Dan’s Drive-In – Columbus, OH

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A big part of the enjoyment I get out of writing this blog is the participation and interaction I get from fellow breakfast lovers…you guys, my readers. Admittedly, I probably spend way too much time each week scouting new spots for breakfast, and I love it when I get comments left on a review or on my Facebook page by someone suggesting I check out one of their favorite places. For example, I recently had a couple of readers recommend that I try Dan’s Drive-In on S. High Street in the south end of Columbus. Dan’s has been on my list of future reviews, but their suggestions brought this neighborhood favorite to the front of the line.

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Dan’s Drive-In claims to be the first drive-in restaurant in Columbus, opening in 1952 at another spot downtown. A few years later, they moved to the current location on S. High Street, and have been serving classic drive-in/diner grub ever since. From the outside, Dan’s is both inconspicuous and bold at the same time. The plain, white front looks like any other small business or converted house in an older part of town, but the sides of the building are painted in retro red and black checkerboard style, and the side facing the parking lot features their name spelled out in neon lights (this is also the side that you see while travelling south on High Street).

Regarding the interior vibe, Dan’s takes the classic diner theme about as seriously as I’ve seen any diner in recent memory. Unfortunately, I’m not able to show you those details. Dan’s is the only restaurant in the last year that I’ve been writing reviews to deny my request to take photos of their establishment. I always try to be respectful in what I do, and try to get permission before I photograph the businesses I visit. On this occasion, I was told that because the owner was in New Zealand, they could not authorize me to take photos of their dining room. Sorry, folks.

I can tell you though, that the food at Dan’s was decent and filling. Their menu consists of your typical diner options like egg combos, omelets, carbs such as pancakes & French toast, sandwiches, and a la cart items. They also have a daily specials board with breakfasts that you can’t typically find on their regular menu. They serve your standard, brown diner coffee which is always satisfying when you’re in the mood for a diner breakfast.

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I was in the mood for something big, so naturally, I ordered the Big Country Breakfast ($4.99). It consisted of two, extra-large eggs, a split biscuit with gravy, fried potatoes and two sausage patties. Everything was fine and the only complaint I had was with the biscuit & gravy. The biscuit tasted as if it may have been a day or two old, and the gravy on top was just barely warm, but that could have gotten cool while the kitchen was cooking the rest of our food. Otherwise, it was a filling meal and wasn’t bad, just nothing outstanding.

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My wife ordered one of the specials off the board, the Turkey Club Skillet ($5.99). It was a large plate of scrambled goodness: eggs, oven-roasted turkey breast, bacon, potatoes, sautéed onions, baby spinach and tomatoes, and was topped with Swiss cheese. The processed cheese slices would have been a disappointment to me, but the wife didn’t seem to mind, and said it didn’t detract from the meal at all. She said it was really delicious, actually, and she preferred the creamy texture of the melted Kraft Singles-like slices versus the slightly oily texture of real Swiss cheese when it’s melted. It also came with two slices of toast, and the Mrs. chose her usual rye. Lots of food, for sure.

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It was an overall enjoyable meal, and I would agree with anyone who touts Dan’s Drive-In as a Columbus mainstay in breakfast tradition. The servers are friendly and the food is cheap…just what you want in a local diner.

While I was a bit disappointed to not be able to bring you my usual review, you can see that Dan’s serves up large portions and their prices are great. BTW, just a side note that has nothing to do with breakfast: While I was eating, I noticed they have an actual root beer tap behind the counter that I’m sure pours an awesome, foamy root beer float!! Anyway, Dan’s is all-in-all a decent place to eat that is worth a stop if for nothing else, the nostalgia of eating in a retro-1950’s style diner.

Dan’s Drive-In is located at 1881 S. High St, Columbus, OH 43207 (Map). They are open Monday – Saturday,7:00 am – 9:00 pm, and Sunday, 7:00 am – 3:00 pm. For more info, check them out on Facebook.

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