My Perfect Meal, My Favorite Neighborhood: A Tasting Menu of Our Favorite Bites in Cleveland’s Best Dining Districts 


Long the burger and chicken wing capital of the region, Lakewood has blossomed into bona fide 'ville de vittles.

You can never go wrong with happy hour at Pier W (12700 Lake Ave., 216-228-2250, selectrestaurants.com/pier), which also happens to offers some of the best views of Lake Erie in Cleveland. Try the braised Angus beef short rib pierogies with jus. The pillowy pockets are sure to warm your soul.

Keep the warming trend going with a pitstop at Humble Wine Bar (15400 Detroit Ave., 216-767-5977, humblewinebar.com), where the pizza oven takes center stage. The spicy sopressata pie comes topped with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella on a toothsome crust.

If you can score a seat, a visit to Melt Bar and Grilled (14718 Detroit Ave., 216-226-3699, meltbarandgrilled.com) is well worth your time. While busy as ever, it's worth it to check out the location that started it all. The chorizo and potato grilled cheese sandwich is more than worth the wait.

Can't pull the trigger on just one entrée? Head over to Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar (14810 Detroit Ave., 216-767-5775, deagans.com), a gastropub with an array of savory small plates. The shaved Brussels sprouts with bacon, walnuts and smoked blue cheese is downright dreamy.

If it’s spice you seek, India Garden (18405 Detroit Road, 216-221-0676, indiagardencleveland.com) will set you straight. The vegetarian-friendly malai kofta, with a side order of garlic naan, is the Indian equivalent of comfort food. Vegan, organic and local are the calling cards of the cozy The Root Café (15118 Detroit Ave., 216-226-4401, theroot-cafe.com). Cap off the night with a tasty molasses cookie paired with a cup of fragrant coffee.


Tremont was ground center for the dining revolution that has since unfolded across Northeast Ohio. In the years since Lola and Fat Cats opened their doors to a wary public, the neighborhood continues to offer some of the city's best eats.

Lola, which is now downtown, has been replaced by Lolita (900 Literary Rd., 216-771-5652, lolabistro.com), a swap locals are more than happy to accept. Kick off your feast with a half order of the famous mac and cheese, enriched with goat cheese, chicken and rosemary.

Fat Cats (2061 W. 10th St., 216-579-0200), a neighborhood pioneer, feels as fresh today as it did when it opened all those years ago. Combine views of the downtown skyline with Korean-style barbecued ribs with fries and cabbage salad.

As one of Cleveland's premiere chefs, Dante Boccuzzi will treat you right at his eponymous restaurant, Dante (2247 Professor Ave., 216-274-1200, restaurantdante.us). Dine inside a bank vault – or better yet, right inside the kitchen. Either way, load up on some of the city's best pasta, polenta and risotto.

Off the beaten Tremont path, Tremont Taphouse (2572 Scranton Rd., 216-298-4451, tremonttaphouse.com) pairs killer suds with great gastro fare. You won't regret ordering the beer-steamed mussels and fries, tossed with blue cheese, bacon, shallots and garlic.

Contemporary Asian is the bill of fare at Bac (2661 W. 14th St., 216-938-8960, bactremont.com). We're not exactly sure what cuisine fried ice cream falls under, but that doesn’t stop us from ordering for dessert.


Stroll along Mayfield Road in Little Italy and you'll pass by restaurant after restaurant after restaurant. Sure, most of them serve Italian food, but that doesn't mean they're all the same. Primo Vino (12511 Mayfield Rd., 216-229-3334) has been here since time immemorial. From the quirky basement layout to the menu of Italian chestnuts, this place is a Cleveland institution that warrants a visit. We recommend dropping in for a glass of vino and stuffed sweet peppers.

The charming Mia Bella (12200 Mayfield Rd., 216-795-2355, miabellacleveland.com), tucked into a stately corner perch, has a way with gnocchi. Their pairs the pillowy potato dumplings with kalamata olives, onion, peppers, tomatoes, shallots and roasted garlic.

Survey a dozen locals about their favorite pizza and more than half will say Mamma Santa’s (12305 Mayfield Rd., 216-421-2159, mamasantas.com). If you've never tried it, dig into a slice of the small pizza with pepperoni and pepperoncini; it's a great first stop.

Veer off Mayfield Road to find Michaelangelo’s (2198 Murray Hill, 216-721-0300, mangelos.com), a well appointed restaurant that offers very different feel from others on the main drag. We adore the aragosta con capesante e burro di tartufo – also known as a lobster and scallop martini with cognac and truffle honey butter.

Cannoli. End of story. Hit up Corbo’s Bakery (12200 Mayfield Road, 216-421-8181) for a taste of a true Italian classic. Grab some to go while you're at it.


You can’t really call the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood up and coming anymore. It’s here, with enough restaurants and entertainment options to keep just about anybody happy and well-fed.

For a little taste of Puerto Rican, hit the loveable and family-run Rincon Crillo (6504 Detroit Ave., 216-939-0992), where intoxicating scents of cumin, garlic and braised beef fill the air. Pop into the spare restaurant for its famous jibarito sandwich, a meaty sandwich served on plantains.

As Cleveland's oldest Vietnamese restaurants, Minh Anh (5428 Detroit Ave., 216-961-9671, minh-anh.com) has been serving pho longer than anybody in this town. Pair the soup with a lotus root salad with shrimp and chopped peanuts, and a shrimp spring roll with peanut sauce. You're welcome.

Switch gears with a stop at the all-American Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Ave., 216-651-9474), where hot dogs and beer are the name of the game. Choose from 50 gourmet toppers for that quarter-pound, all-beef weenie. While you're at it, order some crispy tots.

When it comes to dessert in Gordon Square, Sweet Moses Soda Fountain (6800 Detroit Ave., 216-651-2202, sweetmosestreats.com) enjoys a delicious monopoly. Take in the gleaming retro vibe while enjoying the Mount Caramel sundae, constructed with vanilla ice cream, salted pistachios, warm caramel, candy sprinkles, whipped cream and, or course, a cherry on top.


It’s tough to do downtown justice in a few short words. Along with plenty of fine dining, there are fashionable lunch spots and notable dives. Cleveland has earned a reputation as a progressive food town, thanks in no small part to the diversity and quality that's available to downtown diners.

If it's lunch time, pop into the bright and sophisticated Pura Vida (170 Euclid Ave., 216-987-0100, puravidabybrandt.com), where chef Brant Evans serves up the World's Best Cobb Salad. That might sound hyperbolic, but dive into this mélange of crisp greens, house-roasted turkey, warm and crisp bacon, hard-cooked eggs, sharp cheddar, roasted tomatoes and shaved red onion and taste for yourself.

No dining trip through downtown would be complete without a visit to Lola (2058 E. 4th St., 216-621-5652, lolabistro.com), Michael Symon’s flagship restaurant. Symon manages to improve lobster by pairing it with crème fraiche, citrus, mint and almond. It's an appetizer for the ages.

Swing by the eco-friendly Greenhouse Tavern (2038 E. 4th St., 216-339-4302, thegreenhousetavern.com), where chef Jonathon Sawyer has elevated the humble chicken wing to a thing of gastronomic beauty. Thanks to some multi-step machinations, the wings are like none other. They're garnished – not sauced – with roasted jalapeno, lemon juice, scallion and garlic.

Chicken liver fans know where to find every great liver dish in town. Cowell & Hubbard (1305 Euclid Ave., 216-479-0555, cowellhubbard.com) is on that list thanks to its liver entree, which pairs the richly flavored meat with pickled cabbage, crisp fingerling potatoes, Dijon mustard sauce, and pomegranate gastrique.

There's no shortage of great duck confit dishes out there, but when we dug into the goose confit at District (1350 Euclid Ave., 216-858-1000, districtcleveland.com), we knew it would be difficult to go back. American goose is cooked low and slow before being blasted in a hot oven to crisp up the skin. It is served with a red wine cranberry reduction to cut the richness.


A new restaurant seems to sprout up in Ohio City every other week. But while there’s no shortage of tasty options in this effervescent 'hood, there are some stand-outs.

Chef Karen Small was on the bleeding edge of the farm-to-table movement, making Flying Fig (2523 Market Ave., 216-241-4243, theflyingfig.com) necessary eating for all locavores. The beet salad has made more converts out of beet-averse diners with its pairing of baby pickled beets, whipped farmstead cheese, soft-cooked egg and honey vinaigrette.

Cozy up to the bar at the big, beautiful Crop Bistro (2537 Lorain Ave., 216-696-2767, cropbistro.com), where snacks like the deviled eggs, Cherry Bombs and crispy pork belly with griddle corn cakes pair perfectly with a fall themed cocktail. SOHO Kitchen (1889 W. 25th St., 216-298-0909, sohocleveland.com) brought a modern taste of the South to the shores of Ohio City. To taste how delicious that cuisine can be, order up a bowl of the shrimp and grits, and soul-satisfying dish that puts all other comfort food to shame.

If it's brunch time, you must fight your way into Le Petit Triangle Café (1881 Fulton Rd., 216-281-1881, lepetittrianglecafe.com) for a smoked salmon and cream cheese omelet or a savory ham and brie crepe.

Late night eats in Ohio City got a huge boost when Bogtrotters Doorstep (1848 W. 25th St., 216-861-5515) opened by Old Angle Tavern. Open til 3 a.m. on weekends, tis joint does a brisk business in meaty Philly sandwiches ladled with jus, topped with crushed chips, and dripping with flavor.


Sure, the far-west 'burbs don't offer the same quantity of fine restaurants that you'll find in the city, but that doesn't mean you can't score a great meal.

87 West at Crocker Park (287 Crocker Pk., Westlake, 440-250-2334, 87west2.com) is a great place to kick off a night on the town. Despite the mall setting, the atmosphere is surprisingly urbane, with floor-to-ceiling windows and great wine by the glass. Share a wild mushroom flatbread topped with wild mushrooms, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, roasted garlic aioli and arugula.

’Stino da Napoli (19070 Old Detroit Rd,, Rocky River, 440-3314-3944, stinodanapoli.com) has been quietly turning out top-notch Italian fare for years. Try the gnocchi alla Napoletana, house-made potato dumplings served in a light tomato sauce with mozzarella, ricotta and Parmigianino. It will forever spoil all other versions of gnocchi.

Steak lovers on the far west side lucked out when Strip, a Steak House (36840 Detroit Rd., Avon, 440-934-9900, stripsteakhouse.com) opened up in an old barn. While unconventional to say the least, meaty chops like the 22-ounce, bone-in rib eye will make a fan out of anybody.

If romance is on your mind, Nemo Grille (36976 Detroit Rd., Avon, 440-934-0061, nemogrille.com) makes for a great date night. Housed in an 1850s farmhouse, the charming spot also happens to serve exquisite food, like the fat seared diver scallops, always seasonally prepared.

Decidedly less upscale, but no less adored, Bubba’s Q (820 Center Rd., Avon, 440-937-7859, bubbasqdining.com) is the best Westside spot for BBQ. Owner and former Cleveland Browns player Al “Bubba” Baker takes his food seriously, turning out gems like slow-smoked ribs, pulled pork and smoked brisket from his beefy wood smokers.


The namesake falls in this picture-perfect little village always warrants a visit. So too do a number of reliable old (and new) haunts that turn out reliably satisfying fare in a variety of settings.

There's something special about the way Burntwood Tavern (504 E. Washington St., 440-318-1560, burntwoodtavern.com) makes diners feel. Maybe it's the rustic décor, or perhaps it's casual but satisfying grub like the dry-rubbed and smoked pork "wings," a tasty twist on the classic.

As cherished as the namesake falls, Rick’s Café (86 N. Main St., 440-247-7666, rickscafeandcatering.com) is proof that fancy doesn't rule the roost in this town. While the tender baby back ribs are the stuff of legends, we prefer the Jerk-spiced burger with banana ketchup, a uniquely flavored handful.

Gamekeeper’s Tavern (87 West St., 440-247-7744, gamekeepers.com) has been around forever – and for good reason. Enjoying a fireside meal of venison and veal meatballs with house-made marinara and Romano cheese is the epitome of comfort in winter, while the expansive patio makes summer all the more enjoyable.

Dave’s Cosmic Subs (9 River St., 440-247-9117, davescosmicsubs.com) fans make a pilgrimage to the Chagrin Falls spot that started it all. Here you'll find rock and roll memorabilia and what many say is the best version of the Original Dave’s Cosmic Sub, loaded with pepperoni, Genoa salami, prosciutto, lettuce, tomato, banana peppers, onions, fresh garlic, herbs, provolone and Dave’s “cosmic” sauce.

Dessert? Duh. Hit Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream (67 North Main St., 440-247-2064, jenis.com), one of only a handful of scoop shops dedicated to serving some of the best ice cream on the planet. Pistachio and honey, salty caramel, or whiskey and pecans, there is no wrong move here.


Hudson is cut off from the rest of civilization, so it had to develop its own little restaurant ecosystem. Despite its small size and far-flung locale, this little village packs a tasty punch.

We like to start at North End Market (7542 Darrow Rd., 330-656-1238, northendwinefoodfun.com), where a dizzying array of wine and beer is paired with seasonal small plates and entrees in an unconventional retail setting. If you see a bottle you like in the retail shop, grab it and take it into the restaurant for a $10 additional corking fee.

Downtown 140 (140 N. Main St., 330-655-2940, downtown140.com) ups the elegance factor thanks to its cozy subterranean setting. We love the creamy baked camembert with fig jam and the seasonal preparation of foie gras.

Thanks to chef and owner Shawn Monday, One Red Door (49 Village Way, 330-342-3667, onereddoorhudson.com) continues to attract foodies from far afield. For a flavor packed snack, order up the roasted date stuffed with chorizo and manchego, wrapped in bacon, and served with smoked tomato.

The approachable and attractive Rosewood Grill (36 E. Streetsboro Rd., 330-656-2100, rosewoodgrill.com) quickly earned its place among Hudson mainstays thanks to quality, execution and value. Because Rosewood is a member of Hospitality Restaurants (think Cabin Club and Delmonico's), diners can count on quality steaks and chops.

In the market for fresh, healthy and light? Hit the cheery little Nosh Eatery (5929 Darrow Rd., 330-650-6674, nosheatery.com) for a tasty soup, salad or sandwich or salad. A favorite is the grilled chicken salad sandwich with grapes, Spanish almonds, sun-dried cherries and tarragon aioli on multi-grain bread.


As the cultural epicenter of Greater Cleveland, University Circle is surprisingly light when it comes to top-notch dining options – a situation made worse by the closures of Sergio's and Accent. But slowly, steadily that is changing.

If you're already at the Cleveland Museum of Art, then you have no reason to bypass the two new restaurants there, Provenance and Provenance Café (11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350, clevelandart.org). The first is an elegant fine dining destination while the latter is a quick-serve but remarkably refreshing café.

ABC the Tavern (11434 Uptown Ave., 216-721-1511, abcthetavern.com) in Ohio City become wildly popular for any number of reasons, but one of them is the "smashed and grilled" burgers topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and fried onion "frizzles." Guess what? You don't have to go to Ohio City to scarf one down.

L’Albatros (11401 Bellflower Rd., 216-791-7880, albatrosbrasserie.com), one of Zack Bruell's growing portfolio of eateries, is as close to dining perfection as one can find in Cleveland. Settle in for a glass of crisp white wine, garlicky escargots, and fine artisan cheeses.

The drop-dead gorgeous Club Isabella (2175 Cornell Rd., 216-229-1111, clubisabella.com) woos newcomers first with the old-meets-new setting and second with the inventive cuisine of chef-owner Fabio Mota. For an autumn stunner of a dish, order the cider-braised pork shank sided by coriander scented couscous and an apple cider reduction.

We're suckers for a great Indian lunch buffet, and the one served at Indian Flame (11623 Euclid Ave., 216-791-5555) is reliably consistent. With seven or eight vegetarian and meat dishes, not counting rice, breads and chutneys, nobody's leaving this joint hungry.


Like the people who live there, Cleveland Heights is diverse when it comes to its menu of food options. From old school to new, the options run the gamut from refurbished diner to loud and lively Southwest.

The bustling Lopez Southwest Kitchen (2196 Lee Rd., 216-932-9000, www.lopezonlee.com) is the ideal place to kick start a night on Lee thanks to killer margaritas and delicious snacks like chips and guac, and sweet and spicy calamari.

Nighttown (12387 Cedar Rd., 216-795-0530) might be best knows as a venue for live music, but there are noteworthy things happening in the kitchen, too. A new chef has elevated classic dishes like the Dublin Lawyer, while introducing fresh new dishes like fish tacos.

Pay a visit to Rockefeller’s (3099 Mayfield Rd., 216-321-0477, rockefellerscleveland.com) and you'll be bowled over by the space, a former bank that feels more like a castle than a retail establishment. Chef Jill Vedaa's addictive calamari with coconut milk glaze has become required eating for all who dine here.

You can't mention Coventry without mentioning Tommy’s (1824 Coventry Road, 216-321-7757, tommyscoventry.com), a Cleveland Heights institution if ever there was one. While rightly known for its vegetarian fare, Tommy's makes a mean meat pie, especially the Aunt Gay with cheese, sesame sauce and veggies. Boasting one of the few wood-burning ovens on this side of town,

Vero Bistro (12421 Cedar Rd., 216-229-8383, verocleveland.com) turns out some of the best Neapolitan-style pizza in the Heights. An airy, chewy outer crust blistered with char gives way to a thin, crisp inner crust supporting a few choice ingredients.

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