Tommy’s Diner (Columbus, OH)

After our business meeting in Dayton, and a dew spare hours spent at Wright-Patterson AFB at the Museum of the United States Air Force, it was time for us to head back home, via the Columbus airport.

On the way, we decided to stop off for some lunch at Tommy’s Diner in Columbus. Located on the west side of town in the Franklinton neighborhood, it’s a bit off the beaten path. Well, not quite, the path is actually beaten to Tommy’s, since that place pretty much is the major destination for that neighborhood.

Tommy’s is basically the embodiment of your classic Greek-owned diner of the ’50s. Sporting two of those U-shaped Formica counters, swivel stools, and waitresses that still call you “Hon” when you order, Tommy’s has your basic Greek diner fare: burgers, hot dogs, gyros, grilled sandwiches, fries, and the like. They also have a lot of kitsch on the walls, including old road signs, and the fairly obligatory wall of old license plates.

Despite the kitschiness, it still has the slightly gritty air of authenticity; while I’m not sure that Tommy’s has been around that long (getting a quick oral history from Tommy’s son, who was working the register, I’m pretty sure it’s been around close to 30 years, though), it feels comfortable, and not like they just ordered a giant crate of “fake diner memorabilia” like some places I’ve been to.

Looking over the menu, they had a lot of attractive options, including a beef stroganoff special. But I kept finding my gaze getting pulled to an item that I always gravitate towards when in a diner: the Reuben. So I ordered up a Reuben, subbing in home fries (several plates came past while I was perusing the menu) for regular fries. The result? Quite a good Reuben, with a generous but not overwhelming amount of nicely seared corned beef piled onto some nicely toasted up rye bread with a thin layer of kraut, this was basically your standard Reuben done correctly, not soggy, and not overdressed, so it still tastes primarily of the corned beef. The home fries were a good call as well, with a nice, soft interior and a really nicely crisped exterior (you can always tell who takes good care of their grill from their home fries). It waws just the sort of lunch I was hoping for.

Probably one of the best things about Tommy’s? The prices. While a lot of places these days will sell you diner-style food for $20/person, Tommy’s still has reasonable prices. My Reuben, home fries, and a Coke set me back only $7.25, which made this the cheapest (and one of the most delicious) meals of my trip. Certainly much better than what I could have scored at the airport, and in a much more pleasant environment. With a location that’s fairly convenient for my purposes (being basically on the route between the Columbus airport and Dayton), I’ll certainly consider stopping in again, hopefully for a breakfast. It looks like they’ve got a good spread.

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