Hippie or hipster, young or old, meathead or vegan, Clevelanders have been flocking to this culinary landmark since 1972, hungry for the big assortment of creative and unusual sandwiches, soups and salads. After a healthy hummus-stuffed ripe tomato or a grilled-cheese sandwich with veggies, sunflower seeds and sesame sauce, be sure to splurge on a creamy, old-fashioned malt or milkshake.
Owner, chef, host, server, bartender, and busser: Junior Battiste really does it all. As a result, dining in this teensy Cajun restaurant can be an adventure, marked by warmth, whimsy, and occasionally slow service. Still, those who value style and substance over speed won't be disappointed: Junior's made-from-scratch cookin' is some of the best in town.
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.
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.
Owner, namesake, and painstaking chef Marta Runza works magic on her Eastern-European repertoire, turning out succulent, slow-cooked sauerbraten, ephemeral Czech dumplings, and the best roast duck of any nationality in town. And while the tiny dining room and bar are no more glam than Granny's rec room, the friendly Old World charm is priceless. Try the bar's unusual Czech specialties.
Aficionados of authentic Neapolitan-style pizza have been claiming this pizzeria serves the best pie in town. That is not a surprise considering that the pizzaioli uses time-tested ingredients, techniques, and equipment, including a 950-degree wood-burning oven. The menu is largely confined to pizza, but does include starters, salads, and desserts.
Whether you are a meat-lover or vegetarian, there are many entrees from which to choose at this authentic Indian restaurant. Don’t forget the tandoori breads, especially the garlic naan and onion kulcha.
Set a few steps below street level (in the former Utrecht Art Supplies space), Bodega greets guests with a sleek waterfall, handsome wood floors and shimmering linens, and offers top-flight beers and a staggering amount of martinis and wines. The kitchen turns out cold tapas like stuffed grape leaves, scallop ceviche and beef carpaccio, and hot plates like bruschetta, paella and mussels in saffron. “I love Miami,” says owner Said Ouaddaadaa. ”I thought, why not bring Miami to Cleveland?”
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.
As cozy as a colonial tavern, this well-appointed dining room in the middle of secluded Gates Mills features an eclectic lineup of Italian standards, along with an assortment of sandwiches, burgers, chops, and a popular chicken pot pie. While not every dish is as magical as the setting, Saras makes a convenient, non-chain-linked alternative for suburban East Siders.
Boasting one of the very few wood-burning ovens in town, Vero turns out some of the most authentic Neapolitan-style pizza around. Owner Marc-Aurele Buholzer inherited the oven — and the space — from the previous tenant, La Gelateria. The gelato is the same, but the pizza is much improved. An airy, chewy edge blistered with char gives way to a thin, crisp inner crust supporting a few choice ingredients. These pies are meant to be enjoyed fresh from the oven.
After 25 years in Little Italy, Paul Minnillo has moved to the suburbs with this contemporary restaurant serving modern regional Italian cuisine. The far-ranging menu includes small-plate-style antipasti and creative greens, as well as silken pastas and hearty entrées. A wood-fired pizza oven turns out killer Neapolitan-style pies. A deep Italian wine list and a patio round out this East Side gem.
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.
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