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If you've ever stumbled into Sushi Rock on a Thursday, you know how much people love this restaurant. Or discount sushi. Or both. Tsunami Thursday means half-price sushi at this clubby East Side eatery, and throngs of people show up for the privilege. We prefer to go on quieter nights, when we can eat our Rainbow and Spider rolls in relative peace and quiet. Fresh, colorful and masterly crafted, the sushi never fails to please. 2101 Richmond Rd., Beachwood,
On warm evenings, when the garage-door windows are hiked to the rafters, there are few better places than Mad Greek to kick back and take in the sights of the Cedar-Fairmount neighborhood. You don't last more than 35 years in this fickle business by doing things the wrong way. Here, they do it right, and that is by serving wholesome, satisfying Greek food. Order a delicious platter of hummus, served with fresh pita. Relish a bountiful, beautiful salad or a dish of stuffed grape leaves. Enjoy an abundantly satisfying gyro platter or moussaka. Greek food comes from the heart, and this establishment seems to have a bottomless supply of that crucial ingredient.
2466 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights,
Since this West Side eatery opened its doors in 2006, it has been a perennial favorite of Indian food fans. India Garden serves up deliciously fiery Northern Indian cuisine, and the ceaseless crowds are proof that doing things right can and does pay off. Diners here are rewarded with excellent service, high-quality food and consistent execution. All the classics are here – chicken tikka masala, rogan josh, saag paneer, aloo gobi. But adventurous eaters can also sample less common, more intriguing selections like goat daal and ginger lamb. The daily lunch buffet is pretty much the best thing going since the invention of lunch. 18405 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-221-0676,
Clevelanders are pretty much pho-ficient these days, with more Vietnamese noodle shops than we can count on one hand. But pound for pound, this Asiatown noodle house is the best in the broth business. Day in and day out, the big bowls brim with near noodle perfection. It's tough to pry ourselves away from the pho, but when we do it's for bright and citrusy chicken cabbage salad, addictive bahn mi sandwiches, meaty grilled pork vermicelli, and bracing cups of Vietnamese iced coffee. Owner Manh Nguyen makes sure that everything that leaves his kitchen is as good as it possibly can be. His dedication to quality is a big reason why a whole new demographic of Clevelander is discovering Asiatown. 3211 Payne Ave., 216-781-7462, superiorpho.com
Trattoria on the Hill
Murray Hill residents get their weekly transfusions of tomato sauce at this cramped and lively trattoria, where fork twirling and sauce slurping are the main attractions. Don't expect elaborate Italian food and fine-dining service here as meals are served with few pretensions. Soft Italian bread and sweet whipped butter gives way to sweet and salty clams, meaty mussels in garlic sauce, and antipasto salads. Trattoria still offers its linguine with clam sauce in either red or white sauces, an old-school touch. The chicken parmesan is textbook, and the accompanying pasta is al dente and the sauce rightly tangy. All of it gets washed down with bottomless glasses of Chianti and heart-warming service. 12207 Mayfield Rd. , 216-421-2700, trattoriaromangarden.com
Sokolowski's University Inn
For more than 90 years, the Sokolowski family has been serving the foods of Cleveland's working class to Clevelanders of every class. In fact, good luck finding a restaurant more closely aligned with Cleveland's past, present and future than Sokolowski's University Inn. Specializing in Polish and Eastern European cuisine, the restaurant is famous for its rib-sticking fare served cafeteria-style, complete with plastic trays. Old World classics like periogies, kielbasa, stuffed cabbages and Salisbury steak are just a handful of the gut-busting beauts on offer. At this cafeteria line the dessert comes first. Our suggestion? Get the rice pudding before it runs out. 1201 University Rd., 216-771-9236, sokolowskis.com
This Cleveland mainstay recently earned honors as one of the Top 10 Irish pubs in the entire country from the fine folks at Gayot. And for good reason. We love it for its traditional Irish pub grub and bona fide Dublin feel, the kind of joint where every meal includes fresh-baked soda bread and fresh-pulled Guinness. Fish and chips, Shepherd's pie and corned beef boxty are tasty reminders of life back home – or gentle encouragement to make the journey. The Harp is also one of the only restaurants in Cleveland with an outdoor patio offering commanding views of Lake Erie, which might as well be Galway Bay. 4408 Detroit Ave., 216-939-0200, the-harp.com
Das Schnitzel Haus
Schnitzel is king at this haus, where the beer is German and the music oom-pa-pa. The draw at this family friendly restaurant is huge platters of homemade German specialties. This restaurant would still be a winner if all it did was sell heaping platters of pork and veal schnitzel – pounded, breaded, and fried perfection served with any number of varieties of potato. Just as good is the Hungarian goulash, gravy-covered beef served on a bed of chewy spaetzle. Out front, a German-style beer garden is the perfect place to sip a brew or two and snack on potato pancakes. 5728 Pearl Rd., Parma Hts., 440-886-5050, dshparma.com
Before Zack Bruell opened L'Albatros in a University Circle carriage house, Clevelanders were resigned to eating drab versions of fusty French food that lacked both authenticity and grace. Now, we dine in style. Bruell's take on French bistro fare like pâté, garlicky escargot, skate wing, cassoulet, pied de cochon and countless others approaches perfection. Meals are appropriately rich but not excessively so. And the cheese, let's not forget about the cheese. But the real reason this restaurant continues to sit at the top of a very large and growing heap is the service. Guests here are treated to a level of hospitality that is increasingly rare, making every moment a truly memorable one. 11401 Bellflower Rd.,
Meals at this polished downtown eatery are Occasions, where calorie counting and time management fly out the proverbial window. Mallorca, like the Catalonian island, is where one relaxes for hours over heaping platters of Spanish-accented seafood, glorious grilled chops and to-die-for fresh-cut potatoes. To hear the tuxedoed servers deliver the litany of entrees and specials is something special (and somewhat overwhelming). Clams in green sauce, twin crab-stuffed lobster, paella Valenciana, broiled veal chops... just pick one or all of these and you will dine well and large. For years, this has been the place where Clevelanders go for authentic and delicious Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. 1390 W. 9th St.,
In a sea of ho-hum Mexican restaurants, Momocho stands out as a shining example of how technique and creativity can come together to delicious results. Chef and owner Eric Williams' vision of "modern Mexican" is so clear and comprehensible that it feels as if we've been eating this way forever. His creative twists on regional Mexican cuisine work because they are grounded in truth. Smoked trout and bacon guacamole, beer-braised goat taquitos, crab and smoked trout chilaquiles, pepita-crusted trout. And don't get us started on the margaritas. Williams reinvented how Clevelanders eat and view Mexican food, and for that we say muchas gracias. 1835 Fulton Rd., 216-694-2122, momocho.com
Ethereal, sublime, glorious.
Nate's Deli in Ohio City is so much better. Aladdin's is good, but, it's not…
Should have been Citzen Pie. Dummies
FANTASTiC WHAT A GREAT COMPLIMENT!!!!! HE IS AMAZING AND A GREAT COMPLIMENT TO THE CITY…
Should be under American/Mexican
Next year pick something that is true in Mexican food!