DK Diner | Columbus, OH

March 13, 2008

DK Diner (Facebook / @DKDiner)
1715 West Third Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 488-5160

Accepts cash and credit cards
Breakfast served M-F 6:30-10:30 a.m., lunch from 10:30-2
Breakfast served exclusively Sat (7:30-1) and Sun (8:30-1)

Date of Visit: Tuesday, February 26 (my birthday!), 2008 at 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Years ago, some friends of ours mentioned a tiny, cheap diner off the beaten path in Grandview. They raved about it’s cozy atmosphere, the inexpensive food, and the local flavor. I made a mental note of it, as it seemed right up my alley. But then I forgot about it. Until a couple months ago, when brother- and sister-in-law Chip and Marcia told me about a small diner on Third Ave. My appetite – mental and physical – was whetted. And, thus, when Chip said “Let’s go to breakfast” on my birthday, I voted for this place.

I didn’t even know the name until we got there. I only knew of it as “that tiny place in Grandview with cheap food.” So I was quickly educated in the ways of the DK.

DK stands for “Donut Kitchen,” l learned. Our server told us that the place has been around for years, and that the current owners have been running it for the past six. She said that it was originally a donut and coffee shop that also served breakfast and lunch. They added the “Diner” to the name, because visitors didn’t realize they served more than just snacks.

DK Diner is easy to drive by. It’s situated on the corner of West Third Avenue (a significant residential thoroughfare in Grandview (see, Beth! I used the word! It’s first time I’ve used it in months!)) and Elmwood Avenue. It has a small parking lot out front that’s capable of serving a full crowd.

ATMOSPHERE: Chip and I hit up the place on a Tuesday morning. We found a booth easily. The DK Diner is bigger on the inside that it looks on the outside – always a pleasant surprise. The Diner sports 5 tables, 3 booths, and 4 tall stools at the counter. Sometimes you just have to be in the mood, or be a dedicated regular, for a crowded diner, where you’re sitting on top of the locals and trading stories with them while you dine. Sometimes you’re just not in that mood, which I kinda wasn’t that morning. So the wide spaces and big booths made me happy.

The decor combines standard diner posters and pictures with Ohio State paraphernalia and Grandview High School sports gear. Pro-Ohio State/anti-University of Michigan posters dot the walls. A TV above the counter plays the news. In the back you can see a guy slicing the lunch meat himself. In one corner is some sort of on-going school fundraiser. I think there were candy bars or somesuch for sale.

The Diner lets you get your own drinks, which makes you feel like you’re at home. Want some coffee? Grab one of the mis-matched mugs from the shelf and pour yourself some. Do you take cream with it? Open up the mini-fridge and grab the carton. It’s all there: fountain drinks, water, and tea. Help yourself!

FOOD: DK Dinner serves straight-up diner food. Nothing fancy, nothing over-the-top, but good, reliable comfort food. Chip and I both sampled (ha! sampled!) the DK All the Way. This magnificent conglomeration consists of 2 eggs cooked to order, Canadian Bacon, potatoes, and 2 biscuits, all smothered (I don’t use that word jokingly) in sausage gravy.

Exhibit A: The DK All the Way.

Here’s Chip digging into his DKATW. We both found it to be delicious and filling. I like the Canadian bacon in there, and the gravy was nice and peppery and full of meat. I prefer a sausage gravy that’s full of flavor and texture. I figure, if you’re gonna go for the calories, go all the way! (Oh, I’m just getting the name now…) The dish was piping hot, too! I dug right into the potatoes and practically burned my mouth.

SERVICE: Our server was very friendly and helpful. We definitely felt like we were taken care of, and she gladly answered my questions while we were paying. She seemed to enjoy what she was doing, and having a constant flow of regulars.

A note about the regulars… Chip and I have found a new aspiration for our retirement: to become these guys. Our server told us that this group of guys has been coming to DK Diner for longer than she can remember. They hang out with their coffee, read newspapers, and generally gab about whatever. When one of their crew entered the restaurant, they greeted him like Norm from Cheers. How can you not want that kind of community? “Sometimes you wanna go…”

I couldn’t get any direct shots of them, because Chip and I were sitting too close, and I didn’t want it to be too obvious I was playing paparazzi. But these guys laughed and talked all throughout our meal. They were there when we arrived, and I’m sure they stayed long after we left.

OVERALL: The next morning I took Beth here for breakfast… so what does that tell you? I had bated her with one of DK Diner’s cremed-filled longjohns. Remember that the DK stands for “Donut Kitchen?” Well, yes, the DK Diner cranks out some pretty tasty donuts. We tried a couple, and agreed that they are some of the best in Columbus. So even if you’re not in the mood for breakfast, you could stop by for coffee and a delicious pastry!

Overall, the DK Diner is a very nice place. I probably won’t go back there very frequently, simply because they’re not in my neighborhood, but they offer a good hearty breakfast, excellent donuts, and – if the old guys in the corner are anything to go by – great conversation. This diner exemplifies the importance and delight of neighborhood joints.

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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