Love Your Local Flavors

Chicken fingers and hamburgers? Hell, you can get those anywhere. But when it comes to an authentic taste of the town, nothing beats a locally owned restaurant. Whether it's cabbage rolls at Sokolowski's University Inn, smoked walleye croquettes at Lola , or blue-egg ravioli at Carrie Cerino's, the real flavors of Cleveland are found in our independent restaurants, bistros, and bars. And supporting these joints (as opposed to patronizing the national chains) not only bolsters Northeast Ohio's economy, it helps ensure that our regional culinary character doesn't dissolve beneath an onslaught of spinach dip, frozen mozzarella sticks, and grilled chicken Caesar salads. For more reasons to eat locally -- along with a long but far from all-inclusive list of independently owned restaurants -- check out the website of the Cleveland Originals. Composed of local chefs and restaurateurs, the group does all it can to promote a vigorous local dining scene, including offering reward programs for frequent diners, and sales of guaranteed gift certificates that will be honored at a member restaurant even if the first-choice spot should fold. Or visit Scene's own online Restaurant Guide, where nearly all the 400-plus listings highlight independently owned eateries, where we have personally tucked into the grub and can recommend the surroundings. It could just be the start of a tasty new year! -- Elaine T. Cicora
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