The Agora's hot-pink neon sign is a Cleveland rock icon. Divided into a spacious theater and a more comfortable ballroom, the club has three bars, and it's as big as the names who play there.
A former Croatian Hall now nationally known as a top live venue, the Beachland made its bones with rootsy Americana bands, but regularly hosts sounds of all kinds. The Tavern next door is a great place to grab a beer and catch an up-and-comer.
The Grog is one of the prime places in town to hear hot indie, punk, and pop bands. It’s hosted a ton of buzz bands on their way up, as well as some of the best locals.
A cool vibe and a sizzling menu of attentively prepared American fare have turned Doug and Karen Katz's bistro into one of the city's top restaurants. "Classical simplicity" is the watchword here, and when those classical techniques are applied to first-rate ingredients, the results are often nothing less than astonishing. Interesting list of food-friendly wines.
The shelves of this fine Italian market groan beneath a vast collection of meats, cheeses, oils, sauces, breads, pastries and pastas. Meantime, customers waistbands groan beneath the delicious onslaught of Galluccis prepared carryout foods, including subs, salads, lasagna, eggplant Parmesan and especially authentic Italian-style pizza, available by the pie or by the giant rectangular slice.
Every college campus needs a nearby spot like Mama Santa's, with its retro vibe, cheap wine, and stunningly inexpensive Italian eats. Thin, greaseless, crisp-crusted pizza is the specialty of the casa; when you and the gang can score a 15-incher for less than 10 bucks, who cares if there's a wait for a table?
Comfortable and casual, the Trattoria dishes up big helpings of tasty Italian food at reasonable prices. Savory nine-inch specialty pizzas include one topped with sautéed spinach, prosciutto, black olives, feta cheese, and mozzarella. Dense homemade potato gnocchi are served with butter, Romano cheese, and a rich tomato-basil sauce.
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.
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.
If you doubt that polished service is the foundation of a fine meal, you havent been to Il Bacio, the cozy ristorante in Little Italy, where mellifluously accented host and owner Antonino Calandra heads up one of the most gracious teams in town. That, plus Calandras voluptuous take on tiramisu, go far toward making Il Bacio as sweet as its names translation: The Kiss.
L'Albatros seduces diners with a roster of classic brasserie gems like escargot, roasted cod, and an outstanding selection of cheeses. But since this is a Zack Bruell restaurant, guests can count on more than a few contemporary menu twists, all served up in a series of intimate dining spaces and, in season, one of the region's loveliest secluded patios.
Dont let the subterranean location fool you: This Little Italy mainstay, settled at the bottom of a long flight of stairs, is as warm and welcoming as nonnas kitchen, with a neighborly vibe and the wallet-friendly prices to match. Offerings are mostly traditional Italian pastas, polenta, eggplant parmesan with a few stylish twists. And to drink, check out the short but interesting list of wines-by-the-glass.
Zanzibar brings back soul to Shaker Square with a menu of upscale soul-fusion cuisine. Owner Akin Affrica, whose family runs Angie's Soul Café, has not only spiffed up the notion of a soul food restaurant, he has spiffed up the notion of soul food. Expect shrimp and grits, catfish Po' Boys, and chicken and waffles, all served up in a tasteful setting.
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.
When Michael Symon set out to craft Cleveland's best burger, he didn't take the task lightly. Built with beef supplied by legendary New York purveyor Pat LaFrieda, the burgers explode with beefy goodness. Other B's include brats, beer, and bad-ass milkshakes. Tack on orders of rosemary-scented Lola fries, golden onion rings, or blazing-hot Sriracha wings.
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