A good portion of events, no matter how inherently thrilling, are made tedious on an empty stomach — and concerts are no exception.
The time for preshow dinners is fast approaching. Blossom Music Center will kick off its summer concerts with Tim McGraw at 7 p.m. May 19.
Blossom’s 2022 concert schedule:Blossom Music Center lining up concerts for 2022
Luckily, there are quite a few places to fuel up on great food before heading to Blossom this summer. The Beacon Journal has identified nine locally owned restaurants up to the task of satisfying concertgoers. Also, as an added bonus, each place is within a 15-minute drive from the Cuyahoga Falls music venue (not considering traffic, of course).
Try these Local Flavors:Miss a recent Local Flavor restaurant review? From Chicken Ritz to Reuben omelettes to crepes, read them here
Seriously, don’t be those hangry people at the concert bringing the mood down for everyone else — eat, drink, rock out and be merry (in that order).
Dilly’s Drive In (Cuyahoga Falls, 7 minutes from Blossom)
Dilly’s features an old-school menu of burgers, Coney dogs and milkshakes. Plus, you can stay in your car and let the carhops do the hopping.
One of the drive-in’s signature items is the Double Dilly Burger ($3.85), a double burger with two sauces (homemade recipe tartar sauce and homemade recipe barbecue sauce), cheese and dill pickles.
Dive further into Dilly’s:Local Flavor: Lunch at Dilly’s drive-in an old-school experience
Another Dilly’s specialty is the Dilly Dog ($4.55), a ¼-pound hot dog with Velveeta cheese, homemade Coney sauce and coleslaw on top, served on a “Luigi” bun — a hoagie bun from an unnamed baker in Lakemore.
Dilly’s 1/6-pound burgers are made from a secret recipe that gives them sweetness, according to owner Steve Laughorn. The fresh patties are delivered three times a week from a company in Canal Fulton. Many customers have tried to guess the patties’ secret ingredient, Laughorn said, but he won’t give it away.
Shawarma Brothers (Cuyahoga Falls, 12 minutes from Blossom)
Regardless of your knowledge about Middle Eastern cuisine, consider a visit to Shawarma Brothers. A scratch-made meal can do a world of good, and this is a great place to get one.
The star of this eatery is the chicken shawarma, chicken thighs and breasts marinated in Mediterranean spices and cooked for 2½ hours on a large skewer, which can be ordered in a pita wrap ($7.50) or bowl ($10). Pair that with some of the restaurant’s homemade sides ($4) like hummus, grape leaves or falafel balls for a flavorful pre-concert meal.
More on Shawarma Brothers:Siblings serve their spin on Middle Eastern cuisine at Shawarma Brothers in Cuyahoga Falls: Local Flavor
No matter how you mix and match the entrée and sides, all combinations are filling but not too heavy — perfect when you could be jumping, hooting and hollering along with a band in a few hours.
Chowder House Café (Akron, 12 minutes from Blossom)
This seafood restaurant is known for its fish-based soups, which are created by chef and owner Louis Prpich. Chowder House also offers a variety of wines and craft cocktails.
Entrees range from $19 to $36, with many seafood choices as well as filet mignon and chicken supreme. Seafood dishes range from Cioppino, a San Francisco seafood stew with mussels, shrimp, scallops and fish, to Black Grouper Oscar topped with crab bearnaise.
Chow down in Merriman Valley:Chowder House Cafe splendid place to indulge in fall food in Akron: Local Flavor
Prpich’s top-selling appetizers are lobster crepes, crab cakes and the seafood platter. The most popular entree by far is the seafood Pappardelle, which has lobster, shrimp and scallops simmered in a three-cheese cream sauce.
All the desserts are made in house, too, including many from Prpich’s grandmother’s cookbook, like mini cast-iron berry cobbler.
Pint & Pie Works (Bath, 13 minutes from Blossom)
Described by Beacon Journal reporter Mark J. Price as a “factory of flavor,” Pint and Pie Works serves build-your-own pizzas — not fruit pies as some might assume.
Pizzas are made with fresh, never frozen dough and cost $10 for a small, $13 for a medium and $16 for a large. There’s also a gluten-free medium option with rice or cauliflower crust for $13. Most toppings are $1 to $2 each on a sliding scale depending on the size of the pizza. Options include pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, banana peppers, jalapenos, green peppers, onions, zucchini, tomato, green olives, black olives, mushroom, anchovies, pineapple and extra cheese.
Beer? Dessert? No, pizza:Local Flavor: The Pint and Pie Works is good and fresh
Along with pizzas, the restaurant also has appetizers, nearly 30 kinds of bourbon, whiskey and rye and one delicious dessert: cinnamon twist breadsticks (twisted dough, baked with cinnamon and sugar and slathered in frosting). The eatery also offers a rotating selection of Ohio beer on draft.
Drink, build and eat your heart out before heading to Blossom at Pint & Pie Works. Oh, and don’t forget to sprinkle your pizza with some “pizza spice” from that large metal container on the table.
Big Eu’es BBQ (Cuyahoga Falls, 12 minutes from Blossom)
So many sauces, so little time to try them all. But Big Eue’s allows customers to give it their best shot. Patrons can slather any of Big Eu’es BBQ’s many meats in eight sauces: Asian barbecue, ranch, spicy ranch, mild sauce, hot sauce, house barbecue sauce, hot barbecue sauce and spicy mayo.
Along with barbecue staples like ribs, chicken, brisket and pulled pork, they also serve sausages, hot dogs, roasted turkey, sandwiches and wraps.
Barbecue at Big Eu’es:Focus on Black-owned businesses: Cuyahoga Falls barbecue eatery is tribute to owners dad
The restaurant is a tribute to owner Eugene Wilson Jr.’s father, Eugene Sr., who died in 2013 but had always wanted to open a barbecue place. Wilson’s father had a barbecue sauce recipe, which is the signature feature at Big Eu’es.
Gasoline Alley (Bath, 13 minutes from Blossom)
This casual neighborhood hangout in Bath caters to everyone from friends bellying up to the long granite bar for “side car” appetizers and cocktails to families seeking burgers or pizza on its covered side patio.
Gasoline Alley is a small place with a large menu, featuring more than 60 sandwiches and burgers. Eight of the sandwiches are so big, you can order a whole (a Bully) or a half (a Sissy). And the prices are good: full sandwiches and burgers cost $7.99 to $13.99.
Fuel up on sandwiches in Bath:Local Flavor: Gasoline Alley the perfect date for summer lunch
It also offers numerous pizza choices ($15-$23). One of the more unusual-sounding ones is a Reuben pizza with corned beef, swiss, mozzarella and sauerkraut with Thousand Island dressing.
The owner’s sister is a pastry chef and makes all of Gasoline Alley’s desserts, which include whipped cream cheesecake, Key lime cheesecake and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
Sarah’s Vineyard (Cuyahoga Falls, 7 minutes from Blossom)
While Sarah’s Vineyard sits back off Steels Corners Road, the property is almost directly across from Blossom Music Center, making it the closest place to eat on this list.
Two kitchens service the winery, so outside food (other than cake or cupcakes) is not permitted. Their menu consists of a variety of starters, salads, sandwiches, sweets and wood-fired pizzas. Each 14-inch pizza is $16, toppings are an additional $1.50 for meats and $1 for vegetables.
Sarah’s has nine wines that are sold in glasses ($5-$7), half ($10-$14) and full ($16-$24) carafes as well as bottles ($16-$24) and you can taste them all for 50 cents a sample.
Quarter Up Bar Arcade (Akron, 11 minutes from Blossom)
This bar and arcade combo is unassuming from the outside, nestled in Parkwood Plaza along North Portage Path, but once inside, it provides a feast for the eyes, ears and stomach.
A mix of vintage and modern arcade, console and board games, along with pinball machines, are placed throughout the building. Most of them cost a quarter to play, but some of the newer, more ambitious ones cost a quarter or two more. Some of the older games include Punch-Out!!, BurgerTime and Dig Dug.
But Quarter Up is more than just a bar or arcade, it also has some pretty good food.
The appetizer menu has all the prerequisite items from pub fries to wings. In terms of entrees, it also has burgers, sandwiches and brats, although it is clear that hot dogs are the main food focus at Quarter Up.
Game before the concert:Akron’s Quarter Up Arcade and Bar serves up memories and some pretty darn good hot dogs
There are 11 varieties of the all-beef hot dogs on the menu from the boring old Just a Dog for $3 to the The Mortal Kombat hot dog with kimchi, spicy mayo and jalapeño crunchies for $5.
The chips are what sealed the deal for Beacon Journal reporter Craig Webb.
“At many places the chips are a generic afterthought,” he said. “I consider myself a bit of a potato chip connoisseur. If there is such a thing as a potato chip snob — I would certainly qualify as one. And Quarter Up earned my four potato rating by serving Gold’N Krisp chips with its hot dogs.”
Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips (Cuyahoga Falls, 15 minutes from Blossom)
This restaurant is truly the last of its kind. The Arthur Treacher’s in Cuyahoga Falls is the only remaining fixture of a chain that had more than 800 locations in the 1970s.
What a relief:The last Arthur Treacher’s to stay in Cuyahoga Falls
The signature dish is the Original Fish & Chips meal ($7.49), which comes with two pieces batter-dipped Alaskan pollock, English-style fried potatoes and two hushpuppies. In addition to fish, Arthur Treacher’s serves chicken, shrimp and clam dinners along with sandwiches.
More on fish and chips:Take a trip down memory lane at the last remaining Arthur Treacher’s in Cuyahoga Falls
But what really makes each meal special are the hushpuppies. Sweet and fluffy and… well, Beacon Journal reporter Mark J. Price says it best:
“The deep-fried cornmeal balls were sweet and savory, thick and crunchy, dense but somehow airy. Do they really serve these in Great Britain? I have serious doubts. I think a southern U.S. dish somehow sneaked its way onto the English menu. God save the queen.”
Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at [email protected] and on Twitter @TawneyBeans.