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Hound from LA visiting Cleveland -- What's good?

I will be visiting Cleveland for a week. Where can I find some REALLY good food? I have visited many times before, but can not remember even one meal.

I am not necessarily searching for fine, formal dining. Any type of great food recommendations will be appreciated. Atmosphere is secondary, but the restaurant must be clean.

Thanks!

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  1. It'd be interesting to see what an Angeleno would think of El Tango Taquería on Madison Ave. in Lakewood. It's often recommended on this board. In no way is it authentic Mexican food, but IMO there's real creativity there, and I lived on the West Coast and ate Mexican food three or four times a week for two years. Plus there is the fact that one burrito will feed two or three people, bringing the per-person cost down to fast food levels.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim M

      Portions there are generally very big. If you had soup you could share a burrito. I recommended them recently on Chowhound and on another food discussion website where I said:
      > The best Mexican food in Cleveland is El Tango
      > Taqueria. I don't think people would call it
      > innovative or nuevo or sophisticated but the food is
      > delicious. In fact, it's one of my favorite
      > restaurants of any kind. Anywhere.
      >
      > Get the green chile stew and a couple pork tacos. Or
      > beef tacos. That would be my recommendation for a
      > first visit. I also like all the other soups. I just
      > tried the quesadilla for the first time - great.
      > There's a pork dinner and a beef dinner with Mexican
      > names which escape me. They're both fantastic. The
      > vegetables here are simple but flavorful which beats
      > many much more expensive restaurants. The dinners
      > come with a simple cabbage salad that's fantastic.
      > The soups come with a tortilla in them and the
      > dinners come with a tortilla hiding somewhere
      > underneath. Corn tortillas and Mexican food have
      > evolved together for generations and the food loses
      > something when they're omitted by restaurateurs who
      > think that Americans won't appreciate them.
      >
      > The chips are served in an unreasonably large
      > portion but they're worth getting because the salsas
      > are good (pico de gallo, cinnamon, pineapple). The
      > guacamole is made fresh to order. It tastes
      > different from day to day which seems to bother some
      > people. The chips and salsa are sold together. The
      > salsa is sold separately. The dinners are also large
      > and should be enough for a hungry person but I
      > recommend eating too much. Two tacos, soup and
      > chips, salsa and guacamole is enough for one meal
      > and will leave you with a pile of chips virtually
      > indistinguishable from the pile as it was when it
      > was delivered to your table.
      >
      > Antonio, the owner, has come back to the kitchen. El
      > Tango was a favorite even before I saw him regularly
      > but I think he's raised the consistency and
      > beneficially tweaked some of the preparations since
      > he's returned. The art on the walls is his, by the
      > way.
      >
      > It's always a one or two person operation. They get
      > backed up sometimes. That seems to be less of a
      > problem with Antonio back but it still may happen.
      > You order at the register and your food is brought
      > to the table. Finally, they don't serve alcohol but
      > you can bring your own.

      1. re: stuart

        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.

        -----
        El Tango Taqueria
        14224 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107

      2. re: Jim M

        re EL TANGO. i believe the owner is from new mexico and he gets his hatch chiles and other stuff from there, so i guess it has a mex/southwestern bent more than californian. regardless, agree he might try it, its an inexpensive favorite.

        cleveland has a small but sturdy cambodian population so another fav is PHNOM PENH by the westside market.

        speaking of inexpensive but tasty -- there is a nice local lebanese mini-chain called ALADDINS EATERY you might see in the area and by all means try it: http://aladdinseatery.com/

        hmmm what else? one night you all should take over the joint and have some cleveland style tapas and charcuterie and etc at LOLITA in tremont. great chow and the setting reminds me of greenwich village.

        also, not so good food, but if you get good weather by all means have a drink at SHOOTERS in the westside flats in the late afternoon just for the views. there is or was an italian restuarant near it on top of the viaduct called PONTE VECCHIO that you might want to consider for the views as well (ive never been to that one).

        for fine dining maybe BARICELLI INN in little italy. it's a great place for stroll too.

      3. There are so many fantastic choices! We were just discussing that last night at a dinner with 30 people - how lucky we are to have so many choices that I haven't even tried them all! And I'm a displaced New Yorker.

        These are places I have eaten at and highly recommend:

        Lola (downtown)
        Lolita (Tremont)
        Parallax (Tremont)
        Light Bistro (Ohio City)
        Lago (Tremont)
        Batutto (Little Italy)
        Momocho (Ohio City)
        Carrie Cerinos (North Royalton, but worth the trip - ask in advance for a Blue Egg Ravioli or try the Blue Egg Carbonara)
        Siam Cafe (Chinatown) (just had an awesome dinner there last night; it was Sunday and the joint was jumping!)
        Baricelli Inn (Little Italy)
        Moxie (Beachwood) - more economical for lunch than dinner - but a winner whenever I've gone.

        These places I know only on reputation; they are on my "I need to get there" list:

        Flying Fig (Ohio City)
        Three Birds (Lakewood)
        Michelangelo's (Little Italy)

        1. In addition to El Tango which I discuss below my favorite restaurants in Cleveland are Siam Cafe, fire, Shanti's Kitchen and Lucky's. I recommended several of them here on Chowhound just last week:
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38276...

          http://www.luckyscafe.com/ (not up-to-date

          )

          And, I agree with Nancy that Light Bistro is definitely a restaurant to watch. On another food website, I said:
          > Light Bistro also starts of with a nice bread service.
          > With Moxie, I think they're the only bread in
          > Cleveland worth eating that I'm familiar with. On top
          > of that, I was very pleased with my dessert at Light
          > Bistro which as I've said is also uncommon. I don't
          > think it's any coincidence that I think that Light
          > Bistro is also with Moxie (and fire) in the top
          > echelon of contemporary American food in Cleveland.
          > I've only eaten there once so perhaps I should make
          > this a provisional ranking but I think the food at my
          > one meal was diverse enough and delicious enough that
          > I don't think it was a fluke. My one disappointment, a
          > serious one, was the salad. It was not well balanced at
          > all. A companion felt that adding salt helped but I
          > don't like having to cook my own food when I eat
          > out.
          >

          1. Also - almost forgot to mention fire on Shaker Square. Fresh and locally sourced food with an original flair.

            1. Check out Michael Rhulman's blog http://blog.rhulman.com. He lives in and loves Cleveland and always has the skinny on the best old and new places.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jocelyn

                jocelyn -- Nothing came through for me on this link...of course, it might be MY problem. Would you mind referencing it again? Thanks!