4th of July Looking for BBQ Ohio tour
We decided to take a few days over the 4th of July weekend driving around Ohio to find picturesque small towns and abandoned roadside attractions, and since it was a holiday weekend, we could find BBQ at a festival somewhere.
On Friday, we headed east out of Cleveland, up past Erie, PA, and onto the back roads, US Rt. 6 mostly. By 5 PM, we had covered 400 miles and seen NO BBQ. Getting hungrier and grouchier by the mile, suddenly, near Warren, Ohio, a strip shopping center appeared on our right, and in it was Greek Delight, a storefront Greek place with wedding cakes in the window. Inside, one wall was obviously a bridal something-or-other, with displays of cakes and tiaras. There was also a shelf near the door with Greek grocery items for sale. A TV bolted to the wall was playing Greek MTV, and after we placed our orders of gyros, extra sauce, no onions for me, we could here the cook dancing as he prepared our food. Five minutes later, he swept out of the kitchen and presented our dishes to us with a flourish.
The gyro was packed with chunky slices of garlicky lamb, firm tomatoes, and a tzatziki sauce the consistency of whipped cream cheese, piped onto the sandwiches and studded with diced cucumber. We followed this surprisingly unsloppy meal with pastry - coconut cherry for him, chocolate almond and a traditional baklava for me. The whole dinner came to under $20.
Disappointed with NO BBQ but happy with the Greek dinner, we headed home, still seeing no fairs, festivals, or a single 55 gallon drum anywhere.
Saturday morning, we headed west. US Route 20 has always been a favorite place to drive, and we thought today for sure we'd find something. 20A to the Indiana border, and nothing. No fair, festivals, or smoking drums, although we did stop at a farm for fresh-picked cherries, blueberries, and raspberries. On the way back, we saw - a festival! An art festival in Maumee, Ohio, and wait, a sniff of meat over fire! As we drove through downtown, it became obvious that the meat smell came from a house along the road, not the festival itself. Deciding that the people barbecueing in their yard probably wouldn't give us any of their meat, we drove on. Further down the road, another festival! Oak Harbor was holding their celebration of the 4th on Saturday night, so we parked off Main Street and wandered to the riverside, where there was - popcorn balls. And potentially hot dogs, but the grill was empty and we didn't stay and pay the admission charge to get inside the fence to check. Potential hot dogs do not equal BBQ. On we drove.
Hungrier and crankier, we found ourselves in Port Clinton, the "Walleye Capital of Ohio." OK, no BBQ, but maybe there will be walleye. We parked downtown, walked around the pier, and found - Mexican/American and two bars?? No! We got back in the car, bemoaning that the Walleye Capital had no fish shacks, but then it appeared - The Jolly Roger. A full parking lot and a sign out front saying "LAKE ERIE'S FIN ST" (the E having dropped off sometime earlier) gave us hope. We pulled in, ordered at the counter, and chose to eat outside. Next time, we'll be inside to avoid the flies, the only drawback to our meal. We decided to get a walleye and a perch dinner and split them between us. The walleye filet was huge, perfectly flaky inside with a light crunchy batter; the 5 perch filets were a decent size and also perfectly cooked. We chose onion rings, which were also freshly made, big rings of sweet onion in the same light and crunchy batter. I wanted to take a picture, but didn't want to leave the table to go to the car for the camera. My husband promised we will go back and eat there again so I can get pictures. There was enough fish left to take some walleye home to the cat, who loved us for it.
On Sunday, we had a cookout, no BBQ but brats and burgers prepared by the son-in-law on his new grill, and then headed back out to the Port Clinton area to stay at a friend's lakeside condo. Since we had already eaten, we finally saw a sign advertising a church BBQ, but we couldn't stop, being full and in a hurry to get there in time to see fireworks.
No BBQ, but good gyros and great fish. We'll try the BBQ thing again in a couple weeks...