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Academy Tavern
Like a well-worn couch, this vintage corner tavern may show its age, but its comfort is undeniable. For proof, just look at the diverse clientele, chowing down on big portions of hearty, inexpensive food. While the burgers are always a good bet, the eclectic offerings include everything from ham & eggs to veal Parmesan, and chicken paprikash to black-eyed peas.
A clean, casual Lebanese-American eatery across from the Cleveland Clinic, Cedarland has a large menu of Middle Eastern standards, including shishtawook, baked fish, and falafel. Lots of choices for vegetarians. There's a small imported-foods market too.
This new incarnation of Club Isabella sparkles in every way, from the gorgeous setting to the original and eclectic cuisine from chef-owner Fabio Mota. Among the seafood-centric options: buttery frogs legs, fried sweet and spicy cuttlefish, crab-rich pasta, monkfish in smoky bacon-studded cream sauce, and scallops with braised pork belly.
The Diner on 55th
A visit to Jim Anagnostos's shiny silver diner is a nostalgic trip back through time, to the days of all-American meals like meatloaf and gravy, liver and onions, and classic chili.
Behind the doors of Empress Taytu awaits an exotic culinary adventure of the first order. The restaurant serves authentic Ethiopian foods, including beef, lamb, chicken and vegetarian dishes cooked with a variety of spices and herbs.
Falafel Café
Every student body needs a place like this small Middle Eastern café near the CWRU campus, where the big menu ranges from fries and burgers to falafel and spinach pies, and the freshly made food is both satisfying and cheap.
Over the years, this vintage tavern has gone from a shabby little shot-and-a-beer joint to a welcoming destination, with a long, eclectic menu ranging from spicy noodle yakitori to burgers and fries, an impressive beer collection, and one of the best-priced wine lists in the region.
Guarino's
Established in 1918, Guarino's is one of Cleveland's oldest restaurants and is still a family operation. While the decor tends toward Victoriana, the kitchen's pasta, veal and seafood dishes are all Italian.
Gusto! Ristorante Italiano
Romantic and very Italian, this intimate little restaurant features an enticing menu of well-prepared regional specialties, mostly from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Best of all, the hands-on owners make everyone feel like part of la famiglia.
If you doubt that polished service is the foundation of a fine meal, you haven’t been to Il Bacio, the cozy ristorante in Little Italy, where mellifluously accented host and owner Antonino Calandra heads up one of the most gracious teams in town. That, plus Calandra’s voluptuous take on tiramisu, go far toward making Il Bacio as sweet as its name’s translation: The Kiss.
Trained in Italy’s Piedmont region, talented chef-owner Michael Annandono tackles an ambitious repertoire of mostly northern Italian fare with consistently delicious results. We can rarely resist the delicate homemade pastas, served in a room that is as elegantly understated as the food itself. Italian and Californian wine list.
Owner Billy Dagg is a retired Cleveland firefighter, and his cheerful Irish pub is a second home for many of the city's finest, who flock here for the shepherd's pie, big slabs of char-broiled prime rib and the expansive international beer collection. Happily, even those of us who don't carry a badge are made to feel welcome, and if you don't leave here well-fed, that's no one's fault but your own.
Don’t let the subterranean location fool you: This Little Italy mainstay, settled at the bottom of a long flight of stairs, is as warm and welcoming as nonna’s kitchen, with a neighborly vibe and the wallet-friendly prices to match. Offerings are mostly traditional Italian — pastas, polenta, eggplant parmesan — with a few stylish twists. And to drink, check out the short but interesting list of wines-by-the-glass.
For almost 50 years, this Central European polka palace has been dishing out family-style fare at wallet-friendly prices. The all-inclusive dinners include chicken soup, salad, bread and butter, Wiener schnitzel, roast pork, smoked kielbasa, sauerkraut, potatoes, veggies, coffee and dessert. Or, order from the menu's listing of numerous veal, pork and chicken dishes. Live music and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights.
A happy alliance of modern architecture and contemporary cuisine, Table 45 offers an enticing collection of global fare that blends sophistication with unpretentious appeal. The kitchen may borrow freely from Indian, Mediterranean, and South American pantries, but the clear, focused flavors are all its own.
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