December 29, 2015

The 22 Things You Should Eat in Cleveland Before You Die

Like it or not, we can’t live forever. And that’s a shame given the sheer volume of noteworthy dishes served up at Cleveland restaurants new and old. Here, then, is a list of delicious boxes everybody should attempt to tick off before paying that final bar tab. By Douglas Trattner  

Like it or not, we can’t live forever. And that’s a shame given the sheer volume of noteworthy dishes served up at Cleveland restaurants new and old. Here, then, is a list of delicious boxes everybody should attempt to tick off before paying that final bar tab.

By Douglas Trattner

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Tacos |
La Plaza Supermarket
For such a modest dish, tacos produce a voluminous amount of chatter among the food obsessed. And from those who know best, much of that chatter is directed to La Plaza. Home to the best authentic Mexican street tacos around, this Latin grocery celebrates Taco Tuesday seven days a week. 13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd., 216-476-8000 (Photo by Instagram user @soulsrepurpose)
Tacos | La Plaza Supermarket

For such a modest dish, tacos produce a voluminous amount of chatter among the food obsessed. And from those who know best, much of that chatter is directed to La Plaza. Home to the best authentic Mexican street tacos around, this Latin grocery celebrates Taco Tuesday seven days a week. 13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd., 216-476-8000 (Photo by Instagram user @soulsrepurpose)

Polish Boy |
Seti’s Polish Boy
In addition to unparalleled sadness over sports (although we did recently win a championship), one of the things Cleveland can claim as its own is the Polish Boy. Rooted in our Eastern European past, the hefty kielbasa-and-fries-based fistwich is the model of economy. Rolled into one baby-size bundle are meat, veg, starch and sauce, which combine to form the world’s messiest meal. E. 34th at Woodland Ave., 216-240-0745, setispolishboys.biz
(Photo courtesy of Seti's Facebook page)
Polish Boy | Seti’s Polish Boy

In addition to unparalleled sadness over sports (although we did recently win a championship), one of the things Cleveland can claim as its own is the Polish Boy. Rooted in our Eastern European past, the hefty kielbasa-and-fries-based fistwich is the model of economy. Rolled into one baby-size bundle are meat, veg, starch and sauce, which combine to form the world’s messiest meal. E. 34th at Woodland Ave., 216-240-0745, setispolishboys.biz (Photo courtesy of Seti's Facebook page)

Omakase |
Ginko
If you take a seat at the Ginko sushi bar and say “Omakase,” you will have the best sushi-eating experience available in Cleveland. Working with the highest quality of fish, the chefs there will slice and present a sparkling parade of sashimi that almost looks too good to eat. 2247 Professor Ave., 216-274-1202, restaurantdante.us
(Photo courtesy of Ginko's Facebook page)
Omakase | Ginko

If you take a seat at the Ginko sushi bar and say “Omakase,” you will have the best sushi-eating experience available in Cleveland. Working with the highest quality of fish, the chefs there will slice and present a sparkling parade of sashimi that almost looks too good to eat. 2247 Professor Ave., 216-274-1202, restaurantdante.us (Photo courtesy of Ginko's Facebook page)

Kobe Beef Short Ribs |
Fahrenheit
Rocco Whalen figured out how to take a very popular but overused cut of beef and transform it into something new, exciting and enduring. His signature short rib gets the Asian treatment, braised with ginger, garlic and soy, before being placed on a bed of chewy lo mein noodles. 2417 Professor Ave., 216-781-8858, chefroccowhalen.com (Photo via fahrenheitcleveland/Instagram)
Kobe Beef Short Ribs | Fahrenheit

Rocco Whalen figured out how to take a very popular but overused cut of beef and transform it into something new, exciting and enduring. His signature short rib gets the Asian treatment, braised with ginger, garlic and soy, before being placed on a bed of chewy lo mein noodles. 2417 Professor Ave., 216-781-8858, chefroccowhalen.com (Photo via fahrenheitcleveland/Instagram)

Shrimp Dumpling  Noodle Soup |
Wonton Gourmet
When you’re looking for an alternative noodle soup to pho, hit this Asiatown shop for big bowls brimming with thin egg noodles, plump shrimp dumplings, farm-fresh greens and hot, flavorful broth. Roughly half the price of a typical bowl of pho, this meal in a bowl is a penny-pincher’s best friend. 3211 Payne Ave., 216-875-7000 (Photo by Instagram user @justabitebymaureen)
Shrimp Dumpling Noodle Soup | Wonton Gourmet

When you’re looking for an alternative noodle soup to pho, hit this Asiatown shop for big bowls brimming with thin egg noodles, plump shrimp dumplings, farm-fresh greens and hot, flavorful broth. Roughly half the price of a typical bowl of pho, this meal in a bowl is a penny-pincher’s best friend. 3211 Payne Ave., 216-875-7000 (Photo by Instagram user @justabitebymaureen)

Pierogies |
Sokolowski's University Inn ?
Starch on starch can never be a bad thing, especially when it’s floating on a bed of onions in a sea of melted butter. If and when winter descends upon The Land, load up a tray full of these heartwarming Polish love letters. 1201 University Rd., 216-771-9236, sokolowskis.com (Photo by Instagram user @shmobo)
Pierogies | Sokolowski's University Inn
?

Starch on starch can never be a bad thing, especially when it’s floating on a bed of onions in a sea of melted butter. If and when winter descends upon The Land, load up a tray full of these heartwarming Polish love letters. 1201 University Rd., 216-771-9236, sokolowskis.com (Photo by Instagram user @shmobo)

Falafel | 
Maha’s Falafil
Reason enough to visit the West Side Market since 1986, Maha’s introduced countless locals to the simple joys of a hot and fresh falafel sandwich. Fried to order and rolled into a soft pita with creamy tahini, crunchy veggies and a shower of hot sauce, these one-handed sandwiches are ideal for shoppers too busy to cop a squat. 1979 W. 25th St, 440-552-5380, mahasfalafil.com (Photo via mahas_falafil/Instagram)
Falafel | Maha’s Falafil

Reason enough to visit the West Side Market since 1986, Maha’s introduced countless locals to the simple joys of a hot and fresh falafel sandwich. Fried to order and rolled into a soft pita with creamy tahini, crunchy veggies and a shower of hot sauce, these one-handed sandwiches are ideal for shoppers too busy to cop a squat. 1979 W. 25th St, 440-552-5380, mahasfalafil.com (Photo via mahas_falafil/Instagram)

Braised Pork Belly |
Black Pig 
Considering that our city’s unofficial mascot is the portly pig, it’s not surprising to see numerous versions of braised pork belly at area restaurants. The Pig’s stands head and haunches above the rest. Cured, seared, braised and glazed, the jet-black cube of buttery meat belongs on every carnivore’s must-eat list. 2801 Bridge Ave., 216-862-7551, blackpigcle.com
(Photo courtesy of Black Pig's Instagram page)
Braised Pork Belly | Black Pig

Considering that our city’s unofficial mascot is the portly pig, it’s not surprising to see numerous versions of braised pork belly at area restaurants. The Pig’s stands head and haunches above the rest. Cured, seared, braised and glazed, the jet-black cube of buttery meat belongs on every carnivore’s must-eat list. 2801 Bridge Ave., 216-862-7551, blackpigcle.com (Photo courtesy of Black Pig's Instagram page)

Foie Gras–Steamed Clams |
Greenhouse Tavern
This deceptively simple dish has earned accolades near and far thanks to its incredible richness of flavor, supplied by the foie gras, which is blended into the buttery clam broth. The entire dish, though, is really just an excuse to dip grilled bread into the umami-rich sauce. 2038 E. Fourth St., 216-393-4302, thegreenhousetavern.com (Photo via atozziliu/Instagram)
Foie Gras–Steamed Clams | Greenhouse Tavern

This deceptively simple dish has earned accolades near and far thanks to its incredible richness of flavor, supplied by the foie gras, which is blended into the buttery clam broth. The entire dish, though, is really just an excuse to dip grilled bread into the umami-rich sauce. 2038 E. Fourth St., 216-393-4302, thegreenhousetavern.com (Photo via atozziliu/Instagram)

Beef Cheek Pierogis |
Lola
When Michael Symon swapped out the tried-and-true potato-and-cheese filling in Lola’s pierogis for slow-braised beef cheeks, he cemented his place as prince of the old-meets-new world of Midwestern cookery. Often duplicated but never bested, these tender pockets of love are mandatory eating at this flagship bistro. 2058 E. 4th St, 216-621-5652, lolabistro.com  (Photo courtesy of Yelp user Lauren F.)
Beef Cheek Pierogis | Lola

When Michael Symon swapped out the tried-and-true potato-and-cheese filling in Lola’s pierogis for slow-braised beef cheeks, he cemented his place as prince of the old-meets-new world of Midwestern cookery. Often duplicated but never bested, these tender pockets of love are mandatory eating at this flagship bistro. 2058 E. 4th St, 216-621-5652, lolabistro.com (Photo courtesy of Yelp user Lauren F.)