Thurns is like a shrine to smoked meat products - mostly pork - and as soon as park your car, the delicious aroma hits you. For a first timer, Thurns can be a bit overwhelming - just what is landjager (heavily cured dried sausage which lasts forever - perfect for traveling)? What's the difference between Wieners and Franks (casing size - wieners are small and franks are big)? How many types of tongue are there (three. or is it four)?
The best way to tackle Thurns is to start small, with familiar things, and occasionally throw in something new and exciting. Their bacon is amazing. It might be the best bacon being made in Columbus - surely Blues Creek is right up there - hey, maybe we need to have a bacon show-down!. The bacon is smoky and thickly cut. This is more of the cutting and flavoring variety than the breakfast eating variety, in my opinion. But we all know that all of the Autumn foods we have in abundance right now love bacon, right? Brussels sprouts, cabbage, squash, apples - everything loves bacon.
The Knackwurst at Thurns is also amazing. I've written about it before here; it's so great to dump a few links into a crockpot, maybe add in a small piece of pork shoulder, cover the whole thing in sauerkraut, maybe throw in a few fennel seeds and cloves and then go to work. It's one of the best and easiest dinners imaginable.
If you are a liverwurst fan, their braunschweiger is amazing - a great base for an all-local Banh Mi, I would think. Also, my cats go crazy for it, although they won't eat any other brand.
Thurns' hot dogs (pictured at top of post) have natural casings which snap when you bite into them; they have a completely different flavor from a grocery store hot dog, namely the hint of smoke. Like the knackwurst, they are very rich and demand some relish and good hot dijon and a good roll.
I also bought some of their country liverwurst after one of the cooks from work brought it in. It is really great, and I wanted to have it at my last dinner but when I made it to Thurns, they were closed. Another easy thing to try is the servalot (above), their version of salami, which is of course house cured (Thurns might be the only place in Columbus to make and cure their own sausages); it has a great flavor. The servalot falls into their category of "Summer" sausages, which are cured; the black Leona is also great, being double smoked and having a dark and smoky.
So, head south and try out Thurns. I can't believe how many foodie types I've met recently who have never been there. Start with something easy like a few of things I've mentioned, and then you can move on to the souse and tongue.
Thurns is an old-school sausage maker and meat packing house. They've been open for something like 110 years, the staff is friendly, and it is one of the best things in Columbus. I am ashamed I don't make it there as often as I should. Aside from the fact that everything at Thurns is delicious, it is really inexpensive. 1/2 pound of ham salad, 1 pound wieners, 1 pound bacon, 1 pound country liverwurst, and 3 inches of servalot only set me back $20. Gotta love that. Oh! and if you snag a deer this hunting season or your car does, no need for it to go to waste - Thurns will dress it all up for you! Deer sausage is amazing, just in case you've never tried it.
Info: Thurns Specialty Meats 530 Greenlawn Ave (South side) Thurns has limited hours - I believe they are open Thursday through Saturday; the other days they are smoking. They do have extended hours around the holidays. No plastic is accepted - cash or check only.