As much as I love exploring and celebrating new restaurants in Columbus, I find it’s equally important to remember and revisit the classics. It’s easy to take them for granted, when these are the spots that make up the culinary fabric of our city.
All this is to say: we were very overdue for a visit to Jack & Benny’s for breakfast, but we made good on it on my birthday.
Jack & Benny’s is a campus institution, open since 1994 at the corner of Hudson and High Streets. You can read their full story on their site, but the name is a nod to a 24-hour eatery that once stood at Broad and High streets downtown, owned by Jack Sher and Benny Klein. Their restaurant closed many years ago, but founder Geno Garcia, who had worked at the eatery, was able to borrow the name to start his diner near campus. Today his son Geno Garcia, Jr. and his wife Hilda run the diner.
Geno and Hilda even expanded to the Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer in the OSU Airport and to Jack & Benny’s downtown, right where the original once sat. Sadly, both of those locations closed over the past couple years.
Jack & Benny’s has all the markers of a classic diner, from the open grill to the counter seats to the narrow booths to the Ohio State paraphernalia filling every square inch of the walls.
My favorite is the display case filled with bobbleheads.
The place also earns its diner status with simple but filling and easy-to-love meals.
Ever since I first visited Jack & Benny’s years ago, I landed on the Gutbuster as my favorite, and I haven’t deviated since. (And, no, I’ve never tried the James Buster Douglas. That’s beyond my capabilities.)
You’ll also find an excellent eggs benedict on the menu.
Thick slices of French toast. (Jack & Benny’s is also known for their pancakes, particularly the buckeye pancakes.)
Nice chunky gravy ladled over biscuits (which were a little crumbly).
Bonus points for serving hash browns, and properly browned ones, too! I’ll take these over home fries any day.
But the Gutbuster is where it’s at: hash browns, a potato pancake, bacon, ham, sausage patty, cheese, an egg cooked to order, all covered with a peppery gravy and served with toast.
They also do a brisk business in giant omelets.
And while we didn’t order it this time around, don’t skip out on the huevos rancheros or the chorizo scramble.
So if you’ve never been, get yourself to Jack & Benny’s soon. And if you have… don’t forget to go back and support your favorite places regularly.