(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)

 

Ohio, in the food­ie world, is best known for its Choco­late Peanut But­ter can­dies called Buck­eyes. These are named after the state nut — which is poi­so­nous, by the way. We do, how­ev­er, have a lot more food to offer! 

If you’re vis­it­ing Ohio, even if you’re just pass­ing through on a road trip, use this guide to eat some­thing bet­ter than fast food. I lit­er­al­ly wrote the book on Ohio food, so let me intro­duce you to my favorite foods, those you can only get in the Buck­eye state. 

 

 

 

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Skip the fast food on your next road trip and try the best food the Buckeye State has to offer!

 

 

Best Grilled Cheese in Ohio

 

Melt Bar and Grilled is a statewide, gourmet grilled cheese sand­wich chain. Melt has a very diverse and large menu, includ­ing a great kids menu and a selec­tion for veg­e­tar­i­ans. They also have a huge drink menu, which includes plen­ty of fun, non-alco­holic options too! Don’t let the word “bar” scare you. I always see kids din­ing there when I go. Melt offers many great sea­son­al sand­wich­es, so you’ll want to vis­it more than once if you get the chance! It’s worth not­ing, the sand­wich­es at melt are huge! My sis­ter and I can eas­i­ly split one. 

 

 

Picture of Potato Bacon Bomb Sandwich

This is my favorite Melt sand­wich, the Pota­to Bacon Bomb. It’s sev­er­al types of pota­toes, cheese, bacon, and a sour cream sauce. Sad­ly, it’s only avail­able in Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary. Hon­est­ly, though, that’s prob­a­bly a good thing for my cho­les­terol levels.

 

 

Best Cincinnati Style Chili in Ohio

 

Cincin­nati Style Chili is chili spooned over spaghet­ti, and some­times topped with onions and cheese. In 2013, the Smith­son­ian named it one of the “Most Icon­ic Foods in Amer­i­ca.” Cincin­nati style chili is almost nev­er served by the bowl. It’s real­ly a top­ping. Call­ing the dish “chili” is a bit of a mis­nomer because it’s not like the soupy style chili you’re think­ing. Instead, think of it as more of a spiced meat sauce. The most famous is Sky­line Chili, but you can try the dish in most of the din­ers around the area. The order­ing sys­tem is based on “Ways” — which is how it will be served. Such as Two Way: Spaghet­ti topped with Chili; Three Way: Spaghet­ti, Chili and Cheese; Four Way: Spaghet­ti, Chili, Cheese and Onions or Beans; Five Way: Spaghet­ti, Chili, Beans, Onions, and Cheese

 

 

 

 

Best Ice Cream in Ohio

 

Ohioans love Ice Cream! Each of our major cities has its own favorite ice cream com­pa­ny. Mitchells and Hon­ey Hut is in Cleve­land, Jeni’s in Colum­bus, Han­del’s in Youngstown, and Graeters in Cincin­nati. I’m par­tial to Hon­ey Hut, espe­cial­ly since they car­ry my favorite fla­vor, Banana, year-round. But all of them are excel­lent! Why did a state where it’s below freez­ing at least 5 months of the year inspire at least 5 dif­fer­ent major ice cream brands? Let me know if you find out. 

 

PRO TIP: Mitchel­l’s Ice Cream has a fac­to­ry locat­ed on West 25th street in Cleve­land, and you can watch the ice cream being made from sev­er­al glass win­dows. Go upstairs for the best view.

 

 

Photo of the store front for Mitchells ice cream

I have always enjoyed watch­ing the ice cream mak­ing process at Mitchel­l’s, it’s def­i­nite­ly not some­thing you see every day. Pho­to cour­tesy of DJ John­son via Unsplash.

 

 

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Best Ohio Valley Style Pizza

 

Did you know that Ohio has its own style of piz­za?  Ohio Val­ley Style Piz­za is made by pil­ing cold cheese onto a thick but soft crust with hot toma­to sauce (usu­al­ly with cold pep­per­oni) and then cut into squares. Order it with extra cheese, trust me.  DiCar­lo’s in Steubenville invent­ed it, so there is no bet­ter place to give it a try.

 

 

picture of a piece of pepperoni pizza

A piece of DiCar­los piz­za, acci­den­tal­ly ordered with­out extra cheese, A tragedy really.

 

 

Tony Packo’s

 

Tony Pack­o’s is arguably the most famous restau­rant in all of Ohio. That’s because Cor­po­ral Max Klinger, from the TV show MASH, por­trayed by Tole­do’s own Jamie Farr, missed it and talked about it a lot on the show. If you find your­self in Tole­do,  stop in and try a “great Hun­gar­i­an hot dog, with chili pep­pers, and a cold beer” which was Klin­gler’s favorite! In 1972, Burt Reynolds stopped by for a bite and when asked for his auto­graph, he grabbed the clos­est thing, a hot dog bun! Since then, hun­dreds of celebri­ties, pres­i­dents, and astro­nauts have signed  buns, which are proud­ly dis­played at the restaurant.

 

photo of signed hot dog bun

The buns are actu­al­ly plas­tic and you can buy one at the gift store if you want to join in the fun. Pho­to Cour­tesy of Jacob Pea­cock via Wikimedia

 

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Best Fish Frys 

 

In the spring, you can find Lake Erie Perch being sold at just about every Catholic Church in Ohio! Since Catholics tra­di­tion­al­ly skip meat on Fri­days dur­ing lent, many church­es decid­ed to do fish frys to fill the demand for fish and as a fundrais­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty. There are many seafood restau­rants along Lake Erie where you can also get a Lake Erie Perch sand­wich — if you don’t find your­self here dur­ing lent. If you’re in the Mentor/Grand Riv­er Ohio area, I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly fond of Pick­le Bil­l’s. As a kid, I was fas­ci­nat­ed by all the cool dec­o­ra­tions. As an adult, I love the out­door din­ing right on the lake. All sum­mer long, fresh Lake Erie fish find their way into sand­wich­es, plat­ters, and even tacos. 

 

 

Best Micro-Brewery

 

Pos­si­bly the most famous of Ohio’s micro­brew­eries, Great Lakes Brew­ing Com­pa­ny makes a lot of great spe­cial­ty beers. The most famous is their Christ­mas Ale, which fea­tures cin­na­mon and spices. It’s a heav­ier beer, per­fect for win­ter. It’s worth not­ing, they only brew Christ­mas Ale once a year, at Christ­mas time. Some­times, I will see Christ­mas Ale for sale in July, but since they do not brew it that month, you know it’s old beer. I would­n’t rec­om­mend try­ing it then, it’s just not the same. 

They also make a brew named after Elliot Ness, a famous pro­hi­bi­tion agent who served in Cleve­land. They named a brew after him because, famous­ly, there is an actu­al bul­let hole from him in the bar area of the restau­rant. Elliot Ness is an amber lager, it’s a pret­ty dark beer. 

They also named a beer after Com­modore Per­ry, who led Navy ships in near­by Lake Erie dur­ing the war of 1812. Com­modore Per­ry is an IPA. You can take a tour of the brew­ery and learn about how beer is made. Don’t have a lot of time? You can pick up their beer at most gro­cery stores in Ohio. 

 

 

PRO TIP: Some towns and coun­ties in Ohio do not allow beer sales on Sundays. 

  

                                           

So remem­ber, no fast food when you’re in Ohio! There are so many great places around the state to eat! Ohioans are obnox­ious­ly friend­ly, we can’t help it. I could­n’t pos­si­bly cov­er every town in Ohio, so if you find your­self in a small town, just stop by any local gas sta­tion and ask some­one where to eat. They will be more than hap­py to brag about their secret local spot in town. I promise. You might even end up with a new friend. 

 

When You Go

 

There are sev­er­al dai­ly flights to Ohio but the only non-stop is into Cleve­land Hop­kins Inter­na­tion­al Air­port (CLE), which takes about 4 hours from Los Ange­les Inter­na­tion­al Air­port (LAX).  We like to shop for the best deals when we trav­el but find­ing time for a bunch of research is challenging.

We use TripAdvisor.com to find and com­pare the cheap­est flights and Booking.com below for the best deal on hotels where we want to stay.

 

 

 

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Skip the fast food on your next road trip and try the best food the Buckeye State has to offer! Find the best places to eat in Ohio for kids and teens!

 

 

Emi­ly House­hold­er Stacey is a trav­el agent and writer based in Sun­ny Cleve­land Ohio. When she isn’t writ­ing or book­ing trav­el for her clients, you’ll find her try­ing out new restau­rants with her hus­band or chas­ing her tod­dler because he does not want to go to bed.