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Eats for College Tour--U of Pitt, Case Western, OSU, Purdue

We'll be on all of these campuses in April, staying at hotels as close to campus as possible.
We're not at all familiar with any of the areas, and will not have loads of time to explore. But, of course we will be wanting to attempt some local flavor near each school.

Also flying out of Indianapolis, so any decent dinner reservations near the airport would be appreciated.

Thanks for your help.

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  1. At Pitt..I'd say that Pamela's for breakfast is a must. They make their own corn beef hash from scratch and it's really light years away from anything I've had at a diner. One of their (3?) branches is right on Forbes Street (the main street of Oakland..the Pittsburgh neighborhood where Pitt is located) essentially right on campus. Huge portions. I've been told the lunch food is also very good, but I've never been able to force myself to order anything but the corn beef hash or the crepe-style pancakes with strawberries. (not crepes at all...just huge thin buttery pancakes rolled around filling. Mmm....)

    For lunch, Craig Street between Forbes and 5th has an assortment of restaurants that all make tasty and affordable foods of various ethnicities. (5th being the other main street of Oakland. Forbes and 5th parallel each other through Pitt Campus) If your kid ends up at Pitt, this is a frequent destination for lunch or dinner. I don't remember anything ever being bad, so whatever strikes your fancy would work, but it won't blow your mind. If somebody has more recent experience (as in the last 3 years) feel free to correct me.

    Please don't eat at Primanti's though. Please...it's not good. I swear. And I like coleslaw on my sandwiches. It definitely qualifies as local color, and is always part of those food network shows like 'Best Sandwiches!" or something, but history of the place aside, I just don't get it.

    If you want to get out of Oakland, head up Forbes Avenue (away from downtown) into Squirrel Hill and make a right on Murray Avenue. Or go up 5th (again, away from downtown), make a left on S. Aiken and then a right either on Walnut or Ellsworth into Shadyside. Both neighborhoods have lots of options. Squirrel Hill is homier than Shadyside. Shadyside is the trendy-ish neighbhood with lots and lots of restaurants that become bars at night. I'd recommend checking out the PA board for specific recommendations in either of those neighborhoods if you'll have time to branch out of Oakland.

    1. Three was a thread about 2 weeks ago about breakfast in the CWRU/Univ circle area so you might want to look at that. For lunch and dinner at CWRU, you have little Italy up Mayfield road from the campus, as well as Coventry, plus good Mexican food at Mi Pueblo located just east of the campus on Euclid.

      Euclid ave is currently a disaster area because of construction, but you can get to downtown easily via Chester ave. There is a small Asian plaza in the E30's on Superior and Payne that has good Chinese and Vietnamese. LiWah, BoLoong are my favorites, but there are many good places in this neighborhood.

      You are not far from Shaker Heights/square if you go east from the campus, but those tend to be a bit more expensive. You can get a copy of Cleveland Scene and the Free times on every street corner, and that have a good restaurant section with reviews that can be trusted.

      I went to Pitt , and I agree with Wawaja's suggestions. There are some decent lunch places east of campus on Forbes, but beware the "Dirty O". The food is decent(good fires) but the atmosphere can leave something to be desired. Don't waste your time and money on Primantis.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Kelli2006

        In Cleveland it would depend on how far you want to travel and what your budget is -- and therefore exactly how close you are staying. Having worked at Case I know the area well. If you want walkable - are you staying at the Glidden House? (really nice by the way if you haven't made reservations yet) Or where? I can give lots of advice... :)
        Will you have a car? Or be willing to travel via cab or do you want walkable (can be iffy in Cleveland that time of year)?

        1. re: AMFM

          If you stay at the Glidden House (and I do agree with the recommendation), you have Sergio's right next door and That Place on Bellflower about a 2 minute walk around the corner. Other hotels that aren't far are on the Cleveland Clinic campus, and the Intercontental Hotel has a great new restaurant. Another chick B&B is the Baricelli Inn in Little Ital, and the restaurant there is one of the tops in town. Little Italy has about 5 excellent restaurants, and probably 10 more decent ones. Enjoy!

      2. I guess it depends on your tastes, if you're looking for high end and classy or more 'local flavor' as you said. In Columbus, for high end dining I would be neglectful to not mention Rosendales, M at Miranova, Lindey's, or Handke's. In terms of unique local flavors, Jeni's Icecream should not be missed (featured on Food Network, and absolutely stunning) nor should Thurman's Burgers (named one of the 5 best burgers in America.) If you want to experience amazingly good (for Ohio) sushi, check out Tyfoon in the Arena District. For a true "college place," there is always Adriattico's Pizza, Catfish Biffs, or Raisin' Cane BBQ. Northstar Cafe also gets great reviews. For the True OSU experience (not Houndish at all) check out Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe.

        In Cleveland, the is of course Mr. Symon's Lola and Lolitta, as well as plenty of wonderful eateries in the Italian Village. Guys Pizza is a solid low-end option, as is Melt (a very New York/LAish styled restaurant doing varieties of Grilled Cheese.) Fatfish Blue down by Jacob's Field does some damned authentic Creole and has good Jazz on the weekend. Of course, a college trip to Cleveland wouldn't be complete without hitting a sports bar like Winking Lizard to watch the Cavs/Indians/or Browns.

        3 Replies
        1. re: uhockey

          Thanks for all of the replys.
          We're definitely looking for local, not high end--not this trip at least!
          We'll have a car, and are staying at either the Glidden House or Residence Inn Downtown, in Cleveland.

          1. re: ctjane

            OK, for local color, not high end, I might recommend Mama Santa's on Mayfield Rd. in Little Italy. It's a very moderately priced Italian place, very popular w/ CWRU students, and I think that for the price the food is quite good. Tommy's on Coventry (about 5 minutes east of CWRU) is also a good local choice -- sandwiches of all interesting combinations served on toasted pita, with awesome shakes. Between downtown and CWRU there are quite a few Asian places, with my favorite being Siam Cafe at East 40th/St. Clair -- a good mix of Thai and other Asian cuisines at reasonable prices. An excellent lunch choice is Tastebuds http://www.tastebudsrestaurant.com/ at 30th/St. Clair -- hearty, healthy, home-made food on the ground floor of a warehouse building.

            1. re: ctjane

              if you like ethnic - right up from little italy in coventry is pacific east (good sushi) and mint (apparently - it opened after i left but i've heard great reviews - good thai). tommy's is also there as is grumpy's subs. all CWRU student hangouts. there's also a winking lizard - a cleveland chain with great wings (although the other food is mediocre bar food) and a great beer selection - although might not want to introduce a 17 year old to that! :) in little italy, baricelli is amazing but VERY pricey. michaelangelo's is supposed to be good too. i like presti's bakery to pick up a snack, but most of little italy is more about charm of the area than truly chow-y food. sergio's next to the glidden house is really great and it's hard to get closer than that. if it's a nice day the whole university circle is nice to walk and i recommend the drive up cedar hill and along fairmont ave. pretty.
              for more upscale table 45 at the intercontinental at the cleveland clinic is supposed to be good. back to divey - back behind the glidden house is an arabica coffee house you could also pick up a snack - it's in a cool old carriage house. behind it is one of my favorite divey bars called the barking spider - very hidden and great in the summer. have fabulous live music. oh and if you want REALLY divey there used to be a great mexican place right down euclid - also probably walkable. but i'm blanking on the name. pretty authentic - or at least it used to be.
              and i second siam cafe if you're down there or checking out places in tremont like lolita (michael symon's more casual place) or in ohio city like momocho. cleveland has great restaurants. and the museums in the circle are fabulous too.

          2. Hello,

            I can recommend South Street Smokehouse when you're at Purdue.


            Head east, away from campus on State Street, cross the bridge, go through the city, pass the railroad tracks and make an immediate right. They serve the best BBQ I've had in Indiana. Smoke flavor in the meat is mild to moderate, pretty standard barbecue. The eight different sauces however, are made in house and are AMAZING. You get the meat at the kitchen counter and the sauce from a separate station, not pre-slathered on the meat.

            1. We have a son at OSU. There are lots of neat places near campus on High Street. One worth checking out is Betty's in Short North. A definitely worthwhile spot is Thurmans, in German Village (south of downtown, on Thurman Ave. a a few blocks east of High) for a world class burger. The Village has lots of charming restaurants and bakeries as well. Enjoy your tour and I hope your prospective student becomes a buckeye. My son loves it.

              5 Replies
              1. re: sam o

                If one were to make a "MUST TASTE" of famous local food in Columbus, Thurmans "Thurman Burger" followed by some icecream at Jeni's would pretty much sum it up. If one were to shoot for College Staples, A pizza from Adriattico's and Wings from Raisin' Cane would be the best bet. If you were looking high end, the Cameron Mitchell Franchises (especially M at Miranova) are a Columbus tradition.

                1. re: uhockey

                  Skip the Cameron Mitchell places and go with an independent. Near OSU Alana's and Basa Italia are better options if you want a nice meal.

                  1. re: kura kura

                    While most of the Mitchell places are merely 'columbus tradition,' M is likely the best retaurant in the city. It is miles ahead of Mitchell's other offerings.

                    1. re: kura kura

                      http://www.alanas.com Alana's is just north of OSU on High Street.
                      http://www.basi-italia.com/ Basi Italia is south of campus, north of downtown in Victorian Village. They are 2 of my favorite restaurants in Columbus. Neither is terribly expensive, though not cheap. They are both unique and wonderful!

                    2. re: uhockey

                      Seconding the Thurman Burger and Jeni's (and the whole North market, really), and for Pizza, I'd also suggest Hounddogs'. If you like chinese and are willing to walk a little bit, go just south of campus to Yao's Chinese Bistro. Some of the best stuff in town is there.

                  2. i have road tripped to purdue before. harry's chocolate shop is a renowned college bar in west lafayette. had a lot of fun there. also had the "from hell" wings. i am usually game for extreme heat but these were some of the hottest i have ever had and quit after four or five.

                    1. I'm a recent Purdue grad, and I have always been disappointed with the food in this area. Greater Lafayette is mostly chains, and they thrive because the local restaurants are so terrible. I can recommend River City Depot on 4th across from the courthouse. Its a hot dog place that does a variety of regional styles, such as a carolina dog and a chicago dog. Its a lunch spot. Also, I really like the pizza at Buck Creek Pizza in Buck Creek. Its about 8 miles outside of Lafayette. I think their dough is pre-formed frozen stuff, but oddly the texture is great. Its midwest style, lots of toppings underneath the cheese.

                      South Street Smokehouse makes some good sandwiches, but I have to raise the issue that I have never smelled or tasted smoke anywhere near it, they don't have a wood pile, and they don't have burnt ends. I like roast pork sandwiches, just don't call them Q. Also, their open kitchen looks gross, which isn't very appetising. I went to Bridge's in North Carolina and LC's in Kansas City, so South Street just isn't appealing any more.

                      Harry's was also recommended, and I had good fries there one of the three times I ate there. If you are visiting for undergrad, you can't go there, its 21 and up, and if you are looking at grad school, you will never hang out there because its packed with fratty undergrads.

                      Triple XXX is always talked up on this board. Watch it on "diners, drive-ins, and dives" and skip the visit. Its all hype. Dried out burgers and fries from a bag.

                      The pork tenderloin sandwich qualifies as Indiana regional grub, and one of the best that I have had was at the Lafayette Brewing Company in downtown Lafayette. Their fish and chips are pretty good too. Their portions are way too big, so you can probably split a plate. And speaking of Q, they have a smoker in the back alley, but I have never tried their pulled pork.

                      There is a great cooking store in West Lafayette called Kitchen Art that is worth checking out (don't go to the diner next door, its owned by the same people that do Triple XXX). You can stay at the Union Club or the cheap but dumpy Campus Inn, or you can stay at Holiday Inn Select or the Hilton and take the "Trolley", a free bus that runs every 12 min. There are cheaper places on the periphery of Lafayette, but you will need a car, and parking at Purdue is a PITA.

                      It might help to make a second post about Indianapolis.... there are some indy foodies that will tell you where to go.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Danimal

                        BTW, the lafayette supermarkets have great loss-leader sales, so the area is not terribly awful for food. Payless (a kroger derivative) always has cheap steaks, chuck roasts, and pork loin and shoulder. And, the downtown farmer's market has some good stuff. The Purdue anarchist group has a community garden that you can plant stuff in too, but don't be greedy ;) The lack of good restaurants has really helped my cooking ability since I probably would have ate out much more if there was a better food scene. Just in case you want to relocate....

                        1. re: Danimal

                          Its a little late, but I had some tacos last weekend at the taqueria in the back of La Fiesta Produce Market on 52. I had a pair - asada was great, al pastor... not so much. But, by far the best in Lafayette. Its also my favorite market.

                      2. I was going to reply, but I'm beginning to think that your OSU post isn't meaning Oklahoma State University in Stillwater......

                        1. Might be too late, but I am also a Purdue guy who can recommend some local flavor.
                          My fav's were already mentioned - South Street Smokehouse (brisket) and Lafayette Brewing Company (fish n' chips).
                          I am also a fan of Chumley's (downtown Lafayette, across the river) for it's beer selection and tasty burgers.
                          Dog and Suds (Sagamore Pkwy, north of campus) is similar to XXX - has some fresh root beer, but the hot dogs are average.
                          Silver Dipper Ice Cream on State & North River Road is also very good.
                          Decent Mediterranean fare at the Blue Nile, Hookah, and the Olive House - all in the Chauncy Hill area.
                          More formal dining at McGraw's Steakhouse on South River Road. Excellent prime rib, but reservations are a good idea. Also, Bea One on Columbia has high end Korean fare. Bistro 501 on Main is supposed to be very nice French food, but I was underwhelmed.
                          I like the Japanese cooking at Heisei (also on Sagamore Pkwy); decent sushi. It's fun because you have to take your shoes off and the tables are all recessed into the floor.
                          Best pizza at Puccini's Smiling Teeth (which isn't saying all that much).

                          1. OSU & Columbus has a lot of great food options. I know you've already visited but I need to just to Clear something up - Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe is HORRIBLE - I hope you didn't go. It has NO connection to the University at all and is nothing but a tourist trap.

                            If you do end-up at OSU (I am a very proud Alumni) you will never be want for good food. Adriaticos is by far my favorite pizza in town. The breadsticks you could make a meal of by themselves.

                            Sometimes out of the college student budget - all the Cameron Mitchell Restaurants promise consistantly good food. Marcellas is my favorite of the moment ( http://www.marcellasristorante.com/) Short North location however, not Polaris.

                            Also in the Short North is a great spot - Bodeaga. I've only been for lunch but the sandwiches are great.

                            Anywho- hope the tours went well. GO BUCKS!