Heading to the Shoe for an Ohio State football game is an experience that begins and ends outside the stadium, well before and long after the game. Tailgating, tours of campus, the marching band’s Skull Session (where they perform in the St. John’s Arena before marching into the stadium) – it’s all part of the fun. Of course, so is seeking out some great food before the game. Here are some of our favorite stops close to campus for game day eats.
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Buckeye Donuts is an old favorite. It’s a family-owned donut shop that’s been around since 1969 – the third generation owner, Jimmy Barouxis, is currently at the helm. They hand-make all of their donuts, like they’ve been doing since the beginning, which means they’re one of the best spots in down for old school donuts, game day or not. They’re also open 24/7, you can visit well before game day or late into the night of.
We love their classic buttermilk donuts, the longjohns, the custard-filled chocolate donuts, and the signature Buckeye Donut with chocolate and peanut butter. And this time of year their pumpkin donuts returns! Honestly, it’s hard to pick the wrong thing.
Jack & Benny’s
Like Buckeye Donuts, Jack & Benny’s is another campus mainstay. They’ve served Ohio State students and fans for decades from their cozy old diner on Hudson and High. It’s a great spot to squeeze into a booth with a hot cup of coffee (in those little brown mugs), listen to the clatter of the cooks working the grill, and feast on big diner classics like omelets, huevos rancheros, and pancakes.
They’re known for their Buckeye pancakes with chocolate and peanut butter chips, and I’m partial to the Gutbuster, a giant plate layering eggs, sausage, ham, hash browns, cheese, and a potato cake, all smothered in gravy. It’ll fill you up for the rest of the day.
Harvest Kitchen & Bar
A little north of campus in Clintonville is Harvest Kitchen & Bar, an extension of the pizza place in German Village. Harvest has been a wonderful addition to the neighborhood, creating a space that’s both restaurant and little cocktail bar. They serve up some great small plates, sandwiches, and burgers, but the real feature is the pizzas. They have about 15 house specialties, both meat- and veggie-centric. I love the Spicy Yuma with gouda, havarti, chorizo, jalapeno, corn, and roasted red peppers, or the Ohio Double Bacon, with two types of bacon, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and a fried egg in the middle. Once you’re fueled up at Harvest, you can easily catch the COTA bus down to campus!
Close to Harvest is Lineage Brewing, Clintonville’s neighborhood brewery. Their brightly lit taproom is a great hangout any time for a pint of beer and a bite to eat. Their menu features some great bar snacks (braised pork nachos? English mushrooms on toast?) to go with house brews, but their house specialty is the handpies. The handpie menu will take you on a trip across the globe, with flavors inspired by India, Vietnam, and Latin America. On weekends they also serve an excellent brunch of special breakfast handpies, quiches, chilaquiles, and more. Sample beers like their hoppy Spaceship #6 IPA, the Fiddle and Fife amber ale, or the tart Aunt Bernice Berliner Weiss.
Ethyl & Tank
Ethyl is an eclectic campus hangout right across High Street from the Ohio Union. On football game days it’s a happening place. They close off their parking lot to host a giant block party complete with live music. Inside they offer two levels of seating to enjoy weekend brunch, drinks, or lunch and dinner focused on burgers, bar snacks, tacos, and wings. During brunch they feature a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar.
All the menu items are fun and creative, like a brunch burger with chorizo and fried egg, or tater tot casserole, or biscuits with chorizo gravy. One of my favorites is the Tank Pancakes: a stack of flapjacks topped with pulled pork and cheese.
Of course, if you want some solid game day eats but don’t want to wander off campus, you can always dig in at Sloopy Diner’s located inside the Ohio Union itself. The scarlet-and-gray-themed restaurant is decorated like an old diner, complete with swiveling stools at the counter, tiled floors, and giant booths. Fill up on breakfasts like scramblers, pancakes, or biscuits and gravy, or burgers, grilled salmon, and pot roast. Be sure to leave room for pie!
And there’s plenty more, from pizza at Adriatico’s and Tommy’s, Chinese at Moy’s and Korean at Diaspora, donuts at The Little Donut Shop.
For more foodie friendly adventures, Find It Here at Ohio.org.