It's a little known fact that East Fourth Street almost was home to Lolita instead of Lola. Chef Michael Symon and his team strongly considered leaving Lola, a thriving 10-year-old restaurant, right where it was in Tremont and opening the new Mediterranean concept, Lolita, on Fourth Street. In the end, they elected to go the high-risk route — and the rest, as they say, is history. In the seven-or-so years since Lola opened downtown, it has been the standard bearer of dining excellence while serving as notice to the rest of the nation that Cleveland is, without question, a world-class food town. In terms of making an impression, no restaurant comes close — from the wall of wine and glowing stone bartop to the open kitchen staffed by a battalion of chefs. The menu manages to please adventurous (think crispy pig ears and grilled calves heart) and cautious (think steak, fish and pasta) diners simultaneously, leaving damn near everybody wowed in the process. Risk, meet reward.
2058 East Fourth St., 216-621-5652, lolabistro.com.
Staff Pick: L'Albatros