Cleveland's version of a theater-district deli, this Playhouse Square staple has been entertaining arts lovers and downtown lunchers for more than 100 years, with a cast of soups, salads, steaks, chicken, and stacked-up sandwiches, many like the W.C. Fields and Fanny Brice named in honor of old-time stage stars. Dinner hours vary with the theaters' schedules; calling ahead is always a smart move.
If you've ever doubted that toasty, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches are the universal comfort food, just check out this boisterous Lakewood bar, where the kitchen turns out more than two dozen scrumptious variations on the theme, and the clientele ranges from smiling grannies to pierced, inked, and also smiling local rockers. Impressive beer selection.
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.
Short for Southern hospitality, SoHo serves fresh takes on Low Country, Cajun, and Creole cuisine. On the snappy and cohesive menu are classic Southern staples like shrimp and grits, catfish Po' Boys, and chicken and waffles, all dressed up for a more demanding modern audience. Even the cocktails scream Deep South, with bourbon, rye and moonshine-fueled bevies going down like sweet tea on a sticky summer day.
Some of the city's top players belt out a soundtrack of classic blues and R&B from their perch tucked away in the corner of this neighborhood bar in one of Cleveland's hottest neighborhoods.
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.
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.
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.
Lakewood’s last call before you hit Rocky River, Around the Corner boasts multiple rooms and patios filled with burger munchers, karaoke hounds, and music fans taking in danceable local rock, blues bands, and DJs.
The pool room has been turned into a music room, with both local and touring indie bands of all stripes. But the two-level ’60s-style lanes with hand pinsetting are still intact.
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.
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.
The lights are low and the vibe is friendly inside this snug neighborhood tavern, a recently remodeled gem where the kitchen belts out tasty riffs on all-American bar food, including fresh-ground burgers, zesty fried calamari, and saucy, spicy chicken wings. Besides a solid collection of artisanal brews, the bar serves up inventive cocktails — some with a seasonal twist. Come summer, the secluded patio is the place to be.
Wilbert’s mixes local acts with touring artists trying to get a toehold in town. Blues, rock, folk, indie, reggae, and jam bands all mingle here, so you’re never quite sure what you’ll hear.
Although it has the sleek brass, glass, and polished-wood look of a chain restaurant, this charming pub is locally owned and operated. The large menu goes well beyond colcannon and boxty to embrace quiche, gyros, and even burgers; no matter what you pick, the warm, custardy bread pudding makes a sweet ending. Irish brews on draft.
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.
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.
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.
Operated by chef Shawn Monday (One Red Door), Flip Side builds its gourmet burgers from all-natural, grass-fed Ohio beef, a welcome change from the corn-fed versions everywhere else. Nearly a dozen different models are available, plus the expected crunchy sides like onion rings, french fries, and housemade potato chips. Great milkshakes and craft beers round out this urban saloon-style eatery.
A devastating fire put Grumpy’s out of commission for two years, but owner Kathy Owad has resurrected the beloved Tremont café in a cozy new space. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch and late-night weekend dining, Grumpy’s pretty much has you covered morning, noon and night. Expect hearty plates of reasonably priced, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food served with cheerfulness.
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.
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 over 30 years, Ricks has served as the kitchen away from home for hungry Chagrin Falls residents. Unfussy and satisfying, the hearty American fare includes homemade soups, fresh salads, great burgers and now-famous barbecue ribs and chicken. Full bar and small patio.
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.
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