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Bites: Palookaville Opens This Week 

And more local food news

Restaurateur Ian P.E. had hoped to open his chili-themed eatery called Palookaville back in mid-winter — but we all know how these things go. As it turns out, the official opening date is now Friday, April 29, and the weather seems to be cooperating just fine. "I've been cursing the cold weather, but it's going to be good for business," says P.E.

Located in a former print shop in Ohio City, the restaurant will feature traditional Southwest-style chili made from scratch. Chiles will be dried and fresh; meats will be chopped, not ground; and commercial spice mixes will be replaced by custom blends.

Chili varieties include smoky Texas beef; chicken verde with fresh poblano; and spicy vegetarian with beans. The menu also offers chili dogs, chili hoagies, and nachos grandes.

While the doors officially open at 11:30 a.m., P.E. says he's rolling out the red carpet for the Grand Opening — literally. Beginnng at 8 p.m., you'll find live music and searchlights too. Palookaville is at 3900 Lorain Ave.; visit palookavillechili.com for details.

In 2008, Jeff Swedarsky launched a culinary-based tour company in Alexandria, Virginia. Since then his enterprise, Food Tour Corporation, has expanded into D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis, and Swedarsky's hometown of Indianapolis. Next up, says Swedarsky: Cleveland.

Heading up the Cleveland outpost will be Sarah Parker, Food Tour's business development manager. The professional tour guide grew up in Sandusky and says that Cleveland is a natural destination.

"One of the great things about Cleveland is that there are still a lot of locally run, mom-and-pop places that many other cities no longer have," explains Parker, who is already in town mapping out upcoming tours.

First up, she says, is the West Side Market, which will blend historical info, conversations with vendors, and numerous food samples.

Future tours likely will include Little Italy, Tremont, Slavic Village, and East Fourth Street. Prices will be approximately $50 per person. Look for the first tours to roll out before June.

After almost four years in the Warehouse District, Crop Bistro will close on Saturday, April 30. Five days later, on Thursday, May 5, owners Steve and Jackie Schimoler will open Cropicana, their casual waterfront kitchen on Whiskey Island. (Learn more at cropicana.com.)

Meantime, construction has begun in earnest on the new Crop Bistro, scheduled to open later this year at 2537 Lorain Ave. in Ohio City.

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