Comfort Food: Dining on a Dime

by Marty Kokotaylo

When dining out, why are some places better than others? Is it the atmosphere, or the prices? Is it because the food is really good or the portions so large that the doggie-bag leftovers make for another day’s meal? 

The best explanation was offered by Bill and Michelle Rossini, who explained that the feeling of community is what keeps them going back to several local restaurants. It adds a lot to the experience when the staff knows your name, they your birthday, and ask how your sick relatives are doing. It’s something that you just don’t get at the fast food emporium, where you’re lucky if they get your order right. Here are just a few local favorite spots where you can expect an reasonable pricing, an atmosphere of community and all-around good service.


Amaya’s Fresh Mexican Grill 1470 Ford Street, Maumee

A $5 happy hour 4pm-7pm Monday through Friday includes a margarita, chips, salsa and a taco. Seniors receive a 10% discount. The large burrito is big enough for dinner, with some left to take home. Other items are just as abundant. Try the nachos made your way, with ingredients like grilled skirt steak or shrimp. Open 11am – 9pm Monday-Thursday; 11am-10pm Friday and Saturday. 419-482-5200.

American Table 580 Craig Dr., Perrysburg

Casual American fare meets Greek and Italian influences at the American Table, where you can take advantage of all-day breakfast—starting at $3.79—or choose from classic entrees like baked salmon, homemade lasagna or a New York strip. Two sides are included with many of the sandwiches and dinners, making American Table a real bang for your buck. Open 7am-9pm Monday-Saturday, 7am-3pm Sunday. Reservations at 419-931-8715.


Charlie’s Homemade Pizza and Edibles, 6600 Sylvania Ave. (Saxon Square), Sylvania

Charlie’s offers real pizza, Italian specialties and 21-layer lasagna for $12.95, including soup or salad and garlic bread. Other menu items include spaghetti, ravioli, fettuccine alfredo and baked manicotti. Try one of their salads, complete with house-made Italian dressing. On Mondays,

they have a large 14-inch pizza for $9.95 with twotoppings (and they don’t skimp on the toppings, either). Charlie’s offers a 10% discount with the Golden Buckeye or AARP card. Open 4pm-9pm Sunday through Thursday, 4pm-9:30pm Friday and Saturday. 419-882-6393.

Eddie Lee’s, 4700 Nantucket Dr.

A Toledo staple and a favorite for decades, Eddie Lee’s offers grilled shrimp and prime rib specials for $12, Sunday through Thursday. Additional Monday to Thursday specials include a boneless pork chop or chicken breast for $9.95. Eddie Lee’s is a favorite with the mature set and is always packed, especially in the early evening. They’re known for consistently good food that is always well prepared. Open 4pm-9pm Monday through Thursday, 4:30pm – 10pm Friday and Saturday, and 12pm-8 pm Sunday. 419-882-0616. 


Das Essen Haus, State Rte. 2 and County Rd. 19, Wauseon 

Enjoy a buffet of home-cooked, Amish-style items that will appeal to any taste, ranging from soup and salad to entrees and desserts. Try the dump cake, if you see it on the dessert portion of the buffet. A full menu is available in addition to the buffet, if preferred. In celebration of their 40 years in business, the buffet is currently $4.99 on Monday and $5.99 on Tuesday. Open 8am- 8 pm, Monday through Saturday. 419-445-8456.

Classic Café,  6742 Sylvania Ave, Sylvania

Classic Café has four weekday specials Monday through Friday and two on the weekend; $6.29 for lunch and $7.29 for dinner. Thursday’s meatloaf special is a big seller. Most entrees run between $6 and $10, and breakfast is served anytime. Expect delicious homestyle meals with a relaxed family atmosphere, great service and reasonable prices. To find out the daily specials for the mont, look no further than your placemat. They celebrated their 20th anniversary in business this past July. Open 7am-7pm Monday through Friday, 7am-3pm Saturday and Sunday. 419-882-3465.

The Briarfield Café,

3220 Briarfield Blvd., Maumee

The Briarfield Café offers breakfast at any hour, but the cafe is busiest on Sundays.You can count on six homemade daily soup options, like Parisian Vegetable and French Onion, and they often have two or three other daily specials. Try their homemade potato chips for an alternative side. On Friday, they feature an all-you-can-eat fish dinner. They make their own sauces and dressings and use zero trans-fat oils in their food preparation. Seniors get a 10% discount with the Golden Buckeye Card. Open 7am-8pm Monday-Thursday, 7am-9pm Friday-Saturday, and 7am-3 pm Sunday. 419-865-7260.

Al Smith’s Place, 3550 Executive Pkwy, Toledo

Good prices and plenty of food define Al Smith’s Place. Their dinner rolls are straight out of the oven, and while the five-egg Stacy’s omelet is not on the menu, you can ask for it if you don’t mind taking the leftovers home. They offer daily specials, and the freshly made pies, bean soup and bread pudding are favorites. Take advantage of their10% student and senior discounts. Open 8am – 8:30 pm Monday through Saturday, 8am-3pm Sunday. 419-531-0600.

Rick’s City Diner, 5333 Monroe St.

A breakfast, lunch and brunch restaurant, Rick’s offers specialty sandwiches like the Monte Cristo, the City Diner Grinder and Chicago Beef. The Rocket Garlic Butter burger adds a spread of butter, garlic, shallots and parsley to a ½-lb burger with lettuce and tomato. All sandwiches are served with chips and a pickle spear. One the unusual side, breakfast offerings include the Italian beef and egg sandwich and the asparagus and gruyere cheese omelet. 7am-2 pm Monday through Saturday, 8am-2pm Sunday. 419-517-6600.


Hollywood Casino

1968 Miami St., Toledo

The Epic Buffet offers an incredible choice of foods and a discount on Tuesday and Wednesday for those who are 55 and older. If you’re a Marquee Rewards member, the buffet is $8.99 all day. Regular buffet pricing is $15.99 for lunch and $21.99 for dinner, with Friday and Saturday nights at $32.99, including all-you-can-eat lobster on Friday and the same for steak and crab on Saturday. Sunday brunch is available. 11am-4 pm for lunch; 5-9pm for dinner Sunday through Thursday, 4-9 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, and 5pm to 10 pm Friday and Saturday. 419-661-5200.

Chateau Louise 4320 Luna Pier Rd., Luna Pier, MI

Take a short drive out of town to Luna Pier, and you’ll find Chateau Louise, a fixture that’s been in the area for decades. In fact, it was built in the early 1900s as a grocery store and converted to a restaurant in the 1930s. Serving large portions of good food, their deep-fried green pepper and onion rings are excellent, and the one-pound burger is over the top. Dinners include relish tray, soup, salad, potato side and roll. The seafood platter is another big seller. 11am-2 pm Wednesday-Sunday for lunch, dinner from 5-8 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10pm Friday and Saturday, and 12-8 pm Sunday. 734-848-4758.

Black Pearl,

4630 Heatherdowns Blvd., Toledo

A night out doesn’t have to come with an intimidating check, and Black Pearl is a great option for those looking for great dinners at a reasonable price. Their dinner specials include the Chicken Oscar or two lobster tails for $19.99 and, as they specialize in premium seafood, patrons have a Catch of the Day to choose from. Lunch specials include everything from an $8.99 soup and sandwich combo to $9.99 Louisiana steak tips. Can’t stick around? Black Pearl offers carryout for those lunches on-the-go. Open 3:30-9pm Monday, 11:30am-9pm Tuesday and Wednesday, 11:30am-11pm Thursday-Saturday, and 11:30am-9pm Sunday. 419-380-1616.


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