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Breakfast with Dr. Breakfast: The Inaugural Columbus Food Adventures Breakfast Tour (Pt. 1)

CFA Food Van - check; Itinerary - check: and
Dr. Breakfast himself - check: we're ready to tour!
Ever since my move out here, my spouse and I have made the meals of breakfast and brunch our main time to get out and enjoy some time together, often in concert with doing other activities in this metro area. In addition, over our years of dating and then marriage, my spouse and I have found Columbus Food Adventures (CFA) food tours to be terrific way for both locals and visitors to this region to explore this area's culinary highlights.

Thus, it almost seemed too perfect a match when CFA announced a brand new tour hosted this area's most well-known breakfast blogger. We both were pretty excited at the prospect and jumped on the chance.

Nick Dekker, who started his Breakfast with Nick blog as "a glorified hobby" several years ago to chronicle his breakfast eating experiences, has been a main catalyst in bringing national attention to the Columbus breakfast scene, including features from media outlets such as Fodor'sNew York Post and the Toronto Star. But even with the status of local celebrity, he proved to be like most any other person doing something for the first time, just slightly nervous and extra careful to make sure all everything was laid out correctly for this maiden voyage. As the tour progressed, he settled in, chatting amiably with everyone in the group, whether it be about breakfast, other aspects of Columbus' food scene, and any other topics which came to people's minds.

CFA tours typically consist of several featured eateries; tour-goers are treated to sampling of that eatery's typical offerings and receive an idea of the history of the eatery itself, often from the restaurant proprietors themselves. While it turned out that my spouse and I had visited most of the locations picked out on this inaugural breakfast tour, it is that latter history and in-person aspect that makes Columbus Food Adventures tours a step above a typical drop-in and dine experience, as it has in previously taken tours such as the Taco Truck Tour.

Overall, we had a great time on this inaugural run for the Breakfast Tour, and it looks like it will be another delectable addition to the collection of diverse tours that Columbus Food Adventures offers to the public.

Columbus Food Adventures
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From Top Left (clockwise): Ethyl & Tank's Exterior; the Bloody Mary Bar; Mini-versions
of the Tank Pancake & Chicken and Waffles; the "Tank" portion of the eatery

Ethyl and Tank: Our first stop out of our five destinations, Ethyl and Tank, was the most recent arrival out of this group to the Columbus dining scene. This restaurant is a member restaurant of the A&R Restaurant Group; other A&R eateries include The Crest, Cafe Del Mondo, and the Fourth Street Bar and Grill. We were informed that the inspiration for the restaurant's name received its name from a now defunct Georgia gas station. In this eatery's case, this Ethyl and Tank is a mainly brick-dominated structure on the exterior, but with modern urban flourishes within its two-story tall interior. Guests enter in through the "Ethyl" side (with its coffee cafe-styled drinks and light eats) and can venture over to the "Tank" side, where you can dine in for more substantial eats or imbibe in some alcoholic beverages.

Being located right next to the Ohio State University campus, Ethyl and Tank caters mainly to the student crowd; our hosts informed tour-goers that it does try to keep things affordable for its main clientele (their menu items all range in the $10 or less range.) Along with traditional happy hours, this eatery has novel events such as build-your-own-hot-dog Mondays as well as an upstairs (free) arcade; in addition, its late night hours has made this venue a destination place for concert-goers of the famed nearby Newport Music Hall as well as anyone with late-night munchies.

Tour goers were treated to three of their specialties. My spouse and I were never into Bloody Mary drinks, but Ethyl & Tank's do-it-yourself bar, which included a from-scratch tomato juice mix, your choice of four different vodkas, and all the fixings you could want, really made our first dip into them a special one.

Foodwise, we received mini-versions of their Tank Pancakes (house-braised pulled pork layered between pancakes topped with cheddar cheese and syrup) and their Chicken and Waffles. The former blended the starchy, savory and sweet together in a uniquely tasty way and will be targeted on a future visit. The latter dish was also quite pretty good, reminding me a bit of the rendition put out by Little Skillet in San Francisco.

I had visited Ethyl and Tank once before prior to this tour and ordered their Mediterranean Scramble ($7); this was a solid scramble, with substantial portions for the price. I had thought back then that Ethyl and Tank was worthy of a future visit based on that experience; this tour visit only cemented that thought in my mind.

Ethyl and Tank
19 E. 13th Ave (University District - Google Maps)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 947-0140
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From Top Left (clockwise): Delicious donut samples from Buckeye Donuts; effervescent owner
Jimmy Barouxis, the iconic Buckeye Donuts sign; one of the old-school menu signs inside

Buckeye Donuts: Some people might think, "Eh, it's just a doughnut shop" and dismiss this as a destination. However, there's an certain aspect attached with many of Columbus-area doughnut purveyors that makes many if them neighborhood gems, at the minimum.

Such is the case with Buckeye Donuts. This smallish store next to campus, which never closes its doors (it was joked during our visit that the staff couldn't lock the place even if they tried,) has been lovingly tended by the Barouxis family since they moved over from Greece and opened their shop in 1969.

Jimmy Barouxis, Buckeye Donuts' current owner, is probably one of the main ingredients behind its current loyal following. Inheriting the business from his father, Barouxis greeted us tour-goers, crammed in the very tight quarters of the restaurant's kitchen, with an enthusiastic smile and as if we were family (in fact, he even stopped at one point to take a couple pictures of the tour group.) His love for his business was impossible to miss in his voice as he relayed the history of his business to the gathered.

The donuts, you ask? Buckeye Donuts' rate solidly in the top tier, in that if I had a dream baker's dozen box of Columbus-area donuts, a couple of their offerings would be in that box. Thankfully for us tour-goers, the donuts were cut into smaller bits, allowing everyone to sample multiple flavors without over-gorging. For my spouse and I, the best in show went to their seasonal pumpkin spice donut, with the cake-style donuts in general (there's just something texture-wise about a well-made cake donut I can't resist) coming close behind.

If you think Buckeye Donuts is all about the fried dough, however, you would be mistaken. Barouxis stated that the business really gained a solid financial foothold when it introduced its non-donut menu items such as gyros, salads and breakfast sandwiches. With no item on the menu more than $6, those not in the mood for their fresh hot donuts have other inexpensive options available to sate their appetites.

Buckeye Donuts
1998 N High St (University District - Google Maps)
Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 291-3923
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(Note: Part 2 of this post can be found here at this link)

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