Lunch Money: Warehouse Cafe

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Did you know Albania shares its southeast border with Greece? So it's not surprising that the Warehouse Cafe's Albanian owners have sprinkled their sandwich-heavy lunch menu with Mediterranean favorites - you'll find no less than five different kinds of gyros.

The charming breakfast and lunch spot is a little off the beaten path, on a one-way street a bit north of Downtown proper. But lunch business there is brisk, with regulars streaming in to place their orders at the counter and snag a table.

Cozy is the best word to describe this tiny eatery, which has a vintage feel with exposed brick and ductwork, wide-planked wood floors and a hand-lettered chalkboard menu. Plenty of sunlight streams in through the front wall of picture windows, so things never feel cramped.

Here's what you can get for $10 at lunch:

Albanian Panini, $5.75

Of the 26 sandwich, burger and quesadilla possibilities scrawled on Warehouse Cafe's menu, I was most intrigued by the Albanian Panini.

Between slices of buttered and griddled bread is thinly sliced gyro meat, feta cheese, tomatoes, red onion and green and banana peppers, with some tzatziki sauce to bind everything together. After it's toasted and pressed, it's sort of like a cross between a traditional gyro and a grilled cheese sandwich.

All those extra veggies added some welcome crunch and fresh flavors, and the sandwich was just filling enough - I ate the whole thing, and wasn't too full for dessert. My panini came with a pile of ordinary ruffled potato chips, but you could also opt for fries.

Lunch money math

To round out your meal, you could go with a side salad. Two bucks gets you red potato salad, Italian pasta salad or pepperoni pasta salad.

If you order any sandwich other than the Albanian Panini, I'd suggest the Albanian Village Salad, also $2. Chunks of tomato, red onion, green peppers, banana peppers and feta are piled high on a small plate and doused in an olive-oil vinaigrette - it's delicious and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon. But Albanians sure must love their tomatoes and peppers, because the salad's ingredients mirror what you get on the panini.

There are sweet options, too, like rice pudding for $2 or huge cookies for $1. My sweet tooth generally wins out in these situations, so my vote goes toward shelling out $2.25 for the baklava.

The hefty wedge of pastry is heartier than most, with thick layers of sugary ground nuts separated by thin sheets of phyllo. The dessert is liberally drizzled in honey and studded with a whole clove.

Check, please

$5.75 Albanian Panini

$2.25 baklava

$.40 tax

$1.60 tip



Warehouse Cafe

243 N. Fifth St., Downtown