If you head to quaint Marietta, Ohio — where the Muskegum and mighty Ohio Rivers converge — on a pretty day, you’ll definitely want to eat outside. Whether that’s on a park bench facing the river or straddling your Harley with a group of friends, Harmar’s got a make-your-own entertainment vibe. I myself started spring with a road trip accompanied by my new pound puppy, Madam CJ. It was her first time out of state! I hope that’s not a violation of the Mann Act . . .
The historic Harmar Tavern hadn’t opened up their back porch for al fresco dining yet and if they had, I don’t know if Madam would have been invited to dine. It appears they’ve been around since 1900. Harmar is what you might consider a subdivision of Marietta, on the other side of the Muskegum. Back in the day, it was its own town.
They make a sandwich popular in Appalachia — and southeast Ohio is definitely part of Appalachia — the Fried Bologna Sandwich. For 7 years, I was the agent for a Southern Rock band, Night Train, that actually performed in Marietta. They had this shtick where they’d fry up bologna sandwiches on a hot plate between sets, hand them out to the audience. The drummer was a butcher.
Harmar’s fried bologna sandwiches are made with thick cuts of bologna, almost like a thick ham. Juicy and meaty, this is an inconceivable improvement on the thinly sliced bologna sandwich. One time when I was a kid, we drove out of state to my aunt’s house for dinner and she served fried thin bologna sandwiches to her out of town relatives. My mom took that to mean she didn’t want any more visits from us ever again . . . so we didn’t.
I ordered a couple of Harmar Tavern bologna sandwiches to go. You have to get them with sliced onion and mayo, that’s the flavor law (or as Donnie Baker would say, “It’s state law!”). I also had them add lettuce and tomato. But what to drink?
Just a few doors down is the delightful and charming Marietta Soda Museum. Not only do they have fascinating history on Coca Cola nad a wonderful gift shop, there’s also an old-fashioned soda fountain where you can get flavored Cokes freshly mixed. I got a Cherry-Chocolate Coke to go. It may be the saddest thing about my having been diagnosed with Diabetes, that real Cokes have to be a rare, as Cookie Monster would say, “Sometimes” drink.