Every so often a restaurant will come along that will catch my attention, and no matter where else I go to eat, that one place will keep coming back to memory, and I think, “Oh yeah, I still want to go to (blank).” One of those places in the last year or so has been Daybreak Diner on Weber Rd, in the Linden neighborhood of north Columbus. Even though my work route takes me past the diner usually a couple of times per week, which may have some influence on bringing it to mind so often, I think the main reason I’ve been wanting to visit is because of the uniqueness of some of their menu items (we’ll get to those in a minute). So, we recently braved the Polar Vortex-esque, bone-chilling temperatures and headed up I-71 to find some Daybreak grub.
Daybreak Diner is located about a half-mile off of the interstate, intermingled among other older buildings and businesses. They share a double-storefront plaza with another one of Columbus’ great eateries, Suzie’s Sub Shop.
The diner is filled with booths and tables, as well as a counter that overlooks the open grill. It’s similar in design to many other small spots in town, and has all of the diner decor basics covered. When we visited there was a small group of ladies sitting at one of the tables in the front, and a guy using the WiFi at the counter, with several other parties arriving during our stay. We scooted our way to the back of the dining room and found a table.
It may be my love of old Hollywood films (which was born out of watching classic movies with my wife when we first met) that attracted me to this wall in particular. It features an arranged mural of pencil drawing prints of old film and television stars such as Carey Grant, Gary Cooper, Katherine Hepburn, etc. Each one was displayed in a stylish black frame, with a large James Dean poster in the center of it all.
The opposite wall featured a myriad of vintage pop-culture memorabilia, with everything from Coca-cola bottles to classic cartoon character serving trays, wall plaques with silly phrases (“Vegetarian: A Native American word for ‘Bad Hunter’”) to toy trucks, a Frank’s Red Hot wall clock, vintage vanity license plates, and a hundred other things to look at. And if that wasn’t enough to see, you can always sit and watch the cook, who was hard at work flipping pancakes, scrambling eggs, and making our morning meal.
The menu at Daybreak Diner covers breakfast and lunch. They offer many of the traditional diner options like eggs & meat combos, pancakes, breakfast burritos and the like. However, what drew me to this place were the dishes they offer that you do not normally see at your typical diner, like Breakfast Fried Rice, Captain Crunch-coated French Toast, a Bacon Cheeseburger Omelet, a 4-egg omelet filled with everything but the kitchen sink, and much more…
We’ll start with the Pancake & Bacon ($2.60) off the kids menu. Our son is a major sucker for pancakes and French toast, and it seems that’s what he gravitates toward every time we go to breakfast. Daybreak Diner’s version was your typical, medium-sized buttermilk flapjack, which had good flavor. The bacon was cooked nicely. Great portion size for a hungry boy.
The Daybreak Breakfast Bowl ($7.85) is basically an open-faced omelet in a bowl, filled with hash browns, choice of breakfast meat (Mrs. Grub Guy went with bacon) and topped with the Diner’s “Five Star Sausage Gravy” and cheddar cheese, and served with toast.
The Mrs. seriously enjoyed her breakfast. It arrived to our table in a huge bowl, and was piping hot. She commented on how the melted cheese on top really helped seal in the warmth of the gravy, which kept the meal hot as she ate. The sausage gravy was obviously homemade, and she said it was really rich and flavorful. It was a huge portion, which she ended up taking about half of home for another breakfast.
Next is one that I had been waiting to try, the Captain’s French Toast ($3.65). The only other place I had seen this dish before was at a diner in Baltimore, on an episode of Diners, Drive-In’s & Dives. At that establishment, they actually dipped the bread in the egg, and then coated it with cereal before grilling. Daybreak Diner’s version was a little different from that. They offered two slices of Texas-style French toast, and then sprinkled powdered sugar and crushed Capt’n Crunch cereal on top. The Captain’s dish was pretty good, but I was a little disappointed that it was just simply a handful of crushed cereal on top of good French toast. I think dipping the toast in the cereal and then cooking on the flat-top grill might have brought out a better flavor, although this was not bad.
I ordered Bill’s Breakfast Fried Rice ($7.35). I have to say, I have mixed feelings about this dish. This was something that I really wanted to love. I absolutely adore good fried rice, and it’s been something I’ve been shoving in my mouth by the fistfuls since I was an infant. I was hoping for something with unique flavors, textures, and a dish that I could introduce to out-of-town visitors, and then taunt them with after they go home, because I’d be enjoying a great breakfast dish that they just can’t find where they live. Instead, I found Bill’s Breakfast Fried Rice to be…just ok. It wasn’t bad by any means, it just didn’t have the flavor I was hoping for. Brown rice tossed with scrambled eggs, sausage, onions, mushrooms, and topped with cheddar cheese sounds delicious, right? I don’t know, maybe I just wasn’t connecting with it that morning. Next time I go back, I may be tempted to give the rice another chance, but I’ll probably hit up that huge omelet instead.
I’d say that our visit to Daybreak Diner was a good one, although our meal selections were kind of hit and miss. I’ll definitely come back again to try some of their other dishes, and will recommend this spot to others looking for some unique breakfast eats. If you go, don’t forget to pick up your frequent diner rewards card. It’s something Daybreak Diner started offering recently; Every time you visit, get your card stamped and earn rewards toward future meals!
Rewards that equal breakfast. How cool is that??
Daybreak Diner is located at 1168 E, Weber Rd, Columbus, OH 43211 (Map). They’re open Monday – Friday, 7:30 AM – 3:00 PM, and Saturday – Sunday, 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM. For more info, visit their website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.