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.
A smartly appointed alternative to the food court that sits below, this handsome downtown restaurant serves a solid assortment of salads, sandwiches, seafood, and pasta, with speedy service designed to get you back to your desk, or into your theater seat, with time to spare.
Short-order cooks toil inside this tiny vintage dining car, slapping around savory sirloin burgers and ladling up the best chili-and-cheese-drenched "Bubba Fries" in town. Other options include salads (even tough guys need their greens), soups, and juicy chicken sandwiches. The diner does brisk business for breakfast and lunch; hungry road warriors, or their Walter Mitty doppelgängers, can also catch an early dinner here on Fridays before 7 p.m.
Another changing of the guard has placed this convenient café inside the West Side Market in good hands. Tom Szoradi, veteran chef and owner of the long-running Juniper Grille, has elevated the quality, consistency, and creativity of this breakfast-and-lunch mainstay. Breakfasts are upscale versions of diner classics; sandwiches consist of house-roasted meats atop artisan-baked breads; and fun starters like sausage-studded Hanky Pankies (cheesy fondue) and tempura-fried shitakes kick-start the meal.
Colorful, comfy, and family friendly, this neighborhood cafe is known for its homey breakfasts and Sunday brunch, as well as its afternoon lineup of soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. Free wi-fi access and a cozy lounge area make it a good choice for catching up on e-mail while sipping a cup of freshly brewed joe.
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.
Town and gown unite behind the swinging doors of this venerable tavern, where the burgers sizzle, the French fries rock and the beer list goes on and on.
Just the ticket for the hike-and-bike crowd, the newest YT combines a prime location on the Towpath Trail with the usual lineup of burgers, chicken broils, entr'e-size salads, and signature omelets, in a retro-style space that pays homage to the classic American diner. (Hint: Indulge in the cheesy Notso Fries, then hit the trail to work off the guilt.)
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.
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.
Comfy, cozy, and family-friendly, Hudson's is a classic neighborhood restaurant, serving reasonably priced breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare, as well as libations from the full bar. While the owners' culinary chops are apparent in creations like Jamaican-spiced pork loin or bourbon-glazed salmon, the menu is far more homey than haute, with enough burgers, chicken, and meatloaf to satisfy even the least adventurous eater.
About as fancy as it gets at John Q's is a 16-ounce strip steak with a coating of cognac mustard and cracked black peppercorns. Other beef entrées porterhouse, filet mignon, rib steak, and prime rib are presented unadorned, all the better for you to enjoy their grilled flavor. The sprawling restaurant includes several romantic, curtained booths; ask for one when you make reservations.
Probably the only restaurant in the region to have an X-Wing fighter stationed in the parking lot, Mike's Place is full of weird decor and wacky humor. Nonetheless, the inexpensive food huge portions of casual fare thrown together with wild abandon is seriously tasty, ranging from tall homemade biscuits to Mike's award-winning barbecue. Large beer list.
The two-story guitar outside the Hard Rock is a beacon for music lovers, who pack the place every weekend to feast on mammoth burgers and music videos. The dining area is sometimes cleared for concerts, which typically feature rockers on the rise.
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.
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