April 26, 2017

Cleveland's Best Restaurants of 2017, As Chosen By Our Readers

This year's Best Of Food & Drink category captured all that voters loved most about the Cleveland food scene this year. Enjoy those, and then check out a full list of all the winners in every category right here.

This year's Best Of Food & Drink category captured all that voters loved most about the Cleveland food scene this year. Enjoy those, and then check out a full list of all the winners in every category right here.

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Hot Sauce Williams
7815 Carnegie Ave.
A major era in Cleveland food will come to an end on March 31 when the Carnegie location of Hot Sauce Williams closed its doors for good. While there are two other locations left to get your Polish Boy fix, the Carnegie mainstay is sorely missed. 
Scene Archives photo via keitherambrose/Instagram

Hot Sauce Williams

7815 Carnegie Ave.

A major era in Cleveland food will come to an end on March 31 when the Carnegie location of Hot Sauce Williams closed its doors for good. While there are two other locations left to get your Polish Boy fix, the Carnegie mainstay is sorely missed.

Scene Archives photo via keitherambrose/Instagram
Best Japanese Restaurant AND Best Sushi:  Ginko
2247 Professor Ave., 216-274-1202
“Keep it simple” is a mantra that is valued but often ignored. Not at Ginko, the 6-year-old Tremont eatery that has a monastic focus on raw fish. Here, almost all of the admittedly small subterranean space is dedicated to the sushi bar, where obsessively fresh fish is draped over lumps of steamed rice. If it’s ramen, teriyaki, hibachi or sukiyaki that you’re after, you best head elsewhere because Ginko swims against the current trend of lengthy menus. Diehard sushi fanatics travel distances long and short to belly up to this bar for the city’s best tuna, yellowtail, uni, mackerel, eel and octopus, all of which is served up in a boldly designed setting.
Photo via  rockhunter666/Instagram

Best Japanese Restaurant AND Best Sushi: Ginko

2247 Professor Ave., 216-274-1202
“Keep it simple” is a mantra that is valued but often ignored. Not at Ginko, the 6-year-old Tremont eatery that has a monastic focus on raw fish. Here, almost all of the admittedly small subterranean space is dedicated to the sushi bar, where obsessively fresh fish is draped over lumps of steamed rice. If it’s ramen, teriyaki, hibachi or sukiyaki that you’re after, you best head elsewhere because Ginko swims against the current trend of lengthy menus. Diehard sushi fanatics travel distances long and short to belly up to this bar for the city’s best tuna, yellowtail, uni, mackerel, eel and octopus, all of which is served up in a boldly designed setting.

Photo via rockhunter666/Instagram
Best Pies: Mama Jo Homestyle
Multiple locations
There’s nothing better than walking into a kitchen and being immersed in the scent of hundreds of pies baking in the oven. At Mama Jo Homestyle Pies, they maintain a roster of 30 fresh-baked varieties ready to pick up. Especially decadent is the selection of creamy silk pies like strawberry cheesecake, Turtle and even Ohio State-themed Buckeyes. To avoid cutting corners, despite the fact that the round pies don’t have them, this shop has used the same crust recipe for 20 years. If any of the matriarchs in our extended family was half as good as Mama Jo, we’d be twice the size we are today.
Photo mamajopies/Instagram

Best Pies: Mama Jo Homestyle

Multiple locations
There’s nothing better than walking into a kitchen and being immersed in the scent of hundreds of pies baking in the oven. At Mama Jo Homestyle Pies, they maintain a roster of 30 fresh-baked varieties ready to pick up. Especially decadent is the selection of creamy silk pies like strawberry cheesecake, Turtle and even Ohio State-themed Buckeyes. To avoid cutting corners, despite the fact that the round pies don’t have them, this shop has used the same crust recipe for 20 years. If any of the matriarchs in our extended family was half as good as Mama Jo, we’d be twice the size we are today.

Photo mamajopies/Instagram
Best Tea: Cleveland Tea Revival
1434 West 29th St., 216-795-5099
From organic Dong Ding oolong to Genmaicha matcha, Cleveland Tea Revival stocks an extensive offering of teas for all tastes and whims. But these folks also have a sense of humor. Take their list of tisanes, hand-blended medicinal-grade herbal teas with names like Yo Mama, Get Right and Shark Week! From traditional British teas to those hailing from the Far East and Central America, you can go around the world in about 40 teas. Nibble on breads and spreads that rotate daily at this new-school teahouse.
Photo via clevelandtearevival/Instagram

Best Tea: Cleveland Tea Revival

1434 West 29th St., 216-795-5099
From organic Dong Ding oolong to Genmaicha matcha, Cleveland Tea Revival stocks an extensive offering of teas for all tastes and whims. But these folks also have a sense of humor. Take their list of tisanes, hand-blended medicinal-grade herbal teas with names like Yo Mama, Get Right and Shark Week! From traditional British teas to those hailing from the Far East and Central America, you can go around the world in about 40 teas. Nibble on breads and spreads that rotate daily at this new-school teahouse.

Photo via clevelandtearevival/Instagram
Best Local Juice Bar:  Beet Jar
1432 W. 29th St.
It took a lot of hard work, sacrifice and home-cooked meals as payment to get Beet Jar open in 2014. Once in business, the juice makers quickly established themselves as purveyors of some aggressively healthy and delicious plant-based foods and juices. It’s not just dreamy concoctions like Cashew Mylk or the pun-titled smoothies like Cayenne West that have brought these produce wranglers righteous acclaim. It’s the Bravocado sandwich, a vegan take on the BLT that has won the shop rabid fans (food celeb Alton Brown among them). If you happen to find yourself in Hingetown come happy hour, duck into neighboring bar Jukebox to enjoy Beet Jar juices featured in cocktails that are tasty and almost —almost —good for you. 
Photo via Beetjar/Instagram

Best Local Juice Bar: Beet Jar

1432 W. 29th St.
It took a lot of hard work, sacrifice and home-cooked meals as payment to get Beet Jar open in 2014. Once in business, the juice makers quickly established themselves as purveyors of some aggressively healthy and delicious plant-based foods and juices. It’s not just dreamy concoctions like Cashew Mylk or the pun-titled smoothies like Cayenne West that have brought these produce wranglers righteous acclaim. It’s the Bravocado sandwich, a vegan take on the BLT that has won the shop rabid fans (food celeb Alton Brown among them). If you happen to find yourself in Hingetown come happy hour, duck into neighboring bar Jukebox to enjoy Beet Jar juices featured in cocktails that are tasty and almost —almost —good for you.

Photo via Beetjar/Instagram
Best Spanish Restaurant: Mallorca
1390 West Ninth St., 216-687-9494
The bigger the lobster tail, the better at Mallorca, long known for its traditional Spanish and Portuguese dishes delivered in a fine-dining setting with impeccable service. It is perhaps best known for the mile-long list of specials that touch land, sea and air, but we can’t seem to steer ourselves away from the elaborate paellas, fluffy yellow rice dotted with shellfish, chicken and sausage and imbued with fragrant saffron. Bring  your appetite and expect large portions of flavorful Mediterranean fare served by a tuxedoed staff in a candlelit environment and washed down with sangria and Old World wines.
Photo via mdifilm/Instagram

Best Spanish Restaurant: Mallorca

1390 West Ninth St., 216-687-9494
The bigger the lobster tail, the better at Mallorca, long known for its traditional Spanish and Portuguese dishes delivered in a fine-dining setting with impeccable service. It is perhaps best known for the mile-long list of specials that touch land, sea and air, but we can’t seem to steer ourselves away from the elaborate paellas, fluffy yellow rice dotted with shellfish, chicken and sausage and imbued with fragrant saffron. Bring your appetite and expect large portions of flavorful Mediterranean fare served by a tuxedoed staff in a candlelit environment and washed down with sangria and Old World wines.

Photo via mdifilm/Instagram
Best Sandwiches AND Best Veggie Burger: Melt Bar & Grilled
Multiple locations
Just how Cleveland is Melt Bar & Grilled? The decor is a delightful mix of iconic Cleveland knickknacks and memorabilia that sends nostalgic locals right down Memory Lane. Even sandwiches like the Parmageddon, a grilled cheese and pierogi masterpiece, scream Rust Belt Gourmet. And while a person expects great grilled cheese at a place called Melt, it’s the housemade Good Burger than attracts vegetarian eaters. When Melt opened in Lakewood a little over a decade ago, it taught us that craft beer is cool, that comfort food can be gourmet, and that we all shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. Now Melt is doing the same for Columbus, Dayton and, soon, the thrill seekers at Cedar Point. There’s no limit to how far these enormous and enormously popular sandwiches can go. For now, we can be happy that no matter which Cleveland neighborhood you happen to be in, a cheese-oozing sourdough sandwich is never too far away.
Photo via meltbargrilled/Instagram

Best Sandwiches AND Best Veggie Burger: Melt Bar & Grilled

Multiple locations
Just how Cleveland is Melt Bar & Grilled? The decor is a delightful mix of iconic Cleveland knickknacks and memorabilia that sends nostalgic locals right down Memory Lane. Even sandwiches like the Parmageddon, a grilled cheese and pierogi masterpiece, scream Rust Belt Gourmet. And while a person expects great grilled cheese at a place called Melt, it’s the housemade Good Burger than attracts vegetarian eaters. When Melt opened in Lakewood a little over a decade ago, it taught us that craft beer is cool, that comfort food can be gourmet, and that we all shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. Now Melt is doing the same for Columbus, Dayton and, soon, the thrill seekers at Cedar Point. There’s no limit to how far these enormous and enormously popular sandwiches can go. For now, we can be happy that no matter which Cleveland neighborhood you happen to be in, a cheese-oozing sourdough sandwich is never too far away.

Photo via meltbargrilled/Instagram
Best Cakes: White Flower
Multiple locations
Lauren Bozich and Marianne Carroll have had their share of challenges since they became friends in seventh grade. Thankfully, most of those trials were as teammates competing on the Food Network, where their creativity was pushed to the limit. More than a decade ago, the pair opened White Flower Cake Shoppe and have been making hundreds of wedding and special event cakes ever since. Their simple French meringue buttercream frosting is a hit, which is why it is a feature of every cake they create. From their selection of grab-and-go sweets to designing the perfect three-tiered extravaganza, these gals can bake, decorate and deliver it all. 
Photo whiteflowercakeshoppe/Instagram

Best Cakes: White Flower

Multiple locations
Lauren Bozich and Marianne Carroll have had their share of challenges since they became friends in seventh grade. Thankfully, most of those trials were as teammates competing on the Food Network, where their creativity was pushed to the limit. More than a decade ago, the pair opened White Flower Cake Shoppe and have been making hundreds of wedding and special event cakes ever since. Their simple French meringue buttercream frosting is a hit, which is why it is a feature of every cake they create. From their selection of grab-and-go sweets to designing the perfect three-tiered extravaganza, these gals can bake, decorate and deliver it all.

Photo whiteflowercakeshoppe/Instagram
Best Brunch:  Lucky’s Cafe
777 Starkweather Ave., 216-622-7773
Getting lucky at this Tremont gem means scoring a weekend table without much of a wait. Our pro tip? Hit this place up Monday through Friday when the same delicious food comes without the lineup. After all, there’s no rule that says brunch can only happen on Saturday or Sunday. While the weekday menu is a tad smaller, it still offers housemade honey-coated granola, Chef Haviland’s ridiculous cheddar-scallion biscuits with scrambled eggs and sausage gravy, and that glorious Shipwreck of eggs, hash browns, bacon and cheddar cheese. (Veggies can swap curried tofu for the eggs.) Long before it was de rigueur to do so, Haviland has been championing local farmers and producers, sourcing local milk, cheese, eggs, honey, vegetables and proteins, which makes every bite taste that much fresher.
Photo via kale.gauri/Instagram

Best Brunch: Lucky’s Cafe

777 Starkweather Ave., 216-622-7773
Getting lucky at this Tremont gem means scoring a weekend table without much of a wait. Our pro tip? Hit this place up Monday through Friday when the same delicious food comes without the lineup. After all, there’s no rule that says brunch can only happen on Saturday or Sunday. While the weekday menu is a tad smaller, it still offers housemade honey-coated granola, Chef Haviland’s ridiculous cheddar-scallion biscuits with scrambled eggs and sausage gravy, and that glorious Shipwreck of eggs, hash browns, bacon and cheddar cheese. (Veggies can swap curried tofu for the eggs.) Long before it was de rigueur to do so, Haviland has been championing local farmers and producers, sourcing local milk, cheese, eggs, honey, vegetables and proteins, which makes every bite taste that much fresher.

Photo via kale.gauri/Instagram
Best Restaurant: Lola
2058 East Fourth St., 216-621-5652
This latest honor is a fitting tribute for a restaurant that just crossed the 20-year mark, a remarkable feat in this industry. Though it relocated from Tremont to East Fourth Street somewhere in the middle, this culinary hot spot still sets the bar when it comes to furnishing diners with the best possible experience. Like a great Bordeaux, Lola only manages to improve with each passing year, somehow finding ways to up its game in the areas of food, service and atmosphere. Even better, the show-stopping eatery offers a great first impression to culinary tourists, many of whom have no idea how high our food scene flies.
Photo via Chefsymon/Instagram

Best Restaurant: Lola

2058 East Fourth St., 216-621-5652
This latest honor is a fitting tribute for a restaurant that just crossed the 20-year mark, a remarkable feat in this industry. Though it relocated from Tremont to East Fourth Street somewhere in the middle, this culinary hot spot still sets the bar when it comes to furnishing diners with the best possible experience. Like a great Bordeaux, Lola only manages to improve with each passing year, somehow finding ways to up its game in the areas of food, service and atmosphere. Even better, the show-stopping eatery offers a great first impression to culinary tourists, many of whom have no idea how high our food scene flies.

Photo via Chefsymon/Instagram