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MUST-TRY: These beefy burgers are well worth the drive east on I-70

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but maybe you can judge a burger dive by the number of one dollar bills taped to its walls. 

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If that is the case, The Thurman Cafe, a legendary tavern at 183 Thurman Ave. in  Columbus’ German Village, has enough dollar bills and hamburger meat to feed a small nation. 

Our heads turned when a waitress strolled by our seats at the bar with a  Thurmanator — clearly Thurman’s showiest burger.

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She delivered it to a skinny dude seated by the front window with two women.

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Like us, they laughed at the massiveness of the sandwich.  

The statuesque $21.99 cheeseburger — mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle, banana peppers, a 12-ounce burger patty, bacon, cheddar, another 12 ounce burger patty, sauteed mushrooms,  onions, ham, mozzarella cheese, and American cheese between a bun — is a cardiologist's nightmare.

It is a literally and figuratively a big deal and was featured on the first season of the  Travel Channel's show “Man v. Food.” 

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We didn’t dare order one. 

Served with fries, it was also far too much for my lunch companion and I to handle. And no, the dude and didn’t finish it.  

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After conferring with the bartender, we went with his two favorites: the Thurman Burger — a sandwich loaded with lettuce, tomato, banana peppers, ham, mushrooms, onions, mozzarella and American cheese, a burger patty, and mayo — and the Johnny Burger.

The Johnny Burger includes blue cheese, bacon, a splash of tequila cooked into the meat and horseradish cheese. In a word, the Johnny Burger is “baller.” The tangy, salty and meaty creation is $13.99 with fries and a pickle spear. It is $17.99 with a shot of 1800 Tequila. 

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The Johnny Burger at The Thurman Cafe in Columbus, Ohio.

Like with the Johnny, the Thurman burger ($13.99 with chips and a pickle spear) was juicy and simply cooked. The ham, melted cheeses and toppings were great, but the true star of the sandwich is the beef itself -- no tricks needed. 

Besides a menu that includes about 20 burgers, Thurman’s has a variety of intriguing salads, thin-crust pizzas, chicken sandwiches, subs, chicken wings, sandwiches (the restaurant’s fried bologna sandwich is next on my list) and appetizers. 

I’ve been thinking about the burgers ever since we tried them and am looking forward to our next visit to the family-owned restaurant opened in 1942. 

The Thurman Burger at the Thurman Cafe in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: Amelia Robinson)
The Thurman Burger at the Thurman Cafe in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: Amelia Robinson)

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