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If you've ever doubted that toasty, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches are the universal comfort food, just check out this boisterous Lakewood bar, where the kitchen turns out more than two dozen scrumptious variations on the theme, and the clientele ranges from smiling grannies to pierced, inked, and also smiling local rockers. Impressive beer selection.
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.
Candles and white lights make every evening at the Merry Arts a little like Christmas in Killarney, minus the whole "Silent Night" thing.
With a decidedly California feel, this attractive wine bar boasts a barrel-vaulted ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows and low-slung tables and couches. An appealing roster of small and not-so-small plates goes well beyond the ubiquitous cheese board. Come for the food, stay for the Enomatic, a self-serve dispenser that marries smart-card technology with sweet, sweet wine.
Part of a national chain that attempts to recreate the experience of a boisterous Italian wedding circa 1950, Buca di Beppo is crowded, noisy, and fun. The wall-posted menu includes gargantuan appetizers, salads, pizza, pasta, veal, and chicken dishes made for sharing. The food is good, even if it is overshadowed by sheer portion size.
Shop, then drop into this high-end, high-priced steakhouse for giant slabs of U.S.D.A. prime beef, oversized side dishes, and freshly made desserts. Or simply enjoy a drink and some apps (lobster bisque, oysters on the half-shell, or crab cakes, perhaps?) in the handsome bar or on the seasonal sidewalk patio.
Known more for its ribs than its rock, Pacers features DJs on the weekends. A mammoth TV and lots of booths make it a good place to watch sports.
Market partners John Owen and Dave Rudiger have transformed a former municipal impound lot into an upscale sports bar. To go with the 100 beers and the requisite banks of flat screens, Market offers shareable starters, big salads, great sandwiches, and plenty of steaks, pastas, and seafood. A heated patio extends outdoor dining well into fall.
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 smart seafood restaurant has built an enviable rep on its concise menu of straightforward dishes. These days, that includes Asian-themed items like tiger shrimp yakitori, pulled-pork-filled steamed buns, and ramen noodle bowls with braised pork belly. Come Mardi Gras season, Salmon Dave's is one of the best places to be. Full bar, extensive wine list.
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.
A tasty twist on the neighborhood tavern, this good-looking eatery earns props with a big menu of out-of-the-ordinary pub grub, including well-crafted oddities like corned-beef nachos and chili-topped mac & cheese.
Noisy, friendly, and relaxed, the Lizard is one of Gateway's sure bets for juicy burgers, imaginative sandwiches, and overflowing salad bowls. The huge international beer list doesn't hurt either.
While most of his Lakewood neighbors aim high or low, Jim Sprenger steers for the middle, serving good-quality grub at rational prices in a comfortable setting. Family-friendly comfort food like chicken paprikash, fish and chips, and amazing grass-fed-beef burgers share the menu with creative sandwiches and bacon-and-cheese-topped fries. Toss in quality craft brews and attentive service, and you are indeed eatin' good in the neighborhood.
A family-friendly alternative to Madison Village's youthful bar scene, Sullivan's offers a quaint atmosphere, a well-stocked bar, and a small menu of salads, sandwiches, and such Irish standards as boxty and shepherd's pie for dinner and Saturday lunch. Frequent Celtic musical performances also help liven up the scene.
Live oldies, rock, and blues invigorate the weekend crowds at Under C's Lounge, the spacious basement club adjoining Carrie Cerino's Italian restaurant.
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.
Big, juicy steaks, an annotated wine list, and friendly waitresses make this the place for expense-account types to unwind after work or to entertain on the weekends. Excellent choices include the Cabin Club strip steak, the center-cut rib-eye, a behemoth porterhouse, and a buttery filet mignon. A few seafood and poultry items are also available.
If you like a little sizzle with your steak, head over to this unpretentious West Sider, where you can watch in atavistic wonder as your steak sears, tableside, on a 750-degree slab of volcanic stone. Gimmicks aside, the result is a top-quality piece of meat, full of juicy savor. Alternatively, enjoy a selection of Greek and Mediterranean classics, like saganaki and braised lamb shanks; on Sundays, the brunch buffet is a popular bargain.
Casual, inexpensive, and family-friendly, this little brewpub dishes up a big assortment of smoked and barbecued meats, along with homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrées. Pulled pork is a particular fave — for a change of pace, try it in the barbecued spaghetti! Rotating selection of 24 beers on draft.
This warm sports bar hosts live rock and blues when major games aren't commanding attention.
"Gastropubs" are where ambitious cuisine collides with informality and kick-ass beer. To see what one looks, feels, and tastes like, head to Deagan’s in the heart of Lakewood. It's a food-lover’s pub, where the chef-driven fare is good enough to earn a spot at a so-called fancy restaurant.
For those who have come to this entertainment complex primarily to play the state-of-the-art games and then find that the starship piloting, dinosaur dodging, and race-car driving have left them peckish, meals in the lavishly appointed Grand Dining Room are generally good-tasting, satisfying, and reasonably priced conveniences.
This colorful Mexican restaurant offers a large menu of well-prepared standards like burritos and enchiladas, and a few traditional dishes like shrimp in garlic and chicken in mole.
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.
Former Browns player Al “Bubba” Baker has discovered life beyond the gridiron — and it’s dry-rubbed, slow-smoked, and slathered with homemade BBQ sauce. While Bubba’s St. Louis-style ribs are meaty monsters, his boneless baby-back rib “steak” is one for the record books, deboned by a secret process and tender enough to cut with a fork.
A landmark dining room overlooking Lake Erie, Pier W combines a sophisticated, contemporary interior with worldly cuisine focused on fish and seafood. (Check out the fine bouillabaisse, for instance, a house signature.) Factor in its jaw-dropping view of the downtown skyline, and its no wonder that Pier W is one of the city's most beloved restaurants.
The draw here, as the name implies, is wood-fired food. Steaks, chops and seafood are grilled over a hardwood fire, imparting a smoky richness that compliments the meat. In addition to those steaks, the menu offers straightforward pasta dishes and the expected line-up of time-tested starters like mussels, calamari, artichoke dip, and crab cakes.
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