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A Tale of Two Burgers: Gahanna Grill and Thurman Cafe

Posted by CMH Gourmand on March 25, 2007

Filmmaker George Motz is working on a book about hamburgers which brought him to Columbus. He was gracious enough to let me join him on his eating tour.

George did a documentary on eight great hamburger joints in the USA. It was really well done. It snagged the interest of a publisher who asked him to write a book on the best (100 or so) places.

Hamburger America

More about George at his web site

We met at The Gahanna Grill. I also met his wife Casey – although she is a 5 month pregnant vegetarian, she enjoys tagging along with George watching him eat burgers, take photos, and experiencing the Midwest. George and Casey are great so I hope we cross paths again.

Gahanna Grill

The Gahanna Grill
82 Granville St

George and I each had a Beanie Burger.


Beanie Burger
(Named for Beanie Vessner who has grilled these for 30 plus years)

1/2 pound patty
American cheese
Sautéed onions
Homemade Cole slaw
Served with a side of fries

beanie Burger

The Gahanna Grill has changed hands a couple times since the 1990’s but Beanie has remained and so have the fiercely loyal regular customers. The new owner used to have a pizzeria in NYC and was private chef to Rudy Giuliani (really). He retained all of the character of the place while upgrading the facilities. In fact, Gahanna Grill has not changed much since I last wrote about it.

Gahanna Grill a la City Search

The thing to do at the Gahanna Grill is to have a Double Beanie Burger. If you can eat all of it – you get a T-Shirt with an image of Beanie on the back as well as your photo on the Wall of Fame (I am on there twice from previous forays to the Grill).

Gahanna Grill

Our next destination was The Thurman Cafe in German Village.


Thurman Cafe
183 Thurman Ave
(German Village)

Web site

George and I each had the Thurman Burger.

Thurman Burger
At least 1/2 lb of beef
What seems like one pound of ham
American Cheese
Sauteed Onions
a heap of pickles
Jalapeno peppers
(Served with Chips and a pickle spear)

Thurman Burger

The Thurman-ator – twice the meat – we opted not to get that. Casey ordered some of the fabulous Thurman’s Steak Fries. Thurman’s has been around since 1937 and has always been a family operated place. It is oozing with character – wooden booths, the bar is plastered with all types of old photos, beer themed novelty items, signed dollar bills and more. There are many great spots to eat in German Village but Thurman’s is a true Columbus culinary destination.

The Thurman Burger is big – tall and wide.

This is my technique for the successful eating of the burger (works on a Double Beanie Burger as well).

1 – Place hand on Top Bun press down hard.

2 – Flip the burger over so that the bottom (very soggy by this point) bun is on top

3 – Cut the Hamburger in two equal pieces

4 – Grip firmly and don’t let go of the burger down until you finish your flipped half hamburger

George Motz

George Motz at work on a Thurman Burger

Buy George’s Book when it comes out in 2008!

FYI (Food of Your Interest) – More about Hamburgers

Business Week 2005 – Menches Brothers and the Ohio Hamburger Connection

Our Ohio – more on Menches

The National Hamburger Festival is July 21 and 22, 2007 in Akron. It will feature a Hamburger Eating Championship, the Burger Queen Pageant, and restaurants will compete to be the best hamburger in the nation.

Hamburger Festival

Ohio Magazine did a nice overview of Ohio hamburger history. Check out the article below.

Ohio Magazine on Ohio hamburgers

10 Responses to “A Tale of Two Burgers: Gahanna Grill and Thurman Cafe”

  1. Anna said

    My old roommate had a boyfriend named Dan that could eat the entire Thurman burger and somehow have room to pick food off everyone else’s plate when he was done. He used a similar technique to yours except he did not cut the burger in half. He also pushed the sleeves of his shirt way up past his elbows so he didn’t get any Thurman burger remains on him.

  2. dave said

    The Thurman burger was so unbelievable when I got it, I nearly turned into a vegetarian. For the first time, a burger place actually did cook it medium rare and, frankly, it was kind of gross. I’m a meat person but it was just too much.

    Funny thing was, when we were there, I saw a couple big guys next to us polish one of these off each and also had a HUGE plate of onion rings. Unbelievable.

  3. FoodieRobbieFuManChu said

    Just FYI, a Thurman burger patty is 2/3 lb. Everybody should try the Reuben Pizza Thin at least once… get it as an appetizer for the table.

    In a different style of burger, I must also highly recommend Jack’s Sandwich Shop in Lynn Alley downtown. Excellent diner fare. Heaven must be very similar to their double-cheeseburger, crinkle-cut fries and chocolate malt. They also have great 50s style decor and an awesome wait staff. Cons include being cash only and having limited hours.

  4. […] Thurman’s and Gahanna Grill. I hear Club 185 has a good burger as well. […]

  5. James Wilson said

    The Thurminator burger Thurman’s brings out around the Arnold Classic can be a bear. The regular Thurman burger, any format… easy to put down. Mom’s “Clean Plate Club” training strikes again.

  6. Big Daddy said

    You’ve got to swing by Johnnie’s Tavern on Trabue Rd (between Hague Ave and Dublin Rd, near NW side) home of the Superburger. Old school cheeseburger, cold beer, and if you are really hungry you can try to eat a side of fries or onion rings with it.

  7. Julie said

    Yowzers!! those look amazing!

  8. […] Gourmand blog entry about the Thurman Cafe’s […]

  9. Stilledlife said

    The Thurman burger is fine, but to me it is just a very big burger. While Thurmandelphia Steak Sub is where it is at! Flavor galore, I’m a pretty small gal but I took that sandwich down and still ate the fries! Mouths dropped and people looked on in disgust. Sure I didn’t eat anything else for about two days after that, but it was worth it.

  10. […] The Thurman Burger, Thurman Café, Columbus, OH Only for those with a large appetite, the Thurman Burger is a Columbus favorite. It starts with ½ pound of beef, and equal amounts of ham, mozzarella and […]

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