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Columbus: Thurman Cafe


We were laughed at because the kids last year went to Santa Barbara for the same conference (Electronic Materials Conference). Well, I had never been to Columbus, which is the biggest & capital city of Ohio, 3rd largest in Midwest and 4th in the country. I thought about it – this place is never going to make it to my to go list, so it’s better off this way being a free short trip. Moreover, I wouldn’t have much free time to walk around on top of conference at Ohio State, so it is great that Columbus isn’t a travelers dream destination. I took an earlier flight compare to my friends, and so I get to eat something awesome for lunch on day 1. Flipping through “Hamburger America”, I found Thurman Cafe.

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Thurman Cafe is located in the Germantown in Columbus, which is south of the downtown area. Looking through some online crime rates maps, I found that the area between the campus, the downtown and Germantown isn’t that great to visit. None of my friends who went to OSU ever walked around the town (I have no idea what they were doing there), so I have no idea how accurate those online data are. Upon checking in, I talked to the local students, who unsurprisingly, neither heard or went to Germantown before. I was very tempted to take a cab, but decided that the bus should be pretty safe. If anything, I will just sit on the bus, miss my stop and get out at the terminal.

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Anticlimactically, it was pretty darn safe. The bus system was easy to use and cheap, $2/trip. It took awhile to get there because the bus stopped at almost every single traffic junction, but that made the trip great because the route goes through some pretty parts of the city, including the classy Ohio State house. Germantown itself is tiny, with shops lining one single block. I found Thurman cafe immediately. From the outside, Thurman Cafe looks like a coffee shop that serves vege wrap, glutten free if you asked nicely.


Inside, however, is a beast. The first room is just a large place with some benches and walls plastered with awards. I got here at 2pm on a Tuesday, so there was nobody around and I walked straight into the dining room. Heard of hoarders? I have a feeling this room is decorated with whatever the owners could find. Road signs, used beer cases, car plates, bumper sticker; You name it, and it’s probably in this room. The bar itself is decorated with hundreds of dollar bills left by customers. It’s ironic that those dollar bills will add up to cost more than a real decorations; It’s like a big fuck you to materialism. The booths were dragged from some other places – I thought they were from churches, but I do not have a clue. Sticking to the bar theme, the place is dark and dingy, with natural light coming through the window. It’s a pretty cozy bar, but let’s see the menu.


I actually knew what to order – the Thurman burger. But it didn’t hurt to look at some other creations. The Thurmanator sounds like a slider for giants, and the other burgers stand as tall the as Thurman burger, but everything else on the menu, like pizza and wings, were served in a lot more normal size. Even though the place was slow and I was sitting at the bar, it took a little while before I got my order in. They have a warning on the menu regarding wait time, and I didn’t mind waiting since I have no place to go – it did took probably more than half an hour before I got my food.

The wait might be long, but there were a lot to do in the mean time. The TVs were on, and the place is literally like a museum. I ended up chatting with the bartender, who spoke some foreign languages with the other employees(?) I think they were Macadonian. The burger, however, is as American as it gets; it is gigantic and loaded with everything imaginable – shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sunny side up, ham, pieces of bacon, and I have no idea what else. Whatever is in the Thurman burger, the “concussion” is tasty, and patty is juicy. Then again, I can’t tell – it is just a huge mess. I’m glad I came hungry, because I barely finished it. The burger came with chips and I could probably had gotten fries with it, but sides are an afterthought next to such a giant. This might have been the largest burger I ever had. Ever. And it is a pretty good burger too, and not just some crappy college restaurant which stacks anything and everything from the kitchen into the burger.


The Thurman burger.
The Thurman burger.
The finished product.
The finished product.

I managed to waste half an afternoon at the Thurman Cafe. By choice, of course, but it definitely took awhile to get served and finished the crazy creation. Service is good and the atmosphere is like a very cool dive bar. Best of all, it wasn’t even that expensive; then again, I’m on a “business trip”, so my boss picked up the tab anyway. Well, not physically – he was with the rest of my group in Atlanta eating One flew south, which I heard is an awesome restaurant, but they probably don’t have a burger the size of your head. I’m starting to like you, Columbus.



Visited: June 23rd, 2015 for lunch at 2pm
Address: 183 Thurman Ave, Columbus, OH 43206

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