Explorers Club's cozy, 100-year-old brick exterior lends a deceptively comfortable face to the restaurant's constantly experimenting kitchen. Owner Tracy Studer?a veteran of the late Harold Smith's Gloria Caf??roots her eatery's fare in playfully updated Latin American food such as chorizo sliders and plantain-topped burgers. The menu boasts unusual additions such as his chili-citrus-flavored vegetable lo mein. Monthly menus jet around the globe?614 Magazine notes that after deciding on "a country or cuisine," the chef "spends months researching the ingredients, history, and flavor profiles, and then experimenting in the kitchen," turning out tributes to Germany, Spain, and Hungary. An impressive range of vegan and vegetarian options makes use of soy-based tempeh and tofu, catering to animal-loving humans and self-hating venus flytraps.
Pizza Pan appeases appetites with an assortment of carefully crafted pies and a wide-ranging menu of casual palate-pleasers. The restaurant’s pizza dough is fashioned fresh daily before being slung into disk form by expert pizzatologists and slathered in delectable sauce made the same morning. The squad of pie producers blends real mozzarella and provolone cheese, melting it on top of each savory circle to create a toothsome dairy shield that protects the priceless tomatoes underneath. Top-quality Hormel meats and fresh-cut vegetables mingle merrily atop the flavor frisbees, which come in sizes ranging from the six-slice small ($10.99, $1.75 per topping) to the gargantuan, 16-slice half-sheet pizza ($22.99, $3.75 per toping). Eaters can sate their need to chew on things other than pizza with ribs ($28.99 per slab), hoagies ($4.99), and chicken wings ($6.99 for 10) slathered in one of eight sauces.
When Man vs. Food host Adam Richman stopped into the Thurman Cafe to try a burger, he reported, "The sheer size and tastiness of this burger blew me away." Countless people have had similar reactions since 1942, when Nick Suclescy opened what has become a German Village landmark. It's since spawned a pair of Thurman To Go locations?including one right next door to the original restaurant?that make it easy to grab a burger while heading home from work or while taking a break from running a nearby marathon.
Inside the original cafe, memorabilia collected in the six decades since the spot opened cover the walls and ceilings, enveloping the weathered booths with pictures, signs, and other knickknacks. This laid-back atmosphere invites visitors to relax and get messy, which they almost certainly will: every burger on the menu is 3/4 of a pound and buried under heaps of toppings. That includes the Thurman burger, a glorious monstrosity of mozzarella, American cheese, mushrooms, peppers, mayo, and?taking the word hamburger literally?a hearty slice of ham.
Like the secret undersea tunnel that links Athens to New Jersey, Easy Street Cafe binds America together with the sunny Mediterranean. The cafe is the brainchild of George Stefanidis. Back in 1983, he envisioned a place that would honor his family's oldest recipes?but he also wanted to serve up killer burgers. Today, his eclectic menu of Greek and American cuisine promises burgers and pizzas alongside savory gyros and flaming saganaki cheese. Craft cocktails and wines pair with Greco-American dinners. For brunch, choose from a selection of breakfast-influenced dishes, including The Hercules?three lollipop lamb chops with a side of eggs, pig sticks, and home fries.
Given how much food emerges nightly from Red Brick Tap & Grill's kitchen, it's a minor miracle everything fits onto two menu pages. Specializing in classic diner food, the cooks put tastebud-surprising flourishes on each dish. Bacon-wrapped brats are topped with garlic-herb aioli and fried eggs while the Cuban sandwiches get a zest of Guinness mustard atop a pile-up of smoked pork butt, ham, and chipotle mayo. Matching the feasts in sheer abundance, Red Brick stocks more than 30 draft brews and 70 bottled beers that mostly hail from domestic craft breweries like Stone and Lagunitas.
According to Columbus Crave, stone-cooked pizzas "are where this eatery shines." Guests can make their own or choose from specialty combinations, such as the Porky's Revenge?a pie crowned with chipotle ranch, smoked pork belly, fried jalape?os, and smoked gouda?or the Lisa Simpson, scattered with smoked tofu and optional vegan cheese. But whether it's pizza, burgers, or hot dogs, Red Brick's culinary team can sprinkle more than 45 custom ingredients, including brisket, corn salsa, and sweet-honey goat cheese.
The pizzas (along with the drinks) are available by the slice until 2 a.m. every night, giving diners ample time to savor Red Brick's sunny outdoor patio or the black-and-red dining room adorned with comic books along the back wall. Red Brick also delivers throughout nearby neighborhoods and parallel universes within two points of divergence.
The Maennerchor—which means "men's chorus" and is the shortest word in the German language—was established as a private German singing club in 1848 and hasn't changed a thing since, other than knocking down a poorly placed wall in 1989. Men, women, and children proud of their common heritage with Heidi Klum still gather to sing drinking songs from the fatherland, wear festive rawhide shorts, file paperwork, and dine on delicious German essen und trinken at Zum Rathskeller, the Maennerchor's traditional cellar restaurant, which was constructed by authentic German crafts-gnomes and exudes a cuckoo-clocked, Old World atmosphere. Der menu is packed with classic Deutscher dishes such as potato pancakes served with apple sauce ($6.90), schnitzel with potato salad ($12.90), and sauerbraten ($15.90), which comes with braised cabbage and pairs well with Warsteiner lager ($3.50 a glass, $9.75 a pitcher). And ask about the Rathskeller's wildly popular sauerkraut balls; they go really well with the bratwurst ($10.90), for some reason.