October 15, 2015

15 Restaurants in Cleveland You Probably Don't Know About, But Should

An off-the-beaten-path Chinese place you'll need a map to find, a barbershop with a bar and a seasonal shop with a Gorilla mascot: These 15 places are definitely not the typical dining hot spots but are certainly worth the trip. (Photos courtesy of the Cleveland Scene archives and descriptions by Douglas Trattner and edited by Brandon Koziol)

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Asia Tea House - 3820 Superior Ave.
When it comes to off-the-beaten-path restaurants, you'd have a hard time topping Asia Tea House. To get here, pay a visit to the AsiaTown neighborhood and go to Asian Town Center. Then, enter Asia Foods and walk to the back of the store. Congratulations: You just found Asia Tea House. There are no menus here, just a printout of the 20-or-so available dishes taped to the counter like "roast pork rice plate," and "assorted beef noodle soup." Order the roast duck plate and get half a bird, hacked into pieces and laid to rest on a pile of steamed rice. Yum! Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
Asia Tea House - 3820 Superior Ave.

When it comes to off-the-beaten-path restaurants, you'd have a hard time topping Asia Tea House. To get here, pay a visit to the AsiaTown neighborhood and go to Asian Town Center. Then, enter Asia Foods and walk to the back of the store. Congratulations: You just found Asia Tea House. There are no menus here, just a printout of the 20-or-so available dishes taped to the counter like "roast pork rice plate," and "assorted beef noodle soup." Order the roast duck plate and get half a bird, hacked into pieces and laid to rest on a pile of steamed rice. Yum! Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.

Cafe Falafel - 3843 Riveredge Rd.
Baba ganoush, a  lumpy mash of slimy eggplant, or a staple of the Middle Eastern diet that should be avoided at all costs except at Cafe Falafel. Here it's delicious. The Middle Eastern cuisine is made from scratch on a daily basis. Try the mixed platter of  grilled meats on a rice pilaf, or the veggie sampler featuring an array of hummus, baba ganoush, chopped veggie salad and some of the city's best falafel. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
Cafe Falafel - 3843 Riveredge Rd.

Baba ganoush, a lumpy mash of slimy eggplant, or a staple of the Middle Eastern diet that should be avoided at all costs except at Cafe Falafel. Here it's delicious. The Middle Eastern cuisine is made from scratch on a daily basis. Try the mixed platter of grilled meats on a rice pilaf, or the veggie sampler featuring an array of hummus, baba ganoush, chopped veggie salad and some of the city's best falafel. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.

International Restaurant - 7823 Cedar Rd. 
International Restaurant Shrimp and Fish is a place serving some the most authentic Caribbean fare in town. The restaurant dishes the customary mix of stews like curry chicken, curry goat, oxtail stew, cow’s foot and fish stew. The menu also features jerk chicken with a kick, and the sun-colored curry chicken, pleasantly spiced with tropical and exotic flavors. Most dishes cost $7 to $9 for a small, which is anything but, and include the customary warm cabbage slaw, rice and beans. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
International Restaurant - 7823 Cedar Rd.

International Restaurant Shrimp and Fish is a place serving some the most authentic Caribbean fare in town. The restaurant dishes the customary mix of stews like curry chicken, curry goat, oxtail stew, cow’s foot and fish stew. The menu also features jerk chicken with a kick, and the sun-colored curry chicken, pleasantly spiced with tropical and exotic flavors. Most dishes cost $7 to $9 for a small, which is anything but, and include the customary warm cabbage slaw, rice and beans. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.

Seoul Hot Pot - 3709 Payne Ave.
After nearly 30 years in business, Seoul Hot Pot closed its doors in 2012, but now the restaurant is back (and better than ever). Foodies looking for adventurous food-related activities can reserve one of the four grill tables at the Korean-style eatery, where patrons get to cook the food themselves. The two most popular options for Korean barbecue are galbi and bulgogi. Both are marinated in a dark, sweet and garlicky sauce. We recommend. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
Seoul Hot Pot - 3709 Payne Ave.

After nearly 30 years in business, Seoul Hot Pot closed its doors in 2012, but now the restaurant is back (and better than ever). Foodies looking for adventurous food-related activities can reserve one of the four grill tables at the Korean-style eatery, where patrons get to cook the food themselves. The two most popular options for Korean barbecue are galbi and bulgogi. Both are marinated in a dark, sweet and garlicky sauce. We recommend. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.

Batuqui - 12706 Larchmere Blvd.
Tucked among the antique shops and bookstores on Larchmere Boulevard, Batuqui is a warm and welcoming space that feels like an extension of somebody's home kitchen. The Brazilian restaurant offers entrees that tend to be rustic and satisfying, with plenty of meat, rice and beans. Be sure to try the stew-like feijoada ($18), which offers flavorful pork and sausage with rice, black beans and cool tomato relish. Finish the meal with a cachaça-fueled cocktail like the caipirinha and the strawberry-scented Copa Kiss. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
Batuqui - 12706 Larchmere Blvd.

Tucked among the antique shops and bookstores on Larchmere Boulevard, Batuqui is a warm and welcoming space that feels like an extension of somebody's home kitchen. The Brazilian restaurant offers entrees that tend to be rustic and satisfying, with plenty of meat, rice and beans. Be sure to try the stew-like feijoada ($18), which offers flavorful pork and sausage with rice, black beans and cool tomato relish. Finish the meal with a cachaça-fueled cocktail like the caipirinha and the strawberry-scented Copa Kiss. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.

Sun Luck Garden - 1901 S. Taylor Rd., Cleveland Heights 
Built largely around classic Cantonese and Szechuan dishes, diners can expect items like salt and pepper shrimp, shrimp and walnuts, ma po tofu, Mongolian beef, Hunan beef and chop suey. Be sure to check out the Cantonese Special Chow Mein made up of authentic cantonese egg noodles that are topped with a blend of chicken, shrimp, mushrooms and Chinese vegetables. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
(Photo via Kuan L, Yelp)
Sun Luck Garden - 1901 S. Taylor Rd., Cleveland Heights

Built largely around classic Cantonese and Szechuan dishes, diners can expect items like salt and pepper shrimp, shrimp and walnuts, ma po tofu, Mongolian beef, Hunan beef and chop suey. Be sure to check out the Cantonese Special Chow Mein made up of authentic cantonese egg noodles that are topped with a blend of chicken, shrimp, mushrooms and Chinese vegetables. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.

(Photo via Kuan L, Yelp)

Payne Café - 3528 Payne Ave.
This place has a menu, but everybody orders the Ruby Burger, named after the owner/bartender/cook. There’s lettuce, there’s bacon, there’s cheese, there’s onion and ham. Yes, ham. Payne Café is the place to go for the famous burger, cheap beer and zero judgment. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
Payne Café - 3528 Payne Ave.

This place has a menu, but everybody orders the Ruby Burger, named after the owner/bartender/cook. There’s lettuce, there’s bacon, there’s cheese, there’s onion and ham. Yes, ham. Payne Café is the place to go for the famous burger, cheap beer and zero judgment. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.

Cabin Club - 30651 Detroit Rd.
You know those typical overpriced, bougie steakhouses? Well, Cabin Club is the anti-steakhouse as a woodsy log cabin with a celebratory roadhouse vibe. Step inside to a cheerful service, stiff drinks and some of the best steaks and chops in town. Opened since the early '90s, the Westlake eatery's been serving up plates like the Steak Christopher, which is a classic dish including twin filets topped with sauteed shrimp, and a 10-ounce sirloin alongside a massive bone-in ribeye. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
Cabin Club - 30651 Detroit Rd.

You know those typical overpriced, bougie steakhouses? Well, Cabin Club is the anti-steakhouse as a woodsy log cabin with a celebratory roadhouse vibe. Step inside to a cheerful service, stiff drinks and some of the best steaks and chops in town. Opened since the early '90s, the Westlake eatery's been serving up plates like the Steak Christopher, which is a classic dish including twin filets topped with sauteed shrimp, and a 10-ounce sirloin alongside a massive bone-in ribeye. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.

The Gorilla - 12102 Madison Ave. 
How many people can say they've dined at the place with a giant gorilla statue? Not many. The Gorilla is small, seasonal and a one-stop shop for hot dogs, barbecue and ice cream (no, this isn't a joke). In the category of hot dogs, they have them starting at just $2 and some change, like the City Hall topped with bacon. Gorilla also has six different barbecue sandwiches including the Gobble-Gobble (smoked turkey breast with honey grain mustard), and the Carolina (smoked Beef Brisket with Gorilla BBQ sauce), for just five bucks. And then, there's ice cream. Sadly, the season spot closed for the season, but it will open back up in February or March. In the meantime, Gorilla still offers barbecue catering options. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
The Gorilla - 12102 Madison Ave.

How many people can say they've dined at the place with a giant gorilla statue? Not many. The Gorilla is small, seasonal and a one-stop shop for hot dogs, barbecue and ice cream (no, this isn't a joke). In the category of hot dogs, they have them starting at just $2 and some change, like the City Hall topped with bacon. Gorilla also has six different barbecue sandwiches including the Gobble-Gobble (smoked turkey breast with honey grain mustard), and the Carolina (smoked Beef Brisket with Gorilla BBQ sauce), for just five bucks. And then, there's ice cream. Sadly, the season spot closed for the season, but it will open back up in February or March. In the meantime, Gorilla still offers barbecue catering options. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.

Quintana’s Barber and Dream Spa - 2200 S. Taylor Rd.
Since opening back in 2003, Quintana’s Barbershop has been more than just another place where employees trim the hairs and beards off appreciative customers. Quintana’s is the first barbershop in the state that carries its own liquor license. The place has a small bar and back bar stocked with high-end bourbon, scotch and aperitifs. Prices start at $10 and climb based on the rarity and cost of the booze. The liquor license extends out the front door and onto the front porch, meaning that clients can enjoy that cocktail alongside a cigar alfresco. We'll drink to that. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.
Quintana’s Barber and Dream Spa - 2200 S. Taylor Rd.

Since opening back in 2003, Quintana’s Barbershop has been more than just another place where employees trim the hairs and beards off appreciative customers. Quintana’s is the first barbershop in the state that carries its own liquor license. The place has a small bar and back bar stocked with high-end bourbon, scotch and aperitifs. Prices start at $10 and climb based on the rarity and cost of the booze. The liquor license extends out the front door and onto the front porch, meaning that clients can enjoy that cocktail alongside a cigar alfresco. We'll drink to that. Click here to read Douglas Trattner's full review.