One night in Cleveland...
The best that Cleveland has to offer?! That's the kind of question that I like. I would recommend fire or Moxie for contemporary American. Shanti's Kitchen for Caribbean. El Tango Taqueria for Mexican. Siam Cafe for Chinese or Vietnamese. Those are currently my favorite restaurants in the area.
fire concentrates on ingredient driven, seasonally inspired food. They've added some valuable staff and the food is improving. They're now offering a daily charcuterie plate which doesn't change every single day.
Shanti's Kitchen, Siam Cafe and El Tango may not be the pierogis and walleye that Cleveland is known for but I think they'll stand up to comparison with great Caribbean, Chinese and Mexican from anywhere. I've never had a bad meal at Shanti's Kitchen. I've never had so much as a mediocre meal. I don't think I can say that about any other restaurant I've ever been to. El Tango has amazing soups. Fantastic tacos. There's a beef dish there called ?? And the vegetables are always great - simply prepared but bursting with flavor. These two have fairly small menus but Siam Cafe's menu is huge. I could go on for pages with just the highlights from my own meals. Consider: bun bo hue (spicy soup), fried oysters, salt baked shrimp, fried tofu with conch, ong choi...
I haven't found Cleveland's best hot dog yet but if you want to help you could check out The Boulevard Dog or The Doghouse. I've heard good things about both.
I'm going to tie several of my comments to the relevant entries in the new places database. Sorry for the bump but it's better than referencing of my old comments in each new thread were they're relevant. I'll try to be selective and do it all at once so that it's as painless as possible.
3951 Saint Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114
El Tango Taqueria
14224 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107
4818 Turney Rd, Cleveland, OH 44125
im sure this is too late for the op, but what the heck...
i dk about best, but nothing is more cleveland than getting a late night hotdog at STEVE'S LUNCH. open 24/7 and reportedly the last time they closed was for kennedy's assasination - heh! ps -- if you go as a visitor be careful around there its dicey at night (however, the hotdog places stuart mentioned are fine).
Just tried Lolita for the first time. Visiting from the Bay Area I wasn't sure what to expect. Very good overall. I expected more of the neighborhood from what I had heard but it's basically a street corner. Once inside, service was excellent, had the oysters (Malpeques), seared King salmon, the crispy chicken and the crab tater tots (inventive!) Would definitely recommend and hope to try Lola on my next visit.
re: Dan Wodarcyk
big difference in style. a lot of local cleveland neighborhood restaurants and little local retail spots, etc are not clearly obvious to visitors. the tremont neighborhood where LOLITA is located is a perfect example. i think that is what gives the city its quirky neighborhoody and kind of mysterious charm.
On the other end of the scale -- West Side Market - Frank's Bratwurst, soft roll with kraut, horseradish and brown mustard for 3 bucks is one of the best taste treats around. Also, Johnny Hot Dog in the WSM - go for the chili dog with the works ... the ladies there will take care of you. It looks like a total dump, but the dog has a snap that can't be beat.
University Inn's pierogies are high on the list as well ...