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Driving from Maine to Dallas via Columbus and Cincinnati

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Hello. My wife and I, along with our 18month old Son, will be driving back from Maine to Dallas in a couple of weeks via Ohio and we are hoping for some recommendations about a good family place to eat dinner as well as another (or the same) for breakfast in the Columbus area. Or, if not breakfast in Columbus, maybe some lunch in Cincinnati? Any help would be appreciated. Our budget will be $13-15 dollars a plate or less.


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  1. Will your day in Ohio be a weekday, Saturday or Sunday? Thinking about Brunches and all that.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JanPrimus

      Actually, we will be arriving on Thursday afternoon and leaving Columbus on Friday morning.

    2. Are you interested in ethnic places (Indian, Vietnamese, etc.) or diner type places? Family place, to me, usually means a place that doesn't serve alcohol and serves American food, so just want to make sure we are all on the same page. I assume you're driving down I-71?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Niki in Dayton

        Actually, I don't mind at all if they serve alcohol, but we'd prefer that there was quite a bit of noise in the place. Our Son is very well behaved, but we don't really like quiet restaurants anyway. We really prefer a rockin burger joint or a really great pizza place or possibly even some remarkable American home cooking. Some ethnic is ok, Mexican preferred. I'm not really big on Vietnamese or Indian food, but Japanese or Chinese we (my wife and I) both like. Thanks!

        1. re: cdowdy

          A Thurman lunch may be in order....delay your trip by 2-3 hours and get a burger. They open at 11am.

      2. Two good breakfast places in Columbus you could take your son:

        Starliner Diner http://www.starlinerdiner.com/ 5240 Cemetery Road (614) 529-1198
        Jack and Benny's 2563 N High St (614) 263-0242 ‎

        You could also take an 18 month old to Starliner for dinner.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kura kura

          I ate the Starliner once and LOVED it. Good food and plenty of ambient noise to cover the young ones.

        2. Thurman's is definitely an experience for Columbus. Another option for that dinner in a more refined but kid-friendly setting would be Spagio.

          Our city is terrible for breakfast options during the week - the place getting good Buzz that I've not been in Skillet. Another option would be swiging by the North Market for an early browse and picking up things to eat while there.


          1295 Grandview Ave, Columbus, OH 43212

          North Market
          59 Spruce St, Columbus, OH 43215

          2 Replies
          1. re: uhockey

            Thurman is great, but it often has a miserably long wait, like an hour or more, which could be difficult with a toddler.

            1. re: uhockey

              Another recommendation for breakfast at Skillet, located in German Village. Their "shtick" is very local ingredients. I couldn't have lemon in my iced tea because it isn't locally grown (LOL!) The homemade sausage was declicious and the biscuit was very yummy.

              If you want to visit the North Market, you can also try Knead, a new place on N. High St., not too far from there. While I personally have not yet been there, it has gotten good reviews from friends and is on my list to try for breakfast or lunch.

              North Market
              59 Spruce St, Columbus, OH 43215

            2. A couple of lunch options in Cincy:

              Blue Ash Chili is a quick hit from I-71 if you want Cincinnati chili. (Remember, it's a condiment, not a meal in itself). Sammy's Burgers in Blue Ash has probably the best burgers around here (yes, better than Zip's or Terry's) and it's also close to I-71. Jim Dandy's BBQ is probably the best Q I've had outside of Memphis. It's right off I-75 in Sharonville.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JohnE O

                Excellent suggestions! Thank you!

                1. re: cdowdy


                  You should really try Cinci Chili. It's definitely interesting and very unique to the area. Both Mrs. Sippi and I love it and even make it at home sometimes. I could totally see people not liking it. Especially trying to wrap their heads around this "Chili."

                  Blue Ash is where I had it first and it's excellent.

                  Here's some more info and pictures.


              2. Not exactly what you asked for, but just over the Ohio border from WV is a high quality cafeteria-we always try to stop for lunch when we drive past-it's large, busy and the food is always fresh, and you can eat a ton for under $20 for two-they are quite friendly and helpful-

                And, not in Cincy, but south of Dayton-open only on Friday for lunch-it's a lively spot with very nice food:


                2 Replies
                1. re: David W

                  I love Rue Dumaine, but it would be a signficant detour if he's driving down I71.

                  Rue Dumaine
                  Centerville, OH, Centerville, OH

                  1. re: Niki in Dayton

                    Mehlman's isn't that close to I-71, either. Nice recs (Rue Dumaine has a "lambcetta" sandwich they serve sometimes during their Friday lunch that is utterly sublime) but out of the way for this trip.

                    Breakfast and lunch can be had at The Breakfast Club in Lebanon, which is maybe halfway between Columbus and Cincinnati.


                2. In Columbus, I like Betty's Fine Food for comfort food. Their mac n cheese is yummy.

                  Others have recommended Thurman Cafe, which is a great burger joint. I mentioned below that there is often a long wait there. You could try it, and, if the wait is too long, swing by Dirty Franks instead (fairly close by), which is a tasty, hot dog-themed place.

                  For breakfast, you could try Skillet, which I have heard good things about, though I haven't tried it myself.

                  1. Cdowdv:

                    Not sure if I missed you, but Cincy has a few good spots that you could try:

                    Zip's in Mt. Lookout is great and unique. http://www.zipscafe.com/ Not a "big medium-rare" kinda place, which I also love, but worth a try. Small tasty burgers on good buns. Super homey place. (JohnE O may differ, but this is a Cincy classic


                    Camp Washington Chili, http://www.campwashingtonchili.com/ is a greasy spoon joint with classic Cincinnati Chili. (Skyline Chili is the most famous and a big chain, which I also love, but fast food.


                    Nada is an upscale Mexican place downtown. http://www.eatdrinknada.com/main.html Same owner as Boca, one of the best restaurants in town. As i remember the story, he wanted to do a "Frontera Grill" kind of a thing. I love it and it is not Dallas "Tex-Mex." They have great tacos and little pots of stewed meats in iron pots called cazuela's. Pretty darn tasty stuff.


                    1. Cincinnati basically has three primary regional specialties - cincinnati-style chili, goetta, and double decker sandwiches. All three can be had at Camp Washington Chili which is right at the expressway exit, and this joint is cheap and open almost 24 hours a day. They've won a James Beard award. http://www.campwashingtonchili.com/.

                      Camp Washington Chili
                      3005 Colerain Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45225

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: TJ Jackson

                        Camp Washington Chili is very good. I honestly think US Chili, across the street but without the extensive hours Camp Washington has, is as good.

                        Camp Washington Chili
                        3005 Colerain Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45225