Michael Petrakis immigrated to America in 1972 from the island of Crete, where dining is an integral part of social life. In opening Michael's, Petrakis aimed to bring the community some of the warm hospitality of Crete, an attitude embodied in his annual Thanksgiving dinners. Every year since 1983, he and his wife Anna have solicited the help of their staff and a dozen volunteers to serve free holiday dinner to everyone who comes through their doors––an average of 1,400–2,000 meals.
The quaint dining room at Michael's relies on homey touches such as stained glass windows and dangling flower baskets. Illuminated by natural light from large picture windows, diner-style tables support dishes ranging from Greek gyros to pizzas and build-your-own pasta. Those dishes are the work of Dino Tsarnas, a veteran of Cleveland Grill. He brings skills acquired there to a selection of Greek appetizers. Between trips to the restaurant's salad bar, guests can sip a glass of wine or connect to the restaurant's free WiFi.
Famous Gyro George's food-slinging chefs follow the cooking instructions listed on a menu that has dishes for every meal of the day. Sate egg cravings with a big breakfast platter of two eggs, two big pancakes, and four pieces of sausage ($6.99), or partake in lunch-focused fare with a famous philly gyro, which collects grilled mushroom, onions, and swiss cheese and stores them in the welcoming folds of a homemade pita ($6.99). A double-cheeseburger-deluxe combo slams two hamburger patties with lettuce, onion, tomato, and cheese, and balances the plate with fresh-cut fries and a fountain drink ($5.99). Dine post-dusk at one of George's 24-hour restaurants, which are open 24 hours a day in honor of Mark McGwire's age in 1988. Click here to view each location's hours.
O-Deer Diner is so dear to owner Rick Ruffner’s heart that he created the name using the first initial of each member of his family. The diner serves a small menu of house-made soups, hot dogs, and sandwiches, but the place is best known for its premium soft-serve ice cream, which swirls into specialty sundaes beneath hot fudge, chopped candy bars, and whipped cream. Like any good neighborhood diner, O-Deer places great importance on community involvement: the eatery hosts Santa Claus and collects canned goods around the holidays, participates in parades, and supplies pitchforks to chase the town Frankenstein.
Monroe Street Diner is a hub of belly-comforting cuisine and clock-themed ambiance, qualities that earned it the title of runner-up for Best Diner in the Toledo City Paper's 2010 reader survey. The restaurant’s walls are infested with more than 60 clocks, all donated by regular customers who enjoy recording their chewing times down to the second. Breakfast is served any time and includes a long list of omelets, such as the savory chili and cheese combo ($5.75). For lunch, a grilled-cheese sandwich ($3.25) or The Elvis—country-fried steak served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and veggies ($7.15)—keeps bodies happily filled with the strength to consume future lunches. Young diner aficionados can thrive on the restaurant’s kids’ menu, which fuels up-and-coming adults with meals such as spaghetti and garlic toast ($4.35) or a chocolate-chip pancake paired with two sausage links ($3). In accordance with the terms of the 28th Amendment, no item on the menu costs more than $9.