My husband and I are always looking for breakfast spots, because if there’s one thing we enjoy on the weekends after going to the farmer’s markets, it’s sitting down with each other for a nice hearty breakfast. A big plus is if it’s on our side of town. Ari’s opened over a year ago, and we pass it almost every day, but had never gotten around to going in to eat – mostly because until recently, they had very abbreviated hours and were closed in the evenings. One day, on a whim, we decided to stop in and give it a try.
The ambiance, if there is any, is truly austere. Mostly just white walls everywhere you look. It has a very utilitarian feel about the place, almost like a cafeteria. The place was dead, but we figured that was normal, given it was in between lunch and dinner. Our waitress directed us to sit anywhere, so we picked a nice four top in the middle of the room and settled in.
They have a fairly extensive menu, with all types of breakfast combinations, soups and salads, gyros, and burgers and other sandwiches. We were both feeling a bit brunchy, so decided to go for a mix of breakfast/lunch items.
My husband started with a cup of the broccoli-cheese soup ($1.75), which tasted as if it were right out of a food service bag. To add insult to injury, they poured olive oil and dill on top of an already greasy soup, which made it darn near inedible.
I went with a side salad ($1.99), to which I had them add a bit of feta cheese. It was fairly decent but nothing outstanding – mostly iceberg with huge chunks of veggies that I had to cut into smaller pieces, with a standard oil-based Greek dressing.
For my entree, I went with the Greek Breakfast Gyro (served alone for $3.99, or with home fries for $4.99), which was 2 scrambled eggs, gyro meat, feta cheese, cucumber sauce, lettuce, red onion and tomato served on pita. The best way to describe it is messy as hell, because it didn’t want to stay together long enough for me to eat it. After taking a couple of bites, I turned to my husband and asked “are they using rye pita or something?” – it wasn’t until much later that we figured out that they use caraway seeds in their tzatziki sauce, which gives every dish that includes tzatziki the overwhelming flavor of rye bread. Especially so, since they didn’t season a single thing on either of our plates in any discernable manner. The gyro meat seemed to be pre-cut instead of freshly cut when the sandwich was made, because it was a bit crusty like it had sit out in the air for a while. The home fries were barely cooked (they were done, but didn’t seem to have spent any time on the grill frying, as I would expect with something called “home FRIES”; but then again, I like my home fries brown and crispy so it may be a subjective thing.
My husband fared a little better with his selection – the House Breakfast ($6.99), which includes 2 eggs, marinated chicken, gyro meat, home fries and a pita. The chicken was pretty tasty, but his gyro meat had met the same fate as mine – it was a bit dried out. Although the eggs were cooked to his specifications, they and the home fries were definitely underseasoned and not as crispy as he would have liked.
The best I can say about the place is that the food is mostly edible – nothing I had was anywhere in the realm of “good”, but the food is dirt cheap. If you’re on a really tight budget and not too picky, you do get a lot of food for the cost. However, given that there are plenty of other breakfast choices in Columbus that are just as cheap, but with much better food, I don’t think we’ll be back for a second visit.
If you’d like to go: Ari’s Diner, 1425 Frank Road, Columbus, OH 43223, 614.274.7747, M-F 7a-7p; S&S 7a-2p.