Before compiling the list of the world’s best eateries…
By Todd DeFeo
DELAWARE, Ohio -- On a semi-regular basis, my wife and I set out to create a list of the best eateries.
A seemingly straight forward and simple task, we often fail. Not because we can’t name any. Rather, there are just too many unique and wonderful places out there.
Our list of five quickly grows to ten, then twenty. Before long, our list is so insanely long, it’s as if we’ve just named every place where we’ve dined over the past three years. So much for a discerning palate.
Lists are popular; people seem to love them. Or, maybe it’s the editors. They’re easy to read, and they make for great photo galleries (and, who doesn’t want to look at pictures of food?).
Recently, on our annual trip to Ohio, we wandered to Delaware (the city, not the state).
Perhaps best known as the home of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Little Brown Jug harness race, this picturesque city about 30 miles north of Columbus is also the birthplace of President Rutherford B. Hayes (his homestead no longer stands, as it was razed in the 1930s to make way for a gas station).
More importantly, on this particular day, the city is home to the Hamburger Inn.
This 70-plus-year-old eatery has all the attributes of a local institution. It was filled with regular customers, the staff was friendly and there was plenty of grease.
Seeing my camera in hand, the friendly waitress quickly struck up a conversation. As the conversation turned to more important matters (breakfast), she suggested I try the gyro omelet.
What a curiosity, I thought to myself. Absolutely, I immediately decided. In hindsight, I’m not sure I even looked at the menu.
My wife did and decided on the French toast. We placed an order, then soaked in the atmosphere while we waited on our food.
I was amazed at the pile of sliced potatoes on the griddle. In between tending to omelets, bacon and French toast, the cook regularly turned the stack to ensure equal cooking. Every so often, a customer would shout a line or two his way to say hello. He acknowledged, but kept tending to the griddle.
It wasn’t long before our food arrived. The gyro omelet is a unique creation, and it’s exactly as it sounds. It’s as if someone dumped out a traditional gyro into an omelet.
After just one bite -- egg, gyro meat and a massive piece of feta cheese -- and I was hooked.
“This is America,” I remarked. A greasy spoon off a highway in the heart of a Central Ohio college town.
We quickly put away our meals. Before rolling out, we placed a to-go order for a cinnamon roll, which our waitress insisted we try. Too stuffed to eat on site, we later shared with our friends whose house served as our hotel.
Fresh made daily, the roll is a one-of-a-kind classic. It tasted like a French toast donut, rather than a traditional cinnamon roll. Except for maybe yummy and scrumptious, I can nary find a word to describe this delectable delight.
After departing from the Hamburger Inn, we took a stroll through town. Then, it dawned on me: What about that list?
Maybe next time, we’ll actually finish compiling it.
About Todd DeFeo
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