My happiest times are at Union Street Diner

Eating is one of my main pastimes, so of course my favorite place in Athens, Ohio, would be a restaurant.

It’s nearly impossible to be in Southeast Ohio and starve, with the vast amount of cheap eateries here. It takes more than just good food for me to put a restaurant on my bucket list. A-list restaurants are places where you’re able to clear your mind, after a long day or week of stress.

Union Street Diner (USD) does the best job of satisfying these requirements compared to the numerous other Athens food venues I have tried.  It has an endless variety of mouthwatering meals that satisfy my food fixation, and it is an excellent environment to refresh your mind and interact with fellow food lovers.

Street view of Union Street Diner

USD is the poster child of a high-quality restaurant. With specialties like the philly quesadilla, firehouse burger and flavored pancakes; it is hard not to be satisfied by their food options even for a picky eater like myself. My go-to options are their mac N’ cheese bites and chili’ cheese fries   — which I usually add bacon to for $.69.

Even for menu items that seem pricy, it’s worth it considering the high food quality and large portions.

For my tastes, the math is simple. Comfortable scenery plus tasty food equals a 10/10 priceless experience. I can’t think of a time I have been there and not felt at home. The wait staff always has a warm spirit toward guests and their casual attire makes me feel like I fit in no matter how I am dressed.

USD features comfy booths that let me to lay back and unwind after a long week or night out in the Athens party scene. I also think of the restaurant as a sports and entertainment hub with TVs all around that let me watch games and reality shows.

The restaurant’s laid-back atmosphere makes it a perfect place to take a significant other, parent or family member or group of close friends. The restaurant even offers free Wi-Fi, which lets me work by myself or with others on projects and/or assignments while being energized by coffee or a fast bite.

I use to think of bars, parties and organization events as the only places where I can make friends. USD has proven me wrong. Before I know it, I bump into familiar faces, giving me the opportunity to stir the kind of conversation that turns an acquaintance into a friend.

USD is always my fallback if there’s nowhere else to go.

For most students, coming to Ohio University means leaving their hometowns and comfort zones. It is essential to find what places fulfill your basic needs while trying to adjust to this new environment and way of life.  Since humans can’t live without food, you might as well get the most out of each eating experience.

If you’re looking for a place that is “home away from home,” I suggest you stop by USD and you won’t be disappointed.

Eating is one of my main pastimes, so of course my favorite place in Athens, Ohio, would be a restaurant.

It’s nearly impossible to be in Southeast Ohio and starve, with the vast amount of cheap eateries here. It takes more than just good food for me to put a restaurant on my bucket list. A-list restaurants are places where you’re able to clear your mind, after a long day or week of stress.

Union Street Diner (USD) does the best job of satisfying these requirements compared to the numerous other Athens food venues I have tried.  It has an endless variety of mouthwatering meals that satisfy my food fixation, and it is an excellent environment to refresh your mind and interact with fellow food lovers.

USD is the poster child of a high-quality restaurant. With specialties like the philly quesadilla, firehouse burger and flavored pancakes; it is hard not to be satisfied by their food options even for a picky eater like myself. My go-to options are their mac N’ cheese bites and chili’ cheese fries   — which I usually add bacon to for $.69.

Even for menu items that seem pricy, it’s worth it considering the high food quality and large portions.

For my tastes, the math is simple. Comfortable scenery plus tasty food equals a 10/10 priceless experience. I can’t think of a time I have been there and not felt at home. The wait staff always has a warm spirit toward guests and their casual attire makes me feel like I fit in no matter how I am dressed.

TV’s that display games and reality shows

USD features comfy booths that let me to lay back and unwind after a long week or night out in the Athens party scene. I also think of the restaurant as a sports and entertainment hub with TVs all around that let me watch games and reality shows.

USD’s jukebox lets you jam out to music while slammin’ on food

The restaurant’s laid-back atmosphere makes it a perfect place to take a significant other, parent or family member or group of close friends. The restaurant even offers free Wi-Fi, which lets me work by myself or with others on projects and/or assignments while being energized by coffee or a fast bite.

I use to think of bars, parties and organization events as the only places where I can make friends. USD has proven me wrong. Before I know it, I bump into familiar faces, giving me the opportunity to stir the kind of conversation that turns an acquaintance into a friend.

USD is always my fallback if there’s nowhere else to go.

For most students, coming to Ohio University means leaving their hometowns and comfort zones. It is essential to find what places fulfill your basic needs while trying to adjust to this new environment and way of life.  Since humans can’t live without food, you might as well get the most out of each eating experience.

If you’re looking for a place that is “home away from home,” I suggest you stop by USD and you won’t be disappointed.

Eating brunch in Athens is easier than you think

Brunch is an activity usually associated with New Yorkers and Sundays, but Ohio University has helped put Athens on the map for the oftentimes boozy meal.

Sol Restaurant

The Cuban-themed restaurant, 33 N. Court St., is famous among Ohio University students for its Saturday brunch. The midday meal is often accompanied by bottomless mimosas, which only cost $6 when customers also purchase a food entree. Brunch is from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, though the mimosa deal is only available on Saturdays

Hanging lights welcome patrons into Sol, which is located down an alley. The traditional Spanish omelet and the Cuban French toast are two of my personal favorites, though most customers visit the eatery because of champagne and orange juice.

french toast thumb

via solrestaurant.ne

Purple Chopstix

This restaurant proudly declares on its website that despite what the name may imply, “It’s not Chinese” food. Instead of solely serving food from that country, Purple Chopstix, 371 Richland Ave., includes a wide variety of options on its brunch menu. Sunday brunch at the restaurant, according to its website, is served buffet style and varies week to week.

The building is made out of bricks and accented with teal and orange edges, creating a welcoming atmosphere that may remind customers of a home, which goes with the history of the place. In 1989, Ed Fisher opened Purple Chopstix and now, his son Gabe helps work at the restaurant.

front

via purplechopstix.com

Village Bakery & Cafe

This Athens establishment, 268 E. State Street, is trying to do its part to help sustain the local economy by serving food from the area. According to its website, “Our menu will always reflect what’s in season in Southeast Ohio, so you will taste a connection to the farms around us no matter when you visit.”

That carries over to Sunday brunch at the restaurant, which takes place from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. each week. Local eggs are used in quiches as well as frittatas. Local syrup supplier Sticky Pete’s Maple Syrup also makes several appearances on the brunch menu.


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via dellazona.com

The Fluff: not the average “Mutha Clucka” of a restaurant

Under the mask of a relaxed, crooner playlist and baked goods, The Fluff on Court Street has become a sort of central hub for Athens residents. Included in their logo are the words “Kitchen. Bakery. Drinks.” It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like at least one of the things included in that list.

On the northern end of Court Street between Pita Pit and the Red Brick Tavern, The Fluff is a pleasant place with drinks, food, and pastries that warm the soul. Their baked goods are made fresh every day and set out for customers to drool over and potentially purchase. Their chalk boards with the menu items colorfully written display the variety of options and fun environment that The Fluff offers.

2015-10-13 16.30.13When The Fluff opened, it was originally called “Fluff”, however, that name was added to in the last year. Why? The owners wanted to expand the definition of “Fluff.” In the past year, besides adding the word “The” to the title, the menu expanded. The little bakery matured into more of a restaurant scene with additions to the breakfast and lunch menus and the bold inclusion of alcoholic beverages to the beverage list. “It’s nice that they have a good mix of everything,” said junior biochemistry major and employee of The Fluff Emma Kessler. “I don’t know where else you can get breakfast and have a drink too.”

The menu is widely assorted with unique titles for the foods like “Mutha Earth” and “The Greenery.” But what items have customers hitting up the place so often? According to Kessler, some popular lunch items she has noticed are the “Mutha Clucka” and the “Thai Bowl.” The most popular, the Mutha Clucka, is a sandwich with roasted chicken, cheddar cheese, hummus, and their fresh, roasted vegetables all on rosemary focaccia bread. When it comes to drinks, Kessler said that lately the Irish Coffee has been a hit, and since it’s autumn, pumpkin spice lattes have been more in demand.

 

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Personally, my favorite is the bacon, egg, and cheese bagel, which can be served on three different types of bagel or even a biscuit. Kessler said that this also is a very popular menu item, especially for breakfast. And for drinks, I love their hot apple cider, but of course I’m not the only Fluff-goer. Freshman publication design major Becca Ryan commented, “I feel like I haven’t been there enough to have a favorite, but I love their hot tea.”

 

2015-10-13 16.30.58The food is not the only charming thing about The Fluff. People who go there also love the atmosphere of the little restaurant and bake shop. “It’s a fun place to relax with friends,” said Ryan. “I love how you can just chill and do homework and listen to their good music.”

To fill my personal pastry and apple cider cravings, I head up to The Fluff a couple times a week and it’s always a good experience. Although The Fluff might not be someone’s first option when going up to Court Street for some drinks or a meal, the restaurant has adjusted its menu and motif to make it compete better with other Court Street dining options.

Authentic menus no longer a secret

Athens may be the smallest town you’ve ever visited, but when it comes to food diversity and authentic menus, it is not a place to overlook.

If you are a frequent eater at the various non-American restaurants uptown, you may have noticed the exotic-looking dishes that many foreign students had on their tables. They might have seemed somewhat exclusive in the past. Some people like to say that there are “secret menus” out there, but now all you have to do is ask for those menus. All of the Chinese restaurants on Court Street have updated their menus to both English and Chinese, and only the seasonal dishes that correspond to certain holidays in China will not be translated to English.

“Normally when we have seasonal dishes, we would promote them on the whiteboard outside, but we wouldn’t add them to the menu because they are not permanent dishes. It would cost a lot of money to update our menu every season,” said Kenny, owner of China King.

One of the reasons that most restaurants like China King don’t feel the need to make a separate menu for the seasonal dishes is because the only people who buy seasonal dishes are those who are already familiar with the food and grew up eating it. Only in a case like this would the menu not be translated to English.

Peking on North Court Street has just updated its full menu to both English and Chinese. It has a menu entirely in English with traditional “American-Chinese” meals and an authentic menu that has both Chinese and English on it, which used to be only in Chinese.

Bilingual menu at Peking
Bilingual menu at Peking
English menu at Peking for Americans
English menu at Peking for Americans

“Our buffet is popular for American people because that’s what Chinese food is to them. But, obviously it’s different for the Chinese students here. They want the real taste of home,” said Yu, co-owner of Peking. “We import some of our ingredients directly from China, some from China towns in New York and Chicago to ensure the original flavors. Sometimes people complain that the entrees are too expensive, but that’s because the ingredients and spices are hard to come by.”

While food options are becoming more open to all, the Chinese restaurants are keeping some of their services exclusive to those who order from the authentic menu. I noticed a very small delivery sign in Chinese at Peking that reads “Delicious home-style food from Peking is only a phone call away, varieties and flavors of your choice!”

This sign reads “Delicious home-style food from Peking is only a phone call away, varieties and flavors of your choice!”
This sign reads “Delicious home-style food from Peking is only a phone call away, varieties and flavors of your choice!”

According to Yu, the co-owner, he decided to make the delivery sign only in Chinese because he didn’t want delivery to be a regular service.

“The thing with our food, once it leaves the restaurant, it loses its freshness. And it’s the same with most Chinese food. So we don’t think it’s a good idea for people who order from the authentic menu to take it to go. That’s why our delivery starts at 30 dollars. And since very few Americans order, they only do the buffet; we decided not to translate it to English,” said Yu.

You could go on to Peking’s Facebook page for more details.

Like the Chinese restaurants, Star of India on West Union Street also provides both a buffet and a menu to order from. The only difference is, the food there has not been Americanized.

“We don’t do American style,” said Amar Jit, the owner. “Everything we have here is authentic Indian cuisine, including the buffet.”

Authentic imported Indian spices from Star of India
Authentic imported Indian spices from Star of India

Amar said that all of the spices they use at the restaurant come from Toronto, Canada, where a very large Indian population resides. They import naan, spices, tea, and other traditional Indian food essentials directly from India.