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In a neighborhood where you can't swing a pizza box without hitting an Italian restaurant, this is one of the best, with generous servings of thoughtfully prepared foods, at reasonable prices. Specialties include angel-hair pasta loaded with plump, intensely flavored sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, and chopped kalamata olives, tossed with garlic and olive oil.
Cleveland's version of a theater-district deli, this Playhouse Square staple has been entertaining arts lovers and downtown lunchers for more than 100 years, with a cast of soups, salads, steaks, chicken, and stacked-up sandwiches, many — like the W.C. Fields and Fanny Brice — named in honor of old-time stage stars. Dinner hours vary with the theaters' schedules; calling ahead is always a smart move.
A favorite of the Indian community, but still mostly unknown to the rest of us, this spacious, well-maintained vegetarian restaurant specializes in authentic south Indian cuisine, which tends to be spicier but less heavy than its better-known northern Indian counterpart. Crowd-pleasers include sheer stuffed crêpes (dosai), spicy lentil soup (sambar), and batura, a puffy fried bread about the size of a watermelon. Features a daily lunch buffet.
This aromatic eatery offers authentic Cambodian and Vietnamese dishes, flavored with ingredients like fresh Asian basil, lemongrass, and coconut milk. Much of the menu is devoted to noodles, including an assortment of pad Thai. Cash only. Carryout only.
Wood paneling, pierogies and perch in Tremont’s oldest ethnic family owned restaurant (since 1923), serving boilermakers before Prohibition. Black Angus beef, grilled trout, and baby back ribs flavor rooms heavy with Browns memorabilia.
Like a well-worn couch, this vintage corner tavern may show its age, but its comfort is undeniable. For proof, just look at the diverse clientele, chowing down on big portions of hearty, inexpensive food. While the burgers are always a good bet, the eclectic offerings include everything from ham & eggs to veal Parmesan, and chicken paprikash to black-eyed peas.
Diners at this locally based, quick-casual chain inside Great Northern Mall can design their salads from a near-endless selection of greens, toppings and dressings, which are then chopped by a mezzaluna-wielding staffer on a wooden block. More than a novelty, the chopping means that every bite offers the perfect blend of greens, toppings and dressing. Creations also can be folded into a large flour tortilla.
Hippie or hipster, young or old, meathead or vegan, Clevelanders have been flocking to this culinary landmark since 1972, hungry for the big assortment of creative and unusual sandwiches, soups and salads. After a healthy hummus-stuffed ripe tomato or a grilled-cheese sandwich with veggies, sunflower seeds and sesame sauce, be sure to splurge on a creamy, old-fashioned malt or milkshake.
Part family restaurant, part community meeting place, this locally owned-and-operated eatery has been dishing it out for nearly three decades, to the delight of a devoted clientele. The enormous menu rambles from Reubens and blintzes to quesadillas, pork chops, and chicken Marsala with varying degrees of success. But the hot pastrami? That has never, ever let us down.
A clean, casual Lebanese-American eatery across from the Cleveland Clinic, Cedarland has a large menu of Middle Eastern standards, including shishtawook, baked fish, and falafel. Lots of choices for vegetarians. There's a small imported-foods market too.
Owner, chef, host, server, bartender, and busser: Junior Battiste really does it all. As a result, dining in this teensy Cajun restaurant can be an adventure, marked by warmth, whimsy, and occasionally slow service. Still, those who value style and substance over speed won't be disappointed: Junior's made-from-scratch cookin' is some of the best in town.
Neighbors have thanked owners Marc and Ruth Levine for "not being another wing-and-beer joint," while others appreciate them for not being too upscale. Bistro 185 takes the glorious middle road, offering hearty made-from-scratch comfort dishes at blue-collar prices.
The city’s best jazz club books headliners from every corner of the genre. The dining room where acts perform — you can have dinner while you listen — was recently redesigned for even better sound and sightlines.
Lakewood’s last call before you hit Rocky River, Around the Corner boasts multiple rooms and patios filled with burger munchers, karaoke hounds, and music fans taking in danceable local rock, blues bands, and DJs.
The pool room has been turned into a music room, with both local and touring indie bands of all stripes. But the two-level ’60s-style lanes with hand pinsetting are still intact.
A visit to Jim Anagnostos's shiny silver diner is a nostalgic trip back through time, to the days of all-American meals like meatloaf and gravy, liver and onions, and classic chili.
A little cramped, occasionally noisy, and quite possibly the city's smallest restaurant, this tiny French bistro still manages to turn out superlative crepes, earthy pâtés, and one of the best Croque Monsieur sandwiches this side of the Seine.
Michoacan state eateries celebrate the simple pleasures of mole poblano, Swiss enchiladas with chicken and green sauce, and pork ribs with tomatillo sauce. The west side location is a classic taqueria (read: diner) serving a crowd that grew up eating the stuff.
Wilbert’s mixes local acts with touring artists trying to get a toehold in town. Blues, rock, folk, indie, reggae, and jam bands all mingle here, so you’re never quite sure what you’ll hear.
As at the other Dave's locations, the decor inside this cosmic sub shop is a shrine to the ’60s, full of rock references, hippie music, and good vibrations. The overstuffed subs rock too, built from top-notch ingredients piled inside a crisp-crusted Italian roll. The place is packed at lunch, carryout is strongly recommended and if you are pressed for time, calling ahead would be a grand idea.
A winning combination of deli, café, and gourmet market, this family-owned and -operated "gathering place" offers a daily menu of ready-to-eat soups, salads, and imaginative sandwiches, as well as a broad assortment of carryout and heat-and-eat options.
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.
If you crave it, chances are that Freshly’s serves it, from a big menu of tasty international noshes including corned beef, pastrami, gyros, pizza, salads, pasta, and wings. Service is mostly carryout, but a few tables accommodate those who just hafta have it now.
If “youthful” and “edgy” are what it takes to toss your trenne, this snug little restaurant at the far end of a Parma strip plaza may not be your kind of place. But if good-tasting Italian fare, brought forth in large portions at reasonable prices, is what makes your Alfredo creamy, look no further than the dimly lit Corleone’s.
The fragrance and flavor of Tay Do's authentic Vietnamese cuisine — full of ginger, lime, cilantro, and mint — is enough to transport diners from the bare-bones dining room into a full-blown floral fantasy. Favorites include ephemeral Vietnamese crepes, strong French coffee with condensed milk, and some of the best tofu dishes in town. Small beer list — try the Tsing Tao.
An outpost of the Northfield Center original, this Polish soul kitchen serves big portions of well-prepared standards like cabbage rolls, fresh kielbasa, and roast pork. Don't let the paper placemats and counter service fool you: The hearty food is a tasty bargain. And certainly don't miss the jumbo pierogi, our pick for some of the best around.
Although it has the sleek brass, glass, and polished-wood look of a chain restaurant, this charming pub is locally owned and operated. The large menu goes well beyond colcannon and boxty to embrace quiche, gyros, and even burgers; no matter what you pick, the warm, custardy bread pudding makes a sweet ending. Irish brews on draft.
A laid-back alternative to the Warehouse District's pricey haute spots, this nautically themed tavern specializes in fish, seafood, and plenty of beer, in bottles and on tap. One of downtown's best happy hours.
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.
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