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Restaurant review: Thurman’s lives up to hype, pits man against monstrous burgers

The Thurman Cafe is located at 183 Thurman Ave.  Credit: Hayden Grove / Asst. sports director at BuckeyeTV

The Thurman Cafe is located at 183 Thurman Ave.
Credit: Hayden Grove / Asst. sports director at BuckeyeTV

Nestled in the outskirts of Columbus’ German Village lies a burger institution — one that has received the attention of one of America’s most-watched television shows.

The Thurman Cafe, located at 183 Thurman Ave., was one of a few Columbus eateries featured on Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” with famous foodie Adam Richman after being established as one of Ohio’s most compelling burger joints.

Having seen the show and never taking advantage of my proximity to the restaurant, I decided I needed to make the trek and take the time to sink my teeth into one of Thurman’s monstrous burgers.

Many friends of mine had visited the restaurant and warned me of horror stories of the two hours they spent simply waiting for a booth in the intensely crowded establishment.

Whether it was luck — or the fact that it was a snowy Monday night — my group of five walked into the restaurant without a problem or a wait.

Visually, the Thurman Cafe is certainly not aesthetically pleasing — junky, I might even call it. It’s a typical dive bar, complete with license-plated walls and a large bar area, but the atmosphere is not why people arrive in droves. The tables were worn and torn, as were the walls, but as the menus hit the table, the atmosphere seemed completely secondary.

Immediately, the 2 1/2 pound “Thurmanator” burger, costing $17.99, bounced off of the plain-Jane menus and into my curious eyes.

Unfortunately, however, I made the decision my appetite wasn’t quite ready for all of that. Instead, without a second thought, I made my selection — the Thurman Burger, $11.29, a three-quarter pound burger complete with ham, mozzarella and American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, sauteed onions, pickle, peppers and mayonaise.

While I knew the enormity of Thurman’s namesake burger, I was ready to tackle it and did so easily.

At first, however, I didn’t know how to attack the beast, as it was approximately the size of my face. I tried to take a normal bite, but I missed just about everything, so I decided to take it as two separate items — a ham-and-cheese sandwich and a three-quarter pound burger.

When I finally got a taste of the burger, everything — the popularity, the hype and the visit from “Man v. Food,” all made sense. The three-quarter pound patty was tender, juicy and incredibly flavorful, everything I imagined it to be and more. After salivating over the divine burger, I took to the ham-and-cheese portion, which wasn’t as satisfying, but satisfactory nonetheless.

I scarfed down the entirety of the burger and was so stuffed I couldn’t even look at the fries or chips that accompanied the meal. Most of the rest of the men in my party didn’t touch them either.

Overall, Thurman Cafe was a great experience, if for no other reason than the hunk of wonderful meat for which it has procured its fame. I might have paid for the immense meal the next day, but I still believe it was more than worth it.

Bottom line: Find a way to get to Thurman’s, be prepared to wait, order nothing but water and a burger and you’ll be more than satisfied with your decision.

Grade: A-

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