The Hidden Gem Within the Diner

For many local residents of the Athens area everyone know where Court Street is. It is in the main street of Athens that is full of local eateries and bars that many students go. One place in particular is the local Court Street Diner. Here in this interview a few students attending Ohio University will talk about the hidden gem the diner beholds and what it means to them.

6 pieces of avocado toast that will make white people care about the border wall

As many are aware, white people love their avocados. In fact, they seem to care more about most things when avocados are impacted. So, before Trump’s border wall makes avocados more expensive than ever, enjoy these photos of America’s favorite brunch.

1. Fancy avocado toast

Photo by Katherine Lim via Flickr

Wow, look at that. Delicious. Did you know that Trump has proposed paying for his $14 billion wall by charging Mexico a tax of 20 percent on items exported to the United States.

2. Simple avocado toast

Photo by Kjokkenutstyr Net via Flickr

So simple, yet so beautiful. Yum. Guess what, 70 percent of vegetables and 40 percent of fruits consumed by Americans, come from Mexico.

3. Anti-vegetarian avocado toast

Photo by Katherine Lim via Flickr

Avocado + Bacon = ‘Merica.  Here’s a fun fact for you: 93 percent of avocados sold in the United States come from Mexico. Who knows how many of those are actually consumed due to the very small window of ripeness avocados have.

4. Avocado toast with an egg

Photo by Katherine Lim via Flickr

See those tomatoes on there. Yep, there’s a pretty good chance they’re from Mexico. Seventy-one percent of tomatoes sold in the U.S. come from Mexico.

5. Avocado toast with watermelon radishes (?!?)

Photo by T.Tseng via Flickr

Does anyone actually know what watermelon radishes are? No. Did they come from Mexico? Very likely (if that’s even a real vegetable). Will they be more expensive after the border wall? Um, probably (looks more like Sour Patch Watermelons to me…)

6. “Fanciest avocado toasts. Period.”

Photo via Google Images

Quote courtesy of Sean Spicer (not really) Look at this little garden of avocado roses on toast. Oh and for the record, America imported over $1.3 billion worth of beer from guess who. That’s right, Mexico.

 

Spoiler alert:

White Americans make 16 times more than African Americans and about 12 times more than Latinos. So, this article might not mean much to them after all. Also, Sean Spicer did not contribute to this article despite attempts to contact him.

 

6 tacos you wish you could eat right now

Everybody loves tacos, right?! If you aren’t craving one right now, you will after finishing this article!

The Original Taco

There’s just something so appetizing about ground beef, salsa, and cheese inside of a hard shell.

Wikipedia

Pulled Pork Taco

The proper name would be “carnitas” but some midwesterners aren’t up-to-date on taco lingo.

Wikipedia

Shrimp Taco

I’m all about the avocado trend, especially combined with grilled shrimp, rice and a hint of lime. I could eat this everyday of my life.

Wikimedia

Fish Taco

Fish tastes much better when it’s fried… Especially fried and topped with guacamole inside a tortilla.

Wikimedia

Dorito Taco

We have Taco Bell to thank for this Dorito Taco creation. It’s a basic taco inside a Dorito Shell. Genius. I’ll take four.

OnlineDesign

Dessert Taco

A combination of my two favorite things- chocolate and tacos. What more could you want?

theimpulsivebuy on Flickr

Bagelwiches by the bundle

 

If you ever feel overwhelmed with options off the extensive menu at Bagel Street Deli, you can always create your own sandwich.

Or you could go a step further and claim a spot on the menu for your bagelwich masterpiece. All it takes is just a few pickles.

On the second Friday in March, BSD host its annual Pickle Fest, centered around a pickle eating contest.

balls-deep
The ’08 Pickle Fest Champion, Balls Deep: meatballs, salami, banana peppers, mushrooms, provolone, lettuce, and Italian dressing. Photo by Eben George

Participants compete in heats of 10 eaters. Each heat last 10 minuets. When its all said and done, whoever eats and swallows the most pickles at the end of the competition wins the right to create and name their own BSD creation with an eternal spot on the chalkboard.

 

Rise and grind: Meet the night owls of Athens who make late night cram sessions possible

Pulling your first all nighter is a right of passage for college students. From the copious amount of energy drinks you consume, to the way your eyes seem to melt into the back of their sockets, to discovering that your laptop totally makes a great pillow after 4 a.m.  Nothing screams college more than busting out an eight page research paper in the back of a coffee shop while the rest of the world catches some Z’s.

Economics senior Mari Otero looks over her Econ notes shortly after 2 a.m. at Union Street Diner

But what about the people who support those late nights? Someone has to make that triple espresso that you have IV’d to your arm, and play the latest acoustic jams that mellow out the early morning.

We hate to see them but we love their work. Their presence not only signals third shift is about to begin, but also the realization that you probably shouldn’t have procrastinated so much on your projects. They’re the brave men and women who make it possible for you to pump out a semester’s worth of work in a single night. Whether you need some early morning fuel or a late night pick me up, they have your back. They’re the early risers and night owls who work in the coffee shops and diners in town.

At Ohio University,  three local spots are known by everyone. Donkey Coffee at 17 1/2 W. Washington St., Brenen’s Coffee Cafe at 38 S. Court St. and Union Street Diner at 70 W. Union St. have been servicing the Athens crowd for 13, 16 and five years respectively. Customers are guaranteed to always be greeted by a smiling face, even if their own face isn’t so lively.

Brenen’s Coffee Cafe

Brenen’s was founded in 2000 and has been a huge hit ever since. Pittsburgh native Erin Pogue, a senior studying strategic communications, has been working at the cafe since fall 2013, her freshman year. Pogue works a varying schedule of opening and closing shifts but definitely prefers to open.

“I think the best part about an opening shift is how calm Athens is at that time,” she said. “It’s usually before most other students are getting their days started so you can really notice how peaceful Court Street can be walking into work.”

Beautiful scenery aside, getting in at 6 a.m. throughout the week for work still isn’t a fun time. When asked about the downside of opening, Pogue commented:

“The worst part is definitely waking up. Luckily, working at a coffee shop makes it easy to get some caffeine in me once I get in.”

There are some saving graces that come with the sunrise shift though. Pogue says she loves seeing the regulars who come through every morning, along with her coworkers.

“We have a great staff working at Brenen’s. It makes a big difference when you have a great team working with you and keeping things running smoothly when you work together. Going into work is always easier when you get to work with friends and have a lot of fun while getting the job done.”

When asked if she’s ever witnessed anything weird or noteworthy during her closing shift, Pogue had one oh-so-Athens story.

Erin Pogue preps the coffee machines
Erin Pogue preps coffee machines during a slow period during her shift

“You never know what you’re going to get when you have a closing shift on a busy weekend,” she said. “A guy came in off Court Street in a falling-apart costume, couldn’t manage to form full sentences when trying to tell us his order, then grabbed a baguette off the counter and ran out before we even had time to finish his sandwich. Luckily he had already paid!”

It’s like Bobcats say, “Athens happens.”

Donkey Coffee and Espresso

Six hundred and sixty three feet down the street and around the corner, just off the intersection of Court Street and East State is another Athens favorite, Donkey Coffee and Espresso. Open since 2003 and ran by Chris and Angie Pyle, Donkey has successfully been serving the locals “caffeine with a conscience” and has a long history of giving the town a space to be creative.

Moira Snuffer, a sculpture and expanded practice senior from Columbus, has been working at Donkey since June 2015.  She mainly works the opening shift, which means crawling out of bed and getting into the shop by 6:30 a.m.

Moira Snuffer, opening Donkey Barista, is all smiles, even at 7 a.m.
Moira Snuffer, opening Donkey barista. All smiles, even at 7 a.m.

Her favorite part about opening is getting a chance to just be by herself and start the day at her own pace.

“Opening is kinda nice because you’re by yourself and it’s this time to have your space,” Snuffer said. “It’s a nice way to start your day—to be here by yourself and do monotonous work.”

While nothing too crazy has ever happened during her closing shifts, she did have a story about an unexpected interaction this year on halloween:

Union Street Diner

Then there’s Union Street Diner, the go-to spot for anyone suffering from the late night munchies. The 24 hour mom and pop storefront has been in business since 2011 and caters to all walks of life, offering spacious seating, fair prices and friendly faces every hour of the day.

USD has personally reenergized me on multiple occasions (the BLT and pancakes are tier 1) and any place that offers milkshakes at 5 a.m. deserves a head nod.

My last visit to the diner introduced me to Ashley. Ashley has officially been working at Union Street Diner since August of this year, and strictly works third shift. Though working so late can be brutal, the shift time actually fits her overall schedule perfectly. Ashley and her husband are parents to a beautiful two-year-old so the odd times lets both of them work without the need of a babysitter. In regards to her coworkers, she loves them.

“We’re all very laid back. It’s a family here” she said.

While Ashley never went to college, she did become a certified nursing assistant when she was a junior in high school. When it comes to the few things she doesn’t enjoy about her job, Ashley simply can’t stand when students come in and vomit.

You can’t win them all.

Third year computer science major Justin Mosley takes a break from studying for his software tools exam
Third year computer science major Justin Mosley takes a break from studying for his software tools exam

A eulogy for Mr. Taco

The corner of Foster Place and Union Street has a history of restaurants coming in with big plans but ultimately failing to stay afloat.  Mr. Taco, an authentic mexican restaurant, opened in the latter part of spring semester last year.  Hoping to build off America’s love of Mexican food, that only seems to be growing, Mr. Taco had big dreams here in Athens.

Initially, I would walk past the restaurant everyday and not pay much attention to it.  Finally a day came where I was hungry but not willing to walk far for food.  This was Mr. Taco’s time to shine.  This was what Mr. Taco was all about.  It was a special treat for residents of Foster Place who didn’t want to walk too far for a meal.

Over the next few months, I understood exactly what I wanted from Mr. Taco and it was never anything complicated.  Their limes and onions were clearly cut a day before actually being served.  Their burritos were dry and underwhelming.  Only one thing on the menu kept me coming back, the nachos.  Mr. Taco’s nachos were their magnum opus.  The nachos were a flurry of cheese, meat, lettuce, and sliced vegetables.  I didn’t know how fresh the ingredients were and I didn’t care.  For those few times I had the opportunity to sit down and relish in the Mr. Taco atmosphere it took me to another world.  The dimly lit dining area combined with the strange art that was probably bought a thrift store brought me to a place that was unequivocally Mr. Taco.

 

Mr. Taco's forgotten check out counter.
Mr. Taco’s forgotten check out counter.

Sometime in August, I was walking down my usual route from Baker back to Foster Place and what was there the day before was gone.  Mr. Taco’s door was locked and its lights off.  I went back to my roommates and we all agreed that they were simply on vacation.  Mr. and Mrs. Taco were off in some tropical paradise to celebrate their great and profitable summer.

 

Mr. Taco's closed door.
Mr. Taco’s closed doors.

The vacation didn’t end and walking by again, I saw a letter from the IRS sticking out of the mailbox.  There was no spin to this, Mr. Taco had died and it was all our fault.  If only the residents of Foster Place bought one more plate of nachos or a few more dry burritos, Mr. Taco would still be standing.  

The ultimate guide to eating at Ohio University’s dining halls

I will level with you, dining halls just aren’t fun. After not eating dining hall food for a while they don’t seem so bad, but try eating at a dining hall every day and you will grow sick and tired of the same food every day.

Eating pizza, burgers, and more pizza gets pretty annoying, so this article will help you find variety and get to know the dining halls at Ohio University.

Boyd Dining Hall/The District on West Green:

The District on West Green at Ohio University.
Image from ohio.edu

A lot has changed since my freshman year, when Boyd was the ugliest dining hall paired with the worst food within a 100-mile radius. Today, Boyd is newly renovated and offers much healthier food compared to the other dining halls. On the flip side, Boyd is not where you go for pizza or burgers.

Boyd offers a sandwich station, a grill section with fairly lean meats, a pasta section, and a salad bar. You will learn really quickly as a freshman that eating healthy is difficult, especially considering the vegetable to fried chicken ratio in the dining halls. That’s why I would take advantage of Boyd, especially if you live on West Green since it will be close to your dorm. If you are looking for a healthy option in a much more modern and clean setting, Boyd is the dining hall for you.

 

Nelson Dining Hall:

The biggest dining hall on campus, Nelson offers all-day breakfast, a grilled food section, pasta, thin-crust pizza, Asian food, and an ice cream bar. Nelson is my personal favorite, and probably has the widest selection of any dining hall that OU has to offer.

Nelson Court at Ohio University
Image from ohio.edu

This means that you can go to Nelson a lot and, as long as you mix things up, not get too tired of the food. It should also be noted that Nelson Court is the only dining hall to offer all-day breakfast, which means waffles for dinner is now a reality for you. Also, there is a made-to-order omelette station, which is actually pretty cool relative to the somewhat bland offerings of Ohio University’s dining halls. Nelson is on the edge of South Green, and within very close walking distance to East Green as well.

 

 

 

Shively Dining Hall:

Shively Court is your standard college dining hall. It is okay, but nothing too special. There is a grill station, thick-crust pizza, pasta, salad bar, and a section dedicated to home-cooked style meals. Personally, I find Shively underwhelming, but you can decide for yourself which dining hall fits you best.

Shively Dining Hall at Ohio University
Image from ohio.edu

Shively, like Nelson, has an ice cream/dessert section that is pretty solid. One thing that Shively does hold as a strength is that it has a sandwich bar, as well as an extended building specifically for Shively Grab ‘N Go. Shively Grab ‘N Go offers sandwiches, soups, fruits, and chips. Placed right next to Morton Hall, Shively is the dining hall on East Green. So, if you live on that side of campus you will probably be making a lot of trips to Shively.

Other resources:

I think you will find the locations and hours of each dining hall helpful, as well as the menus on any given day. Hopefully you found this article helpful, and if you visit OU or end up coming here, let me know in the comments which dining hall is your favorite and why.

West Side Wingery: Wings with a Side of Hip-Hop.

In Athens, Ohio, as far as the food and beverage game goes, Court Street rules everything around me (click here if you need help with the reference). But just around the way, on the west side of town, there is a little joint called the West Side Wingery that spins some of the dopest hot wings in the Midwest.

West Side Wingery's Entrance
This is the West Side Wingery’s entrance.

When challenged to pick a favorite spot in Athens, there are a lot of obvious candidates that come to mind. O’Betty’s is a likely choice, but let’s face it the place has developed a greasy film that seems to be covering everything and will only be removed if it is shut down for a month of steam cleaning. I love Donkey’s coffee but sometimes, when I wake up in the morning, I don’t want to be served my cup of Joe by a Celtic warrior calling me buddy. Jackie O’s is tough to choose over, but I cannot rightfully call it my favorite when I can only afford to drink six-packs to myself . . . alone . . . in my apartment.

West Side Wingery, on the other hand, is a place hard to find fault with. Yeah, there is a dearth of items on the menu, but this is because they play to their strengths and focus on what they are good at. Yeah, they don’t open up shop until four in the afternoon, but for a restaurant that has Wu-Tang symbols as its sign, it would be weird if they opened any earlier.

The décor pays homage to the golden age of hip-hop, with portraits of the likes of Biggie Smalls, The Beastie Boys, and the Wu posted up starboard. On the back wall sits an ill, giant canvass of a graffitied food truck. With the giant painting of the gangster food truck and the hip-hop ambiance, it makes me wonder if the character who masterminded this whole enterprise was inspired by Eddie Huang — entrepreneur and master chef par excellence, who made a killing in the food truck game and owns an acclaimed restaurant with a hip-hop theme in the N-Y-C.

As I mentioned above, the hot wings are on point, but they make other chronic food, too. They are one of the few places that make a fish taco that I don’t feel should invoke the wrath of Santa Muerte. They have different specials for each day of the week, and today (Monday) I indulged in a meatball sub that would have put my G-mal to shame – God bless her, lord knows she would try harder if she were here.

Meatball sub from the West Side Wingery.
Delicious meatball sub from the West Side Wingery.

But all jests aside, the West Side Wingery truly is one of the best little discoveries I have found during my short stay here in Athens. And if I like it more than the food merits, then I like it because for a short period of time I am taken back to the ‘90s when I was a kid and life was so much simpler: when wearing Nautica meant you were cool; when my only goal in life was to chain-smoke two cigarettes without puking; and when my biggest problem was my dad telling me to pull my pants up.

Donut Worry go to McHappy’s

I can’t lie, I love my Tim Hortons too… Stumbling upon Athens, Ohio your everyday Tim Hortons latte and donut begins to compete a little more with the hidden gems found throughout the bricks of Athens. McHappy’s Bake Shoppe a donut shop that speaks for itself “smiles by the dozen.” It’s actually a funny story of how I stumbled upon this hidden sweet treat gem. Training for the Athens half marathon, I began to run a little more outside the bricks and over the bridge, around mile five I was mind blown by the things that existed just over this bridge. Over this bridge and pass the hocking McHappy’s was almost like grandmas house, a little brick building that sums up the simplicity of Athens, Ohio. Forty years of baking fresh donuts and pastries McHappy’s expanded it’s brand to five locations but the Athens store just felt like home. That feeling of sitting in your kitchen and grandma just baked so many cookies, the smell fills the air and you just can’t pick one. Thank goodness it’s only 9.50 for a dozen because getting one would almost be a crime.

McHappy's Bake Shoppe
Gloomy days, sweeter donuts. Being snowed in with a maple glazed donut makes the snow fall sweeter.

Do you ever have that feeling where nothing is sweet enough? When one “timbit” doesn’t cut it, well McHappy’s Bake Shoppe hits the spot. The wire racks filled with mouth watering donuts glazed to perfection, some jelly filled others maple filled, it wasn’t just a donut it was a taste of satisfaction. One dozen later and I was smiling, ear to ear my sweet tooth caved. The taste of the maple cream filled donut was something you just can’t find at your commercial coffee shop. If you aren’t craving the sweet glazed donut, don’t worry they have fresh made muffins, strong brewed coffee and a drive through for these wintery months. Yes, my mouth is watering thinking about the sweet satisfaction that filled the air of McHappy’s…”donut worry” i’ll be back for more. All in all Athens is pretty “sweet” it gives you this desire to be healthy, to live a fit life but some times that motivation from your half-marathon training leads you to sweetest of them all; a little brick bakery, called McHappy’s.

Why I Wondered About Wine

The world is filled with wonderful tastes and smells. It was in my own personal interest to discover them.

It’s hard to have that one special place that you always want to go to when you end up falling in love with so many. That exact thing happened when I started my project on local wineries. As a craft beer lover, I wanted to expand my palate and learn to enjoy wine just as much (which will probably never happen).

A Wine Sunset
Estate Grown Chardonnay waits in a glass as the sunset peeks through at Shade Winery in Shade, Ohio.

There is an obvious difference in the atmosphere at a winery compared to a bar; that’s what makes you fall in love. At a winery, you feel relaxed, safe, sophisticated or maybe you just feel old. The bar scene is slowly starting to lose its touch on me because of the shoulder to shoulder crowds and underage students who can’t handle themselves. With so many bars in Athens, I really wanted to shed light on the softer drinking scene at wineries.

I’m not saying that wineries can’t be super exciting because believe me, when my friends and I go out, we know how to have a good time. I just wanted to understand the behind the scenes production of how hard it is to make your own wine or to operate a business for that matter.

During my project, I visited Wolftree Winery, West End Ciderhouse, Shade Winery, Pleasant Hill Vineyards, Do It Yourself Shop, and Athens Uncorked (which is the first wine bar in Athens). Everyone was very inviting and they were happy to show me how the process worked. I was able to see the barrels the wines age in, all the materials and equipment they need, how they pour the wine into bottles, different corking methods, personal labels, their vineyards or where they buy their grapes from, the science behind it, production, marketing, and of course FREE samples!

I didn’t just enjoy these locations, I enjoyed the people and the community behind it. That is why it is hard for me to pick my favorite spot when it comes to drinking wine. There is no better way to spend an evening than to have a delicious glass of wine, a nice spot to relax, and close friends enjoying it with you (besides maybe having some craft beer).