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Foodie moving to Cleveland- Advice?

I'm moving to Cleveland soon and I'm hoping all of you chowhounds can advise me on the best ethnic food (esp Thai) and thin crust pizza in town. I love pad thai, masaman curry, and tom kha, and would love to hear where you recommend. Also love mu shu with real chinese pancakes. Any advice appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. I promise to try and help, but in the meantime try: http://www.cleveland.com/forums/food/
    this is where some active food talk goes on. there are a lot behaviors on the board and no moderation, but you can still get some really good info. I think we can come up with some great Thai, but am a little concerned about the pizza and the Chinese pancakes. We are b/t chicago and ny and the pizza reflects that crust wise! Any part of town that you are interested in or will you travel for chow?

    edit: I also like the book Ethnic Eats by Laura Taxel (sp?) a great run down of ethnic spotsIt is available in local bookstores and probably on line. We do have great ethnic food here for sure.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lyn

      Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the warm welcome. Lyn, I am always willing to travel for great food. To be honest, that is WHY I travel. =) Stuart & Lyn, thanks for the book tip. I'll get one ASAP. What a great city! I love it already!

    2. When it rains it pours, I guess. There's a lot of Cleveland questions today.

      Welcome to Cleveland. I look forward to sharing many hot chowhound tips.

      First of all, there's a book called Cleveland Ethnic Eats. If you're interested in any kind of ethnic food then this book is a good resource.

      I just recommended Siam Cafe in the "vegetarian visiting Cleveland" thread but it's even more relevant in this thread. Obviously, they have Thai food but they also have Chinese food and Vietnamese food. In case you're skeptical of such a wide range of cuisine let me just say that I was skeptical, too. The chef is Chinese and he lived for years in Vietnam and Thailand. He's not furiously turning the pages of some cookbook while he's making your pad thai.

      Of the three, I'm most familiar with the Chinese. It's some of the best Chinese food I've had anywhere. I also love some of their Vietnamese food. The charbroiled beef over vermicelli? The bun bo hue? Incredible. As for the Thai food, the tom kha is fantastic. Something called Siam scallops is also great.

      I bet they'd do a great job with mu shu. It's not on the menu but I've seen and eaten a lot of food at that restaurant that isn't on the menu. They do a scallion pancake which they fill with bbq pork. It requires a special flour so you have to check ahead of time to see if it's available. Maybe mu shu is different enough that it would be too much of a hassle for them but it never hurts to ask. I know that several restaurants in Cleveland have it but if I could get Siam Cafe to make it...

      Siam Cafe
      3951 Saint Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

      1. http://ohiorestaurant.com/ Cambodian and Vietmanese. never had a bad meal! I have only been to the Ohio City (w.25th) store. I concur fully with Siam cafe...

        1 Reply
        1. re: lyn

          Siam Cafe is great! I went to Ty Fun Thai Bistro a few months back and the food was awesome- it is in the Tremont neighborhood, close to downtown.

        2. welcome to the cleve and btw i love your oven pizza stone ;)

          you are coming to a real foodie region, but just be prepared to travel all around it to get what you want. in cleveland all roads lead away from the westside market:

          as mentioned, SIAM CAFE in chinatown is a must.

          there are others scattered around town, but LEMONGRASS at cedar-lee is an old fav thai. i've never been, but nearby THE MINT CAFE would def be worth a try:

          just about any americanized chinese place will prob have your moo shu dish so you will be fine for that. for example, on my first guess i found it where i thought i remember eating it -- here it is on a HUNAN COVENTRY takeout menu:

          as for thin pizza (do you mean real italian style?) i have no idea. lotsa good 'za around the cleve tho. i dk what is up with PLAYERS ON MADISON anymore but thats all i could think of:

          those will get you started -- please do report back on your food adventures!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mrnyc

            not totally thin crust but some good pizza in cleveland is at mama santa's in little italy, geraci's in university heights (no credit cards), and marotta's also at cedar-lee in cleveland heights.

            enjoy! cleveland is a great city and there are plenty of folks to offer great recommendations of must-try places. i miss it!

          2. Welcome to Cleveland!

            For Vietnamese, my hands down favorite is Superior Pho. http://www.pluggedincleveland.com/res...
            I make it a point to seek out bahn mi shops in cities I visit and this is one of the best I've ever had. The cabbage salads (pork, chicken) are always right on and the pho has just the right amount of heat and spice. Just don't go expecting atmosphere or a wine list!

            For Thai, my favorite is Thai Gourmet in Stow. Depending on where you settle, it can be a bit of a hike but the curries are worth it.

            Authentic chinese fare can be had at Bo Loong (dim sum) but for a contemporary twist and always consistent fare try Hunan by the Falls. http://hunanbythefalls.com

            Pizza? I'm going to risk the wrath of my fellow Clevelanders but since moving here from NYC years ago, I have not found any that I would recommend if you're looking for a thin crust, NY-style pie.

            3 Replies
            1. re: GDub

              and just the same i havent found any cleveland style pizza since moving to nyc either - lol!

              i think VINCENZAS downtown or CAPRI is as close as it gets, but i am not sure anymore. not the same tho. perhaps others know better.

              if you really want ny style and not true italian as i suspected and get a chance to get around a little there is a ny style pizza mini-chain in ohio and that is FLYING PIZZA. you can find the original in downtown dayton and there are branches in cinci and in cols on high st near osu. the owners are from nyc and for sure the osu branch is a "correct" and familar looking and feeling nyc style slice joint.

              1. re: GDub

                lol gdub. we are kindred spirits in seeking out banh mi sandwiches nationwide and thinking Superior Pho is the best. so true. I also always have to argue the Superior Pho's Pho is better than the other local competition which is wrapped in a prettier bow but not as tasty.No there is not fancy wine or any wine at all but I asked the owner if I could bring some in some day and he reluctently agreed. Of course i concider myself to be one of his "teachers pets".

                1. re: lyn

                  And I thought I was the only one afflicted with this crazy compulsion!! We'll have to get together there so that I can vicariously curry favor and you can add a number or two to the BYO contigency. : )

              2. Allow me to add my "welcome" to the chorus of Clevelanders.

                The suggestion to pick up the book Ethnic Eats is a great one.

                Stuart is a fountain of info on Cleveland dining especially with regards to ethnic places.

                Cleveland has two great places for Middle Eastern food. The first is Nate's deli on W.25th. The second is Cedarlands on Euclid Ave. across the street fro The Cleveland Clinic.

                I don't think Cleveland has a really great Thai place but Mint on Coventry in Cleveland Hts. may be the best of what we do have.

                1. Welcome to C-Town! You're going to love it here ... aside from the West Side Market ... you might want to check out Tink Hall for Asian groceries .. there is also another Asian grocery across from Randall Park Mall, but can't recall it's name.

                  Thai Cafe in Lakewood has some nice pad thai ... it's a tiny little shop on Madison. I would second Lemon Grass near the Cedar Lee theater for one dish - a yellow curry mango chicken .. they don't always have it, but it pops up regularly.

                  1. Welcome to the area!

                    There are clusters of great restaurants in neighborhoods like Tremont, Little Italy, University Circle, Shaker Square, and other places that slip my mind.

                    I've found Phnom Penh, where Lyn suggested above, to be quite tasty and spicy (Cambodian/Vietnamese) near the Westside Market. I'm sure you'll enjoy their chha kreoung marass prowt. I usually order it with beef, medium spicy. It is very inexpensive to eat there (cash only).

                    Lemongrass on Cedar Ave/Lee Rd in Cleveland Heights is a good Thai place to eat for quick, tasty, inexpensive, comes in large family-style portions...and catch a movie at the Cedar-Lee Theater next door. They typically play movies that are limited release/foreign films - where we saw the Bubba Ho Tep, Night Watch, The Host, etc. if you're into that.

                    Ty Fun on Jefferson Ave in Tremont is in my neck of the woods. Ambience is quaint. Pretty placesettings. The ?owner is quite meticulous about the place, keeping everything neat and clean. The food is presented nicely and tastes pretty good. Prices are fairly inexpensive. Alcohol is BYO.

                    #1 Pho on Superior Ave near Downtown Cleveland is probably your best bet with Vietnamese food, as far as variety, consistency, and flavor. There are at least 15 appetizers to choose from. The broken rice dishes are great. We frequent there maybe 2-3 times a week, and they're not a one trick pony. We frequently go in for an order of summer rolls and two bowls of pho, and walk out of there stuffed for less than $20.

                    For Korean, Seoul Restaurant on Pearl Rd in Parma has been a good experience. The service is great and they aim to please. You'll probably see it go by the name, Asian Cuisine, from the former owner. Although the Koreans I've spoken to who have gone to Seoul Hot Pot and Korea House said that there are no Korean restaurants worth going to in the greater Cleveland area. :(

                    When I'm forced to eat pizza, I prefer Donato's pizza. :) Had too much of thick, buttery crust (Chicago) pizza-pies while growing up, and I also don't like crunchy like lahvosh crusts.

                    The only Japanese restaurant that I can suggest, with clear conscience, is Shinano on Wilson Mills Rd in Richmond Heights. They've been able to accommodate any requests that I've made on, and especially off, the menu. Their sushi is pretty good too. Don't try the curry rice or ramen though. :( We have to travel to Columbus for that or make it at home.

                    Did the management at Siam Cafe change in the past 5 years? I took my father, who has spent years in Japan and Vietnam and traveled extensively in the region (Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, throughout China, and Korea) there when he visited Cleveland 5 years ago. He was totally dissatisfied with his crepe. I was so embarassed. My noodles were stuck together having sat for so long (this had happened previously). Nevermind making special requests like no onions. If the staff/cooks changed over, I might actually give it another try.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Cassaendra

                      Have you tried Shuhei on Chagrin Blvd.? Still some of my all time favorite sushi. If you're in Shaker Heights, Matsu is also a really nice option (especialy if you're lucky enough to be able to walk to it).

                      Otherwise, I'm totally on board with No. 1 Pho, and Phnom Penh is a family favorite. Love, love, love that it's BYOB. And the waitress has incredibly committed the entire (very extensive) menu to memory.

                      There's no good Thai to be found anywhere in Miami. I dream regularly about Lemongrass's green noodle curry and vegetarian spring rolls.

                      And I just heard the fantastic rumor that the gelaterias on Cedar Hill and at Legacy are adding wood burning pizza ovens, which promise to be fantastic. Definitely don't miss the original Valerio's in Little Italy....

                      1. re: Miamian

                        Shuhei was where I went exclusively for Japanese food when I first moved to Cleveland over 10 years ago, as it was the only Japanese place that I knew. The bulk of their Japanese food isn't very authentic at all. I am not very fond of most sushi so my eyes gloss over the sushi menu and gravitate towards the "other" menu items.

                        I tried to order gyudon, which was not on the menu, and felt it wasn't a very odd request because, ingredient-wise, it was similar to one of the other dishes they had on their menu (sukiyaki). The server came back to me and said, "I'm sorry, the cook is Korean and doesn't know how to make the dish you requested." I ordered the unajyu, since that's *impossible* to screw up -- other than burning the eel. :)

                        My husband ordered two dinner entrees for himself; the sukiyaki and something else. It came to him "stir fried" in one platter each. I refused to go back after that, since Japanese food does NOT consist of stir fries. This also confirmed why they were unable to make gyudon - they couldn't even make sukiyaki correctly!

                        I admit having very high, possibly too high?, expectations with Japanese restaurants in Cleveland, as far as authenticity, because my mother was from Japan and cooked Japanese food all through my childhood.

                        My husband, who isn't Asian, enjoys going to any restaurant that serves great tasting food, large selection, great service...AND makes me happy.

                        Nothing like eating across someone who is bickering about their dish throughout the meal. ;)

                        I've heard a lot about Matsu. I've been meaning to check them out for some time. I am crossing my fingers that they have decent curry rice! :)

                      2. re: Cassaendra

                        i have to preface this by saying that i haven't been in a few years, but when i lived in cleveland i used to go to seoul hot pot quite often and really loved it. i was first introduced to it by korean friends, who treated the place as a sort of a second home, back when it was still a pizza parlor that made korean dishes to order by special request. korea house, on the other hand, is really meh.

                        re: shinano, i have to say i'm surprised. it's been ages since i've been there, though, so i'm assuming there's been a change.

                      3. Hi! I think Capri is about as close to you get to NY style. They don't use fresh mozz, that's really the main difference, but they do have a good, thin-style crust and their pizza is really tasty. It's in Middleburg Heights, which is about 13 miles south of downtown, on Bagley Rd.; there is a Bagley exit off I-71 south.

                        For asian, we really like Minh Anh (Viet. food), which is on Detroit road less than 5 minutes west of downtown on the north side of the street. They also have a good but small asian market next door where you can get Asian food oddities, delicacies and great fresh veg.

                        They do an interesting version of pad thai at Johnny Mango, which is in Ohio City, right next to downtown - it's at the corner of Bridge and Fulton.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          We'll have to check out Capri - at least for my husband's sanity. He loves pizza. Being lactose intolerant probably doesn't help me liking pizza much too. ;)

                          I knew I forgot a restaurant! Right near Johnny Mango (btw, interesting variety) is Kimo's Sushi on Fulton Rd in Ohio City, ~5 minutes from West Side Market. It's my favorite place to get Hawaiian food when I am homesick...it's the only place I can get Hawaiian food, actually. They serve it Fridays and Saturdays for lunch and dinner, but if you are going expressly to try the Hawaiian food, call before you go since Kimo caters luaus in the area, so if he's busy with that, he may not have time to make any "plate lunches" for the restaurant.

                          Kimo doesn't have a list of 48613 different sushi combos, but the sushi that he does make is done very well and priced nicely too.

                          My husband and I used to go to Minh Anh 3-5 times per week for a year until we had a really bad experience. My husband's pho had live crickets that he didn't order. It ended up in a shouting match since they wouldn't take the food back. I received the wrong order and sent the dish back. The server relayed to me that the cook had had it and that he wasn't going to make another order. Payment was demanded for the food we couldn't stand to even eat one bite of, so we grudgingly paid and left. We loved that place, but haven't gone back since. It was only my husband and I and 1 other party of 4 that were there, so it wasn't very busy either...

                          I think we have really bad luck with restaurants or maybe our expectations are just too high! :D

                          1. re: Cassaendra

                            holy moly, live crickets! what a terrible experience, I'm surprised that they'd have that attitude.

                            I seem to be the only person who's not blown away by Siam Cafe so this is our usual alternative. We've gotten takeout from Siam twice, totaling at least 7 or 8 dishes and nothing was worth finishing in either of our opinions. I guess the problem is we don't like "exotic," we just want a place to get Chinese-American or Thai-American, and they seem to specialize in the more traditional/authentic dishes whereas the "normal" Chinese-American dishes seemed to be off the mark. We keep saying we'll give them a 3rd try since everyone in town but us seems to love them, but with so many other restaurant choices, we just never get there.

                        2. I don't know much about Thai, but I can say that you must definately try, Capri Pizza
                          It is the best thin pizza you will find in the Cleveland area.
                          there is also one other in downtown, Cleveland called Vincenza's,
                          but Capri is better. Good luck to ya.

                          1. Welcome to Cleveland! I think this is a great place for a foodie - too many chains, but a lot of terrific chef-driven places. Some great places for you to try: Lemon Grass and Mint, both in Cleveland Heights and absolutely amazing! Also check out Phnom Penh - simply delicious, Parallax, more upscale Asian fusion, but super good and there is a really good Etheopian place my friend is always talking about but the name is escaping me. Oh, and Number 1 Pho is also really good. I hope you like it here, I think it's a great place to love! I have a blog if you wnat to read about other palces: clevelandfoodie.blogspot.com

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: michellev

                              I have always wanted to try Empress Taytu, the Ethiopian place, since I moved here and bought the book, "Cleveland Ethnic Eats" (it's a great investment). For some reason, we've just never gotten around to it. How is that place?

                              (LOVE the Beef Basil at Mint Cafe!)

                              1. re: Cassaendra

                                Yes, that's the name! I haven't been there, but have heard wonderful things about it. We're eplanning on going in the next few weeks, though.

                                1. re: michellev

                                  I went years ago. Didn't quite compare to the places in DC but wasn't bad and the coffee ceremony was fun. The decor is charming and it's great to go with a group and share and try a bunch of things. Would've gone back but never ran into the right group and my hubby hates ethiopian food.

                                2. re: Cassaendra

                                  I have had several great meals there over the last few years.

                                  1. re: Cassaendra

                                    I visited Empress Taytu in April and I must say that I was completely underwhelmed. With reservations, (granted it was a Saturday night) it took 45 minutes to be seated and not under one of the quonset hut tables either. (Apparently, these are the coveted seats). We ordered the tasting platter which took another 45 minutes to be delivered and for a cuisine that takes a lot of cues from Morrocan spices, everything was bland and a bit greasy. The servers were confused and kept delivering other patrons food to our table and the 4 top behind us finally left after attempting to place their order for a good 30 minutes. A bad night? Definitely. But even based solely on the food quality, I would not recommend it to anyone.

                                    1. re: GDub

                                      That's too bad - I've had a couple of really great meals there, though it has been a while.

                                      1. re: GDub

                                        We only went once and had a similar experience even though the restaurant had few diners. Very slow service and largely bland food.

                                  2. Oh - I forgot about the pizza. It may not be as think as you prefer, but Mama Santa's in Little Italy has amazing pizza, and cheap! I'm also a big fan or Moratta's, in Cleveland Heights.

                                    1. My favorite Middle Eastern food is at Anatolia Cafe in University Heights; Aladdins Eatery (Cleveland Heights and other locations) also has good, moderately priced Middle Eastern. Also, I highly recommend Thai Gourmet in Stow (already mentioned) and Thai Orchid in Lyndhurst. I've never had pad thai at either place, but both have excellent basil chicken and green curry.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: gina51283

                                        Thai Orchid has left Lyndhurst for Mentor, though a new Thai restaurant is set to open in August in the old Trivisonno's/Argento's spot on Mayfield Road in Lyndhurst.

                                        I also am a big fan of Anatolia Cafe. However, I find Aladdins very greasy and ho hum - I much prefer NY Deli in Eastgate.

                                      2. I think you'll enjoy exploring the culinary delights of Cleveland. I have been visiting Cleveland 2 or three times a month for the past 4 years and it's been great! I have learned of some new places from the various posts in reply to your requests for info that I'm excited to try.

                                        For Thai, I really echo Meg3812's praise for Ty Fun in Tremmont - Outstanding!!!!

                                        And they're right about the West Side Market. I bring my cooler with me and do a good bit of my grocery shopping there. Also, you'll want to try the West Point Market in nearby Akron for an upscale experience - you'll be amazed at their cheese selection.

                                        I continue to be surprised that folks don't mention Tay Do when Asian cuisine is discussed in these blogs. It's a true Vietnamese treasure. No website, but they're located at 11725 Snow Road in Parma. Don't be put off by the decor or the fact that they're two doors down from a Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall. The place is not to be missed. Try the Ginger/Scallion Chicken and the Spicy Tamarind soup - I'll be surprised if you don't go back again and again.

                                        West Point Market
                                        1711 W Market St, Akron, OH 44313

                                        1. Hello! Sorry to respond soooo much later to this post, but it's a great question and worth answering for the many people who use chowhound as a reference guide. So, here are my thoughts: My husband and I love Thai food (it's the cuisine we eat the most when we go out to eat) and have been going to an east side restaurant called

                                          1) Bankok Thai Spoon (5359 Mayfield Rd., 440-684-1982) on the east side. The owners originally started out as a take-out place in a different, teeny-tiny location (that we went to 4 times a month, probably), and it became so popular that they bought a proper restaurant to serve the same great food in a larger, beautifully decorated location. Their food is fantastic. I am particularly partial to the crazy noodles, and the mussaman curry. Regardless of my entree, I always, always order the tom kha gai soup, and have done so for years. A better tribute to the quality of the tom kha is this: my husband, who is mortally opposed to soups, tried mine once and has since begun ordering it when we go there. He almost licks the bowl dry. Other than that, he can't bring himself to order anything but the green bean curry with chicken because he loves it so much.
                                          Other great east-side Thai places I would recommend include:

                                          2) Mint Cafe on Coventry, (small space, nice servers, fantastic country-style pad thai); and
                                          3) its sister site Peppermint in Pepper Pike (get it?), which is slightly more expensive but has a more extensive menu, and is a tiny bit more formal than the Conventry location.

                                          Both places have a laid-back atmosphere, and cater to a relaxed crowd, but they're also always packed. I would recommend reservations at either. The one downside I noted at Peppermint is that it is always NOISY, so it's not a great place for those hard of hearing.

                                          4) From word of mouth: Ty Fun, in Tremont, is supposed to be phenomenal. It has a large and loyal following. I'm actually going there tonight for the first time, and I'm hoping it's everything I've heard it is.

                                          Lastly, regarding Thai food: when I first moved here (5 years ago) a lot of people recommended a place called Lemongrass Thai as the go-to spot for Thai. I don't know why (the food is good in your typical, "Intro-to-Thai-Food 101" way -- but I've always found the place far too expensive and overly pretentious); in any case, since then so many higher-quality Thai places have established themselves all across Cleveland that I would suggest any of them over this place.

                                          5) Sun Luck Garden is a tiny place in a crappy strip mall on Taylor Road on the east side, near the Severance Mall. It looks pretty dubious from the outside, but I urge you to go in and give it a try: it is the best Chinese food I have eaten, certainly in Cleveland and possibly in the US. I know that they have mu shu pork and pancakes on the menu there, and, while I haven't eaten them, the quality of everything else at Sun Luck, and the chef's attention to authenticity and superb ingredients, would suggest that they too will be phenomenal. My favorite dish there is the beef ho fun noodles, and, if Annie (the chef and owner) has made apricot sorbet, it is literally one of the most amazing things I've ever had the luck to taste.

                                          As for pizza, it's a tough question. Some of the better places for thin crust pizza include

                                          5) Marotta's, on Lee (near the intersection of Cedar and Lee) on the east side. A little pricey but worth it for the pizza.

                                          6) Here's an odd suggestion that I'm thinking might draw some comments: I grew up right outside NYC and, once I got to Cleveland, looked and looked for NY-style pizza. I never quite found it, but I discovered that the pizza you can buy by the slice at the food bar/cafe in Sam's Club (yes, the wholesale food club) is the closest I've found so far. It's not quite exactly NY-style, but it's close, and delicious. I'd be interested to see if other Hounds have found NY style pizza in Cleveland.

                                          That's all I've got for now, but I hope it helps!!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: freelancer77

                                            Freelancer - the best NY Style pizza in Cleveland (which barely beat out Marotta's in a taste taste I did last year http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...) is at Vincenza's, located in the Colonial Arcade on Prospect Avenue in Cleveland. The photos below are, respectively, Marotta's and Vincenza's, followed by Issi's, 14431 Cedar Road in S. Euclid, which also makes a respectable NY style pie.

                                            1. re: freelancer77

                                              NY Style Pizza in Cleveland
                                              Capri on Bagley Road in Middleburg Hts. Though Vincenza's is a good slice as well there just a little something better about Capri's Crust. Though Cleveland Style has its own place in my heart (thicker thrown crust with a herbier sauce and what most would say is too much cheese).

                                              1. re: Ch0pp3r

                                                UPDATE: So we have lived in Olmsted now for just over a year and I am totally addicted to Capri pizza (lucky for me, there is one super close by). Freelancer7-- I love the pizza at Sam's! But trust me, the take home and bake is NOT as good. I still haven't made my way to any of your wonderful Thai recommendations but it comes up daily and I always mean to (darn that working full time and going to school schtick). thank you all for your recommendations and here is one of my own: NAM WAH in Berea is really yummy! They have vietnamese and other "asian" dishes. I highly recommend the chow mein or the noodle bowls!