628), but going north on 104, it's just a couple of minutes past 348 and on the left side of the road).
It's owned by a man from Thailand and his wife, and they have a fairly big sign advertising the food. They have a few tables and a decently large menu (much of which is given Chinese names to draw a larger crowd). He cooks in very authentic Thai style, relying more on spices instead of a ton of sauce - his pad thai is amazing, and he has a made from scratch spring roll (on the menu as an "egg roll") that is the best I've ever had (with Thai sweet and sour chili dipping sauce).
If you're going through on Rt. 23 or 104, this place isn't far out of the way, and definitely worth a stop (but they're only open Wed-Sat, 12-6, unless they've added more hours).