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Al's Corner Restaurant

545 West Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton, OH - (330) 475-7978
Posted By Michael Stern on December 27, 2007 5:15 PM
Cruising around a strange town or city, whether or not we find a place to eat, we often wonder about great restaurants that we may not have noticed and just driven by. That very well might have been the case in Barberton, for Al's Corner Restaurant doesn't look too intriguing from the outside. But we were guided here by infallible Akron food authority, Jane Snow of the Beacon-Journal; and the moment we walked in, we knew we had hit Roadfood paydirt. Our hats are off to you, Jane!

The immaculate storefront luncheonette, open only for weekday lunch, is a treasure-trove of blue-plate Hungarian meals at blue-collar prices. Service is cafeteria style. Step to the right when you enter and there Beth Gray will show you what's to eat, put it on a plate and then a tray. Dine either at a table or the long U-shaped counter in the center of the room.

Lunch specials, at about $6 each, include the likes of chicken paprikash with dumplings, pierogies, cabbage and dumplings, and Al's sausages. The sausages are made down the street at Al's Quality Market, and they are stupendously delicious: taut, muscular and oozing savory juices. Jane, whose father was an Hungarian epicure and taught her well, declared the paprikash to be one of the best she ever ate: creamy with a real paprika punch (they grind their own!), the chicken falling-off-its-bone tender. The only problem we had was deciding which starch to eat more of: the dumplings are buttery and satisfying; the mashed potatoes are … buttery and satisfying, too! And best of all is halushka: a buttery mix of dumplings and cabbage.

Note that Al's is open only for lunch, only Monday through Friday.
5 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Raelene Charles on April 2, 2011 1:48 PM
We drove from Central Indiana to visit a friend in Barberton AND to visit Al's. Our Barberton friend had never eaten at Al's (believe it or not) and tried to steer us to one of the locally famous "Barberton Chicken" restaurants. But as I was on a mission for Hungarian food, I insisted on Al's and am I ever happy I did!

The sampler platters are HUGE and the paprikas and dumplings are as rich and wonderful as my Hungarian grandma's. This is most excellent comfort food. My husband, with a New Mexican cuisine background, enjoyed the sausages and the cabbage and dumplings. Everything was wonderfully good and we will drive several hundred miles to enjoy this place again. We may never get around to that Barberton Chicken!

While dining at the retro-cool counter, another customer came in and ordered a side of real mashed potatoes with the red paprikas sauce. What a brilliant idea! I immediately craved a taste but the sampler platter in front of me was too large to even contemplate it.

So we will be back to Al's, and the next time I will bring some containers to carry away the leftovers: my only criticism is the leaky, flimsy go-boxes that leaked the aromatic sauce all over the back seat and deprived us of the "seconds" we were saving for supper at the motel. And we *really* wanted it, after smelling the sauce all day!

If you are a Hungarian food fan (or even if you are not) I can also heartily recommend Tulipan Bakery in Wooster for fabulous Euro-style pastries. They have several mouth-watering traditional Hungarian cookies and pastries I haven't had since Mom quit baking. They also offer slices of kolatch, a nut or poppy seed-filled, not-sweet-but-rich Hungarian pastry roll. Another great destination eatery.

We also sampled Amish food on this trip but the Hungarian food was the highlight. We are crazy about the Amish Door's pepperoni bread and will certainly return to fill the freezer again! And I won't forget the containers for my Al's leftovers.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Chicken Paprikash
Sampler Plate
Dumplings
Sausages

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Posted By Nathan Gabay on March 30, 2011 3:56 PM
Barberton, Ohio is referred to as "The Magic City," and if Al's Corner Restaurant is any indication, it's a moniker that's well-earned.

Barberton was an industrial boom town in the early 20th century; the population doubled between 1900 and 1910, then again between 1910 and 1920. With the great waves of immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe settling in the area, traditional ethnic food became the norm. And in the case of Al's, it's still going strong.

The fairly small menu is dominated by the traditional foods: chicken paprikas, haluska (sauteed cabbage and dumplings), cabbage rolls, pierogies, fresh-made sausage (two different options), and sauerkraut. If the sampler platter is ordered (which I strongly recommend), a decent serving of each of the above is provided. Add in a fountain drink and it still doesn't hit $10 for one person.

Although I personally am not a fan of haluska, Al's serves exactly what it's supposed to be. The size of the dumplings and the cabbage are spot-on, the main ingredients are slightly bonded without being packed, and the texture has that perfect buttery mouthfeel. The cabbage rolls are succulent and flavorful without being overwhelming, the pierogies are cooked al dente, and the sausage (which comes from Al's Quality Market just down the street) has that familiar, powerful depth of flavor.

But the real mark of quality is clear in the chicken paprikas. With that beautiful, vivid orange-red color, it passes the eyeball test easily. But it has the flavor to match, which in itself is extremely uncommon. The chicken falls off the bone and that beautiful sauce tastes simply exquisite. It's far and away the best paprikas I've had in the state of Ohio that doesn't come from my own kitchen.

For a true taste of Magic, Al's in the Magic City is an absolute must-stop.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Chicken Paprikash
Sampler Plate

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