33 Cleveland Restaurants Every Newbie Must Try

Let's be honest, we lost some good ones in the last year or so. Between Greenhouse Tavern, Sokolowski's and Lola, iconic Cleveland restaurants have shuttered recently. But that doesn't mean we still don't have our fair share of amazing restaurants. These 33 restaurants specifically highlight the awesome food that this city is known for.

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 Zhug
12413 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Heights
With the unveiling of this new venture, Doug Katz has created a new gravitational center for this side of town, attracting diners with such force that many get turned away. If your idea of Middle Eastern food consists largely of tightly wrapped falafel sandwiches, shawarma carved from a twirling spit and grilled beef shish-kabob on a bed of rice, Zhug will expand your culinary horizons in a million little ways. With its dazzling small plates, meticulously crafted cocktails and ripped-from-Tel Aviv-vibe, this cosmopolitan eatery upends every Cleveland dining convention.
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Zhug

12413 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Heights

With the unveiling of this new venture, Doug Katz has created a new gravitational center for this side of town, attracting diners with such force that many get turned away. If your idea of Middle Eastern food consists largely of tightly wrapped falafel sandwiches, shawarma carved from a twirling spit and grilled beef shish-kabob on a bed of rice, Zhug will expand your culinary horizons in a million little ways. With its dazzling small plates, meticulously crafted cocktails and ripped-from-Tel Aviv-vibe, this cosmopolitan eatery upends every Cleveland dining convention.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
 Larder
1455 West 29th St., Cleveland 
At its heart, Larder is a Jewish deli, with matzo ball soup, thick pastrami sandwiches, out of this world fried chicken sandwiches and awesome baked goods. But there's so much more going on here than that. Chef-owner Jeremy Umansky utilizes techniques like koji (a Japanese mold) curing, foraging for wild edibles, cold and hot smoking, and fermentation and pickling to produce an ever-shifting roster of seasonal plates.
Photo via @LarderB/Instagram

Larder

1455 West 29th St., Cleveland

At its heart, Larder is a Jewish deli, with matzo ball soup, thick pastrami sandwiches, out of this world fried chicken sandwiches and awesome baked goods. But there's so much more going on here than that. Chef-owner Jeremy Umansky utilizes techniques like koji (a Japanese mold) curing, foraging for wild edibles, cold and hot smoking, and fermentation and pickling to produce an ever-shifting roster of seasonal plates.

Photo via @LarderB/Instagram
 Astoria
5417 Detroit Ave., Cleveland 
Astoria manages to put a smile on our faces morning, day or night. The retail market keeps our pantry flush with gourmet foods like imported cheeses, cured meats, olives and wine. The large bar is an ideal place to meet up with a friend over cocktails, glasses of wine and a fully loaded meat and cheese platter. The animated dining room is where we land for full meals of tender wine-poached octopus, veal and ricotta meatballs, pizzas, and grilled lamb chops. 
Photo via Scene Archives

Astoria

5417 Detroit Ave., Cleveland

Astoria manages to put a smile on our faces morning, day or night. The retail market keeps our pantry flush with gourmet foods like imported cheeses, cured meats, olives and wine. The large bar is an ideal place to meet up with a friend over cocktails, glasses of wine and a fully loaded meat and cheese platter. The animated dining room is where we land for full meals of tender wine-poached octopus, veal and ricotta meatballs, pizzas, and grilled lamb chops.

Photo via Scene Archives
 Zoma
2240 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights 
Despite what that one guy on Yelp said about the "bread," we're slightly obsessed with Zoma. We love the communal atmosphere of the experience, where diners sit around a platter of colorful, savory stews, pinching off bites with stretchy injera. Rare is the place that hungry vegetarians and omnivores can so peacefully coexist thanks to items starring chopped greens, chickpeas, lentils, beef and chicken. The housemade Ethiopian hot sauce, fueled by an exotic berbere spice blend, is righteous.
Photo via Zoma/Facebook

Zoma

2240 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights

Despite what that one guy on Yelp said about the "bread," we're slightly obsessed with Zoma. We love the communal atmosphere of the experience, where diners sit around a platter of colorful, savory stews, pinching off bites with stretchy injera. Rare is the place that hungry vegetarians and omnivores can so peacefully coexist thanks to items starring chopped greens, chickpeas, lentils, beef and chicken. The housemade Ethiopian hot sauce, fueled by an exotic berbere spice blend, is righteous.

Photo via Zoma/Facebook
 Thai Thai
13735 Madison Ave., Lakewood 
Few restaurants have made as big of a splash as Thai Thai, the tiny Lakewood eatery beloved for its flavorful, fiery Bangkok-style street foods. From the day it opened in 2016, this pared-down eatery excelled by focusing on a handful of Thai classics and knocking each and every one of them out of the park.  
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Thai Thai

13735 Madison Ave., Lakewood

Few restaurants have made as big of a splash as Thai Thai, the tiny Lakewood eatery beloved for its flavorful, fiery Bangkok-style street foods. From the day it opened in 2016, this pared-down eatery excelled by focusing on a handful of Thai classics and knocking each and every one of them out of the park.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
 Superior Pho
3030 Superior Ave., Cleveland 
Because pho is an essential part of a balanced diet, not to mention one's sanity, noodle shops like this one hold a very important place in our lives. Winter or summer, a bowl of pho is more than food; it's a restorative elixir that sets us on a brighter path. Crispy spring rolls, citrusy cabbage salad, and meaty banh mi sammies also make us happy, so it's a good thing that the versions served at this perfectly acceptable dining room are as delicious as the noodle soup.
Photo via Scene Archives

Superior Pho

3030 Superior Ave., Cleveland

Because pho is an essential part of a balanced diet, not to mention one's sanity, noodle shops like this one hold a very important place in our lives. Winter or summer, a bowl of pho is more than food; it's a restorative elixir that sets us on a brighter path. Crispy spring rolls, citrusy cabbage salad, and meaty banh mi sammies also make us happy, so it's a good thing that the versions served at this perfectly acceptable dining room are as delicious as the noodle soup.

Photo via Scene Archives
 Slyman’s
3106 St. Clair Ave. NE., Cleveland 
16 tons and what do you get? The best corned beef sandwich in Cleveland. They still slice every sandwich to order, and every sandwich still towers above much of the competition. Amaze your friends by ordering in Slymaneze: a “natural” means plain; “original” comes with mustard; and “Smurf” buys you one with Swiss and mustard (which ain’t kosher, by the way).
Photo via Scene Archives

Slyman’s

3106 St. Clair Ave. NE., Cleveland

16 tons and what do you get? The best corned beef sandwich in Cleveland. They still slice every sandwich to order, and every sandwich still towers above much of the competition. Amaze your friends by ordering in Slymaneze: a “natural” means plain; “original” comes with mustard; and “Smurf” buys you one with Swiss and mustard (which ain’t kosher, by the way).

Photo via Scene Archives
SOHO Chicken + Whiskey/Chicken Run
1889 W. 25th St., Cleveland 
Put "chicken" in your name and you better do it right, and SoHo does. While SoHo temporarily changed their concept to a takeout spot called Chicken Run for the pandemic, they’re still serving perfectly tasty fried chicken and other delicious southern foods like fried green tomatoes, gumbo and shrimp and grits. 
Photo via Scene Archives

SOHO Chicken + Whiskey/Chicken Run

1889 W. 25th St., Cleveland

Put "chicken" in your name and you better do it right, and SoHo does. While SoHo temporarily changed their concept to a takeout spot called Chicken Run for the pandemic, they’re still serving perfectly tasty fried chicken and other delicious southern foods like fried green tomatoes, gumbo and shrimp and grits.

Photo via Scene Archives
 Tacos at La Plaza Supermarket
13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd., Lakewood 
All it takes to get your hands on what many deem the best tacos in Cleveland is venturing to this Lakewood supermarket. This grocery store cooks up barbacoa, carnitas, chorizo and al pastor tacos in front of your eyes. They’re served up as-is, but load up on diced onion, cilantro, guac and salsas to your heart’s desire.
Photo via Scene Archives

Tacos at La Plaza Supermarket

13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd., Lakewood

All it takes to get your hands on what many deem the best tacos in Cleveland is venturing to this Lakewood supermarket. This grocery store cooks up barbacoa, carnitas, chorizo and al pastor tacos in front of your eyes. They’re served up as-is, but load up on diced onion, cilantro, guac and salsas to your heart’s desire.

Photo via Scene Archives
 The Black Pig
2801 Bridge Ave., Cleveland 
The Black Pig seemed to really come alive following its move away from W. 25th Street. More neighborhood haunt than arbitrary destination, this is the rare type of place where you can visit once or twice a week and never grow bored. In-house butchers are all the rage, but this kitchen knows nose-to-tail better than most. Well-raised pigs come in the back door and enter the dining room as Old World charcuterie, crispy pork rinds, gently braised flanks and juicy grilled chops.
Photo via Scene Archives

The Black Pig

2801 Bridge Ave., Cleveland

The Black Pig seemed to really come alive following its move away from W. 25th Street. More neighborhood haunt than arbitrary destination, this is the rare type of place where you can visit once or twice a week and never grow bored. In-house butchers are all the rage, but this kitchen knows nose-to-tail better than most. Well-raised pigs come in the back door and enter the dining room as Old World charcuterie, crispy pork rinds, gently braised flanks and juicy grilled chops.

Photo via Scene Archives