It’s not unusual for me to get a little roadside destination stuck in my head. I obsess over these hidden gems and regional finds, and whenever we’re plotting a route somewhere, they mentally pop up like a little pin I’ve placed in the map. (For a good example, see my journey with Barberton fried chicken, starting with Belgrade Gardens.)
Next up on the list: the famous bologna sandwich made at the G & R Tavern in Waldo, Ohio.
Friends in the region will probably be familiar with the famous “Waldo bologna.” The bologna made at the tavern pops up at different restaurants around Ohio; for instance, The Whitney House in Worthington used to serve it on a terrific brunch sandwich.
But let’s go straight to the source! The G & R Tavern sits on Marion Street in Waldo, just a few blocks off Route 23. It’s been serving the good stuff – bologna sandwiches, cold beer, homemade pies – since 1962.
The tavern has all the markers of a beloved dive bar: wood-paneled walls, beer signs, neon, trophies from local sports teams in the cases.
And of course the classic lettered menu hanging high on the wall.
G & R’s menu covers sandwiches, burgers, fried seafood, salads, and all your favorite sides like cheese sticks, mushrooms, onion rings, fried pickles. Aside from the pizzas, nothing is over $10.
It’s worth noting here, too, that the G & R Tavern is CASH ONLY. They have an ATM in case you didn’t bring any.
It was no question about ordering the signature bologna sandwich. And yes, it’s as good as they say. I grew up eating bologna (the thin-sliced Oscar Mayer variety), and have wonderful memories of frying up a couple slices in a pan. G & R’s bologna brought it all back to me.
The sandwich layers a thick slice, perfectly grilled, with Monterey jack cheese, white onion, and pickles. It’s simply executed but combines that ideal mix of savory and salty bologna with the crisp acidity of pickles and onions. There’s a reason this sandwich is famous.
I asked the server what she suggested for sides, and she immediately replied, “Onion rings.” And I see why: they’re easily some of the best I’ve tried. Thick slices of onion, a sturdy breading, all crispy without being greasy.
When it comes to lunch – bar food or not – you really can’t go wrong with a meal like this. It’s all simple, served on styrofoam and paper, but so easy to love.
As I finished my meal at the bar, I kept hearing customers order slices of pie to go, and my eye was drawn over to the refrigerated case stocked with a big selection.
I couldn’t pass it up – you know, for research purposes. I again asked for the server for her suggestion and she mentioned the peanut butter and chocolate. I grabbed a slice to go, and we quickly demolished it at home. It’s rich, custardy, not overly sweet.
When I later shared about it on Instagram, I got several recommendations for the coconut cream pie. So… return trip?
It goes without saying that I simply love spots like this. It makes for a fun destination, it gives you a bit of local flavor and history, and most important of all: the food is great!