The Jambar Column: Henry’s favorite things

By Henry Shorr

I’ve been living in Youngstown for over a year now. I grew up in Columbus but my entire family hails from the Mahoning Valley. My great-grandfather was the Warner Brothers’ driver and my grandfather — my namesake, Henry Shorr I — was a family doctor in Youngstown for decades. 

In 2021, when I needed a change of scenery and to finish my college degree, I decided to reconnect with my family roots and come up to Youngstown. I was nervous at first, having only visited fleetingly throughout my life and uprooting my comfortable life in the capital. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

I have fallen in love with this city. Between the topography of the Valley and the beautiful green spaces, the friendly people who live here and the food (oh my god, the food), I have found a great landing spot.

I want to start by talking about how truly flat the greater Columbus area is. My mom had an office on the 18th floor of a building in downtown Columbus. When I would visit her, I would look out the window and I could literally see for miles. The landscape is nonexistent and that’s what I’m used to. 

Moving up here, next to the foothills of the Allegheny mountains, has given me something to look at every day. Even just driving down Interstate 680 and seeing the levels this city has makes me smile. And I won’t even get into how much I love Mill Creek MetroParks and all of the other beautiful natural spaces in the Valley. That needs its own column.

Let’s talk about the food in this city. I’m sure I’m beating a dead horse but holy cannoli (Mocha House’s to be specific), the food in this city is out of this world.

I dated a woman from Youngstown while I was living in Columbus and she would always remark on how the food in Youngstown is generally better than in other places in Ohio. My elitist, Columbus brain could not believe that could possibly be true. Boy, have I been proven wrong.

Not only does this city have some of the best Italian food I’ve had in America, it has some of the best food from different cultures and ethnicities I’ve tried in a long time. It stands as a testament to how diverse Youngstown is. 

If you want good Mexican food, there’s Plaza Mexicana on the West Side. If you want good Indian food, Shagri La has you covered. Do you like East Asian cuisine? Check out Golden Hunan or Izumi. You can’t throw a shoe in this town without hitting something good to eat and I love it. 

Finally, the thing that really has cemented this place as a home to me are the people who live here. There is a mixture of Midwestern hospitality and east-coast individualism in this town that makes it a place unlike any I’ve lived. 

People make things here. They run businesses and help others. But not just that, people talk to you here. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat at Westside Bowl after a full day and left with a new acquaintance. People talk to each other and share their lives and stories. It makes my job as a journalist much easier, to be honest.

In closing: Youngstown, I love you. Thanks for being so welcoming to an outsider who wants to call this city home.