In these tough economic times, many of us are choosing to forgo certain luxuries such as going out to eat multiples times per week. On those more infrequent occasions when we do decide to celebrate something special or treat ourselves to a meal outside of our own homes, we want our dining experience to be enjoyable without placing an unreasonable strain upon our already depleted wallets. We value not only a uniquely tasty meal but also a meal that is affordable even for a limited budget.
Fortunately, whether you’ll be treating yourself to a special breakfast or lunch or dinner with drinks, Columbus, Ohio offers several unique and affordable dining options for you to consider. Here are three of my favorites-one for each meal of the day.
–For breakfast-Jack & Benny’s-A family owned, independent, diner-style restaurant, Jack & Benny’s is old-fashioned in several ways. In addition to booth seating, there are individual stools planted up right against the counter, in plain view of the house cooks as they swiftly prepare your sizzling hot, hearty breakfast fare. This breakfast joint has a hustling & bustling vibe and is popular with both the college crowd and older regulars, so arrive bright & early if you don’t want to wait on seating. The wait staff is friendly, accommodating, and skilled at working in the midst of a fast-paced hubbub. The breakfast menu is fairly extensive, offering plenty of old-school standards, several new twists, and a few specialties. If you are counting your calories, you might want to avoid such specialties as the Jack Buster, which is a hot mess of hash browns, eggs cooked any way you like them, bacon, and ham, layered into a mound and then liberally ladled with white gravy. Such dishes may not be ideal for calorie-counters, but for those in the mood to indulge in an occasional gut-busting, greasy spoon style breakfast, options such as the Jack Buster don’t scrimp on the taste or the portion size. More standard menu items include a variety of omelets and pancakes, sundry sides from home fries to corned beef hash, and plenty more. Several dishes also offer a touch of Mexican flavor from chorizo sausage as an omelet ingredient to the Huevos Rancheros. Although the Jack & Benny’s reviews I read online were mixed (some people raved about the place, whereas others didn’t understand the appeal , I think if you’re in the mood for a one-of-a-kind greasy spoon style platter of hearty breakfast goodness and don’t mind some hustle & bustle on the side, then you won’t be disappointed with the Jack & Benny’s experience.
Jack & Benny’s is located in the North Campus area, at 2563 North High Street, Columbus Ohio. Open for breakfast and lunch only, hours of operation are Monday through Friday 7 AM-3PM and Saturday and Sunday 8 AM-3 PM. Dress code is casual. General price range is $3.00-$7.00 Although the restaurant does not have its own website, you may read some varied reviews at http://www.yelp.com/biz/jack-and-bennys-columbus and you may contact Jack & Benny’s by phone at 614-263-0242.
–For lunch– Aladdin’s Eatery– A wonderful little restaurant that specializes in healthful Middle Eastern style cuisine, Aladdin’s Eatery is well worth a visit. Delicious appetizers include Hummos, Baba, and Fool D Amas. Many diners will be somewhat familiar with Hummos as a kind of dip made from pureed garbanzo beans/chickpeas (with lemon juice, tahini, and spices added); Baba is a variation made from pureed eggplant and Foole D Amas is an especially tasty variation made from fava beans. If you’ve tried Hummos before and didn’t dislike it, but it seemed a bit bland for your palate, I would recommend sampling the Foole D Amas at Aladdin’s. It is similar to Hummos in texture and even taste, but is a little more savory and flavorful and is served warm. All three of these dips are accompanied with pita bread and vegetables. Another uniquely delectable appetizer offered by Aladdin’s is Dawali (stuffed grape leaves). If you’ve not partaken of this dish before, it is slightly comparable to stuffed peppers or stuffed cabbage, but the filling is wrapped in grape leaves, which have their own subtle flavor, but do not overwhelm the taste of the filling. This filling is a mixture of spiced white rice and chick peas. The grape leaves are drizzled with Aladdin’s mouthwatering dressing and sprinkled with feta cheese on top and the intermingling flavors are decidedly delightful. Aladdin’s also offers quite a few homemade-style soups and chilis. If you can’t decide on just one kind, consider the Chicken Len-Chili, which allows you to try half a bowl of lentil soup and half a bowl of chicken chili, lovingly combined within one bowl. Entrees at Aladdin’s range from vegetarian to chicken to beef, starring fresh ingredients with subtle yet delicious spicing and good sized portions. The menu also features a variety of delicious rolled pitas, such as the Chicken Shawarma Rolled, which basically consists of a heaping helping of white meat chicken, char-grilled to perfection, wrapped in toasted pita bread, and liberally seasoned with a savory, creamy yogurt based sauce. As far as drinks, Aladdin’s specializes in herbal teas and honey-sweetened smoothies and also offers a smallish beer and wine menu. For those who save room for dessert, the glass dessert case at Aladdin’s looks like something out of a dreamy fairy tale or maybe more like a decadent bistro with its assortment of huge, multi-layered, extra-fancy cakes and cheesecakes and tortes. These bakery-style pastries look and taste so sublime that some diners might be tempted to pay a visit to Aladdin’s just to indulge in an incredibly romantic dessert. While these decadent dessert slices are definitely big enough for a couple of lucky lovebirds to share, the question is can you restrict yourself to choosing just one of these picture-perfect indulgences?
Aladdin’s Eatery offers several different Columbus area locations. The most centrally located (as well as the location I can vouch for from personal dining experience) is at 2931North High Street, in Columbus Ohio (with additional locations in the Columbus suburbs of Grandview, Dublin, and Bexley). Store hours for the North High Street location are seven days a week from 11AM-10PM. Dress code is casual. The restaurant is smallish, so can sometimes feel a bit crowded, but is distinctively decorated with interestingly-shaped, almost sculptural looking lamps and other artistic flourishes and sometimes features a temporary exhibit of original local art on the walls. General price range is $5.00 -$13.00. You may contact the Columbus location of Aladdin’s Eatery by phone at 614-262-2414 or find out more about this distinctive establishment (and partake of photos of some of their yummy edibles) at http://www.aladdinseatery.com/index.php
–For dinner and drinks-The Surly Girl Saloon-This women-owned restaurant/bar/quirky entertainment hub serves up festive entertainment, kitschy décor, and a reasonably-priced menu of comfort food with a sassy kick. In addition to the tasty dinner dishes, the Surly Girl Saloon also boasts a delightfully varied drink menu that specializes in local, women-brewed beers, ales, and lagers, plus unique cocktails that pack a fun punch with their unique blends of ingredients and even more unique names. For a more detailed review of the Surly Girl Saloon (including favorite food and drink specifics), see my previous Associated Content article, focusing solely upon this fabulous establishment– http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1650369/columbus_ohio_restaurantbarhot_spot.html?cat=22
For a quick scoop, The Surly Girl Saloon is a one-of-a-kind destination located in the Short North neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio at 1126 North High Street. They are open from 11 A.M. to 2AM daily, with the kitchen serving food throughout their open hours. Dress code is casual (with a little bit of hipster tossed into the mix). Entertainment varies from live bands to comedy acts to a weekly session of Punk Rock Aerobics and more, plus the kitschy
décor is always entertaining. The drink menu is an extra-special treat. General price range is $5.00-$15.00. Make contact with The Surly Girl Saloon by phone at 614-294-4900 or find out more via the Surly Girl Saloon’s stylish website at http://surlygirlsaloon.com/index.php
These three centrally located and unique dining locations in Columbus, Ohio are just a few of your many delicious choices for fun, laid back, and affordable eating out. Enjoy!