Stepping into this cozy neighborhood ristorante with its wooden bar, linoleum floors, and menu of pizza, pasta, and assorted parmigianas, cacciatores, and marsalas is like traveling back in time to the days when Italian restaurateurs baked their own breads, made their own pastas, and served it all in charming, intimate spaces. Almost everything on the full-meal deal menu is delish. But when it comes to fried calamari and baked lasagna, Brunos scores among the very best.
Warm, welcoming, and handsomely appointed, this upscale Thai restaurant offers a large selection of well-prepared if somewhat understated curries, stir-fries and noodle dishes, including lots of vegetarian creations.
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.
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.
Channeling the spirit of a European wine bar, this funky little spot in Ohio City makes a tasty backdrop for a small but tempting menu of thin-crusted pizzas, house-cured meats, handmade pastas, and some of the best twice-fried, Belgian-style fries you'll ever find on a Cleveland tabletop. To go with, the annotated wine list offers 100 selections, while next door's Bier Markt provides dozens of imported brews.
Flavors are mainly mild and ingredients mostly familiar at this pretty Thai restaurant on Lander Circle, making Peppermint a stress-free destination for both daring diners and their more timid next of kin. Among the many options, find plenty of noodle and rice dishes, as well as seafood, curries, and vegetarian treats. A small kids menu expands the family friendly theme.
Comfy, cozy, and casual enough to take the kids, this tidy taqueria offers a large menu of freshly prepped Mexican and Tex-Mex standards, ranging from flautas, burritos, and homemade tamales to cheesecake and fried ice cream. Special menus for kids and non-carnivores make it a particularly appealing family destination.
Built largely from local, sustainable, and organic ingredients, the vegetarian menu at this coffeehouse is wholesome if not terribly thrilling. Fresh salads, house-made soups, straightforward veggie sandwiches, pizzas, and calzones fill the concise menu. Superbly brewed Phoenix coffee pairs beautifully with Root's house-baked vegan and vegetarian pastries.
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.
Touch’s DJs spin the freshest cuts in town. They’ll also play stuff you’ve heard, but the DJs here pride themselves on the funk, soul, indie rock, and dance remixes that never hit the Top 40.
Ignoring a restaurant because it resides in a hotel is not only unfair it's unwise, as evidenced by this contemporary American gem. Upending stereotypes at every turn, Amp relies on locally grown ingredients to fashion its modern, seasonal, and delightful dishes. Divided into sections for sharing, small plates, entrées, and sides, the affordable menu is ideal for guests who come and go at all hours of the day.
If anyone is worried about the state of the economy, you would never know it by the festive crowd of well-dressed hipsters mixing it up inside Ohio's first Brazilian churrascaria. The house specialty is an endless parade of fresh-off-the-grill meats, carved tableside by a crew of peripatetic "gauchos." A meticulously maintained buffet offers salads and more, while elegant, a la carte desserts are worth saving room for.
Still our pick for one of the best dinner values in town, Brennan's manages to combine the vibe of a well-worn bar with the quality of a contemporary bistro. While the kitchen does right by burgers, steaks, and sandwiches, the real thrills are the daily specials full-meal deals ranging from porkchops, fresh fish, chicken and pasta, pegged at $22 or less.
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.
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.
One of the region's few remaining "special occasion" spots, Chez Francois offers a clubby waterfront setting, formal service, a menu of French classics, and a formidable wine list.
Clever cuisine, playful decor, and intimate surroundings make this "modern Mexican" eatery like nothing else in town. Don't come around looking for refried beans and rice; luscious lamb "adobo" and avocado-leaf-crusted tuna are more Momocho's style. Factor in the fruit-infused margaritas, chilada-style beers, and the smart array of tequilas, and even the fiercest bandito would happily pull up a chair.
Colorful, comfy, and family friendly, this neighborhood cafe is known for its homey breakfasts and Sunday brunch, as well as its afternoon lineup of soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. Free wi-fi access and a cozy lounge area make it a good choice for catching up on e-mail while sipping a cup of freshly brewed joe.
Like a modern-day roadhouse, noisy, energetic Russo's features a wildly eclectic repertoire of Cajun, Italian, Asian and southwestern-influenced dishes. To really feel part of the action, grab a seat at the bar surrounding the open kitchen, and watch the culinary magic unfold.
This Irish bar in the heart of downtown features live music most weekends — primarily singer-songwriters and Irish acts. But it’s best known for having Guinness on tap and throwing one hell of a St. Paddy’s Day party.
A reliable choice for flavorful Thai and Chinese food, this good-looking East Sider offers options ranging from the traditional (think General Tso's Chicken) to the upscale (including specials like buttery rib-eye steak in spicy red-bean sauce), all served by efficient staffers in a charming if sometimes noisy room.
The South Side doesn’t quite overload all the senses, but it stimulates them with exposed brick walls, a winding granite bar, local artwork that changes monthly, and four big plasma screens equipped with surround sound. After the kitchen closes, an upscale-casual crowd gather in the bar.
Casually upscale yet family-friendly, this good-looking reincarnation of Hudson's old Red Tomato offers everything from pizza and pasta to filet mignon.
This classy-looking Mexican eatery complete with handsome bar and first-rate tequila selection features well-organized lunch and dinner menus encompassing all the usual crowd-pleasers, including burritos, tacos, and fajitas. But in our book, the savory chicken in mole sauce steals the show.
An earthy swirl of brick, glass and polished wood, Crave provides a warm backdrop for chefs DeAnna Akers and Aaron Hervey's long, inventive menu of high-octane treats, featuring everything from Black Angus burgers to porcini-dusted scallops. The bar offers an enticing roundup of imported and craft-brewed beers, along with well-priced wines and savory martinis.
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.
Another step in restaurateur Fady Chamoun's campaign to blanket the Midwest in hummus and fool medames, the Hudson Aladdin's is a good-looking monument to the appeal of all things healthful, with plenty of vegan/vegetarian options, a long list of freshly squeezed juices and fruit smoothies and a small selection of beer and wine too.
Casually upscale and unselfconsciously cool, this neighborhood bistro is home to delicious gourmet pizzas, an intriguing collection of fish and seafood dishes, and a dashing wine list containing one of the regions largest assortment of half-bottles.
The vast open dining room and mechanical service can make a meal here seem sort of hectic. On the upside, however, well-prepared entrées, such as rack of lamb and lasagna Bolognese, are both tasty and sensibly priced. Part of a Columbus-based chain.
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.
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