Jefferson Express, a diner on Jefferson Avenue in downtown Toledo.
Located on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and 13th Street is Jefferson Diner, a tiny, shack-like joint with a small parking lot, modest exterior, and dated interior.
While the façade and décor may not catch your eye, the friendly service and even better food is more than enough to warm up the place. The grill-based diner serves breakfast and lunch and boasts a menu of traditional American foods. Everything is sold a la carte, but prices are still reasonable.
A hodgepodge of customers flood the restaurant throughout the week, taking up counter and bistro seats for customers dining in and waiting for carry-out orders.
Our view from the counter was entertaining, as we watched the cook whip up orders and talk sports with the patrons.
We ordered pancakes, bacon, a western omelette, and fish and chips. The pancakes ($1.25 each) were huge, but thin, with a fluffy inside. A hint of sweetness in the batter made the pancakes good enough to eat without syrup. Thick slices of meaty bacon ($2.25 for three pieces) paired well with the hot cakes.
The western omelette ($6) was loaded with chunks of ham, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes smothered in American cheese. The egg-white casing wasn’t quite thick enough to hold the overflow of ingredients and made the omelette appear messy and greasy. However, the food was light and satisfying.
The fish and chips ($6.75 for dine in and $7 for take-out) consisted of traditional fries and two-pieces of deep fried cod. The fish, straight from the freezer, was coated with a crunchy batter on the outside and stiff chewy fish on the inside. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good either.
Without a green item on the menu, Jefferson Diner isn’t for the health conscious.
Address: 1220 Jefferson Ave.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $
Credit Cards: No. Cash only.
Coney Island Hotdog on North Superior Street in downtown Toledo.
It’s easy to see how Coney Island Hot Dog became an old Toledo favorite: consistency and convenience.
The restaurant has been in its downtown location for 93 years, near corporate offices, businesses, bus stops, and schools. Friendly wait staff, a menu that boasts classic American staples, and a full bar, make the place likable, but the food is another story.
We stopped by on a Friday afternoon for lunch and the place was busy with folks eating and socializing. Despite the crowd, service was prompt and our waitress was genial.
We ordered the hamburger platter with fries and cole slaw ($4.60), onion rings ($2.20), a vanilla milk shake ($2.65), chicken noodle soup ($2.10), and of course, a coney dog ($1.65).
The fries and onion rings were standard, but the paper thin beef patty on the hamburger was disappointing. The flimsy burger was suffocated by the bun and mountain of toppings (lettuce, onion, and tomato).
Vanilla syrup pumped into the milk shake, which was made with vanilla soft-serve ice-cream, caused the the treat to be too sweet to enjoy. A second shake, minus the vanilla syrup, was more tolerable.
The chicken noodle soup was lackluster and flavorless. Served in a bowl-size only, the soup featured lots of noodles with bits of chopped onion and celery and even fewer bites of chicken.
Even more disappointing, was the coney dog, the one item the restaurant is supposed to specialize in. The chili was good, featuring finely chopped meat topped with onions and mustard. The grease from the meat was soaked up by the thick bun, making it taste less greasy. The hot dog, though, was drowned under the chili. It was under-sized, mushy, and salty. We scrapped the dog and ate just the chili.
Surprisingly, the cole slaw, usually an after thought, was the standout of our meal. The house-made slaw was fresh and crunchy. The sauce, made with real mayonnaise, vinegar, and a variety of seasonings, was rich and creamy with a slight kick. Finally, something to satisfy our taste buds.
Coney Island Hot Dog
Address: 430 N. Superior St.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $
Credit Cards: Dis, MC, V.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.