A restaurant bucket list is a wonderful thing to have.
If you have yet to make one of your own, you can use ours as a start. (We don’t mind, really.) All throughout Ohio there are delicious, unique eateries offering one-of-a-kind cuisine and atmospheres. The following are 19 of our favorite restaurants in Ohio—and we think you should try them all before you die.
1. Melt Bar and Grill (Various locations)
With an array of specialty sandwiches and several shop locations in Columbus and Cleveland, this sandwich joint has made quite an impression on locals. The Melt Bar and Grill won "Best Sandwich of 2015" in both the Columbus Alive Magazine and Cleveland Scene Magazine. In addition to mouthwatering sandwiches, this shop is known for its "Melt Challenge," which features more than 5 lbs. of food; composed of 13 different cheeses, three slices of grilled bread and a pile of hand-cut fries and slaw. (Pictured: "The Big Popper.")
2. The Golden Lamb Inn (Lebanon)
Ohio’s oldest continuously operated hotel in Lebanon holds a unique dining experience, complete with antique furnishings and historic rooms upstairs where famous individuals such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and U.S. Presidents have stayed. The Golden Lamb Inn is located at 27 S Broadway St., Lebanon, OH 45036.
3. Buckeye Express Diner (Bellville)
If you take exit 165 off of Interstate 71, you'll find this iconic not-your-average diner. (Note: Michigan fans must park across the street.) Buckeye Express Diner is located at 810 State Rt. 97 W., Bellville, OH 44813.
4. Tony Packo’s (Toledo)
For a truly epic chili dog, check out this iconic hotdog joint, with multiple locations in Toledo. A strange tradition of displaying autographed hotdog buns began here in 1972 when Jamie Farr of M*A*S*H signed a bun. While that bun is no longer in existence, today the cafe proudly showcases Styrofoam bun look-alikes signed by various celebrities, including five U.S. presidents. The original Tony Packo's is located at 1902 Front St., Toledo, OH 43605.
5. Covered Bridge Pizza Parlor (Various Locations)
A unique and delicious pizza eating experience awaits you at this one of a kind pizza joint. In addition to exceptional pizza, the salads and pepperoni stromboli are highly recommended. (Pictured is the North Kingsville location.)
6. Thurman’s Cafe (Columbus)
With a menu item like the Thurmanator, how can this cafe not be featured on "Man vs. Food?" This beloved Columbus burger and restaurant first appeared on the Travel Channel in 2008. Thurman's Cafe is located in Columbus' German Village at 183 Thurman Ave., Columbus, OH 43206.
7. Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant (Columbus)
In addition to the best genuine German cuisine around, this historic restaurant has an animated atmosphere complete with live German music on certain nights. You can also find this popular eatery in Columbus' German Village at 240 E Kossuth St., Columbus, OH 43206.
8. The Spot To Eat (Sidney)
Both literally and figuratively, this is the spot to go to for a tasty, classic cheeseburger in Sidney. What started out as a chuck wagon more than 100 years ago is now a stationary old fashioned eatery that will make you feel like you've temporarily stepped foot into a Happy Day's episode. The Spot To Eat is located at 201 S Ohio Ave., Sidney, OH 45365.
9. Slyman’s Restaurant (Cleveland)
This downtown Cleveland eatery is home to the best corned beef you can find in Ohio. (Fun fact: This beloved breakfast and sandwich joint appeared on Rachael Ray's "$40 a Day.") An early lunch around 11 a.m. is recommended here to avoid the lunch rush. Slyman's is open Monday - Friday from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is located at 3106 St Clair Ave. NE, Cleveland, OH 44114.
10. Primavista (Cincinnati)
Take in downtown Cincinnati's skyline at this Italian eatery "where the food is as captivating as the view." Attire here is casual and walk-ins are welcome. Primavista is located at 810 Matson Pl, Cincinnati, OH 45204.
11. Heggy's Nut Shop (Canton)
This hotdog, sandwich and burger joint serves up some of the Canton area's favorite food. (Be sure to get a side of the butter fries when you stop here.)
Heggy's Nut Shop is located at 3200 Tuscarawas St. W, Canton, OH 44708.
12. Casa Nueva Restaurant & Cantina (Athens)
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this beloved Athens eatery features the area's best Mexican cuisine, made with fresh, local ingredients. On the weekends, business really picks up, so expect a wait. If the wait is too long for you, we suggest grabbing a seat on the bodega side. Casa Nueva is located at 6 W State St., Athens, OH 45701.
13. Kewpee Hamburgers (Lima)
Within the fictionalized setting of “Glee,” this signature fast food joint in Lima has three locations that serve up the city's best burgers. french fries and malts.
14. The Scioto Ribber (Portsmouth)
At this local favorite steakhouse you can watch your steak cook on one of the five wood-fired grills out back. (FYI: A "small" steak is 16 oz. and a "large" steak is 32 oz.) The Scioto Ribber is located at 1024 Gallia St., Portsmouth, OH 45662.
15. Tuscany Cuccini (Gallipolis)
April Dray/Only In Your State
For a casual yet elegant atmosphere and unbelievably delicious, authentic Italian cuisine, try the French City's (Gallipolis) Tuscany Cuccini. This local favorite is perfect for a family get together or a date night. Tuscany Cuccini is located at 1308 Eastern Ave, Gallipolis, OH 4563.
16. Strip Steakhouse (Avon)
The Ewers Barn is home to Strip Steakhouse, where guests can enjoy an exceptional meal while they observe the unique architecture and history of the barn, which dates back to 1851. Strip Steakhouse is located at 36840 Detroit Rd., Avon, OH 44011.
17. Kengo Sushi & Yakitori (Toledo)
For the best sushi of your life and what might be the most authentic omakase experience in Ohio, head over to this small sushi and yakitori spot in downtown Toledo. Be sure to come early or call ahead. (Reservations can be made for omakase only.) Kengo Sushi & Yakitori is open Tuesday - Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. It is located at 38 S Saint Clair St., Toledo, OH 43604.
18. Seven Miles Smokehouse (Chillicothe)
With slow, southern cooked meats and sides made from scratch every day, this family owned and operated smokehouse serves up some exceptional barbecue. Pictured is "The Mad Dog" with pulled smoked chicken, beef brisket and pulled pork, topped with grilled onions, sauce and creamy signature cole slaw. Seven Miles Smokehouse is located at 285 E 7th St., Chillicothe, OH 45601.
19. Pier W (Lakewood)
This landmark Cleveland area restaurant is suspended over Lake Erie to give customers a cruise-like dining experience. The unique waterfront restaurant serves up exceptional seafood and offers lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Pier W is located at 12700 Lake Avenue (Winton Place) Lakewood, OH 44107.
Have you been to any of these restaurants? What (and where) is your favorite restaurant in Ohio? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below!