If you're the kind of person who likes to eat out by yourself, grabbing a swivel stool at the counter is essential. You'll find 'em at Jack & Benny's, or grab a red vinyl one at German Village Coffee Shop.

Counter seats offer a chance to strike up a conversation with other solo diners, plus a perfect vantage point for watching the line cooks do their thing.

Jack & Benny's has been around forever at the corner of Hudson and High, and it's a favorite of Ohio State students and alums who remember it from their college days.


The name? It comes from a long-gone Downtown restaurant where owner Iggy Garcia's dad, Genaro, worked after immigrating to the U.S. from Peru. (A great circa-1950s photo of that place reveals a neon sign bragging "Food prepared in BUTTER." Oh yes.)

Despite the somewhat recent addition of a sparsely decorated second dining room, Jack & Benny's is usually packed. Doesn't help that it's the kind of homey diner that encourages lingering over bottomless coffee and the New York Times crossword.

Sign your name to the waitlist right inside the front door and cross your fingers that you'll land a booth in the main eating area-it's where you'll get the true J&B's experience, and an up-close look at the kitschy photos and vintage OSU memorabilia tacked to the walls.

German Village Coffee Shop is another local landmark, boasting a fantastic retro sign that claims they're famous for two dishes: the Western Omelette and the "Best Club Sandwich in Town."

We'll save the club sandwich for another discussion, but the Western Omelette is definitely worthy of the shout-out. It's just your standard Western ingredients (diced ham, onions, bell peppers and cheese) but served in perfect proportions in a well-executed eggy envelope.

Also worth ordering are the picture-perfect buttermilk pancakes. These fluffy guys get their addictive crispy edges from being cooked on a decades-old, very well-seasoned grill. It's best not to think about that very hard. Just gobble them up and smile.