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Great food in Cleveland

I am in Cleveland for a couple of nights and I am looking for some great places to eat. I like all types of food, but I want something very high quality (local ingredients a huge plus). I am staying near University Hospitals on Euclid. Recommendations are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. I assume you have access to a car?

    We have tons of great eateries near that part of town, depends on what you want to spend and what type of food you want, but I would recommend Table 45 (on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic just down the road), Baricelli Inn (very close to UH), Mint cafe on Coventry (Thai food - take Euclid East to Mayfield, follow it up the big hill and around the bend to Coventry, turn right and park wherever you can find a space, preferably in the parking garage so you know you're parking legally, Anatolia Cafe (AWESOME turkish food, you'll have to mapquest it to get exact directions), Aladdin's eatery (informal/casual but very good middle eastern/Lebanese food, less than 5 mins from UH), or go up to Shaker Square and try Fire or Balaton (GREAT Hungarian food at Balaton).

    If you want to venture downtown, there is always what many consider our crown jewel, Iron Chef Michael Symon's Lola (reservations recommended).

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockandroller1

      There was a general "what's good in Cleveland" thread very recently so I'll refer you to it for further information about my recommendations. I'll just add that fire food and drink, Sapore and Bar Cento are all good candidates to satisfy your desire for a restaurant that uses local products. I offered specific recommendations in that thread.

      I mentioned Moxie in that thread too but they turn over their menu so frequently that I can't even keep up. They use local products but I'm not sure they highlight them to the extent that these other restaurants do. Whatever goes into their kitchen, you can't argue with the quality of what comes out. I'm embarassed to admit how many times I've been there in the past two weeks and I've still barely made a dent in their actual menu because the specials are different every time I'm there. In the mean time, they're still changing the dishes on the menu itself. One of the best meals I've had recently was the chicken breast that they recently added. That says a lot to me. In many restaurants chicken seems like an afterthought because it's dry and bland but this was fantastic. Soups are reliably amazing and it'll be different almost every time you're there. Fish is flown in fresh daily and that's usually what I eat here. The fish is cooked perfectly, accentuated but not overwhelmed with complimentary flavors and the sides are always fantastic in their own right. The last time I was there one of the specials was a veal chop. I ended up with fish again but I've had that veal chop in the past and it was very hard to pass up. If you're lucky enough to be their on a night when it's available I highly recommend it.

      I haven't been to Balaton in years but I've been several times and I was always pleased. Big portions. Hearty food. Lots of sour cream. They have some sausage dish the name of which escapes me. It's an appetizer but could just as easily be an entree. Anyway, it's delicious but so is most everything else that I've had there.

      -----
      Moxie Restaurant
      3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, OH 44122

    2. Skip Lola, I've had better in Little Italy.

      5 Replies
      1. re: uhockey

        Lola is not an italian restaurant, not sure what that reference meant? Anyway, I've had some of my best meals in Cleveland at Lola so I do recommend it, but everyone's tastes are different. I'm one of only 3 people I know who don't think the food at Bar Cento is good, for example.

        1. re: rockandroller1

          The reference was merely to the fact that there are better local gems.

        2. re: uhockey

          I am not impressed by hype. But I ate at Lola last year during a visit to Cleveland, and I thought it was AMAZING - an absolutely superb contemporary American restaurant. One dish after another gave that "WOW! This is DELICIOUS!" feeling. I still dream about the veal cheek pierogies, and there was a strawberry mascarpone shortcake dessert that was divine. I understand why people refer to it as Cleveland's culinary "crown jewel", as in the post above. It's the first place I'll go - heck, I'll RUN TO - next time I visit. www.lolabistro.com

          1. re: nsxtasy

            It's actually a beef check pierogi and yes, it is DIVINE. :)

            1. re: rockandroller1

              I am in complete agreement with you, rockandroller, about the awesome pierogi at Lola and being (unfortunately) underwhelmed with Bar Cento's food. I recommend it to people as a fun place to drink some wine and maybe get a pizza, but it is just not a destination restaurant in my opinion. I also really enjoy the food at Fahrenheit and recommend that to people if they are in town for a couple of nights. One night at Lola downtown and one night in tremont is a good introduction to Cleveland.

        3. Indeed there are some really good restaurants in Cleveland, but it's difficult to avoid the mediocre., as I have written before on these pages, from my vantage point as a relatively new Clevelander from DC and NYC. I think Lola is world class - a great bargain at the price .hands down Cleveland's best food in my humble opinion. If you have one meal to eat in Cleveland, that's the place to have it.
          I have had mixed experiences at Bar Cento, which I really want to like because of atmosphere, extensive wine and beer list. While I initially thought it was reminiscent of many restaurants in NYCs West Village - I was disappointed on my last visit with the pizza. Maybe it's just decent bar food..... Sergios in University Circle area is pretty good and the restored townhouse has a very special atmosphere. Mint is a terrific neighborhood inexpensive Thai - highly recommended. We love Aladdins for inexpensive mid eastern fare - definitely walkable.
          I have not been to Baricelli (which I have heard good things about) , but am totally unimpressed with the half dozen or so places I've been to in Little Italy. They serve 1950's style Italian-American food for the most part. I was totally unimpressed with the "famous" pizza parlors there and would avoid them totally. If you can get up to Shaker Square - which will require a cab or car - Fire and Sergios Sarava are very good. The latter has an extensive Nuevo Latino menu and sometimes has live music. Boulevard Blue has a limited menu with excellent food, mostly local ingredients and is running free entree and half price wine coupons on the web. Real NYC atmosphere with free live music on Friday nights makes this a wonderful dining experience. Can't figure out why it's not more popular.

          One more thing - Strongly recommend that you avoid mediocre food and service Table 45 at the Intercontinental Hotel.

          3 Replies
          1. re: atievsky

            I'm just really glad to learn that I'm not the only one that really wants to love Bar Cento but just doesn't, even after repeated visits.

            1. re: atievsky

              cleveland foodies FYI would've told you to avoid little italy. sorry. best pizza's at marottas, vincenza's or capri per taste. i didn't hate geraci's and loved that i could walk there! i've lived in dc too and there is plenty of mediocre there as well. i think cleveland has great restaurants once you know where to find them. sounds like you've made a great start.

              1. re: atievsky

                When did you last eat at Table 45? I haven't been since they opened, but I'd heard they'd really gotten their act together. No?

              2. I second the recommendations for Moxie and Fire (if you have a car). They are two of our city's best, Fire especially for locally grown and produced meats and vegies.

                I'm not a fan of Table 45. After a few experiences there (including a recent visit) I just wouldn't suggest it. It's just not that great and certainly not the best our great city has to offer.

                I also second the rec for Anatolia, very good Turkish food.

                One of my faves that hasn't been mentioned is Cedarlands on Euclid. It is a pain to get to by car right now because of construction but you can hop on the Euclid Ave bus for a few stops and not have to worry about driving. Cedarlands is directly across from the Clinic in a small strip mall. They serve wonderful Lebanese fare, the best baba ganoosh ever.

                11 Replies
                1. re: luckygirl

                  I third Anatolia. I would be almost shocked of you had a bad meal here. I second Cederland as well. I love the baba and hummus.

                  1. re: lyn

                    Have you ladies been to the "new" Anatolia? Still as good as the old??

                    1. re: NancyH

                      i tried the "new" anatolia earlier this year. i hadn't tried the old location, so i don't have that benchmark, but our meal was terrific (if a bit slow). looking forward to having dinner there when i'm next in town.

                      1. re: wleatherette

                        Service was always slow in the old location too, but worth it because of the great food. I had hoped they could fix this in the new locale. I understand food cook time, but it's usually long waits for drink refills, for plates to be cleared, for the check.

                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          I have not been to the new location either. I agree service seems slow, but once when we went with a Turksih friend she said it is rude to hover and push people out. I always found the service friendly so I do not think of it as bad. The food is addictive, especially anything with yogart.

                      2. re: NancyH

                        Anatolia is not as good as it was in the old location but it is still absolutely wonderful. I would say that they are running at 85% off what they used to. The salads on the app platter were all the same at the new place as they were at the old place and while they were so, so good, they were not all of what they used to be. The flavors didn't pop as much, almost as if some things were under seasoned relative to how they used to be. They have stopped making their own bread and yogurt. The yogurt that they're using is really good but the bread is not. Back when they made their own pita it was so wonderful and when they stopped making their own and moved to pita from Alladin ( I think that's where they were getting it from) I could still enjoy it but now they are using some sort of commercial- Sysco pita style bread and I think it's awful. Oh well, I can enjoy everything at Anatolia without bread anyway!

                        1. re: luckygirl

                          That's very disappointing about the bread, that was one of the best parts. I am one of the few people in Cleveland who thinks Aladdin's pita is not good - dry and mealy.

                          1. re: luckygirl

                            I finally went to the new Anatolia location. Yes it was still delicious, but I did notice the yogurt was not as good. A bussing staff told me me in broken English that it was quite time consuming to make. So I wrote the owner/manager an email about this as I did not want to bring it up when I was there b/c I did not want them thinking I was looking for a handout. I explained the homemade really made the difference. Anyway he/she (?) responded back they make some yogurt homemade, but "they cannot keep up". I think this is a pity as the homemade items are what really put this place above all others. Now it is just another good restaurant.

                            1. re: lyn

                              That's very disappointing. I hope they don't start taking other shortcuts.

                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                I am told that they no longer make their own pita bread, either. Bummer.

                                1. re: NancyH

                                  oh MAN, that was for me one of the best parts of going there. Well, I guess I won't spend my cleveland independents GC there after all. Very disappointing.

                    2. right off i'd rec FIRE in nearby shaker square. not super high end by any means, but they use local ingredients. besides being a good solid modern restaurant a twist is they use a tandoor oven:

                      http://www.firefoodanddrink.com/

                      also, BARICELLI INN is very near university hospital. a perennial favorite and one of cleveland's very best. they seem to use local when possible. make sure to have a cheese course as they are also cheese mongers:

                      http://www.baricelli.com/menu.html

                      if you have a car this last idea is a wildcard, at least for me. looks like DANTE has an upscale version of lake erie perch -- so that certainly caught my eye. as i haven't been maybe others have an opinion on this place, which was formerly LOCKKEEPERS?

                      http://www.restaurantdante.us/

                      ps -- prob my fav rather upscale restaurant is the clubby JOHNNYS ON FULTON. it's pricey old school italian american food, but very good. no idea how local they source. i hesitate as maybe others can give an update on this classic clevelander restaurant?:

                      http://www.johnnyscleveland.com/Fulto...

                      there are many other upscale / modern dining options around town as the cleve has a lively foodie scene, but its spread around and a bit hard for outsiders to easily crack. but hey thats what ch is for (and the cleveland.com food&wine forum, you might post there too as it gets way more clevelander traffic than ch)!

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: mrnyc

                        I love Dante but it's too rich for my blood to sit in the proper (and beautiful) dining room, but you can get some great deals on varying sizes of small plates sitting in the bar area, which is equally beautiful.

                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          My next trip to Cleveland will surely entail Dante or Crop.

                          1. re: rockandroller1

                            curious if there are any recent reports on dante, or recommendations. i'll be going later this week for dinner (for the first time), and the menu looks great but quite large.

                            1. re: wleatherette

                              very recent ones on the cleveland.com food and wine forum. people still seem to like it. and the tagliatelle (i think) is the most popular.

                              1. re: AMFM

                                thanks for the tip. i generally don't read the cleveland.com forums because of how nasty people are, but i'll take a look.

                                1. re: wleatherette

                                  unfortunately they can be nasty. but there are some great sources of info - many are the same folks as here. and if you go looking for specific info - not to peruse for entertainment...

                              2. re: wleatherette

                                dante was superb. the standouts from the apps were the fried green tomatoes, served with a very astringent green olive tapenade and some incredibly fresh, floral watercress, and the bean soup, which had such a nice, deep, savory flavor. although we had debated doing some pasta tastings and charcuterie for our mains, in the end we chose from the traditional entree section: the mustard-crusted scallops and several orders of the braised pork belly. the former were cooked to a perfect medium and very, very sweet. the pork belly was a good example of the cut–rich and unctuous, but not overly greasy. the accompanying cranberry beans and soft little gnocchi were delicious, as well.
                                instead of going with wine by the bottle, we went with some bourbons/gin to start with and then had wine by the glass from the large selection of bottles available by the pour. that's a very nice feature, and even better is the service from the roving "wine guy." he was a delight to chat with, and he and his second-in-command were very helpful. our waiter, too, was a star. the food was top-notch, and it was matched 100% by the high level of service. as for the cost... it's pricey, but on par with moxie (which is our default for more special occasions) and lola, and portions were generous. with the pasta menu clocking in at under $20, as well as some other small plate options, it would be possible to have a wonderful meal there in the dining room for much less than what we spent. since it was our first time, we definitely splurged a bit.

                                1. re: wleatherette

                                  Thanks for reporting back! sounds like a great experience. I've only been there once and sat in the bar and got some small plates, it was fantastic.

                                  1. re: rockandroller1

                                    oh, we loved it. we're planning to have a group dinner there next time i'm back, and i'm looking forward to trying the "italian happy hour" at the bar.

                                    1. re: wleatherette

                                      Italian happy hour? Do tell. I checked the website and could not find anything

                                      1. re: lyn

                                        if you scroll down the events page on the site, you'll see "italian happy hour - an offer you can't refuse." m-f, 4-7pm. apparently there are specials on italian wine, beer, and pizza.

                                  2. re: wleatherette

                                    i just read that dante is closing and moving to tremont, and lockkeepers will be reopening in the space. while it's a move that makes sense for the restaurant ("charmless" would be too kind a word to describe its current location in valley view), we have a special dinner planned there for boxing day, which is about a week before the closing date. am i paranoid to be worried about the quality suffering? i would think that dante and crew are way too professional for that, but on the other hand, i've been burned before by an expensive, memorably bad meal at a restaurant that was about to close.

                                    1. re: wleatherette

                                      i dk what to think about that situation. it could be fine....or no.

                                      please do report back afterward!

                                      1. re: wleatherette

                                        If they were shutting down for good, I would be worried, but they are simply relocating, assumedly with much of the same staff. I wouldn't worry.

                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                          yeah, the fact that they already have the new location and such is definitely reassuring. and given the high quality of our experience there last month, when the closing was already in the works, i really shouldn't worry. but hey - i'm a neurotic food person. i can't help it!

                                      2. re: wleatherette

                                        Dante is no longer with us. It has gone back to Lockkeepers.

                                2. Oh my, and here I was wondering whether I'd find really good eats! This is such a wonderful resource. How about a fantastic brunch a quick cab drive away from the Intercontinental?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Eurydice

                                    Depends on how much you want to spend? The Chophouse downtown has brunch, their food is quite good but I'm sure it's not cheap. The House of Blues also offers a brunch with gospel singers which can be fun, but also not cheap. Or you could go to the Inn on Coventry, which is an unassuming diner, or to Tommy's, which is also great, also on Coventry. Coventry road is maybe a 10 minute cab ride from the intercontinental.

                                    1. re: Eurydice

                                      go to fire at shaker square. seriously yummy. my favorite brunch in cleveland and not too far from the intercontinental. the drive takes you through some pretty neighborhoods too.

                                      http://www.firefoodanddrink.com/

                                      oh and if you're not just looking for brunch there's a new place close by that everyone is raving about L'albatros Bistro.
                                      http://www.albatrosbrasserie.com/

                                      1. re: AMFM

                                        Yuppers to both of AMFM's suggestions.