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    • Best of Cleveland 2011: Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Best of Cleveland 2011: Food & Drink 

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Best Ice Cream Parlor

Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream

Since 1999, brothers Mike and Pete Mitchell have overseen a small but growing empire of contemporary ice cream shops, outfitted with stylish lighting, comfy tables, and cases crammed with cartons of their premium homemade ice cream. With an ever-changing rotation of popular standards and seasonal additions, the flavors range from Key Lime Pie to Double Chocolate Chunk; the menu includes shakes, sodas, smoothies, sundaes, scoops, and signature treats like the Cleveland Brownie Sundae. Current shop locations are in Solon, Beachwood, Rocky River, and Westlake.

Various locations; mitchellshomemade.com

Best Place to Cure 2 a.m. Munchies

My Friend's Deli

We won't ask why you are out cruising for munchies at 2 a.m. We'll just assume you were up late doing laundry or comforting an old friend. Whatever your story, a craving for late-night sustenance calls for a stop at this homey, 24-hour restaurant and deli, where the pastrami is hot, the cheese comes grilled, and breakfast is served anytime.

11616 Detroit Ave.; 216-221-2575;

myfriendsrestaurant.com

Best Bar Food

Becky's Bar & Grill

Conveniently tucked in between Cleveland State and Playhouse Square, Becky's has been feeding actors, stagehands, students, cops, and assorted office workers since 1986, with a big, homey, and inexpensive menu of burgers, hot dogs, and homemade soups and chili.

1762 East 18th St.; 216-621-0055; beckysbar.com

Best Beer

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Songs have been written, punches thrown, and entire weekends lost to this legendary brew from our local Great Lakes Brewing Company. A yuletide merrymaker, available for only two months of the year, Christmas Ale combines hints of honey, ginger, and cinnamon with a jolly seven-point-five ABV, for a lip-smacking, mind-blowing brew that makes even bad boys and girls count the days until Christmas.

Best Mexican

Momocho

Even before chef-owner Eric Williams earned back-to-back James Beard Foundation "best chef" consideration in preliminary rounds, Clevelanders were lovin' Momocho, his "modern Mex" restaurant in Ohio City. Credit the combo of fresh, seasonal ingredients, innovative preparation, and edgy decor for that fact; and in a world filled with Taco Bells, credit Clevelanders with the good taste to embrace it.

1835 Fulton Rd.; 216-694-2122; momocho.com

Best Vegan

Flaming Ice Cube

The Cleveland outpost of a Boardman café and aromatherapy shop, the Flaming Ice Cube has been dishing out a big menu of vegan-friendly foods since June 2010. Anchoring the all-day menu are fresh fruit smoothies, freshly squeezed veggie juices, homemade soups, meat-free panini, and a half-dozen versions of a homemade vegan burger. For dessert, the made-from-scratch sweeties (pistachio-rosewater cupcakes, anyone?) are wildly popular among vegans and omnivores alike.

140 Public Square; 216-263-1111; flamingice.com

Best Place to Eat on a Budget & Best Hot Dogs

Happy Dog

When it comes to low-cost eats, Clevelanders go by the numbers. At Happy Dog, those numbers go something like this: $5 hot dogs, 50 toppings (chipotle ketchup, Cheez Whiz, a fried egg, chunky peanut butter, and beyond), 24 beers on draft, five HDTVs, open till 2:30 a.m., seven days a week. Add live music, a rollicking vibe, and most-excellent rounds of Monday-night trivia, and sticking to a budget never tasted so sweet.

5801 Detroit Ave.; 216-651-9474; happydogcleveland.com

Best Steak

Red the Steakhouse

When restaurateur Brad Friedlander set out to craft a great steakhouse, he left nothing to chance — from the top toques who designed the menu to the soaring space itself, with its stacked-stone walls, crimson accents, and sleek, contemporary appointments. Of course, quality was key, and here Friedlander chose to serve only dry-aged beef: both Certified Angus and U.S.D.A. Prime. Thick-cut and perfectly marbled, the steaks are seasoned with kosher salt and Tellicherry pepper, seared to order over unimaginably high heat, and served sizzling hot on a plain white plate for maximum impact. If that doesn't get your mouth watering, check your pulse: You may already be dead.

3355 Richmond Rd., Beachwood;

216-831-2252; redthesteakhouse.com

Best Fries

Bar Cento

The Belgian-style pommes frites at Bar Cento have moved beyond mere foodstuff to become the stuff of foodie legend. Made by a classically painstaking process that includes frying, chilling, and frying again in ultra-luscious duck fat, these little golden batons are crisp outside, creamy within, and perfectly seasoned with rosemary and garlic. Lily-gilting arrives by way of four flavored mayos for dipping, continuing the Belgian tradition while ensuring that Cleveland will not find itself among the Ten Skinniest Cities anytime soon.

1948 West 25th St.; 216-274-1010; barcento.com

Best Pizza

Angelo's Pizza

Fresh sauces, homemade dough, and scores of toppings, combinations, and specialties including pulled pork, artichokes, and Stouffer's macaroni and cheese (yee-es!) have made Angelo's the region's go-to pizza palace for nearly 30 years.

13715 Madison Ave., Lakewood; 216-221-0440; angelosonline.com

Best Vietnamese

Superior Pho

It's right there in the name: Cleveland's opinion of this tiny restaurant tucked inside the Golden Plaza is rightly without peer. Indeed, the pho — 13 varieties of meat-and-noodle soups (plus one vegetarian), boosted tableside with a host of zesty garnishes — is superior. Also delicious, though, are the rice paper rolls, the stir-fried vermicelli, the marinated beef salad, and the French-inflected bahn mi, a Vietnamese sandwich of pâté, succulent roasted pork, cucumbers, herbs, and mayonnaise on a chewy French bun.

3030 Superior Ave.; 216-781-7462;

superiorpho.com

Best Indian

Cafe Tandoor

Tandoori or clay-oven cooking is an Indian tradition, and no place does it better than the three Cafe Tandoor locations throughout Northeast Ohio. Is it the exotic spices? The terrific aromas? Or the big menu of tandoor-baked breads, chicken, and shellfish? Whatever the attraction, the Tuesday and Wednesday wine deals (half off the regular menu prices) don't hurt; nor does the long list of vegetarian specialties.

Various locations; cafetandoorcleveland.com

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