Still our pick for one of the best dinner values in town, Brennan's manages to combine the vibe of a well-worn bar with the quality of a contemporary bistro. While the kitchen does right by burgers, steaks, and sandwiches, the real thrills are the daily specials full-meal deals ranging from porkchops, fresh fish, chicken and pasta, pegged at $22 or less.
True to its name, the Cabin looks like a cabin inside and out. Lounge acts play in the bar, where couples cut a rug after the dinner crowd thins out.
Neighbors have thanked owners Marc and Ruth Levine for "not being another wing-and-beer joint," while others appreciate them for not being too upscale. Bistro 185 takes the glorious middle road, offering hearty made-from-scratch comfort dishes at blue-collar prices.
Stampede over to Harry Buffalo when you need a fix of low-fat bison steaks, ribs, or burgers: This homegrown chain, with six area locations, is the largest purchaser of buffalo meat in Ohio. Besides bison, the large menu includes beef, salads, pastas, and chicken. The video games and a big list of imported, domestic, and microbrewed beers are just what urban cowboys need after a long week on the trail.
While real pubs are woven into the fabric of a neighborhood, youll find Claddagh (part of a national chain) adrift in the middle of a parking lot, surrounded by a shopping mecca. Once you're inside, though, evocative decor, friendly service and a multipage menu of well-prepared dishes, including a standout version of fish n chips, help soften the blow. Nor does it hurt that the full bar carries a solid selection of draft beers as well as every Irish whiskey available in the U.S.
The South Side doesn’t quite overload all the senses, but it stimulates them with exposed brick walls, a winding granite bar, local artwork that changes monthly, and four big plasma screens equipped with surround sound. After the kitchen closes, an upscale-casual crowd gather in the bar.
A laid-back alternative to the Warehouse District's pricey haute spots, this nautically themed tavern specializes in fish, seafood, and plenty of beer, in bottles and on tap. One of downtown's best happy hours.
Noisy and fun-loving, this 100-seat restaurant is part of the Corner Alley complex, a high-energy hangout featuring 16 lanes of bowling and a fashionable martini bar. With cheese here, bacon there, and deep-fried goodness nearly everywhere, spa cuisine this is not. But thanks to zesty flavors and often-imaginative preparation, the offerings still beat the standard bowling-alley lineup by a long shot.
An earthy swirl of brick, glass and polished wood, Crave provides a warm backdrop for chefs DeAnna Akers and Aaron Hervey's long, inventive menu of high-octane treats, featuring everything from Black Angus burgers to porcini-dusted scallops. The bar offers an enticing roundup of imported and craft-brewed beers, along with well-priced wines and savory martinis.
Although the kitchen at this Caribbean-themed restaurant (part of the Darden Restaurants chain) tends to keep the heat turned down, much of the food such as pressed Cuban sandwiches, butterflied coconut prawns, pan-seared pork tenderloin in a rummy demiglace is flavorful and attentively prepared. Still, the real draw is the bustling bar scene, fueled by shooters, beer, and boozy, fruity, and frozen concoctions designed to make every night feel like a week at the beach.
Casual, cozy, and with a splendid secluded patio for warm-weather dining, this upscale tavern offers everything from burgers and ribs to filet mignon and veal medallions. The surrounding countryside is charming, and getting there on the winding Geauga County roads is almost half the fun.
This warm sports bar hosts live rock and blues when major games aren't commanding attention.
Always energetic and occasionally riveting rustic Mediterranean and American cuisine leads the way at this chef-driven bistro in Kent. Above-average desserts, too, from an in-house pastry chef.
Perched on a hill overlooking the Ohio countryside, this rambling lodge offers a lovely backdrop for Executive Chef Brandt Evans' hearty American fare. While entrées like short ribs and mac 'n' cheese may sound homey, count on Evans to update them with luxury ingredients and season them with culinary magic.
No pricey destination restaurant, Clifton attracts crowds with simple, appealing American fare, much of it served in large, sharable portions, along with craft beers, creative martinis, and fine wines.
For those who have come to this entertainment complex primarily to play the state-of-the-art games and then find that the starship piloting, dinosaur dodging, and race-car driving have left them peckish, meals in the lavishly appointed Grand Dining Room are generally good-tasting, satisfying, and reasonably priced conveniences.
Theres something for everyone at this oddball crossroads tavern, from grilled bologna and pizza to Kobe beef and lobster. The charm factor gets a further twist from boxes, racks and countertops crammed with value-priced wine; coolers stuffed with imported beer; and a jukebox replete with tunes ranging from classic rock to show tunes.
The two-story guitar outside the Hard Rock is a beacon for music lovers, who pack the place every weekend to feast on mammoth burgers and music videos. The dining area is sometimes cleared for concerts, which typically feature rockers on the rise.
An Irish bar on steroids, the Harp isn’t just your corner joint with a few shamrocks on the wall. It boasts a large Irish-influenced menu and a spacious patio with a view of the lake. The music’s as likely to be rootsy rock or blues as Irish.
Heading into its fourth decade, this charming Ohio City café remains a reliable, if non-trendy, refuge for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch, best enjoyed in the airy garden room, a mug of cinnamon-scented coffee at hand. While gourmet burgers are the specialty of the house, other options abound, including salads, wraps, steaks, and pastas.
Riding high from the success of two popular food trucks — not to mention a Food Network reality show appearance — Chris Hodgson landed his first bricks-and-mortar restaurant. Teaming up with the experienced Scott Kuhn, Hodge delivers exciting, approachable dishes with broad appeal. Who can resist lobster corn dogs, flaky goat-cheese tarts, and light-as-air gnudi? For the mains, dig into a pasta version of French onion soup, pitch-perfect duck breast, and luxurious braised lamb shank.
HPP's Beachwood location is big, manly and urbane, with all the trappings of an upscale midwestern steakhouse. Happily, the food shrimp cocktails, Kobe beef burgers and of course, thick, juicy steaks is as satisfying as the setting, and the place is as popular for after-work unwinding as it is for weekend splurges.
Yes, its part of a national group of Nashville-based restaurants. But J. Alexanders still gets the nod for intelligently conceived and well-prepared food, served in a gimmick-free atmosphere. Prices are right, portions are huge, and the slowly roasted prime rib is probably Clevelands finest.
This attractive Larchmere Boulevard space is operated by the folks behind Angie's Soul Café and Zanzibar Soul Fusion. Here, the focus is on Cajun and Creole dishes inspired by the Big Easy: Think authentically prepared gumbo, jambalaya, BBQ shrimp, and étouffée. The seafood is fresh, the sauces vivacious, the portions robust, and the prices right where they should be.
Cops, lawyers, secretaries, hipsters, football fans, and neighborhood residents sooner or later, everyone ends up at Karls, for the good food, well-stocked bar, and unpretentious vibe. A one-pound corned-beef sandwich is the house specialty; other good bets include the Friday-night fish fry and the well-dressed Snuggery Burger.
The city’s best jazz club books headliners from every corner of the genre. The dining room where acts perform — you can have dinner while you listen — was recently redesigned for even better sound and sightlines.
An extensive collection of well-priced cocktails and wine is the major draw at this good-looking martini bar. But when the kitchens on its game, the concise menu of modern American and Mediterranean fare earns its props too.
Veteran chef Brandt Evans' Public Square restaurant is a breath of fresh air for downtowners, with a spare decor, an urbane vibe, and rustically refined menus built from local, sustainable ingredients. A stickler for details, Evans pays equal attention to every element of a dish. He does, however, leave room for whimsy, as evidenced by the occasional odd ingredient and deconstructed arrangement. Full bar.
For years, this breathtakingly beautiful French Norman space has been reserved for private functions. With the unveiling of Rockefeller's, guests now can dine in an extravagant room built for a tycoon. Seasonal American with the occasional Asian kick, the dishes are creative but restrained and always delicious. Lounge seating with a complementary menu gives late-night noshers a tasteful place to roost.
Giant deck, tremendous view of the mouth of the Cuyahoga, and warm-weather weekend parties that run all day and all night.
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