The more I visit big cities, the more it’s becoming blatantly aware to me that small town America is the way to go when it comes to travel. Not only do the cities love your patronage, each is a happy reminder of what America was decades ago and how sheer tenacity and perseverance has kept each thriving. My recent visit to Wooster, Ohio, gave me a glimpse of each’s historic past and the way they both cater to locals and visitors – through their stomachs! From quaint cafes to Asian fusion restaurants, here’s the five best foodie finds in Downtown Wooster, Ohio.
Wooster, Ohio (pronounced WUS ter), is that quintessential Midwest American town that refused to throw in the towel. Its downtown is going through a massive revitalization including is dining and gastro scene – and I hit the city just in time to find my five favorite foodie hot spots. So, where is this cool town of Wooster (in Wayne County), you’re asking yourself, right? It’s 90 minutes Northeast of Columbus and just over an hour south of Cleveland.
1. TULIPÁN Hungarian Pastry & Coffee Shop
After a great night’s sleep at St. Paul Hotel, I headed over to TULIPÁN for authentic Hungarian pastries and really good coffee. So, let’s give you the fun back story on how the coffee shop got started before I dig into the menu. Hungarian immigrant Elizabeth Lakatos came to America in 1976 with a love of baking and her mother’s traditional recipes. Fast forward to 2004 when that love of baking for friends and family turned into TULIPÁN.
The pastry & coffee shop is a gathering place for locals and there’s good reason why: affordable prices and amazing sweets, along with an atmosphere filled with Hungarian flair, are why the community raves about it. What you won’t get: the hipster feel of Starbucks. You will get is the feeling of being in a Hungarian home filled with delicious scents.
What to Try: Beigli, a nut and poppy seed roll. It’s available by the slice or roll and is the perfect accompaniment to a tasty cup of coffee.
2. The Faithful Little Cupcake
If I wanted the perfect melding of cupcakes and philanthropy, it’s to The Faithful Little Cupcake I’d head. Not only are the cupcakes to die for (there’s fun flavors like Death by Chocolate and Fat Elvis), the bakery prides itself on donating cakes to folks in need. With every wedding cake that is sold, the shop donates a birthday cake to a child that may not have received one.
What to try: The Buckeye Blitz, a decadent chocolate cupcake with rich peanut butter frosting. Topped with a small candy buckeye (Ohio’s state tree!), the flavors meld beautifully and the cake is anything but dry.
3. Spoon Market
Part market, part craft brew purveyor and bar, Spoon is one of those spots that you can get everything from cheese to wine, and I’m not complaining a bit. I sat at the bar and enjoyed one of its fun specialty drinks and enjoyed very pleasant company. If you’re staying in Downtown Wooster, Spoon makes deliveries with a $12 or more purchase. You’ll need to call at least an hour in advance, but with menu items including freshly-made salads and sandwiches, it’ll be worth your wait.
What to Try: I only had the pleasure of test-driving the bar area, but Spoon does have plenty of Ohio craft brews on rotation and a creative specialty cocktail menu.
4. Broken Rocks Café & Bakery
If you’re seeing a theme in Downtown Wooster, you’re definitely not alone. Cafés offering great food and sweets are the place du jour – and I have absolutely no problem with that. Broken Rocks has a super cool, industrial chic vibe and a menu that’s off the charts. Freshly baked Foccacia bread is the staple of its sandwiches and it’s probably the best I’ve ever tried. The ambiance is super laid back and the wait staff are more than helpful and friendly, too. Prices are affordable as well – sandwiches start at $7.50 and are plentiful.
What to Try: If you’re making a summer visit, definitely peruse the menu for summer salads. My fave? The Grilled Chicken & Avocado Sandwich on Foccacia or a personal pizza with hand-crafted dough.
5. Basil Asian Bistro
If Asian fusion is your bag, Basil is your Wooster foodie stop. Its ambiance is cool without an ounce of pretension and the large windows provide a pretty view of Liberty Street. I love the menu- inspired by Southeastern and Pacific Asian cuisine and the only issue I had with it is narrowing down what to order. If you enjoy fun cocktails, many have dry ice to give them an air of surprise and beauty.
What to Try: If you love Thai, go for the Pad Thai Rice Noodles. Stir fried with shrimp, chicken, and eggs, topped with peanuts and bean sprouts, the dish has a teeny bit of a spicy kick and reminds me of delicious Thai Street noodles that I crave at least once a week. If you can’t get enough of sushi, there’s a massive menu at basil including vegetarian options.