If you think everything fades after three decades, check out this mainstay of the East Side dining scene, where the seasonal menu of well-crafted cuisine remains reliably, vibrantly up-to-date. Summer lunches on the shady, tree-lined patio are a high point of the season; in the winter, several fireplaces make for cozy indoor dining.
The plastic and neon of the Montrose shopping district are two miles and several decades removed from this little roadhouse. But while the Alley's big menu of sandwiches, pizza and salads seems soothingly unfashionable, execution is above average, the car-themed decor is charming, and the attitude is hip.
Overstuffed corned beef on rye, pastrami platters, kosher salami stacks sided with potato salad.
A devastating fire put Grumpy’s out of commission for two years, but owner Kathy Owad has resurrected the beloved Tremont café in a cozy new space. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch and late-night weekend dining, Grumpy’s pretty much has you covered morning, noon and night. Expect hearty plates of reasonably priced, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food served with cheerfulness.
The two-story guitar outside the Hard Rock is a beacon for music lovers, who pack the place every weekend to feast on mammoth burgers and music videos. The dining area is sometimes cleared for concerts, which typically feature rockers on the rise.
Short-order cooks toil inside this tiny vintage dining car, slapping around savory sirloin burgers and ladling up the best chili-and-cheese-drenched "Bubba Fries" in town. Other options include salads (even tough guys need their greens), soups, and juicy chicken sandwiches. The diner does brisk business for breakfast and lunch; hungry road warriors, or their Walter Mitty doppelgängers, can also catch an early dinner here on Fridays before 7 p.m.
Stampede over to Harry Buffalo when you need a fix of low-fat bison steaks, ribs, or burgers: This homegrown chain, with six area locations, is the largest purchaser of buffalo meat in Ohio. Besides bison, the large menu includes beef, salads, pastas, and chicken. The video games and a big list of imported, domestic, and microbrewed beers are just what urban cowboys need after a long week on the trail.
This old-fashioned soda fountain and lunch counter not only provides casual fare in a family-friendly setting, but also serves as sheltered employment for clients of the Hattie Larlham agency. The vintage fixtures were salvaged from the former Saywell's Drug Store, a Main Street mainstay for almost seven decades.
Heading into its fourth decade, this charming Ohio City café remains a reliable, if non-trendy, refuge for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch, best enjoyed in the airy garden room, a mug of cinnamon-scented coffee at hand. While gourmet burgers are the specialty of the house, other options abound, including salads, wraps, steaks, and pastas.
Riding high from the success of two popular food trucks — not to mention a Food Network reality show appearance — Chris Hodgson landed his first bricks-and-mortar restaurant. Teaming up with the experienced Scott Kuhn, Hodge delivers exciting, approachable dishes with broad appeal. Who can resist lobster corn dogs, flaky goat-cheese tarts, and light-as-air gnudi? For the mains, dig into a pasta version of French onion soup, pitch-perfect duck breast, and luxurious braised lamb shank.
Comfy, cozy, and family-friendly, Hudson's is a classic neighborhood restaurant, serving reasonably priced breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare, as well as libations from the full bar. While the owners' culinary chops are apparent in creations like Jamaican-spiced pork loin or bourbon-glazed salmon, the menu is far more homey than haute, with enough burgers, chicken, and meatloaf to satisfy even the least adventurous eater.
While the atmosphere at this Hyde Park location may be a smidgen less elegant than at its Cleveland-area counterparts, the Prime dry-aged steaks here are second to none. For unforgettable flavor, pick the thick Kansas City bone-in strip. At 20 ounces, this juicy hunk of beef will almost certainly require a doggy bag, but it's one of the best steaks around.
HPP's Beachwood location is big, manly and urbane, with all the trappings of an upscale midwestern steakhouse. Happily, the food shrimp cocktails, Kobe beef burgers and of course, thick, juicy steaks is as satisfying as the setting, and the place is as popular for after-work unwinding as it is for weekend splurges.
Yes, its part of a national group of Nashville-based restaurants. But J. Alexanders still gets the nod for intelligently conceived and well-prepared food, served in a gimmick-free atmosphere. Prices are right, portions are huge, and the slowly roasted prime rib is probably Clevelands finest.
This attractive Larchmere Boulevard space is operated by the folks behind Angie's Soul Café and Zanzibar Soul Fusion. Here, the focus is on Cajun and Creole dishes inspired by the Big Easy: Think authentically prepared gumbo, jambalaya, BBQ shrimp, and étouffée. The seafood is fresh, the sauces vivacious, the portions robust, and the prices right where they should be.
About as fancy as it gets at John Q's is a 16-ounce strip steak with a coating of cognac mustard and cracked black peppercorns. Other beef entrées porterhouse, filet mignon, rib steak, and prime rib are presented unadorned, all the better for you to enjoy their grilled flavor. The sprawling restaurant includes several romantic, curtained booths; ask for one when you make reservations.
Cops, lawyers, secretaries, hipsters, football fans, and neighborhood residents sooner or later, everyone ends up at Karls, for the good food, well-stocked bar, and unpretentious vibe. A one-pound corned-beef sandwich is the house specialty; other good bets include the Friday-night fish fry and the well-dressed Snuggery Burger.
If you sent the Lee Road diner cars through some sort of magical car wash, what would come out the other end is the Katz Club Diner. The chrome is brighter, the glass clearer, and the linens crisper. On the menu are comfort foods like eggs Benedict, corned beef hash, chicken a la King, and meatloaf with mashed potatoes – all cooked the "Doug Katz Way." In the morning, a well-tended coffee bar dispatches cups of locally roasted java and fresh-baked pastries.
A friendly downtown gathering place for after-work drinks, Leader also serves salads, sandwiches, and appetizers during lunch and dinner.
Yup, it's a little bar all right: dim and a tad dingy. But that said, it's worth seeking out for its first-rate burgers, juicy ribs, freshly cut French fries, and a daily "comfort food" special like chicken Parmesan over penne pasta.
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