Warren, Ohio is home to many excellent restaurants, including some of the best eateries you must visit when traveling through northeast Ohio and Trumbull County. All located within a few minutes of each other, the following are the top six restaurants in Warren, which each have their own unique specialties and themes.
Esther’s Buffet– ‘Must Visit’ Home-style Buffet
3323 Parkman Rd NW, Suite 6, Warren, OH 44481. # (330) 898-4008
Hours: F/Sat/Sun 11 am – 8 pm
Esther’s Buffet is simply the greatest home-style buffet I have ever visited. Set in a small plaza, with just a handful of tables, you are lucky to get a seat right away at this weekend-only restaurant. If you must wait for a table, you are fortunate to savor the smells and visions of the food awaiting you. Esther’s never seems to have the same buffet menu twice, but whatever they are currently offering will automatically become your new favorite. ‘Love’ just flows from each item on the buffet. You can see it was made with care, and not haphazardly thrown into a pan or carelessly defrosted from the back of a truck like all those other buffet franchises. You will need a full clear plate just for your bread and multiple salads. Then next to the salads, you see the desserts and your mouth starts watering, but you know you have to eat dinner first. So you go look at the entrees, and you need two plates full to make sure you can try everything. Then you remember you haven’t eaten dessert yet (for which you may need two helpings). If you haven’t left Esther’s Buffet with a full stomach, vowing you should never eat that much ever again – but you’re so happy you did, and you want to go back – then you just truly haven’t experienced it.
Saratoga Restaurant– ‘Must Visit’ Nostalgic Downtown Diner
129 E. Market St., Warren, OH 44481. # (330) 393-6646.
Hours: M/T/W/Th/F 8 am – 8 pm
http://www.warrensaratoga.com/ – features online menu
You must visit Saratoga Restaurant if you want to re-live the history of the downtown Warren area. This restaurant has existed over 90 years, living multiple world wars and historic events, and has passed down from one generation to another. The Economos family runs the Saratoga, and the owner is sure to greet you each time you visit, engage you in friendly conversation, and remember you every time you come back. Not only will you enjoy the companionship and the sense of history, you will enjoy the nostalgic photos of ‘old’ Warren, Ohio, and the restaurant décor, original to the time period. Whenever you dine at the Saratoga, you truly feel as if you are an appreciated customer, and that your presence really means something. People just don’t run businesses like this anymore – and they should. On a side note, I also highly recommend Saratoga Restaurant’s catering services; they are completely professional, accommodating, and the food is indescribable. Described as “comfort food,” some of Saratoga’s best dishes are definitely its popular “Chicken in the Garden” salad, and the Chicken Parmesan.
Sunrise Inn– ‘Must Visit’ Pizzeria and Bar
510 E. Market Street, Warren, OH 44481. # (330) 395-7808
Hours: Sun/M/T/W/Th 9 am – 10 pm; F/Sat 9 am – 12 am
The Sunrise Inn is one of those places where you hung out as a teenager, you hear your parents talk about hanging out there as teenagers, and maybe your aunt and uncle even met and started dating there. Sunrise Inn is known for many things, including their delicious Italian food and the bar where ‘everyone knows your name’, but the star of the show is the Sunrise Pizza. This is the kind of pizza that when someone moves out of town and still has cravings, they request their visitors to bring them a pizza when they come visit. Vice versa, when out-of-towners do come back to visit, this is one of their first stops when coming home. At my ten-year class reunion, this was also the main entrée at our reunion dinner. There’s just something about the Sunrise Pizza you don’t get anywhere else – the traditional variety has a delicious sauce, with the unique powdered cheese on top (of course, you can also order it with standard mozzarella too).
Mocha House – ‘Must Visit’ Bakery and Coffeeshop
467 High Street Warren OH, 44481. # (330) 392-3020.
Hours: M/T/W/Th 6:30 am – 9 pm; F 6:30 am – 11 pm; Sat 7:30 am – 11 pm, Sun 8 am – 8 pm
http://www.mochahouse.com – features online menu
The Mocha House is a rare place you can go any time, morning to night, and leave just as satisfied. When entering Mocha House, you are greeted by the daily specials, but immediately in your peripheral vision you see a glorious display of cakes, cheesecakes, pies, cupcakes, cannoli, brownies, cookies, and other delicious temptations. Multiple times my husband and I have allowed other people to cut us in line, because we couldn’t decide what looked better (I recommend the Oreo Pie). Besides the decadent baked goods, Mocha House is a coffee shop, with dozens of varieties of hot and cold specialties. Their dining menu has something for everyone, at any time of day: breakfast specialties – like stuffed French toast – as well as sandwiches – like the delicious Tuscan Chicken – and traditional dinner entrees. However, the restaurant’s showstopper is Mocha House’s award-winning chili. I highly recommend the mildly spicy White Chicken Chili – hands down my favorite. Mocha House’s atmosphere is also a big draw to its visitors – it’s a low-key place where you simultaneously find people working quietly on laptops while enjoying a cup of coffee, next to large boisterous families, aside romantic couples on private dates, next to friends reuniting after years apart. Definitely a place to ‘hang out’ when you’re not in a rush, and when you want to enjoy a delicious dessert!
Hot Dog Shoppe – ‘Must Visit’ Local Legendary Favorite
740 W. Market St., Warren, OH 44481. # (330) 395-7057
Hours: M/T/W/Th/F/Sat/Sun 10 am – 10 pm
The ‘Original’ Hot Dog Shoppe is a place that everyone in town knows about, has been to, and loves. As the sign says – “Ask Anyone.” Uttering the words ‘Hot Dog Shoppe’ to a local will immediately result in driving to the restaurant to satisfy the resulting craving. You cannot visit this restaurant without seeing at least three people you know: maybe your pastor, mailman, next-door neighbor, and high school buddy each at different counters. If you’re a Warren native, your parents probably brought you here as a kid, and now you’re bringing your own children. Hot Dog Shoppe is a diner – there are a few tables, but most likely you will eat at the counter. This is not the place to loiter; there will be a long line of people curving around the restaurant eyeing to see when you’ll get up so they can claim your seat at the counter. There will also be crowds waiting by the door for take-out. It is plain to everyone at the diner when you’re not from the Warren area – if you have to look at the menu – because locals already know what they’re going to order. The menu at the Hot Dog Shoppe is simple – it’s not gourmet; it’s the best traditional all-American food you will eat – hot dogs, burgers, chili, milkshakes, fries and pop. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get the “Chili dog, cheese fries and a cherry.” Plus, the menu at this restaurant is so cheap that you must visit more than once – depending on what you order, two people can indulge, leave full, and not break ten dollars – even with a tip.
Buena Vista Cafe – ‘Must Visit’ Fried Chicken Haven
1305 Buena Vista Ave., Warren, OH 44483. # (330) 372-4493.
Hours: M/T/W/Th 11 am – 9 pm; F/Sat 11 am – 10 pm; Sun Drive Thru 11 am – 6 pm
http://buenavistacafe.biz/ – features online menu
When a Warren local is craving fried chicken, it’s irrelevant to ask “from where?” Simply, go pick it up – you should know where, and conveniently, they have a drive-through. Buena Vista’s fried chicken, also known as ‘Uncle Nick’s Greek-Fried Chicken’ makes every other fried chicken restaurant envious; as their slogan says, “If the Colonel had our recipe, he’d be a General.” There’s just something about the smell of this chicken, making your mouth water from its delicious aroma. I must mention that, at my ten-year class reunion, Uncle Nick’s Chicken was the second main entrée on the menu. However, Buena Vista Café is not just a drive-through chicken joint; they are also a full-fledged family restaurant with a sports bar on the side, showcasing a comprehensive menu with many Greek specialties (I highly recommend the Gyro!).
In close, no matter what ‘mood’ you are in, you will definitely find one of these excellent restaurants that will satisfy your craving. Whether you are looking for a quiet corner to share a date and a piece of cheesecake, looking to indulge in pizza or fried chicken, searching for a bit of nostalgia and history, dining with your family on a Sunday afternoon, or looking to feed your family tasty food on a budget, Warren, Ohio has one of these ‘must visit’ restaurants to offer. Bon appétit!