If there’s anything Ohioans love more than stealing the names of other places (we see you, Lebanon, Versailles, Lima, et al.), it’s having historic small towns with excellent restaurant options -- and Delaware, Ohio, accomplishes both. It’s a town best known as the birthplace of so-so president Rutherford B. Hayes, as well as being the host town of the Little Brown Jug, one-third of the Triple Crown of Pacing horse racing series.
Visit any other weekend but race weekend, however, and you’ll find a treasure trove of city-style dining in a small-town package; restaurants like Veritas are frequently ranked in Columbus’ best-of roundups, even though the state capital is 30 miles away. First Fridays downtown are a jumping affair for an arts scene bolstered by Ohio Wesleyan, the local college -- and speaking of OWU, the Perkins Observatory is an excellent date spot that's open to the public.
Must-eat foods: Filet medallions at 1808 American Bistro, one of the classiest (and priciest) spots in town; chorizo burger and sweet potato fries at 12 West; ice cream from Ollie’s, which is served out of the owner’s house (basically the most small-town Ohio thing ever).