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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.
Bahama Breeze
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.
Bass Lake Taverne
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.
Beachcliff Tavern
This warm sports bar hosts live rock and blues when major games aren't commanding attention.
Since 1948, this casual diner has been a part of West-Side life: so long, most residents can't recall a time when it wasn't dishing up burgers, onion rings, and milkshakes. A recent closure gave management the time to renovate the entire space, resulting in a fresh, vintage-tinged design that neatly fits with the retro menu. Here, thin, diner-style burgers, crisp onion rings, and thick milkshakes rule the roost. Fried clam fans will find some of the best in town.
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.
The club's logo -- a porker in a tie -- says it all. Down and dirty, but still kind of chic, the large, open Pig caters to an older, rock-oriented crowd, with cover bands. Never a cover.
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.
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.
Brown Bag Burger
The prototype for what owners hope will become a national chain, this cheerful “quick-serve” burger joint offers dribble-down-your-chin double-cheeseburgers, freshly cut fries and a small assortment of sandwiches and freshly made soups.
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.
Clean, casual and family-friendly, this gourmet pizza parlor (part of a large, California-based chain) is the best bet for dining with the little ones while at Legacy Village.
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.
While real pubs are woven into the fabric of a neighborhood, you’ll 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.
A snug little hideaway just behind the Q, Cleats is part of a rapidly growing local chain of sports bars. Wings are the kitchen's claim to fame, but we've got our eyes on the fries — fresh-cut cuties so good, we sometimes order them without the cheese and bacon.
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