I cannot go to Cleveland without eating at Slyman's... absolutely the BEST corned beef in the world (I always get the Ruban)...... there must be 5 inches of corned beef on there. Definitely a MUST.
A regional favorite is Parma Parogies. This is a nice place to eat, too.
And Sterle's Country House.
And for home cooking, the best place to start is to go to the West Side Market for all the best and freshest ingredients!!
I'll second City Roast in the West Side Market. It's the best coffee I've had in Cleveland by a longshot. Also in that neighborhood, don't miss Phnom Penh. It's my vote for the best mid-priced restaurant in Cleveland. Their menu is intimidatingly long, and I've had and liked almost everything on it. Dish is my new brunch place lately, and it's also a great place to get a quick sandwich after work. Others have mentioned the Souper Market, Flying Fig, and Light already. I love where this neighborhood is heading.
#1 Pho has some OK stuff, but their pho isn't great at all. For that, go in the back door of the next building west. Superior Pho is the real #1 pho is Cleveland, and their Bánh mì is also great. Khiem's in Lakewood is also very good.
I'm not a fan of Luchitas, and I believe their Shaker Square location closed anyway. The only great Mexican food I've had is at Mi Pueblo. They have excellent soups and some nice spicy dishes. Their carne asada isn't the best steak around, but man do they cook it up good. I'd recommend the Carne Asada Mi Pueblo with the frijoles de olla and that amazing arbol sauce.
For Indian, no one has mentioned Udupi yet. It's all vegetarian southern Indian. They have a few curries, but it's all about the dosai here. The Chana Batura is also a standout.
I can't speak too much to the high-end/fine-dining places in town, as most of them are a rare luxury for me, but I do my best to eat really well on a limited budget, and as a lifelong Clevelander, I can definitely say it's not just possible, but probable. That said some of my favorites by neighborhood (in exhaustive quantity and detail) are:
Momocho (My new favorite -- modern regional Mexican and stupendously good cocktails)
Fat Cats (upscale American)
Light Bistro (high-end eclectic)
The South Side (great American, reasonable prices, awesome patio)
Great Lakes Brewing Company (best beer around)
The Harp (American/Irish, excellent live music)
Grumpy's (Killer breakfast)
Lucky's (another killer breakfast)
Johnny Mango (Fun "world cuisine," lots of vegetarian options)
Heck's (Incredible sandwiches and burgers)
Phnom Pehn (Cambodian and Vietnamese - they will not hold back if you want them to bring the heat)
Souper Market (Yummy to-go soups and homemade stock for folks like me who are too lazy to boil a carcass)
La Bodega (Huge and delicious pressed quick-service sammies)
and of course, the West Side Market for making fantastic feasts at home
Western Cleveland/Lakewood and West Suburbs:
India Garden (best Indian in town, as far as I'm concerned)
Angelo's Pizza (Thicker crusted, but really tasty)
Breadsmith (good bakery, but not as good as On the Rise)
Melt Bar and Grilled (Gourmet grilled cheese and a stunning beer list)
Wild Mango (Don't be scared off by it's location adjacent to a mall, fantastic Asian)
Luchita's (Original W. 117th St. location - reasonably authentic Mexican)
Presto (Charming quick service sandwich shop, try the spicy tomato-blue cheese soup)
No. 1 Pho (Vietnamese)
Li Wah (Authentic Chinese, good dim sum)
University Circle/Little Italy/Coventry Village/Shaker Square/Cleveland Heights:
fire food and drink (High end, new American, seasonal and wonderful)
Trattoria on the Hill (old-school, bustlingly-popular Italian)
Presti's Bakery (Italian quick-service and baked goods)
Mama Santa's (Pizza, don't go on a weekend night, there will be a line)
Nighttown (upscale American and Irish, live jazz)
On the Rise (Artisanal bakery)
Lemon Grass (Thai)
The Stone Oven (Bakery-cafe, more artisan-type breads)
Bialy's (best bagels in town - technically in University Heights, but I'm a west-sider, so I'll lump it all together anyway)
(Here's the deal: I work downtown, so I really only eat lunch in the area, and it has to be fast, because I get a short break)
Vincenza's ( Best thin-crust pizza in town, hands down)
Waterstreet Grill (good breakfast and lunch, awesome Bloody Marys)
Because of my tight budget and busy schedule, I haven't been to a lot of the more-talked about places like Parallax, Fahrenheit, Lola, Lolita, Flying Fig, etc. But I know many of these places offer great happy hour deals, which is a good way to get a sampling of the fare at a far lower price than dinner time.
Some local products to check out:
Stadium Mustard or Ballpark Mustard (give 'em the Pepsi challenge)
I'm sure there's more, but this post is too long now anyway.
will you have a car? right across from the clinic is cedarlands which is good middle eastern - divey. in the hotel intercontinental at the clinic is table "something" - i forget what but someone will post. it wasn't open when we left. it is done by a chef who has other great restaurants in cleveland and although i heard it had service issues at first should be good. VERY pricey though. let me figure out exactly where the crowne plaza is downtown and i'll let you know more about there too.
There unfortunately isn't much right around the Clinic other than the Cedarland and the awful Chicago Deli. If you go to Cedarland, my fave dish is the hummous with chicken shawarma - even better is baba with the shawarma, but you have to know to ask for it :) There used to be another restaurant at the Intercontinental that had a good but pricey ($15?) breakfast buffet, but I haven't checked recently.
If you have a car, Shaker Square is not far, neither is University Circle or Cedar-Fairmount (which has another middle eastern place, Aladdin's, as well as Nighttown with great Jazz, and the Mad Greek, which serves Greek and Indian food). I don't know the area around the Crowne Plaza at all, so I can't be of much help.
Also, my two cents to add to the posts above:
Slyman's for corned beef during lunch, the Academy for the Academy Burger, Frank Sterle's for Slovenian food and polka on Friday or Saturday night. I also like Dewey's Pizza on Lee for easy pizza-and-salad dinner (esp. the harvest salad).
3106 Saint Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114
12800 Larchmere Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44120
Sterle's Slovenian Country House
1401 E 55th St, Cleveland, OH 44103
2194 Lee Rd, Cleveland, OH 44118
Near the Crowne Plaza...
well, very near (not much). it's downtown so a bunch of things are walkable. and cabs for the rest are not hard to come by. here's a good map.
there's a new restaurant CROP that's supposed to be good although pricey and isn't on the map. it's close to johnny's downtown. lola is michael symon's (new iron chef's) place. probably hard to get reservations but could maybe do lunch. also a less expensive option. siam cafe at st.clair and 40th (in asiatown) is a good option but would definitely need a cab.
There's a place called Juniper Grille that I don't think is too far that's nice. and The winking lizard is a cleveland chain of sports/beer bars that actually has great wings. there's one right near the sports arenas.
The question about the car is crucial in our making suggestions for you. for example, Juniper Grill as suggested below would be a horrendous walk in our cold winter weather.
If you are truly looking for places in the immediate walking distance of Crowne, you're limited but it's not impossible. Cafe Sausalito in the Galleria mall is just across E 9th street (upper floor). There is a tolerable sandwich shop/bar called Taverne on the Mall right across the street. It's not fancy but I used to work in the building attached to the crowne and I ate lunch there a lot when I didn't want to go out in bad weather. Tomaydo Tomaydo is in the little strip mall just south on E 9th street about a block south from where the crowne is, they have a very good lunch - it's a counter service type place. There's also a pizza place there and a subway. Many of these places are not open for dinner however. There aren't a lot of both good and inexpensive places for dinner, but if you stick to apps at the nicer places, you'll have plenty to eat and it won't break the bank - Metropolitan, Crop, Chop House & Brewery and D'Vine would all fit the bill and are about a 5 minute walk West on St. Clair, the street the entrance to the Crowne is on. Metropolitan is at St Clair and W 6th. Crop is just a few doors to the south on 6th. Chop house and D'vine are just a hair further west on St. Clair. There are also very good, inexpensive burgers and beer at the Little Bar, which is in the alley next to Johnny's, which is next to Crop - it's the first door you come to in the alley and is unmarked (but worth finding).
I want to confirm three recommendations that I would vote as "can't-miss' Cleveland establishments that I will hit over X-mas from Chicago:
1) Slyman's-> the best corned beef sandwich I've ever had, and likely will ever have.
2) Johnny's Bar on Fulton-> Very old school Italian. Gargantuan portions of really tasty Italian fare. A close second is Valerio's in Little Italy.
3) Flying Fig-> Really well-prepared, reasonably priced food. Not overly fussy. Simple ingredients put on display.
I took my wife to Lola's for her brithday on Nov 2nd and we did the chef's table sampling. It was fantastic, though I discovered that I am not a Sweet Bread man! Excellent wine paring and excellent flavor paring. I have been here on my own and had the flank steak entre at the bar... Go Go Go. High end big city food for relatively low costs. I only saw one entre over $30 on the menu, with most entres in the $17-28 range, and Michael Symon might be the next Iron Chef!
If you have never had Hungarian food, you MUST try Balatan's at Shaker Square (here also is located Fire, as mentioned in other posting replys), and Cafe Budapest in the North Olmstead area. Both are great ethnic food. Try the sampler platter... you will get hooked! (Balatan's is open for Lunch and Dinner, Closed on Mondays).
For Steak, go to the Hyde Park Grill. There are at least 3 Cleveland locations, one off 271, one downtown, and one in Westlake. (Another location is at Medina road in Akron).
I would agree with most of the reqs posted so far. I moved here a couple of years ago from the Bay Area, and at first was very disappointed with the quality and price of food in the Cleveland area. But with time I have found a number of good spots. My favorites would be Fat Cats and Fahrenheit (both in tremont), flying fig (Ohio City - usually pretty solid), Sergio's (University Circle), Marottas (Cleveland Heights - Great wood oven pizza), Boulavard Blue (Shaker Square-ish).
Of course these are all pretty high end places. The big disappointment after being here for two years is the less expensive food options. Good restaurants with entres in the 10-15 dollar range are pretty nonexistent here outside of some limited ethnic selections (mint cafe in cleveland heights, number one pho has a vermicilli noodle dish which is always excellent though everything else I have tried is only so-so, Lucky's for brunch in tremont -up there with the best brunch in any city) and chains, at least on the east side of the city. In the bay area you could find everything from french bistros, new american cuisine (think most of the restaurants in tremont) and even the cafe at Chez Panisse for 1/2 to 2/3 the price of most of the good food in cleveland. Shortly after moving here a remember an article in the Plain Dealer (either food or travel section) which talked about how restaurants in New York are often pretty comparable in price to restaurants in cleveland. The conclusion of the article was that good food is affordable in new york, but I think my conclusion after living here for two years is that we are paying world class prices for good regional cuisine.
i would agree with your observations. i think cleveland has GREAT high end for a city of its size and resources. i mean comparing it to SF would fail practically anywhere in the world let alone in the US. but the lower end places are average. in comparison richmond (where i live now) has pretty good low end but lousy high end.
by the way, don't remember if i posted above or not but paladar - which is new is supposed to be really good. still high end though.
i generally agree too that cleve does much better than average on high end and lower end ethnic chow, but lacks mid range, however, be careful -- when you throw in stuff like CHEZ PANISSE and thereby compare the whole bay area to the city of cleveland thats not fair. you'd have to talk all of ne ohio to make that a fair comparison. then we could talk 2182 BISTRO & WINE BAR in hudson and the like. just a guess, but i think that is the kind of mid-range (sf yuppie? ha! not that i don't dig it - i do) style menu i believe jephro is talking about. check it out:
And since no one has done the "middle of town" Ohio city/tremont
there's Lucky's for brunch, Sokolowski's (divey eastern european - on anthony bourdain's recent NR of cleveland), fat cats, ty fun (sp?), the west side market with city roast coffee and ohio city pasta, lelolai, and more i'm sure i'm forgetting
you'll enjoy the food scene in cleveland.
Since you don't mention what part of Cleveland I will mention some westside places.
Player's on Madison-Lakewood, always great food and service
Don's Lighthouse-Cleveland, almost at Lakewood border
Pier W-Lakewood, not my fave, but spectacular views
Viva Barcelona-Westlake, bit seafood-heavy, but great with formal service
Breadsmith-Lakewood, fresh-baked breads w/o preservatives
I'm sure that I am missing a lot, but this is a good start. Welcome!
I know the East Side quite well, but not the west side...
Authentic (sort of) Mexican: Luchitas (Shaker Square)
Up-scale Tex-Mex: Lopez (Cleveland Heights)
Thai: Lemongrass (Cleveland Heights)
Chineese: Hunan Coventry (Cleveland Heights)
Japanese (includes lots of non-sushi): Shuhei (Beachwood)
Italian: Marotta's (Cleveland Heights)
Turkish: Antolia Cafe (Ceder Center)
Indian: Saffron Patch (Shaker Heights)
Upscale (to varying degrees):
Savara (Brazilian, Shaker Square)
Moxie (New American, Beachwood)
Giovanni's (Northern Italian, Beachwood)
Boulevard Blue (New American, near Shaker Square)
Sans Souci (Modern Provencal, Downtown)
Valerio's (Tuscan, Little Italy, lots of $$$ for what it is but still worth a mention)
Baracelli Inn (French and Italian, Little Italy)
It is a chain, but the best steakhouse in the city is Flemmings in Beachwood (or technically, it might be Woodmere)
Tops in the city:
Lola (Downtown, New American)
Was also an east sider...
Marotta's and Anatola are awesome. Thing Mekong is better thai in Cleveland Heights (and have heard Mint is even better - it opened in Coventry after I moved away). Also heard Sun Luck Garden was a hidden Chinese gem in Cleveland Heights. We liked the Colony for a mix of bar food and better.
Mama Santa's and Geraci's also have good pizza.
I've only been to Cleveland a few times, but last time we were there we wanted steak, somewhere not too upscale. We were staying downtown (Crowne Plaza right in front of the stadium) and wanted something within walking distance. Staff there suggested Chophouse. It was a good traditional-type steakhouse (think Morton's.) I guess it's a small chain. We had good food and enjoyed the evening, although we didn't have anything that would really differentiate it from other similar steakhouses. But the steak was cooked well, the sides were great, the serving sizes were large, the home-brewed beer was great, and the frozen bar was amazing. It won't be the most amazing meal of your life, but it was a lot of fun. I'd give it a shot at least once.
I ate at The Chophouse a couple of years ago on a one day layover to visit the R&R HOF. I went there out of desperation and hunger when the place my hotel recommended was closed. It was edible but pedestrian. I had some sort of pork chop main, which was good, but unmemorable. They did have some sort of skillet corn bread that wasn't bad. And a jazz combo.
I should have gone to Waterhouse (name?), which I later learned was not far away.
There is GREAT food in Cleveland. Fire, Moxie, Baricelli Inn, Lola, Lolita, Parallax, Farenheit, Paladar, probably Dante's (was amazing as Lockkeepers and changing it's name/menu but still same chef), Light Bistro, Flying Fig - I think I got most of the high end places with great reps. I've eaten at a lot but some have opened since I've moved.
Great bar = Velvet Tango Room
There are great other foodie things there too.
The "less high end" places like ethnic fare/dives/middle of the road places will be based probably on where in town you'll be since things can be pretty spread out. Do you know yet?
Make sure you check old posts because there are A LOT on this topic if you use the search here on chow.
oh and extras -
get bread at On the RIse
get beer from Great Lakes (you can get it lots of places in Cleveland)
get meat from Mr. Brisket & the sausage shoppe
could go on and on...
We have a lot of great food in Cleveland and there are a lot of foodies here. Agree with the PP to search the boards on here as you will come up with a LOT of great suggestions. Some boards and blogs you might want to check out: