Going out to breakfast with my wife and son is one of my favorite things in the world to do, and the only thing that makes this activity greater is finding a great place to eat. Thankfully, in Columbus, there is no shortage of those. Recently, we visited Tommy’s Diner in the Franklinton neighborhood of the city, just west of Downtown. I was a little hesitant to try Tommy’s on a Saturday morning, because it’s a well-known fact that they are usually very busy on the weekends, but Mrs.Grub Guy didn’t want to travel too far from home, so we decided to chance it. We seemed to arrive at a lull in the action (around 8:45 am), as the diner was about 3/4 full, and we got a table right away. By 9:00, Tommy’s was buzzing with the hustle and bustle of customers coming and going, and a line was starting to form out the door. We had made it just before the Saturday morning rush. Whew!
Like most old-fashioned style diners, Tommy’s is centered around a large, U-shaped counter, complete with chrome-trimmed, vinyl stools, which is situated right up against the kitchen. The rest of the diner is decorated in 1950’s style décor, including a vintage Coke cooler and neon lights.
Tommy’s has been a west-side establishment for over 20 years, and there’s no doubt that they have their regular customers who come and visit daily and weekly. In fact, even for as busy as they were, Owner Tommy Pappas made his rounds, as he always does, happily greeting customers and chatting with the regulars.
Tommy’s Diner is also a popular spot with famous people who live in, and visit Columbus. The wall we were seated against was totally filled with autographed photos of Tommy himself, posed with local and national celebrities and athletes, as they’ve stopped to eat at this Columbus institution.
Some of my favorite pieces of décor were the old street signs mounted to a center post, as well as to an adjacent pole. The model airplane bomber was cool to look at, too!!
Just as important as the great atmosphere and friendly people, is the food. Tommy’s serves a pretty standard diner menu, with a slight Greek and Italian flare. In addition to their regular menu, they always have a handful of both breakfast and lunch specials every day, which are posted on a large whiteboard above the counter. In case you’re like me, and usually take a long time deciding what you want to eat, Tommy’s is kind enough to post a list of their daily specials on their Facebook page, usually every morning, so that you can decide before you arrive.
We started with some of their very good diner coffee, which arrived in custom Tommy’s Diner mugs, and chocolate milk for the boy. The service was fast and friendly, which was nice to see and much appreciated, especially given how busy they were.
My wife ordered from the morning specials board, and selected the Breakfast Quiche ($6.95), which was made with bacon, caramelized onions, spinach, and Swiss & cheddar cheeses. It came with a generous portion of their fried potatoes on the side. She said the quiche was amazing, with all of the ingredients playing off of each other to create a delicious combination, and the flakiness of the crust made it even better. I’m not a big quiche fan, so I’ll have to take her word for it. She really enjoyed the potatoes also, and said they weren’t too greasy and were cooked well.
Our 7-year-old boy wanted one of his usual favorites, the French Toast ($4.75). In his own words, he’s “a French toast lover from way back.” The small order came with two slices of thick-cut toast, which were cooked well on the flattop, and was topped with a nice big scoop of whipped butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar. He dumped about a gallon (not really, of course) of maple syrup on top, and he was in heaven.
I ordered the Skillet Breakfast ($6.75), which didn’t actually come in a real skillet. It was a large bowl full of breakfast goodness – fried potatoes, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, big chunks of breakfast sausage (I also had the option of ham or bacon), scrambled eggs, all topped with creamy sausage gravy and cheddar cheese. Now, honestly, I had every intention of coming to Tommy’s and trying something I wouldn’t normally order, but the peer pressure was just too great…the waitress really sold me on this dish by doing such a great job at describing it, that I just HAD to order it. It was amazingly flavorful and everything was piping hot. I just love breakfasts like this, where everything is just piled in there together. I realize they aren’t refined or fancy, but man they’re good.
I snapped this picture of the inside wall of Tommy’s small entryway, on our way out. I like the idea of using the vintage and vanity plates from all over the country as wall décor.
It’s easy to see why Tommy’s Diner has been around for so many years, and why people love to come here. Their breakfast is fantastic and the service is great. I would recommend trying Tommy’s on maybe a weekday morning, if you prefer a less hectic atmosphere. If you can’t come until the weekend, it’s still ok…like I said before, the crowds didn’t seem to slow down the wait staff or the kitchen much at all. Either way, if you haven’t been there yet, head out W. Broad until you see this really cool road sign lingering in the sky. Your taste buds will thank you.
Tommy’s Diner is located at 914 W. Broad St, Columbus, OH 43222 (Map). They’re open Monday – Friday, 6:00 am – 3:00 pm, Saturday, 6:00 am – 2:30 pm, and Sunday, 7:00 am – 2:00 pm. For more info, or to check out their daily specials, visit their Facebook page or their website.