I often travel trhough Mansfield when heading to Lake Erie (specifically Huron, Ohio.) Along Rt. 13 North of town is a place called Five Points Country Market. This place is AWESOME. It's a small, local grocery store in the front. (Very small.) It has kitchen staples, but it also has lots of local favorites and amish creations. (We always pick up local beef jerky and amish butter.)
Then, in the middle of the store is a "buffet" line of the most amazing smelling food... This isn't nouveau cuisine - it really is "food like your Grandma used to make." They don't do anything unusual, but they do it really, really well (assuming you enjoy homestyle cooking - this isn't "modern takes on old favorites" - it's old time county cooking.)
You grab a tray and take a look at the food. (They call it a buffet, but it's really more like a cafeteria.) They have like 3-4 main dishes a day, and as soon as they see you walking in, they grab a little plate and put a sample of each on there. Roasted chicken, turkey, slow cooked ham, beef roast, fish... whatever the selection that day is, it's right in front of you. You get to sample the day's offerings, and then pick your poison. They carve off whatever pieces you want, and pile it up.
Then you get two sides - the standard is a veggie and potato, but you can mix it up. They usually have corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, and diced "butter parsley" potatoes, plus an additional side or two for choosing. If you prefer, they have cold salads - house made potato, pasta, coleslaw, or deviled eggs. And you get a big slice of homemade bread (wheat or white), or cornbread or a biscuit on the days they have those.
I've never had them, but they always have fresh pies and other desserts there, as well as ice cream (a whole freezer full of the giant tubs of different flavors and they hand scoop your choices.) The standard meal is like $8.00 or so, if I recall correctly. You can get a "light" meal, which is just smaller servings of each item; or a sandwich made from your choice of the daily meats.
This isn't fancy - you're getting paper napkins, cafeteria silverware, and beige melamine plates. But the food is WONDERFUL. Really home-style food, actually made on site. It's not always healthy - lots of butter in the potatoes, bacon in the beans... but delicious. And they are the friendliest people you're ever going to meet. It's like stopping at your cousin's in the country for dinner - you just feel right at home.
The dining area is in the back half of the store. It's got maybe 6-8 booths, half a dozen 4-top tables, and a small countertop area along the kitchen with 5 or so barstools. There's a brick fireplace at one end (with sitting chairs!) that is often burning in the colder months. The room isn't fancy, but it's immaculate, cozy, and inviting.
We happened to stop here when we realized we forgot to bring beer with us, and took a chance that there would be some there. (There was, by the way.) But we found something so much more exciting! We never travel through the area without stopping for lunch or dinner.
Five Points Country Market
3369 N Main St, Mansfield, OH 44903
These are more downtown, but I thought it might be helpful for someone else visiting Mansfield.
Not that close to 71, this is very close to Med Central, Mansfield's hospital.
I really enjoy it. They will custom make a sandwich for you. And they have tons of fixins/choices. They also have menu sandwiches. The soup is quite good as well. And cheesecake from a local pastry chef.
I've never been but this place but just learned about this place and want to try it. I think it is also downtown.
If you travel to Ashland, there is Grandpa's cheesebarn right near 71 - Grandpa's Cheesebarn, 668 US HWY 250E, Ashland, Ohio 44805
1-800-745-7091. There is cafe' there. I have never been. But if you like cheese they have lots.
re: Fibber McGee
I haven't been to Paul Revere's; in fact, I've never heard of it (not that that means anything, one way or the other). I've been to Pueblo Grande, on OH-97 after you turn left at the light where it merges with US-42 as you enter Lexington. It's Mexican, just okay, not dreadful not great (as is El Campesino on Hanley Road just north of the I-71 interchange). I know Pueblo Grande is open for lunch; I'm not sure about El Campesino.
Probably the most well-known restaurant in Lexington is Buck's, which is decent for burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. at lunchtime. www.bucksbarandgrill.net
Lexington is about 6-8 minutes from I-71. From the south, exit at OH-97 and take it into Lexington; from the north, exit at OH-13/Hanley Road and take Hanley Road west to US-42, turn left and take 42 into Lexington.
Buck's is having the Ohio Express this summer? Yummy yummy yummy.
If I remember correctly from just driving by, you pass Paul Revere's on 97 before you get to the business area of town.
Now, the only place I have actually eaten in Mansfield is the Coney Island Inn, downtown. It was breakfast, it was ok.
Coney Island Inn
20 Park St S, Mansfield, OH 44902
Porky's! Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thin, tasty burgers, fresh cut fries, homemade root beer, dirt cheap. Been going there my whole life. I live a couple of hours away now but still drive down several times a year just to visit Porky's.
811 Ashland Rd, Mansfield, OH 44905
I am very familiar with that area. There isn't much that I can recommend that's open for lunch, other than chains.
There's one excellent restaurant near I-71 and US-30, called the Cabin, but it's not open for lunch. There's another near that intersection that's okay, not great, called Skyway East, but it too is not open for lunch. At the intersection of OH-97 and I-71 there's a steakhouse called K.C.'s Steak and Rib House which is open for lunch. I've eaten there numerous times; sometimes it's been decent (not great, but okay) and other times it's been dreadful. There's also an Amish cafeteria at that intersection called Dutch Heritage and it's equally mediocre.
You'll find good food at lunch in non-chain restaurants along I-71 in the Columbus area and the Cleveland area, but around Mansfield, not that I've found. The best places I've been around Mansfield for lunch are Cracker Barrel and Appleby's (both at the OH-13/Hanley Road exit from I-71) and TGI Friday's (on the west side of town, away from I-71).
The most extensive discussion of restaurants in that area is in this topic, although it is not specifically directed at places for lunch:
Restaurants along I-71 from Cincy to Cleveland - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/361607