Hamburger Inn (Facebook)
16 N. Sandusky St. (map it!)
Delaware, OH 43015
Open Mon-Wed, 6a-9p; then open 24 hours from Thurs 6a through Sunday 9p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
IMPRESSIONS: On a recent trip up to Delaware, Ohio, I finally made it to the Hamburger Inn. I’ve gotten many recommendations for it, particularly whenever I ask where to eat breakfast in Delaware. The Hamburger Inn – which is not an inn, to be clear – can be found on the very cool stretch of Sandusky Street in downtown Delaware. Along the strip there are all sorts of shops, galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, offices, and more, including the great Beehive Books, which may or may not carry a certain author’s breakfast book.
You’ll recognize the Hamburger Inn by the two signs out front: the brighter, newer one on the maroon awning, and the older, off-center letters, presumably the original signage on the building. The restaurant falls under one of those “don’t deny your DNA” spots. This comes from Alton Brown’s description of good restaurants: don’t deny what you do. Be honest with your food and your style, and customers will appreciate it properly. It’s all about expectations. The Hamburger Inn may not be the most imaginative restaurant, but it’s an honest-to-goodness old diner, and they do that well.
ATMOSPHERE: The Hamburger Inn is a single-room diner, with two big wooden U-shaped counters that jut out into the room. One side of the restaurant includes the kitchen, with the grill and prep areas. There’s no real counter seat to watch the grill, but you still get the camaraderie of sitting close to or facing your fellow diners. The atmosphere is that of a typical diner: white noise from some TVs, bustle in the kitchen, customers chatting.
FOOD: Being in an old-school diner (since 1932!), I chose the standard diner breakfast. It’s a good way to judge a restaurant. The result: good scrambled eggs, toast soaked in butter, a basic sausage patty, and some soft, sliced potatoes. All good, although the potatoes need some seasoning, and they need to be left on the grill longer. Not quite enough crispy brown edges for my taste. I also had coffee, which qualifies as that special blend of diner coffee: caffeinated, hot, slightly bitter, only partially improved by cream and sugar.
SERVICE: The servers are as nice as you can expect. Hamburger Inn, like all good diners, cultivates its regulars, so while we ate we noticed a number of people walk in, sit down, and be served their “usual.” You don’t get that way without a group of cooks and servers who are kind and welcoming.
OVERALL: As I said earlier, the Hamburger Inn is like most diners in that the food isn’t off-the-charts good, but the building and decor are fun to see, the service is friendly, and the portions are filling. Every good neighborhood or town needs its old diner, and this is clearly Delaware, Ohio’s. This makes it a necessary stop in any exploration.