This is a true Findlay institution.
Every town has them. Places everyone is familiar with. Findlay, has several places like that, including that classic joint on Main Street: Wilson’s Sandwich Shop. For decades, Wilson’s has been a go-to stop for everyone from post- football game high schoolers to presidential candidates on the campaign trail. Drive by in the morning and you’ll see tables filled with regulars laughing, talking and drinking coffee. Does Wilson’s deserve the status of a “Findlay institution”?
One beautiful Thursday evening, we decided to put Wilson’s to the test. We really took this challenge seriously and ordered a wide variety of food along with Wilson’s classic malts and every variety of pie offered. And that night, Wilson’s had seven kinds of pie. But we’ll get to that…
The Short Course
Noise Level: Average.
High Chairs and Boosters: Yes.
Got Milk? Yes.
Kids Menu: No – but super kid-friendly.
Food Allergy Concerns: Ask for assistance with allergy concerns.
Still a classic
First, Wilson’s is one of those places stuck in time–but in a good way. The interior seems to have changed little since its 1936 opening. Walls of windows give diners a view of downtown. Plain orange booths divide the restaurant and run along one side while window counter seating lines the other. A few circular tables fill the remaining space. The rest is a simple, classic diner including a counter for ordering (and pie-gazing) and another with condiments, water and napkins. Be sure to check the back wall for the original menu—the prices will astound you.
Now, for those of you who know Wilson’s, you may recall that there’s a system for ordering. Or there used to be, at least. Want a “hamburg”? Just say “one without.” Want a cheeseburger? Order “one with.” But if that flusters you, then worry not because Wilson’s has relaxed in recent years and you’re “allowed” to order without following the decades-old system.
Fresh, delicious burgers and sides
However you order, be sure to try a Wilson’s burger. There’s magic in Wilson’s fresh meat burgers that gives them a distinct flavor. My bacon cheeseburger oozed that classic, amazing Wilson’s flavor that I’ve enjoyed since childhood. The kids inhaled their burgers happily, in between sampling fries and onion rings. And just like their burgers, Wilson’s takes those two classics and does them justice.
The fries had a fresh-cut potato flavor that our youngest, Mae, particularly enjoyed. I think she even danced a bit with each bite. As for the onion rings, it’s what they weren’t that made them so exceptional – the batter wasn’t greasy or too thick or overly salty. Just a flavorful shell encasing a thin ring of sweet onion. Classic and delicious.
My husband, Jeremy, opted for a BLT (which shocked me because he is not a fan of tomatoes). Imagine my surprise when he loved it and said, “I’ve never had a BLT where I actually left the L and T on.” He particularly appreciated the generous amount of bacon on the sandwich. The black bean burger had a great flavor from the beans and other veggies, along with a spicy kick. We also sampled the hot dogs, which proved to be classic, all-beef Ball Park franks.
Somehow, after all those sandwiches and sides, we hunkered down and sampled seven kinds of pie: pecan (salty and sweet!), cherry (deliciously tangy), blueberry (bursting with berry flavor), peach (fresh and sweet), strawberry rhubarb (our four-year-old’s favorite), apple (crumble top – yum) and sugar pie. In case you’re unfamiliar with sugar pie (like we were): it’s heavenly. It’s the good ol’ American version of crème brulee or flan. A standard crust with a buttery custard-like, slightly caramel-flavored filling — Mmmmmm. Wilson’s is known for homemade pie and we tasted seven unique, delicious reasons for that reputation. And, a trip to Wilson’s isn’t complete without a chocolate malt. Each sip offered true chocolate flavor – nothing fake or overly sweet.
Our visit confirmed Wilson’s reputation as a local institution. From burgers to desserts, the food was satisfying with authentic flavor. The classic, unpretentious diner atmosphere feels like a step back to a time when ingredients were fresh and reputations were built on delicious food. As a Findlay native, Wilson’s will always have a place in my heart, and it’s a joy to see this Findlay institution live up to the title.