It seems that when a restaurant advertises the fact that it’s been around for decades, said establishment often sticks to decor associated with a set time period in American history. But that doesn’t appear to be the case with Theo’s Restaurant in downtown Cambridge.
Theo’s traces its history to 1931 when it opened as a Coney Island-style hot dog establishment, says the restaurant’s website. Since then, the place has passed down though several generations of owners, all related to varying degrees. After a fire in the 1980s, the restaurant was rebuilt, retaining the “Coney Island Lunch” name (which explains the more modern decor in the restaurant). It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the restaurant was renamed “Theo’s.”
Remnants of the eatery’s original purpose still survive, such as a Coney Island hot dog menu in the far dining room. The restaurant also has retained the locally-famous Coney Island dogs on its menu.
I was able to stop in for lunch on a recent trip to Indiana, and I was thoroughly impressed. The interior is large, and divided into two distinct dining rooms, one of which contains a bar. I had the “moist and sassy” version of the grilled chicken breast sandwich (I tend to be a sucker for menu items that are given a weird name). This version of the sandwich features the chicken marinated in a wine, olive oil, lemon and spice blend, which honestly was one of the best marinades I’ve ever had – not too sweet, not dripping wet and not hot. The grand total for my sandwich, fries and drink was under $7.
Theo’s seemed really down-to-earth, despite the fairly modern decor. The staff was all very friendly and made sure everything was satisfactory. The other thing I really liked was the variety on the menu. This isn’t just an average sandwich and fries place. For example, one of the specials the day I visited was halushki – a Hungarian entree based on soft noodles and cabbage. The Theo’s recipe included ham.
Theo’s is located at 632 Wheeling Ave., right in downtown Cambridge along U.S. 40. It is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Daily specials and the regular menu are updated on the restaurant’s website. Parking is available on both sides of Wheeling Avenue in Cambridge, and is free for two hours – plenty of time to eat. Theo’s can be reached at 740-432-3878.