The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (2024)

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The Official Visitis a series that explores the best places to eat, drink and congregate at college football locales across the country. In Year 1, we visit five campuses.

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (1)

The month of August was hectic, but it’s one that won’t be soon forgotten.

My colleague Max Olson and I traveled to five different college campuses with one mission: give people a guide of what to do when going to games this fall. The place to eat? We found it. The place to drink? We tried it. Campus traditions? We lived them.

That’s what separates college athletics from pro sports. It’s about the people, the traditions and the places that make each one of these colleges — and the fans that support them — unique.

First up is Ohio State.

Ohio Stadium

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (2)

One of the most iconic stadiums in college football, Ohio Stadium has a capacity of 102,780, but it finds a way to squeeze a few extra thousand people in for big games. We walked in under the rotunda on the north side of the stadium, saw the stained glass window of Ohio State’s “Block O” logo and proceeded down the ramp where the team enters on game day. We also walked through the concourse and checked out seats from multiple vantage points. Just taking in views in a stadium with so much history was an experience.

Tommy’s Pizza

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (3)

Though there are plenty of places that claim to be home to Central Ohio’s best pizza, Tommy’s on Lane Avenue might be No. 1. A stone’s throw from Ohio Stadium, Tommy’s serves Columbus-style pizza on a cracker-like crust with top-notch toppings. It’s an Ohio State institution and a Columbus tradition since 1952. We ordered multiple pizzas and started off with a toasted Italian sub as an appetizer. If you love sausage for a topping, Tommy’s does it the best.

The Woody Hayes Athletic Center

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (4)

One of the nicest facilities in college football, the Woody has a lobby open to the public that displays memorabilia from Ohio State’s many accomplishments on the football field — including trophies from bowl games, the 2014 national title trophy and Heismans from multiple winners.You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you drive up to the statue of legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes.

Buckeye Grove

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (5)

A beautiful park just south of Ohio Stadium, Buckeye Grove is an Ohio State tradition like no other. Every Ohio State football player who has been recognized as a first-team All-American has a Buckeye tree planted in the park in their honor. We had former Ohio State linebacker and first-round NFL Draft pick Bobby Carpenter show us around and explain just what this tradition means to the Buckeye community.

Thurman Cafe

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (6)

Located at 183 Thurman Avenue in Columbus’ German Village district, Thurman is known as the home to one of the best burgers in Columbus. It gained a ton of notoriety when the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” came through and host Adam Richman ate “The Thurmanator” burger on one of his eating challenges. “The Thurmanator,” which was created by accident to meet the protein needs of the bodybuilders competing in the Arnold Classic, consists of two 12-ounce burger patties, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, banana peppers, sautéed mushrooms, onion, ham and cheddar, mozzarella and American cheese between two large buns. We tried to share one and still couldn’t finish it.

Varsity Club

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (7)

Opened in 1959, the Varsity Club is an Ohio State staple, especially on game day. It is located about 500 yards from the football stadium, which means it is jam-packed before, during and after Ohio State home games. It is known as the place to grab a cold beverage, but it also has an expansive dining menu and really good food. With Ohio State memorabilia on the walls, it has a real campus atmosphere to it. It would have been impossible to come through Columbus and not stop for a drink at Varsity Club at some point.

Land-Grant Brewing Company

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (8)

Located in the Franklinton Arts District, Land-Grant Brewing Company is in an old factory building from the 1920s. Co-founders Adam Benner and Walt Keys were college roommates at Ohio State who always dreamed of opening a business together. Adam’s hobby of home brewing and Walt’s background in graphic design made them the perfect partners. Be sure to stop in and try one of the dozens of beers offered, especially Stiff-Arm IPA.

Wario’s Beef And Pork

This restaurant didn’t make the final cut of the film, but we would be remiss if we didn’t suggest it. Located in the heart of the Arena District, it is an East Coast sandwich shop that makes you feel as though you’re in Philadelphia or New York. It is legitimately one of the best cheesesteaks you can get anywhere, but don’t sleep on the chicken cutlet and the cold-cut sandwich. Also, don’t forget the house spuds, which are crispy onion smashed potatoes with herbs and parmesan. Simply put, you have to go.

The Official Visit series is part of a partnership with StubHub.

The Athletic maintains full editorial independence. Partners have no control over or input into the reporting or editing process and do not review stories before publication.

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (9)The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (10)

Ari Wasserman is a senior writer for The Athletic covering college football and recruiting nationally. He previously spent 10 years covering Ohio State for The Athletic and Cleveland.com, starting on the Buckeyes beat in 2009. Follow Ari on Twitter @AriWasserman

The Ohio State 'Official Visit' — Ohio Stadium, the Woody and the best places to eat and drink (2024)

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