First Look: Paloma, Opening Next Week at Van Aken District in Shaker Heights

The modern-Mexican eatery is from the team behind Giovanni's and Smokin Q's

click to enlarge Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District.

Partners Zachary Ladner and Carl Quagliata are now just days away from opening Paloma, a contemporary Mexican restaurant at Van Aken District in Shaker Heights. The chefs, who also operate Giovanni’s, Smokin’ Q’s BBQ and The Village Butcher, announced the project last summer. The restaurant will open on Monday.

Located in a prominent 4,400-square-foot property on the public green, the glass-wrapped restaurant is bright, polished and roomy, capable of seating 132 guests. That number will climb next spring when the front patio is unveiled. A 24-seat oval bar abuts the front windows. Beyond the bar is a spacious dining room filled with high-tops, booths, standard tables and a handsome 12-person table constructed of reclaimed lumber.

Ladner and chef de cuisine Kytana Bradley will have unobstructed views of it all from the open kitchen. Ladner describes Paloma as a taco-focused modern-Mexican restaurant that is a bit more elevated than what’s typically offered. The chef’s many years in fine dining come through in smartly composed tacos starring unconventional meats and fillings.

“I feel like our approach is not necessarily super-traditional Mexican cuisine,” Ladner says.

The menu offers a nice variety of vegetable-, seafood- and meat-based tacos that run the gamut from conventional to more chef-driven and creative. There are fajita-style combos starring chicken or beef and onions, peppers, guacamole and salsa, but also duck carnitas with radish, fennel, cracklings and hot citrus vinegar. The all-day-roasted lamb is paired with mint, garlic crème fraiche, lime, red onion and jalapeno. Others feature oxtail birria, barbacoa-style beef cheeks, crispy walleye, citrus-marinated salmon and roasted cauliflower.

Tacos will be sold by the pair and arrive on freshly made flour tortillas.

“I feel like if you’re going to do something, do it right,” says the chef.

In the starter category, there are personal and shareable dishes like nachos, chips and dips, Oaxacan-cheese queso fundido, snapper ceviche, grilled octopus with chorizo-potato "hash," and crispy street corn.

Of course, there will be a top-flight beverage program starring various renditions of the Paloma, the popular tequila-based cocktail.

When it opens – likely next week – Paloma will be open for lunch and dinner daily.

Ladner, who lives in nearby Cleveland Heights with his wife and general manager Alyssa, says that he is thrilled to join the Van Aken District community.

"They’ve done an amazing job developing this district and creating this sort of cultural feel,” he says. “Anytime of day that you come here there’s always people around. They did it right.”


click to enlarge Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District.
click to enlarge Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District.
click to enlarge Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District.
click to enlarge Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District.
click to enlarge Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District. - Douglas Trattner
Douglas Trattner
Paloma is on pace to open next week at Van Aken District.