plunk

Cleveland, OH

42 posts in this topic

[ Cleveland ]
My wife and I are going there this weekend, and we're pretty unfamiliary with the town. We'd appreciate recommendations for:

1) Road food along the way (traveling from D.C. - I70 to I76 to I80).

2) Any "must eats" while there, preferably of the "non-haute" variety. We'll be there for a big family get-together, so culinary/gastronomic diversions will have to be kept to the quick and cheap variety. I'd be particularly interested in any stereotypical food for the Cleveland area, as off the top of my head, I cannot think of anything.

Thanks for the help!

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There really isn't any. Remarkably, there is an excellent Cambodian restaurant, Pnomh Penh, which you would expect to find here, NY or L. A. but it's in Cleveland and genuinely very good for what it is. Lake Perch may be the only indigenous dish that comes to mind, particularly deep fried; Blue Point in the Warehouse district is Cleveland's best seafood restaurant-but it's expensive. Think Black's or Kinkead's. There must be someplace there that does Friday night fish frys but none comes to mind.

The western suburb of Vermillion has a genuinely excellent and atmospheric (i.e. brick wall and stone walls, beamed ceiling, planked wooden floor) called Chez Francois ( http://www.chezfrancois.com/gallery/categories.php?cat_id=5 has several photos of the rooms. ) . I realize this is not what you are looking for but it is outstanding and you may want to plan for this on a future visit.

If you're into Rock and Roll, don't miss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Well worth going out of your way for with the best record shop I have ever been in. Plus, Cleveland's downtown will surprise you. This city has come a long way!

Edited by Joe H

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There really isn't any. Remarkably, there is an excellent Cambodian restaurant, Pnomh Penh, which you would expect to find here, NY or L. A. but it's in Cleveland and genuinely very good for what it is. Lake Perch may be the only indigenous dish that comes to mind, particularly deep fried; Blue Point in the Warehouse district is Cleveland's best seafood restaurant-but it's expensive. Think Black's or Kinkead's. There must be someplace there that does Friday night fish frys but none comes to mind.

The western suburb of Vermillion has a genuinely excellent and atmospheric (i.e. brick wall and stone walls, beamed ceiling, planked wooden floor) called Chez Francois ( http://www.chezfrancois.com/gallery/categories.php?cat_id=5 has several photos of the rooms. ) . I realize this is not what you are looking for but it is outstanding and you may want to plan for this on a future visit.

If you're into Rock and Roll, don't miss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Well worth going out of your way for with the best record shop I have ever been in. Plus, Cleveland's downtown will surprise you. This city has come a long way!

Thanks for the advice. Actually, a fish fry sounds quite good. I spent a summer in Western Michigan and miss some good ol' fried perch (I prefer it pan fried, though).

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A visit to Cleveland would be incomplete without stopping by Lolita, home of the closed but soon to be reopened Lola, written about in Michael Ruhlman's A Soul of A Chef. Lolita is a self-described casual, Mediterranean-style bistro. There's a whole thread on eGullet about it.

Chef Michael Symon (of Lola and Lolita) was named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs in 1998. He has recently opened a restaurant called Parea in New York City as well.

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I don't know if there are any must eats. I'd definately check out West Side Market as someone mentioned.

If chinese is your thing, C&Y on 21st and St. Clair (Cleveland's Chinatown) is superb - probably better than any place in DC. Their dim sum is superb.

If you will be in town before 3 pm on Friday, i'd recommend you get a corned beef sandwich or reuben at Slymans on St. Clair (I think 19th is the Cross Street). Its cash only, only open till 3 and easily the best Corned Beef anywhere and i've eaten a lot of corned beef. Sandwiches are huge. Also, get an order of fries. Superb.

If you're looking for a relaxed dinner, that is very reasonable, there are a few options. The chefs of Cleveland's best restaurants often have diners they run as well, offering superb high quality food at cheap prices. Two i'd recommend:

Mom's Diner (owned by brad Friedlander of Moxie) which is on Miles and Brainard Road in Chagrin Falls

or

Park City Diner (owned by Lockkeepers) which is on Rockside Road

Both diners are convenient to the highways. Both have superb food - burgers, salads, etc. Kind of like an upscale TGi Fridays for lack of a better description.

Where you staying in Cleveland. I can give you a ton more suggestions.

My wife and I are going there this weekend, and we're pretty unfamiliary with the town. We'd appreciate recommendations for:

1) Road food along the way (traveling from D.C. - I70 to I76 to I80).

2) Any "must eats" while there, preferably of the "non-haute" variety. We'll be there for a big family get-together, so culinary/gastronomic diversions will have to be kept to the quick and cheap variety. I'd be particularly interested in any stereotypical food for the Cleveland area, as off the top of my head, I cannot think of anything.

Thanks for the help!

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A visit to Cleveland would be incomplete without stopping by Lolita, home of the closed but soon to be reopened Lola, written about in Michael Ruhlman's A Soul of A Chef. Lolita is a self-described casual, Mediterranean-style bistro. There's a whole thread on eGullet about it.

Chef Michael Symon (of Lola and Lolita) was named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs in 1998. He has recently opened a restaurant called Parea in New York City as well.

Just to clarify Liam's post, Lola was a casual little neighborhood bistro on the other side of the Cuyahoga River. It has been renamed Lolita, and Michael Symon is going to reopen Lola - presumably a bigger, fancier Lola - somewhere downtown later this year, while keeping Lolita open as his "second restaurant." I had dinner at Lolita several weeks ago and loved it.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I have family in Cleveland but had never heard of Lola before - I'll have to get to it on a future trip! There's a great place called Firein a cute area called Shaker Square. I've also eaten at a place called Boulevard Bluewhich had good food, atmosphere, and drinks. If you want a great milkshake, check out a place called Tommy's in the neighboring suburb of Cleveland Heights. These recommendations would require leaving the downtown area but are worth it in my opinion!

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The aforementioned Lolita (previously known as Lola) is great and the big spot in Cleveland. Blue Point is the spot for seafood and probably my favorite spot in town. If you venture to the east side Fire is fun and Moxie is another good option, though you are really getting into the east side suburbs then.

One additional spot to try downtown for creative Italian is Vivo. The chef is one of the best in Cleveland and does a great, creative job with fish. Its just off Public Square and attached to the Old Arcade.

Cleveland's Little Italy is an underrated option as well. One outstanding, tiny spot is Valerio's. Baricelli Inn was once considered the top restaurant in Ohio and is a nice experience if you have a large budget. If you do Little Italy, be sure to grab donuts to take home afterwards from the Bakery formerly known as Presti's, but now called Gilly's, on the East end of Mayfield. Their sour cream donuts are the only ones I eat anywhere. Get a dozen. You'll eat two that night for dessert no matter how much you had for dinner.

Best French is right on Public Square at Sans Souci.

Wine Spectator did a piece on Cleveland Restaurants recently. Parallax has gotten some raves, though I've also heard mixed things.

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I haven't been to Cleveland in a long time, but Max's Deli in Rocky Road is really good--although it is kind of a deli for yuppies. For an authentic Jewish deli, Corky and Lenny's on the east side is the real deal. Great Lakes Brewing Company, near the market, is the best microbrew I've ever tasted and I lived in Oregon (beervana) for 7 years.

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I haven't been to Cleveland in a long time, but Max's Deli in Rocky Road is really good

Just for the record, that's Rocky River, not Rocky Road.

Max's Deli

19337 Detroit Rd.

Rocky River, Ohio

440-356-2226

Re: Michael Symon, Lolita, and Lola, folks may be interested in this podcast interview with him from Hungry Magazine

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I haven't been to Cleveland in a long time, but Max's Deli in Rocky River is really good--although it is kind of a deli for yuppies. For an authentic Jewish deli, Corky and Lenny's on the east side is the real deal. Great Lakes Brewing Company, near the market, is the best microbrew I've ever tasted and I lived in Oregon (beervana) for 7 years.
Just to claify, Great Lakes Brewing CO. is across the street and 1/2 a block from the West Side Market, so they get some of their meats (especiall sausages) from there or the same suppliers. They are usually pouring about 4-5 beers, usually 1 or 2 seasonal, which are made on site. Holding tank to tap, no kegs. They are both over the bridge from The Indians Stadium "The jake", thus centrally located. Yummy and not expensive...cleveland prices...Can get loud and busy, but, damn, I miss the beer.

dave

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cleveland prices...

Cleveland prices can be really something else. I laughed when someone recently mentioned getting only TWO scallops on an entree order at Oya having been served SIX of them when I was in Cleveland last month at Lolita (one of the best restaurants in town) for $21.

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Mario Battali says Corbo's Bakery in Cleveland's Little Italy has the best cassata cake in the US.

Oh sweet lord. Corbo's has the best damn everything. We took a little trip to Cleveland over Thanksgiving, and visited there. It has cookies by the pound, all almond paste based, incredibly moist and crispy. Order a pound for yourself!

Michael Symon's Lola is the hot ticket in town now that he's an Iron Chef, and I have to say that what I had lived up to the hype (Lolita was closed when I visited). I had the lunch menu, with a fried baloney sandwich topped with cheddar and cheese and a fried egg. Baloney cut steak style a good 3/8 inch thick. The whole thing was an exercise in wretched excess.

I will say that while Cleveland is cheaper than here, the prices are creeping up in the trendy areas. We still spent $70 for dinner in a fancy neighborhood - not as big a check as here, but I think it's getting more expensive.

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Has anyone been to the Velvet Tango Room in Cleveland? Michael Ruhlman raves about it here though this article on speakeasys was the first I'd heard of it.

I was there a few weeks ago and loved it. Similar to the PX, but bigger and easier to get a seat. We showed up at 10:30 on a Friday night with six people and it was no problem. If I recall, they had quite an extensive cocktail menu which combined the classics with their own creations. Prices are similar to the PX, as well. I thought they'd be a bit cheaper, but I was wrong.

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If you happen to find yourself in Medina, OH, (in the outer suburbs of Cleveland) craving some well-prepared food, I can recommend Thyme Restaurant. It's an interesting space with sleek darker woods and some cozy corners and, in the summertime, an enclosed patio. The menu when we visited seemed very heavy, full of creamy, hearty items, and I'm not sure whether that is what the chef wants to serve or what he thinks he ought to be serving in this area and season, but I can say that most of the dishes we ordered were good-excellent and all left us very, very full. The highlights were the hanger steak and scallops. I didn't get a bite of the steak, which was jealously guarded, but it looked perfectly medium (it was served sliced) and very juicy and was gone in a flash. The scallops were probably the best I've had all year, so perfectly were they seared (delicate crunch on top, quivering on the inside, clean and sweet). The accompanying risotto was very creamy but just fine, as was a (huge) dish of gnocchi dressed with porcinis and spinach. The salads (Caesar and beets) were crisp and pretty, and the French Onion soup came with a gluttonous cap of cheese. The one dessert we ordered reminded us of fair food - deep-frying doesn't really enhance lemon pound cake, but the lemon curd and blueberry sauce were nice toppings. The service was excellent, extremely friendly and attentive without being intrusive.

I don't think I can say this without sounding like a total coastal snob, but it was so much better than I expected! The menu is varied and interesting and I look forward to exploring it further when "home" (spouse's) for the holidays.

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I would recommend B Spot for burgers over Lola. I was at Lola several months ago and didn't think it was all that great. on the other hand, loved B Spot.

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It's been a while since I had a good meal out. Sadly I have to drive all the way to Ohio to eat out. So Michael Symon's restaurants come to mind. If I had one lunch in Cleveland, should I go to Lola (which has a fairly small menu) or somewhere else?

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