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.
Aladdin's serves a variety of simply prepared, Middle Eastern-inspired foods, including homemade soups, salads, pita wraps, steamed veggie plates, and pita "pizzas." Choices for vegetarians abound, and freshly squeezed juices, fruit smoothies, and a small selection of beer and wine are available.
Wild, woodsy aromas suffuse this friendly little restaurant, where hickory smoking, slow cooking, and mesquite grilling are the order of the day. Nearly everything, from the thick, sweet, and peppery BBQ sauce to the delicate biscuits in the strawberry shortcake, is made fresh and in-house. And for a real taste of the ol' West, be sure to try the zesty Smokin' Beans.
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.
A laid-back vibe, a killer bar, and an ambitious kitchen cooking up everything from burgers to braised lamb make this friendly East Side gastropub a worthwhile find.
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.
Casually upscale and unselfconsciously cool, this neighborhood bistro is home to delicious gourmet pizzas, an intriguing collection of fish and seafood dishes, and a dashing wine list containing one of the regions largest assortment of half-bottles.
If you miss Mom's cooking, this is the place to get your fix. Big Al's has all the comforting favorites, like thick, steaming soups, housemade mashed potatoes with gravy, open-faced roast beef sandwiches and chocolate cake for dessert. Breakfast is served until the diner's late-afternoon closing time.
Reasonably priced, family-friendly dining inside an upscale, Disneyesque facsimile of ancient Roman ruins is this Columbus-based restaurant's claim to fame. The menu focuses on pasta, pizza, or wood-grilled meats; for dessert, the partially caramelized cheesecake, in a pool of crème anglaise, tastes like more.
Adjacent to Arts Collinwood, this corner storefront is a multimedia café hosting art openings, jazz recitals, and the Waterloo film series, as well as serving a light menu of savories and sweets. Wine, beer and cocktails are served, and patio seating is available.
Diners at this locally based, quick-casual chain inside Eton Chagrin can design their salads from a near-endless selection of greens, toppings and dressings, which are then chopped by a mezzaluna-wielding staffer on a wooden block. More than a novelty, the chopping means that every bite offers the perfect blend of greens, toppings and dressing. Creations also can be folded into a large flour tortilla.
Despite its bright new decor, Corky & Lenny's remains that most venerable of urban eating establishments: a good Jewish deli. From garlicky dills waiting at each table to the fizzy chocolate phosphates, all the traditional noshes are on hand. Corned beef is lean and flavorful, latkes are fat and tender, and the creamy cheesecake may be the best in town.
Just steps from the John Carroll University campus but nearly 40 years removed this outpost of Dave Lombardys original psychedelic sub shop is big, colorful and comfy, with the same 1960s-style art and artifacts that decorate his numerous other area locations. Same big menu of giant, overstuffed subs too, along with a few salads, some chips and cookies for dessert.
A fine choice for families, this bright, contemporary pizza parlor offers freshly made pies, wholesome salads and a concise selection of beer and wine, including eight microbrews on draft. Friendly staffers take small fry in stride, and while Mom and Dad unwind, the kiddies can safely watch the chefs at work from behind a glass partition.
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.
One of Ohio's largest family-owned wineries, Ferrante's is located along the southern shores of Lake Erie. The winery offers award-winning wines, charm, and hospitality next to the two cozy fireplaces in the full-service Italian restaurant.
Except for the Saturday-only prime rib dinner, there is nothing fancy about this comfy little restaurant and bar. But Fisher's is still immensely popular with area workers for its big sandwiches and salads, as well as homemade soups and desserts. After 5 p.m., entrées like ribs, New York strip steak, and fettuccine Alfredo are also available. If you can, get a table on the charming enclosed sunporch. Or, in warm weather, eat on the shaded deck.
If you think everything fades after three decades, check out this mainstay of the East Side dining scene, where the seasonal menu of well-crafted cuisine remains reliably, vibrantly up-to-date. Summer lunches on the shady, tree-lined patio are a high point of the season; in the winter, several fireplaces make for cozy indoor dining.
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.
A winning combination of deli, café, and gourmet market, this family-owned and -operated "gathering place" offers a daily menu of ready-to-eat soups, salads, and imaginative sandwiches, as well as a broad assortment of carryout and heat-and-eat options.
Standard fare like burritos, chimichangas and tacos gets an unexpected dollop of grace from the use of top-notch ingredients and attentive preparation at this casual, independently owned Mexican restaurant.
Once you get past the fact that this restaurant is in an upscale fashion mall and nowhere near our real Little Italy, youre likely to enjoy the elegant, 1950s-style decor and the big menu of well-prepared southern Italian standards served in oversized portions just right for sharing. Private parties, banquets, and corporate events are other house specialties.
Mister Brisket (a.k.a. Sanford Herskovitz) has expanded his specialty butcher shop to include a carryout sandwich counter, featuring everything from barbecued beef to rich Romanian pastrami. But the real draw is the unconventional corned beef, baked in a convection oven, rather than boiled, as is done in most delis. Does it make a difference? Try it, then decide for yourself.
Strip-plaza setting notwithstanding, this handsome bistro has grown into Mentor's "go-to" spot for casually upscale dining, with an eclectic menu that ranges from Kobe burgers and signature crab cakes to pastas and parmigianas. For those who like lighter fare, a selection of stone-oven-baked pizzas fill the bill; for those who like drinking, the on-site wine shop provides 700 or so choices by the bottle, priced at retail plus a $5 corking fee.
Svelte and sophisticated, Moxie is where you take your business partners to impress them with your good taste. The seasonal American foods, including grilled fish, savory meats, and bountiful salads, are artfully presented by professional servers.
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.
Our pick for one of the best "casual eats" values in town, this nicely appointed osteria inside Whole Foods Market offers sit-down dining, friendly service, and a small but appealing menu of freshly prepped Italian fare at prices you'd be hard-pressed to match at home. Drinkers can choose from an inexpensive beer and wine list or buy a bottle at retail, which staffers will uncork and pour for free.
A second, smaller outpost for this popular Cleveland Hts. restaurant, Pacific East offers some of the regions freshest, most generously apportioned sushi, along with tempura, teriyaki, agemono, and noodle dishes.
Dont 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 nonnas 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.
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