South of Lane Café in Upper Arlington Offers Up Charm with a Side of Avocado

South of Lane remains a neighborhood café to root for.

Bailey Trask
South of Lane on Guilford Road in Upper Arlington

​​​​​South of Lane is what you’d expect if Lorelai Gilmore opened a cottagecore diner and gift shop. For-sale items like paintings and banded-together birch logs decorate the space, along with distressed café chairs for seating. Located in The Mallway in Upper Arlington near Lupo, this breakfast and lunch spot has been an integral part of the walkable neighborhood since May 2013.

When the café’s original owner, Catherine Vonderahe, died in 2019, her son Duke Vonderahe took over the griddle—and the family business. With reasonable prices and incredible front-of-house service that ensures coffee almost immediately upon being seated, South of Lane oozes charm.

Its intimate space has seven indoor tables, and ordering takes place at the counter; the menu is posted right next to the register, which is surrounded with baked goods and Thunderkiss Coffee for sale. The setup requires quick decision-making skills or a perusal of the online menu before arrival to avoid causing a delay in the line.

The Belgian Waffle at South of Lane

Southwestern breakfast flavors are at the core of the menu. The filling Brickhouse Burrito ($12) is stuffed with salty house-made chili, hash browns and cheddar, all wrapped in a thin bell pepper, onion and pepper jack omelet and a flour tortilla. Like many of the Southwestern dishes here, it’s served with avocado slices, sour cream and pico de gallo. All dishes come in paper boats.

The Sierra ($11) showcases South of Lane’s omelet and hash brown prowess. A perfectly executed, triple-folded bacon and tomato omelet is served with a pile of thinly grated, crispy hash browns topped with green onions along with two slices of buttered toast and that aforementioned avocado-and-sour-cream combo.

On the sweet side of the menu, the Belgian waffle ($7), topped with real butter, Milligan’s Ohio maple syrup and a few tart strawberries, was light and crispy but served cold on one visit.

The sweet potato hash with a sunny side up egg

The menu includes a pair of gender-based breakfast sandwiches: the Man Bun and the Girly Bun ($11 each). I was underwhelmed by the Girly version: a fried egg, Havarti cheese and Canadian bacon sandwich with a handful of greens and mustard on a toasted Kroger bakery torte bun. The bread overpowers the sandwich, which is served with a cup of fruit. The name indicates that this sandwich is a lighter version of the Man Bun, which features two eggs instead of one and a side of hash browns. In 2022, can we move away from the practice of naming dishes based on appetite stereotypes?

Although there were a few hiccups, South of Lane offers charm, attentive dine-in service, swift carryout and easy parking. It’s a perfect place to catch up with an old friend or neighbor and an off-the-beaten-path reminder that dining locally can offer both character and satisfaction.

South of Lane

1987 Guilford Road, Upper Arlington, 614-586-2233

This story is from the January 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.