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Oct 19, 2006 02:19 AM

Great food in Cleveland

I'm a Cleveland ex-pat returning to the place of my birth for Thanksgiving. Any exciting restaurants that I need to know about? Think sustainable, local, ingredient-driven, neighborhood, not tremendously pricey. I know, I know. I'm dreaming, right?

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  1. I recommend both Lola and Lolita. These are two great places and Michael Symon, owner & operator as well as Exec Chef is doing wonderful things with both. Lola was originally in Tremont and was so popular that they closed so that they could re-open in a bigger space downtown, which only very recently happened, so they are booming. Lolita is sort of the sister/cousin restaurant, and re-opened in the Lola space in Tremont. Lolita focuses on a variety of small plates, house-cured salumi and is Mediterranean, particularly Greek-influenced. Lolita is innovative (especially for Cleveland) and across the board with variety with excellent ingredients and insightful preparation. From the beef cheek pierogi app to the "6am special" dessert (french toast with maple ice cream flavored with bacon), it's really a gem. Lola downtown is on the recently renovated E. 4th street, between Euclid and Prospect. Pickwick and Frolic, a large lounge/nightclub is on the same street as is the entrance to Cleveland's House of Blues.

    The Warehouse district, focused in the W. 6th and W. 9th area also offers a variety of dining and entertainment options from popular dance clubs to interesting and good restaurants. Johnny's, Osteria, D'Vine wine bar and the Cleveland Chop House & Brewery are all great places I recommend, there's also the Blue Point grill and Mallorca (Spanish), which are heavily focused on seafood and Brasa grill, a Brazilian-style all-you-can-eat-meat place.

    For not tremendously pricy, try the diner inside the West Side Market - the entrance is on Lorain just East of W. 25th street or you can access it from inside the market (open M, W, F and Sat). A visit to the WSM is practically a must IMO so try to go when they're open.

    If you're in Tremont, La Bodega is a great, small sandwich shop I often recommend.

    Enjoy your return to Cleveland!

    1. If you are interested in sustainable, local, ingredient-driven, neighborhood - you must get to Carrie Cerino's in North Royalton. I would also consider Parker's, which is a little pricier, but which is closing at the end of the year.

      Also, in addition to Lolita in Tremont (I think Lola might be beyond your budget) there is Parallax, which is wonderful.

      1. A hearty second recommendation for Carrie Cerino's.

        1. Parker Bosley has been the most visible proponent of local, ingredient driven food in this region. It earned his restaurant listings in the past two Gourmet magazine lists of the top 50 restaurants in the country. It's also not "tremendously pricey" by any stretch. Other restaurants in the region may be as good but none comes close to matching your criteria as well.

          In addition, I would definitely consider the style at fire food and drink to be both local and ingredient-driven. On top of that it's a very good restaurant.

          I have less experience with Flying Fig but I've had some very good food there and I know that their philosophy is also strongly guided by local, seasonal, ingredient driven cooking.

          Who's cooking at the diner in the WSM market? It's really hard to keep track. Judging from the last that I heard, I would consider that to be a very good recommendation based on your criteria.

          1. Almost forgot - if you enjoy cocktails, you must visit the Velvet Tango Room. They have a filtering system to purify the water and ice, and all mixers are made in house with natural ingredients - the "marchiano" cherries are to die for! There is also house made root beer and gelato, several awesome desserts, and the most incredible cocktails you will ever consume. They are not cheap, but they are made with the best ingredients and combined expertly.