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May 31, 2020

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Lu Lu's Diner: Huge portions, cheerful welcome and fast service

Icon Restaurant Review:
Lu Lu's Diner
114 East College Ave, Bluffton
Reviewer: Liz Gordon-Hancock

A cheerful welcome and instruction to "Sit wherever you like!" awaits you as you enter the door of Lu Lu's diner in Bluffton.

Lu Lu's offers a kind of modern diner atmosphere, with stools at the counter and menu classics such as burger and fries and bottomless coffee mugs. Lu Lu's is clean and casual, with a kind of community feel. (You are likely to see familiar faces amongst fellow diners.)

Sunny-side up or omelets, pancakes or waffles? You can have breakfast any way you like it at Lu Lu's. You can order off the menu or make up your own combination.

I chatted briefly to our server, Rheanne (pronounced Ree-Nee), who is a Bluffton alum (1982) and has worked at Lu Lu's for six years.

According to her, the top menu choice is a Lu Lu's Special: three eggs any style, your choice of either bacon, sausage patty, sausage links or smoked ham, plus a pile of homefries, thick toast and jam.

The second favorite is the Breakfast Bowl: layers of scrambled eggs, homefries, sausage, bacon, ham, onions and green peppers, topped with sausage gravy and cheese, plus a side of toast.

If you have more of a sweet tooth, you can try Cinnamon Raisin or Funnel Cake French Toast. The funnel cake version is cinnamon bread battered with Lu Lu's special mix and syrup and cinnamon, dusted with powdered sugar. You can be assured the portions are huge.

If breakfast is not your cup of tea, then you can grab a burger or a sandwich or a chef salad. There are over 50 options to choose from, plus the kid's menu.

I came with a friend and my two kids for lunch to Bluffton's Lu Lu's Diner. It was just after noon on a weekday, and the place was half full. By 12:30, all the tables were full.

I ordered Corned Beef Hash, and within 10 minutes, I had a massive plate of corned beef hash with a poached egg perched on top, homefries (which are Lu Lu's version of hash browns) and thick-cut toast and jam in front of me.  

The poached egg was cooked to perfection: fully cooked egg white and runny egg yolk. My friend ordered the Zesty Feta Burger, a half pound of beef, with more fries than you could eat. The feta topping was flavorful, but not overly hot or spicy, and a good compliment to the burger.

For the kids (ages 4 and 5), we ordered a Mickey Mouse pancake and Chicken Strips with fries, both from the kid's menu. Of course, the pancake came in the shape of Mickey, complete with whipped cream, chocolate chips and syrup. (See picture) We also ordered a bowl of fruit as a side dish, and were rewarded with a rainbow of fruit arranged in a large soup bowl.

I've eaten at Lu Lu's over half-a-dozen times and I've always taken home a doggy bag - in fact, they leave the take-home containers on the side, fully expecting there to be leftovers. Plus, there are plenty of options for those on a limited diet, including gluten-free, Atkins and paleo.

Lu Lu's is a good place for families to eat out. My party of four were in and out within an hour, and spent less than $30. It's affordable, and you are supporting more local business.

They provide coloring books and crayons to entertain the littler ones.  There's a bowl of creamers on every table that are stackable, so your kid can build towers while waiting for food to arrive. And few kids can resist the Mickey Mouse or Princess Pancakes (although it's a miracle if they actually finish it).

More importantly, most of the servers are moms, too - they automatically put lids on the kids' drinks and cut down the straws to kid height. And these ladies have seen it all - my child poked a hole in his cup "to make a window," spilling apple juice everywhere, but our server whisked it away within seconds, saying with a smile, "That happens a lot." When you go to pay, the kids are offered a sucker (if the parent wants them to have one).

The only downside is there are no changing mats in the bathrooms for babies, but they do have plenty of high chairs and space for baby buggies.

The diner is open for breakfast and lunch each day.  Lu Lu's has three locations, and is soon to open a fourth restaurant in Wapakoneta.

Hours are Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The weekends are the busiest days. If you want the place to yourself, come before 8 a.m. But whenever you do come, Rheanne, Mary Beth, Brandi, Laurie, Katelyn, Kimmy and Sydney will be happy to serve you.

Additional info:
• Please note, the above review refers to the Bluffton location.
• Lu Lu's also provides catering for evening events. Call 419-228-5858 for more info.

CLICK HERE for the Icon's review of The Inn at ONU.