December 14, 2018

The Best Food We Ate in Cleveland in 2018

Like most years, 2018 was filled with highs, lows and what-the-hecks?! But we managed to sidestep most duds to land upon some truly epic eats. After flipping through our Instagram feed, digesting a full calendar year of dining reviews, and searching our memories for tasty morsels, these are the dishes that we most fondly recall.

Like most years, 2018 was filled with highs, lows and what-the-hecks?! But we managed to sidestep most duds to land upon some truly epic eats. After flipping through our Instagram feed, digesting a full calendar year of dining reviews, and searching our memories for tasty morsels, these are the dishes that we most fondly recall.

 

By Douglas Trattner

Scroll down to view images
Lincoln Park at Lox, Stock and Brisket
13892 Cedar Rd., University Heights, 216-471-8175
After nearly 20 years away from Cleveland, Anthony Zappola returned home to open Lox, Stock and Brisket, a stripped-down version of a Jewish deli. It's there, in University Heights, that you'll find the city's best fried chicken sandwich, which goes by the name Lincoln Park. Twin crispy-fried chicken schnitzels are tucked into a butter-soft egg roll with sweet pickles and a slather of mildly spiced aioli. The uber-crunchy breading gives way to a hot, juicy interior followed by the cool creaminess of the mayo.
Photo by Karin McKenna

Lincoln Park at Lox, Stock and Brisket

13892 Cedar Rd., University Heights, 216-471-8175

After nearly 20 years away from Cleveland, Anthony Zappola returned home to open Lox, Stock and Brisket, a stripped-down version of a Jewish deli. It's there, in University Heights, that you'll find the city's best fried chicken sandwich, which goes by the name Lincoln Park. Twin crispy-fried chicken schnitzels are tucked into a butter-soft egg roll with sweet pickles and a slather of mildly spiced aioli. The uber-crunchy breading gives way to a hot, juicy interior followed by the cool creaminess of the mayo.

Photo by Karin McKenna
Lincoln Park at Lox, Stock and Brisket
13892 Cedar Rd., University Heights, 216-471-8175
Lox, Stock and Brisket is modeled after the great Jewish delicatessens that once thrived in this very neighborhood, but it's geared to today's fast-paced lifestyle. Helping matters is the fact that the restaurant is surrounded by the likes of Chipotle, Jimmy John's and Panda Express.
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Lincoln Park at Lox, Stock and Brisket

13892 Cedar Rd., University Heights, 216-471-8175

Lox, Stock and Brisket is modeled after the great Jewish delicatessens that once thrived in this very neighborhood, but it's geared to today's fast-paced lifestyle. Helping matters is the fact that the restaurant is surrounded by the likes of Chipotle, Jimmy John's and Panda Express.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
Goat Biryani at Taste of Kerala
3429 West Brainard Rd., Woodmere, 216-450-1711
When Taste of Kerala opened a full-service restaurant in Woodmere, I wondered if the food would be as exciting and flavorful as what I've enjoyed for years at the original carryout shop on Mayfield Road. Silly me, the food is as electric with spice, heat and flavor as ever. The goat biryani is exotic, aromatic and studded with tender bone-in goat meat. It's also hot as Hades, but those flames are moderated by dollops of cool, calming yogurt-based raita.
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Goat Biryani at Taste of Kerala

3429 West Brainard Rd., Woodmere, 216-450-1711

When Taste of Kerala opened a full-service restaurant in Woodmere, I wondered if the food would be as exciting and flavorful as what I've enjoyed for years at the original carryout shop on Mayfield Road. Silly me, the food is as electric with spice, heat and flavor as ever. The goat biryani is exotic, aromatic and studded with tender bone-in goat meat. It's also hot as Hades, but those flames are moderated by dollops of cool, calming yogurt-based raita.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
Goat Biryani at Taste of Kerala
3429 West Brainard Rd., Woodmere, 216-450-1711
"Medium" here is a strong 7 on the Richter magnitude scale of heat. So feel free to take a break with these steamed pancakes. 
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Goat Biryani at Taste of Kerala

3429 West Brainard Rd., Woodmere, 216-450-1711

"Medium" here is a strong 7 on the Richter magnitude scale of heat. So feel free to take a break with these steamed pancakes.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
 Clam Pie at Il Rione
1303 West 65th St. 216-282-1451
Since opening its doors a year ago, Il Rione has been drawing robust crowds thanks to its chill vibe and fly pies. Owners Brian Moss and Brian Holleran have a deft hand when it comes to New York-style pizza, but it's the clam pie that keeps me crawling back (see back of the photo). 
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Clam Pie at Il Rione

1303 West 65th St. 216-282-1451

Since opening its doors a year ago, Il Rione has been drawing robust crowds thanks to its chill vibe and fly pies. Owners Brian Moss and Brian Holleran have a deft hand when it comes to New York-style pizza, but it's the clam pie that keeps me crawling back (see back of the photo).

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
Montreal Smoked Meat at Landmark
11637 Clifton Blvd., 216-230-4040
Cleveland has no shortage of corned beef, pastrami and brisket floating around, but Landmark has imported a delectable new-to-us food that combines aspects of all three. Montreal-style smoked meat is made by curing and then smoking brisket, which produces a lush sliced-meat product with spice, wood smoke and fat (see back of photo). 
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Montreal Smoked Meat at Landmark

11637 Clifton Blvd., 216-230-4040

Cleveland has no shortage of corned beef, pastrami and brisket floating around, but Landmark has imported a delectable new-to-us food that combines aspects of all three. Montreal-style smoked meat is made by curing and then smoking brisket, which produces a lush sliced-meat product with spice, wood smoke and fat (see back of photo).

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
Pastrami Sandwich at Larder
1455 West 29th St., 216-912-8203
At Ohio City's Larder, that thick-sliced, butter-soft tender pastrami is layered into soft house-baked rye with red cabbage sauerkraut (also made right here) and grainy mustard. It's an umami-bomb set to detonate on first bite.
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Pastrami Sandwich at Larder

1455 West 29th St., 216-912-8203

At Ohio City's Larder, that thick-sliced, butter-soft tender pastrami is layered into soft house-baked rye with red cabbage sauerkraut (also made right here) and grainy mustard. It's an umami-bomb set to detonate on first bite.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
Pastrami Sandwich at Larder
1455 West 29th St., 216-912-8203
At Ohio City's Larder, that thick-sliced, butter-soft tender pastrami is layered into soft house-baked rye with red cabbage sauerkraut (also made right here) and grainy mustard. It's an umami-bomb set to detonate on first bite.
Photo via @LarderB/Instagram

Pastrami Sandwich at Larder

1455 West 29th St., 216-912-8203

At Ohio City's Larder, that thick-sliced, butter-soft tender pastrami is layered into soft house-baked rye with red cabbage sauerkraut (also made right here) and grainy mustard. It's an umami-bomb set to detonate on first bite.

Photo via @LarderB/Instagram
 Soup Dumplings (xiao long bao) at LJ Shanghai
3142 Superior Ave., 216-400-6936
Diners just about lost their marbles over the soup dumplings (xiao long bao) at LJ Shanghai in Cleveland's Asiatown neighborhood — and I was one of those people. Filled with ground meat and intensely flavored broth, these delicate little packages arrive by the half dozen in a bamboo steamer basket. 
Photo by Karin McKenna

Soup Dumplings (xiao long bao) at LJ Shanghai

3142 Superior Ave., 216-400-6936

Diners just about lost their marbles over the soup dumplings (xiao long bao) at LJ Shanghai in Cleveland's Asiatown neighborhood — and I was one of those people. Filled with ground meat and intensely flavored broth, these delicate little packages arrive by the half dozen in a bamboo steamer basket.

Photo by Karin McKenna
 Soup Dumplings (xiao long bao) at LJ Shanghai
3142 Superior Ave., 216-400-6936
Once safely on the spoon, the dumplings are nibbled or poked to release the hot soup. Ginger-infused black vinegar is on hand to cut the richness of the filling.
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Soup Dumplings (xiao long bao) at LJ Shanghai

3142 Superior Ave., 216-400-6936

Once safely on the spoon, the dumplings are nibbled or poked to release the hot soup. Ginger-infused black vinegar is on hand to cut the richness of the filling.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace