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Apr 14, 2008 07:25 PM

Cleveland - need suggestions

Okay, I'm visiting Cleveland for the first time and need a bit of advice:

I'll be staying at the Hyatt Regency at the Arcade (420 Superior Avenue) and would like some places that are somewhat nearby - walking distance ideal but a cab ride is fine.

What I'm looking for:

1) One fine dining dinner - no price limit. Tasting menu welcome.

2) Something "quintessential Cleveland" for lack of a better term (Cleveland's equivalent to Chicago's pizza if there is such a thing?)

3) Two breakfast spots

4) Two inexpensive (under $30 for two) lunch spots

5) Two dinners, ideally under $60 for two. The only cuisines I'm not terribly interested in are the various Asian - sushi, Chinese, Thai, etc. Anything contemporary, fusion, American, French, tapas, Italian, etc. A solid wine list would be preferred.

So far, I am considering Vivo and Lola as potential dinners, and Great Lakes Brewing Company for a lunch.

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  1. For breakfast, try Lucky's. I like the waffles. It's developed a strong local following and attracts people from all over the area. It's 2.6mi/7mi from the Hyatt so that should be easily reachable by cab.

    For an inexpensive dinner, I would recommend Bar Cento. The menu changes frequently so I can't recommend much specifically. There was a lamb and goat cheese dish I loved and a veal breast dish that was amazing but one is long gone and I think the other is gone, too. There's a lamb appetizer that was fantastic but now they're doing it with a different cut of lamb so I hope it's still good. The porchetta should still be on the menu. I enjoyed many of their Neapolitan style pizzas. Not really thrilled by the burger. (They share an entrance with McNulty's Bier Market so they have mussels, fries and burgers.) The name is a reference to the one hundred wines they offer so I hope they have a solid wine list. I'm not much of an expert. Bar Cento is 1.3mi/5min from the Hyatt so it should also be easily cab-able.

    If you were renting a car, I'd have some good recommendations for request #1. Are you interested in Asian restaurants for request #4? I would have some suggestions in that case.

    3 Replies
    1. re: stuart

      I'll actually have a car, but my understanding of our hotel's parking policy is there is no in/out privileges - so if I'm forced to park there, then it would probably be cheaper to just cab it around town. Now, should there be something outstanding that's worth a drive I'm more than happy to do it.

      Bar Cento and Lucky's look like perfect places, so they're both on the list.

      1. re: chris

        I'd go to Moxie before I went to Lola. Generally, they're the best restaurant in the area now but especially their salads, soups, bread, desserts and fish. I can't remember if I've ever had the chicken and I can't recommend the burger, steak or peanut butter bar.

        I'd also definitely consider Dante. They're newer but I think they're also one of the best restaurants in the area. For $75(?) you can order a customized tasting menu. Chef Boccuzzi will talk to you about your preferences and then prepare a 5 course meal with what's available that night. There's also an amuse and a pre-dessert. Dessert isn't customized like the rest of the meal. You pick from their regular dessert menu. Most of the desserts don't match up to Moxie or maybe even Lola but the creme caramel(?) is pretty good.

        The pictures are a lemon charlotte and a salad from Moxie.

        Moxie Restaurant
        3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, OH 44122

        8111 Rockside Rd, Cleveland, OH

        1. re: stuart

          Thank you Stuart!

          I was stuck on filling a place for lunch and Dante is just about perfect for what we're looking for - 90 wines by the glass! - I think we'll stick with Lola for dinner (since it's convenient to the hotel) and we're definitely going to do Bar Cento as well.

          Once I get the itinerary somewhat in order I'll post here looking for comments and suggestions for if what I'm doing doesn't make sense geographically.

    2. your one "fine dining" dinner should be Lola. It is steps from your hotel on East 4th st, literally a 2 minute walk. It is absolutely fabulous. Not true "fine dining" (in the classic sense) and no tasting menu that I know of but this will fit for that dinner. Not to be missed.

      For your quintessential Cleveland choice you have some options. We really don't have a definitive cuisine but rather a mish mash of cuisines. We have a very heavy Eastern European population and Sokolowski's University Inn is a very popular place. It is cafeteria style but definitely an experience. If you are looking for inexpensive lunch why don't you head over to W. 25th st. (a very short cab) to the West Side Market and the variety of local places on either side of it. Bar Cento is there (i had the "sunnyside pizza" there last week for my first time there. OK but as I am not ready to condemn it, I just can't quite recommend it as of yet.) as is Great Lakes. IMHO Phenom Penh, Nate's Deli (middle eastern) and Lelolai are the gems here. Marotta's in Cleveland Heights may be another good option for dinner but a longer cab ride. Post back if you need more info and welcome to Cleveland!

      1. I would suggest One Walnut for the fine dining restaurant.

        Johnny's on Fulton is very good, but I wouldn't say it is fine dining. You should be able to eat there for $60.00 for 2, if that doesn't include wine.

        Phnom Penh is very good and relatively inexpensive, if you like Cambodian/Thai.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kelli2006

          For the fine dining, I too recommend Lola.

          For both 2 and 4 ("Cleveland" and lunch), I recommend Slyman's corned beef sandwich. They are only open for lunch, it is a very informal diner. A lot of people suggest Sokolowski's for "charm" but in my opinion and those of the friends and family I've taken there, the food leaves a LOT to be desired. Big selection and big portions doesn't automatically equal good food.

          Breakfast - I too recommend Lucky's in Tremont. ( 2nd choice would be Juniper Grill (1332 Carnegie) which is in walking distance if the weather is good.

          My 2nd lunch spot recommendation is Market Cafe & Wine Bar. It is on the corner of Chester and E 9th. Great food, with a conscience.

          For your two dinners, I would recommend Lolita for one (in Tremont, another Michael Symon restaurant - the owner of Lola - but completely different cuisine). You can find menus for both at I would also recommend Bar Cento for the other dinner.

          Enjoy your trip!

        2. Sokolowski's is the quintessential Cleveland spot, but it's only open for lunch, except, I think, for some Friday evenings; lunch is when you want to go. If you have your first lunch there, you'll likely have your second one, too, if you're still hungry.

          Sokolowski's University Inn
          1201 University Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

          1. 1) One fine dining dinner - no price limit. Tasting menu welcome.

            I agree with the votes for Lola. If you can't get a reservation at Lola, you can be assured a great tasting menu at Light Bistro in Ohio City Another great choice for a high end meal is The Flying Fig, also in Ohio City. You could dine at either place, and check out the Great Lakes Brewing Company beers either before or after. Another possible choice is fire, located at Shaker Square; I believe that you can get there by Rapid Transit (light rail).

            2) Something "quintessential Cleveland" for lack of a better term (Cleveland's equivalent to Chicago's pizza if there is such a thing?)

            As others have said - Cleveland is such a melting pot, that there is no one "quintessential" cuisine. If you are not interested in Asian, stick with something Eastern European. Balaton at Shaker Square is Hungarian. Sokolowski's is a local legend, but I hear very mixed reviews about the quality of the food.

            3) Two breakfast spots
            There isn't much downtown. Lucky's in Tremont gets rave reviews. There is a restaurant, and a creperie at the West Side Market that would also make great breakfast choices (the creperie is next to, and owned by, City Roast Coffee - which is outstanding coffee (assuming that you like coffee, which I don't).

            4) Two inexpensive (under $30 for two) lunch spots
            Light Bistro is now serving lunch; if you don't have dinner there, they would be a great choice. Slyman's is a very "Cleveland" experience, also recommended. Lola has a great lunch (if you can't get dinner reservations), but may go over your budget.

            5) Two dinners, ideally under $60 for two. The only cuisines I'm not terribly interested in are the various Asian - sushi, Chinese, Thai, etc. Anything contemporary, fusion, American, French, tapas, Italian, etc. A solid wine list would be preferred.

            Cleveland has a lot of great restaurants that fit this bll - but getting out for $60 will be tough if you order more than an entree and beverage. Great choices in Tremont are Fahrenheit and Parallax, as well as Lolita mentioned by another poster.

            And finally, you should treat yourself to a cocktail at the Velvet Tango Room - they have the most amazing drinks, constructed meticulously from the freshest ingredients.

            Enjoy Cleveland and report back!