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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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