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by Caitlin Saniga

I’ve been ordering this burger my whole life. It’s Swensons traditional hamburger with mustard and pickles only. I usually order broken onion rings (little bites that are super crispy!) and a California drink (grape soda mixed with lemon-lime soda and crushed ice) to go with it.

At Swensons, you pull into a parking spot near the building and turn your car’s headlights on for service. Servers run up to the driver-side window and take your order. When the food’s ready, they bring it out on a metal tray that clamps to the car’s window.

I visited: Swensons, a northeast Ohio chain of drive-ins that’s been around since 1934 and specializes in burgers and milkshakes. Lots of people know Swensons for their signature Galley Boy sandwich, a double cheeseburger with homemade barbecue and tartar sauces. And the milkshakes are out of this world. Insider’s tip: There are 18 milkshake flavors on the menu, and any of them can be combined in one drink. Some of my favorites: Mint, peanut butter and jelly, and blueberry-pomegranate.

I tried: The hamburg (That’s what the menu calls ’em!) with mustard and pickles. It comes served on a buttered and toasted bun.

Why it stood out: The burgers at Swensons have a distinctly sweet taste to them. Over the years, I’ve heard rumors that the burgers have maple syrup, grape or raspberry jelly or brown sugar mixed into them. I’ve known more than five people who’ve worked as servers at Swensons, and none of them seem to know the secret ingredient. The mystery is half the fun.

It cost: $1.80

Swensons has a special spot in my heart. I’ve eaten there for a number of occasions, including once for a homecoming dinner date. I no doubt ordered a hamburger with mustard and pickles plus a California on this trip, too.

Find out more: Swensons has seven drive-ins scattered around Northeast Ohio. The one I most often visit is the Montrose location.
www.swensonsdriveins.com

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried. Help our map grow by submitting your own review. Find out how!

Swenson's (Akron) on Urbanspoon

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by Caitlin Saniga

The only sad part about ordering the hummus from Aladdin's is that there's never enough pita! Ask for double, or plan to get creative with dippers if you grab an order to go. But really, anything tastes better dunked in this stuff.

Sarah and I have long loved Aladdin's. We'd drive over to the Hudson, Ohio, location when we were living in Kent to order our favorite menu items (Mine's the chicken salad rolled pita with feta and toasted almonds, and Sarah loves the lentil-chili soup.). The last time we met up in Ohio, we visited the Akron location and caught up over dinner (Bill snapped this picture of us.). I love Aladdin's because the vibe is very comfortable yet classy. It's the type of place where you can grab lunch with a co-worker, have a nice dinner date or order a meal to go. And while the bulk of the chain's locations are in Northeast Ohio, I was surprised to see Aladdin's has spread out to places like Indiana and Virginia. Pull up the map on the Aladdin's website, and see for yourself!

I visited: Aladdin’s Eatery, which has a Mediterranean menu with lots of meat-free (and meat-full) options

I tried: Hummos, topped with fresh herbs, olive oil and a couple of sliced vegetables, served with pita

Why it stood out: I order the hummus at Aladdin’s every time I go, whether it’s for a sit-down meal at the restaurant or a to-go lunch. It’s a very smooth, simple hummus with a light sesame flavor and bright lemon notes. The fresh, warm, thin pita that comes with it makes the perfect dipper.

It cost: About $6, depending on the location

Find out more: Aladdin’s has locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana and Virginia.
www.aladdinseatery.com

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.

Aladdin's Eatery on Urbanspoon

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by Caitlin Saniga

Every grilled cheese comes with a paper mini-umbrella and sides of cole slaw and Goldfish crackers. I ordered the Number Four, which has mozzarella, sun-dried tomato pesto and arugula.

Akron, Ohio’s best grilled cheese can be found at The Lockview, a moody restaurant/bar (with a seasonal rooftop patio) downtown. The menu centers on a list of 12 grilled cheese sandwiches and a slew of other playful sandwiches and appetizers.

On my most recent trip there (I try to go every time I’m in the area, my hometown), I ordered the Number Four — toasty mozzarella, sun-dried tomato pesto and arugula with Parmesan cheese on Italian bread. The sandwich came with a small cup of cole slaw, which is a mayonnaise-based cabbage-and-carrot slaw with celery seed, and a pile of Goldfish crackers. No matter the sandwich, the crackers and slaw make the meal. It sounds crazy, but the flavor combination is perfect. The plate of food cost just $6. You can add tater tots, French fries or sweet potato fries for an added cost.

Kristina ordered the fish soft taco with fresh-cut French fries.

The grilled cheese sandwiches range in price from $4.50 to $7.

I ordered a drink called I’m Blushing, and, after two sips, I’m sure I was blushing. Those drinks are far from wimpy.

Some of the others I’ve tried (and generally loved) include the Number Two, which is Mozzarella cheese, tomato and pepperoni on Italian bread with a side of marinara;

Kristina always orders this coffee drink, but I can’t remember what it’s called. I know it’s $9 and she loves it.

the Number Six, which is Cheddar cheese, grilled apples and applewood smoked bacon on buttertop bread; and the Number Ten, which is Havarti dill cheese, pickles, grilled red onions and spicy brown mustard on rye bread.

Appetizers range from $3.50 to $7 and include macaroni and cheese bites, deep-fried pepperoni, and a bread basket with dipping oils. Other signature sandwiches range from $6 to $7. On my recent trip, my friend Kristina raved about the fish soft taco ($7), which she’s ordered several times.

But The Lockview’s drink menu is one of the best perks. The beer menu is always evolving and includes a long list of imports. They keep a neat list of beers on the chalkboard above the bar (and online, with wines), but be sure to ask about specials when you go. They also have a decent mixed drinks menu. On my visit, I ordered a drink called I’m Blushing ($8.50), which is Skyy vodka, fresh mint, muddled cranberries, fresh lime and cranberry juice. The cranberries made it seem like a holiday version of a mojito.

Kristina and I had a great time catching up at The Lockview. The atmosphere was cozy, with candles at each table and strings of light bulbs zig-zagged overhead. The waitstaff was attentive and friendly and wasn’t annoyed that we chatted in our booth for nearly two hours. That’s the kind of place it is. People go there to spend time enjoying the atmosphere and each other’s company.

Visit The Lockview in the downtown Akron: 207 S. Main St., Akron, OH 44308; thelockview.com

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.

The Lockview on Urbanspoon

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