Where to Eat Well in Akron, Ohio
February 11, 2007 3:53 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are foodies. She travels for work frequently and tries to make the most of it by finding great food. Next week she has to go to Akron, OH. Anything from hole-in-the-wall to gourmet recommendations would be appreciated. Only restriction--local food only. No nationwide chains, please!
posted by verevi to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
Man, I've been looking all over online, but an NPR show was in Akron talking about food sometime in the last year. I thought maybe it was the Splendid Table, but I can't seem to find the link. Here is something they have to say, though.
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:38 PM on February 11, 2007

I'd recommend Lou & Hy's -- an old hole in the wall deli with giant sandwiches and buckets of pickles on the tables -- but I think it has closed(?). If you like classic upscale American steakhouses, Ken Stewart's fits the bill perfectly (though with few surprises). There is also a fun drive-in burger place called Sky-Way that's been around since the 1950's. And for some classic Akron randomness, there's Tangier - an entertainment complex that serves an eclectic collection of cuisines (middle eastern, mediterranean, etc).
posted by superfem at 5:15 PM on February 11, 2007

I suppose you don't know about chowhound (but you are of course a foodie)?
posted by krautland at 6:36 PM on February 11, 2007

I depend on roadfood.com for exactly the sort of stuff you want. Search the forums with a place name.
posted by poxuppit at 6:45 PM on February 11, 2007

Seconding Chowhound. This is the kind of question they live for (and excel at).
posted by chickletworks at 7:10 PM on February 11, 2007

Luigi's is awesome. I eat there every chance I get. The italian subs are fantastic.
posted by Jesco at 7:26 PM on February 11, 2007

The West Point Market is great!
posted by rglass at 8:09 PM on February 11, 2007

Calvin Trillin was taken to "Mrs. Ticklemore's Tearoom" in the West Point Market on a speaking visit recently. Good enough for him...
posted by jouster at 10:32 PM on February 11, 2007

Trillin story link, fwiw: http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/living/16035548.htm
posted by jouster at 10:33 PM on February 11, 2007

The Skyway drive-in is unbeatable for a burger and a milkshake. I'd also second Luigi's. Next door is the Northside, which has pretty good live music (for NE Ohio) and has good food. There's also the drive-in on Market that lays claim to the burger that inspired Cheeseburger in Paradise, but I would drive the extra mile to Skyway. Menches Bros. downtown lays ridiculous claim to having invented both the hamburger and the ice cream cone, but I don't think they're open right now and their burgers aren't any good anyway. There is a handful of faux-gourmet places downtown that I'd recommend steering clear of.

The standard recommendation is the Diamond Grille. I've only eaten there once; it's a strange combination of pricey steaks and dim and dingy, in the sort of really nice in the fifties but never updated way. So, no. Ken Stewart's is probably the place to go for fancy steaks--this is the only restaurant in Akron with Jags outside it all the time.
posted by Nahum Tate at 1:24 AM on February 12, 2007

I also remember a Splendid Table episode about Akron. The restaurant that they discussed was Al's Corner. It sounded absolutely incredible. They grind their own fresh spices and make their own sausage. It's a Hungarian restaurant and is only open for lunch.

R.W. Apple claimed that Swenson's makes the best cheeseburger in the country.

John T. Edge is the author of Fried Chicken: An American Story. He's a board member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. He's a contributor to Oxford American, Gourmet and Saveur. The man's got fried chicken bona fides. He thinks that Barberton chicken may be the best chicken in the country. (I think it's fried in partially hydrogenated lard so I've never tried it.) It's available at several restaurants in the Akron Area.

Also, I checked Google Maps and several of my favorite Cleveland area restaurants were listed between 36-48 minutes. If you'd consider those trips then I'd recommend fire and Moxie for contemporary American and Siam Cafe, Shanti's Kitchen, Korea House or El Tango Taqueria for a variety of ethnic cuisines.

Also consider searching for Wooster (50 min) or Oberlin (65 min) or Youngstown (55 min) if you're willing to do slightly more driving. I use a Tagzania map to keep track of the restaurants that I want to try. Most are in Cleveland but some are in Akron and others are in Youngstown, Oberlin and Wooster. My record keeping has evolved so in most cases there's no indication of why I'm interested in the restaurant but usually I only add something based on a trusted review. You should be able to identify the chains. Out of 200+, I think there may be a couple but no more than 3.
posted by stuart_s at 1:04 PM on February 12, 2007

Oh, hell, Swenson's is the drive-in you want. Skyway is the one that supposedly inspired Cheeseburger in Paradise.
posted by Nahum Tate at 1:21 PM on February 12, 2007

(I lived in Akron for years, but haven't been back in three or four.)

Swenson's beats the Skyway, in my opinion, but both are quite good. (Then again, I think Davinci's pizza is better than Luigi's, which is almost heresy in Akron.) Along with the West Point Market, Deviti's Italian Market is worth visiting. If you want to try 'Barberton chicken,' or chicken paprikash, Belgrade Gardens is, if not the best, then way up there. New Era's chicken paprikash is also legendarily good. If it's in season, Strickland's custard is pretty highly-regarded by folks in Akron.

China Gourmet's the best Chinese in town, by far, but that's not saying much. Ditto El Rincon, except with Mexican. And if you can make it up to Cleveland, well, then, there's a whole world of options. Tommy's, Phnom Penh and Melt are three of my favorites.
posted by box at 4:19 PM on February 12, 2007

I hope you follow up with what you ate and how it was. I grew up in Akron but have not lived there in decades. When I go home to visit mom, I always go to Luigi's and Skyway - at the 'way they make a drink called a "California" by mixing lemon-lime and grape soda (I think) and it's a favorite. There was also a good ice cream place at Highland Square - Mary Coyle's?
posted by tizzie at 1:24 PM on February 19, 2007

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