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Akron area, take 2: any new recs for local cuisine and down-home delicacies?

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Hi all,

You were so helpful for my last extended trip to OH (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/843211), I thought I'd ask what's new in the area. I scanned through posts leading right up to my old post, but didn't see much.

Anything noteworthy in the Akron area? I don't think we'll be in Cleveland much at all, and based on my research from here, I can rattle off just about the top spots rec'd here. We'll be mostly around the Stow and as far as Atwater areas.

Looking mostly for down-home country-style cooking and local specialties. Stuff I can't get in NYC, which honestly is a pretty high bar (and explains why I'm so eager to visit two chain restaurants in particular).

I'm excited to visit:
- Waffle House (never been! waffles and hash browns all the way?? awesome!
)- Bob Evans (my favorite fast food/casual restaurant)
- Hartville Kitchen for their pies

So far on the agenda:
- Barberton chicken (Belgrade Gardens or Hopocan Gardens?)
- Jeni's, if we can manage to get to a location nearby :(
- probably Swenson's or Skyway for hubs' sentimental reasons

I've heard about the pierogies, but we have a big Eastern Euro population here as well, so we have excellent ones. And pizza... well I don't think I need to explain that one.

Thanks!

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  1. Wally Waffle is our local version of Waffle House. Great waffles served on a hot steel plate, piled high with fruit or whatever else, and good old-fashioned greasy hash browns. Two locations.
    http://www.wallywaffle.net/

    Barberton chicken is a love-hate proposition. The breading is really pretty bland but the lard frying adds a certain ... thing. The hot rice, which is not all that hot, is the best part of the meal for many fans. When Michael Symon did an episode of "Food Feuds" here, Belgrade Gardens beat White House (not sure why Hopocan wasn't included). Belgrade was the original, opening in 1933.

    Dante Boccuzzi, who has a well-regarded restaurant in Cleveland, opened DBA Akron in the space that used to house Chrisse Hynde's vegan restaurant. It's more hip-n-trendy, not homestyle cooking, but it's a way to get a taste of Dante's food without driving to Cleveland.
    http://www.restaurantdante.us/dante-a...

    Gasoline Alley is a popular, very small bar/restaurant that makes huge sandwiches, though I'm not sure if it would be different enough from a NY deli for you.
    http://www.gasolinealleyinbath.com/

    Will keep thinking....

    1. If you're looking for down home country style cooking,The Barn restaurant in Amish country, specifically in Smithville, OH, is quite popular. Cracker Barrel is another country cooking chain. There is one in Montrose (Akron, OH). Yes, Swenson's is a local must - it's the first place my college-age kids go when they come home. If you come to the Akron area in the summer or early fall, I would suggest a pick your own produce farm - I bet you can't get that in NYC!!! There is a farm I really like in Copley, Twp. - Boughton Farms. They are now closed for the season. Last month I was picking all sorts of peppers, green & yellow beans & eggplants of all kinds, They sell freshly cut broccoli grown on the farm in their seasonal farm store & I was in heaven with that alone!

      3 Replies
      1. re: CurryLover

        I live in the Wooster area and the Barn isn't worth the effort. Des Dutch Essenhouse in Shreve is much better and it isn't that much farther. Mrs Yoders Kitchen is also good.

        I prefer Hopocan gardens. Get extra hot rice and skip the apple sauce.

        The Amish Door on East Lincolnway is better than Bob Evans. IMO. Get off I-30 at the Apple Creek road.

        Hartzlers Ice cream is very good, but they have weird winter hours.

        I like Swensons over Skyway.

        1. re: Kelli2006

          Excellent, thank you all! Seems like the better Amish-style establishments and Hartzlers (mmmm) are west/south of Canton. I'm going to try my hardest to persuade family to go there, but no guarantees. What a shame!

          Our Cleveland-based friends just told us about Jack Frost donuts. Is that worth a trip, or is it just a gimmicky shop of regular ol' donuts topped to the nines with various frostings, etc.?

          Thanks for the tip on Hopocan Gardens, will be sure to get that rice. Funny enough, we were hanging out with a dozen Akron-area natives in NY, and none had ever had Barberton fried chicken!

          Far shot, I'm sure, but are there any interesting ethnic 'pockets' near Akron that have a vibrant food scene? I just watched Bizarre Foods Detroit, and the Muslim communities' eateries looked SOOO delicious.

          1. re: janethepain

            I've heard of Jack Frost donuts but I've never been there.

            I cant think of anything particularly ethnic or unusual in the area. We have the usual Indian, Mexican, Chinese and Italian places but if you're from NYC you've had much better.

            Crave in downtown Akron is getting good reviews.

      2. Swensons is cool, old-timey & pretty good chow.
        Great breakfasts/bakery at The Blue Door, Cuyahoga Falls.

        1. Based on your tastes I would definitely recommend Dan's Dogs in Medina. It's an old fashioned hot dog place with probably 20 or more different hot dogs on the menu with toppings like Macaroni and Cheese and Fritos. It's not really that far, and I think it's worth the trip. Be advised, it is a cash only restaurant, so go prepared. (I can't include a link because they don't have a website)

          The wally waffle suggestions is a really good one, as is Gasoline Alley.

          When I lived in Stow I loved to get take out Pizza from Altieri's.
          http://www.altierispizza.com/

          In Hudson I really like 3 Palms Pizzeria. The Diavola Pizza is my favorite.
          http://www.3palmspizzeria.com/

          Happy Eating! (And the closest Jeni's location will be Chagrin Falls, but many local grocery stores carry pints. I've seen it at Mustard Seed and Acme for sure and I think Earth Fare has it too.)

          1. You might want to check out Al's Corner Restaurant in Downtown Barberton for lunch. Excellent eastern European comfort food!