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Homey, stylish, and with an impressive view of Lake Erie, the Harp is beloved among C-Towners for its vast collection of Irish beers and spirits, and for a kitchen that treats its Irish-themed menu with the deepest respect. That includes everything from the signature soda bread and superlative boxty to the Guinness ice cream sundae. Factor in frequent live music, a delightful patio, and a gracious vibe, and you've got yourself a winner.
4408 Detroit Ave.,
Staff Pick: Sullivan's Irish Pub & Restaurant
There's been a German restaurant in Der Braumeister's space since 1929: That's got to be part of what makes this West Side fave seem so authentically European. The remaining credit goes to the menu of sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel, and smoked sausage; an on-site market and deli stocked with traditional meats, cheeses, and condiments; and in warm weather, the sidewalk biergarten — the spot to work your way through the 140-label collection of cool, imported brews.
13046 Lorain Ave., 216-671-6220,
Staff Pick: Der Braumeister
Best Middle Eastern
When Fady Chamoun came up with the idea for combining wholesome foods with the fast-casual concept, Cleveland stood up and cheered. Fast-forward 18 years, and huzzahs still haven't stopped. Aladdin's continues to dish up well-prepared Middle Eastern standards with a sharp focus on health and nutrition, making its many fans feel both well fed and well loved.
Various locations including
14536 Detroit Ave., Lakewood,
Staff Pick: Aladdin's Eatery
Family owned and operated since 1952, La Fiesta specializes in dishes made from scratch with a variety of locally sourced ingredients. That includes crowd-pleasers like guacamole and tacos, as well as less common dishes like posole (spicy pork and hominy soup) and chicharrones (fried-to-order pork-skin cracklins). Wash it down with a Tecate or a mucho macho Margarita from the well-stocked bar: Your own personal fiesta is just beginning.
5115 Wilson Mills Rd., Richmond Heights, 440-565-4422,
Staff Pick: Momocho
Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar
Who knew that the bold flavors of Latin America dwelt inside an East Side mall? Paladar is your clear choice for dishes like ceviche, guacamole, feijoada, Jamaican curry, and pork Cubano. Then, of course, there is the Rum Bar portion of the equation, whence flow magnificently muddled mojitos and more than 50 varieties of rum.
28601 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere,
Staff Pick: Barroco Grill
Spice of Life
"Upscale catering with a down-to-earth twist" is the tagline for Spice of Life Catering, chef Ben Bebenroth's company that pledges allegiance to all things regional, seasonal, and sustainable. That includes not only purchasing 95 percent of ingredients from farms within a 100-mile radius, but going so far as to grow foods specifically for your special event.
5800 Detroit Ave., 216-432-9090,
Staff Pick: Spice of Life
Best Dessert Menu
If it's true that everything's better with chocolate, then no wonder this downtown destination is the sweetest place around. Part eatery, part cocktail lounge, Chocolate Bar wins over C-Town with an array of temptations — everything from chocolate mousse, chocolate fondue, and chocolate-marbled cheesecake to hot chocolate, frozen chocolate, and chocolate-mint martinis.
347 Euclid Ave., 216-622-2626,
Staff Pick: Sweet Melissa
Best Local Foods Champ
Whether he's foraging for ramps with his kids or fermenting his own vinegars, Jonathon Sawyer stands as a champion for locally sourced, locally raised, made-from-scratch goodness. As owner and chef of the estimable Greenhouse Tavern and the crowd-pleasing Noodlecat, the bouncy, bearded Sawyer puts his farm-to-plate beliefs on the line daily.
238 East Fourth St., 216-443-0511,
Staff Pick: Parker Bosley
As beloved for its cadre of tuxedoed servers as for its authentic Mediterranean menu of gazpacho, paella, fish, and seafood, this Warehouse District bastion of Spanish and Portuguese cuisine remains refined and fun.
1390 West Ninth St., 216-687-9494,
Staff Pick: Mallorca
Zack Bruell scores again with this contemporary brasserie and bar tucked inside a University Circle carriage house. Must be L'Albatros' perfect combination of historic vibe, polished service, and a big, enticing menu of French classics. With an extensive wine list, the city's best cheese service, and a stunning, secluded patio, this is where Cleveland heads for a French twist.
11401 Bellflower Rd., 216-791-7880, albatrosbrasserie.com
Staff Pick: L'Albatros
Great Thai food and a fun time continue to draw Clevelanders to this Tremont restaurant, where they find artfully plated dishes like chicken massaman curry, classic pad Thai, and the signature deep-fried red snapper served with a choice of zesty sauces. No surprise this intimate eatery continues to earn the Thai title.
815 Jefferson Ave., 216-664-1000,
Staff Pick: Banana Blossom