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Visiting Cleveland, which restaurants I should not miss ?

I am going to be in Cleveland for a few weeks, and probably will not come back. Which restaurant I should not miss, i.e. I can not find the same food in another city. I have eaten at Lola, Crop, Moxie, Cleveland Chophouse, Yours Truly. All of these restaurants are good except Cleveland Chop House. Just saw Whitmore BBQ on TV . Where else should I go. I am from Orange County, California. As always, your recommendations are greatly appreciated.

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  1. I don't have a lot of experience with Whitmore's, but I would recommend Hot Sauce Williams. I've had more experience there. The ribs or the Polish boy.

    Bar Cento has been one of my favorite restaurants since it opened. I vacillate between recommending them and not, as I've had some issues with their consistency. My last two meals there were excellent and I feel like I can recommend again. The pasta with pork and the lamb were two of the best meal I've had in a long time. And they have no consistency issues at all with their fries. They've been excellent 100% of the time for almost as long as they've been open. They're one of the best restaurants in the city and they serve a style of food that I can enjoy very often.

    Moxie is my standard chowhound recommendation. I'm glad you had a good experience. If you go back, I think you'll find that they're the most consistent restaurant in the area.

    3 Replies
    1. re: stuart

      I heard some restaurants in Cleveland area were featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive By, and Dives Show. Do you know which one is it ? Is it truly fantastic ?

      1. re: collegedad35

        Hmm.... There've been a few. Lucky's and Parkview Nightclub were both definitely on DDD. I think they filmed a segment at Melt and it's scheduled to air soon.

        I've only been to Parkview Nightclub once, but I had a good meal. I'm looking forward to going back.

        1. re: stuart

          Momocho and Geraci's were also on DDD.

    2. The parkview is ok, but just not that great. Very awesome atmosphere and good people, but the food just isn't that great. Food at Lucky's is very good, if a little expensive (for here - you being from OC will probably think it's a bargain, ha ha) but the lines there have become horrible ever since being on DDD. Melt was also on DDD recently and their wait times were already through the roof - up to 2 hours to get a table and food usually takes at least 45 minutes to an hour to arrive, not worth it, even though the food is great.

      Michael Symon also owns Lolita, which is a totally different dining experience than Lola, I would recommend it. I'd also highly recommend a couple of Zach Bruell restaurants - Chinato, which is his newest venture and is on the same street as Lola, and L'Albatross, which is in the University Circle area (near University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University). Both deliver outstanding food. On the lower end of things, I would highly recommend Slyman's for a corned beef sandwich. You can get very good corned beef other places, but Slyman's is not only the most delicious in town (and very reasonably priced), but IMO it's a quintessential Cleveland experience. It's a very small diner and everyone is on top of each other, so you're forced to be friendly to your neighbor and it's a very unique and cool dining experience - it's truly a place where you will easily see a high end banker in a suit rubbing shoulders with a janitor, rubbing shoulders with a secretary, etc. People from all walks of life, all races, all income levels are there and the corned beef is just excellent.

      JMO but I do not recommend Hot Sauce Williams. I have never had a good meal from there and the restaurant has had a lot of crime in it.

      11 Replies
      1. re: rockandroller1

        rocklandroller1, any comments on Whitmore BBQ. I am staying at Marriott in Beachwood, which location is closer ?

          1. re: collegedad35

            I haven't heard anything good about Whitmore's. Honestly, Cleveland isn't a great BBQ town.

            1. re: NancyH

              I'm pretty sure Whitmore's shut it's doors. At least the one in Cleveland Hts. and Oakwood Village did.

              1. re: HD MM

                According to their website, they have five locations. The Kinsman location is active, judging from my frequent drive-bys.

              2. re: NancyH

                if you're looking for bbq you could always try hot sauce williams. the ribs and pulled pork are good (sweet, ketchup based sauce) and the fried chicken is tops. i think there are three locations but i've only been to the one on superior.

                i agree with the bar cento recommendation. it is relatively inexpensive, they have a KILLER beer selection and the food is delicious. right across from the west side market too!

              3. re: collegedad35

                There is a Whitmore's located on Harvard, but believe me when I tell you "You don't want none of this." You COULD try the B&M on Rockside (the B&M sans bulletproof glass) which is a sit down place that used to be an old Donato's. Repeating what has already been said on here many times, BBQ is severely lacking in Cuyahoga County. I recommend B&M only as an alternative for someone who is seriously jonesing.

                There's a place in Lorain County called Rotuno's that is good, but from where you're at it isn't worth the drive solely to go there.

              4. re: rockandroller1

                Not to mention that G Bush stop for lunch was Slyman's for that specific corned beef sandwich. This is when he visited Cleveland I believe in 2008

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  I concur that Slymans is not to be missed. I have never had corned beef this good. I wish they would open a place in Wisconsin!

                  Slyman's Restaurant
                  3106 Saint Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

                  1. re: agedcheddar

                    You should hit New York. I am looking forward to trying Slyman's on my trip to Cleveland next week, but my usual haunt is Katz's. I am sure I am going to like it though!

                    1. re: CindysFarmStand

                      I adore Katz's, but when it comes to corned beef I don't think there's any comparison. Slyman's is much better, IMHO. The only drawback is that you have to ask for brown mustard. Otherwise, you can doctor the yellow stuff with the horseradish that's on every table.

                      Slyman's Restaurant
                      3106 Saint Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

                2. Lucky's Cafe in the Tremont area for sure! It's a great farm to table restaurant with fantastic food and a small dessert case to die for!
                  Greenhouse Tavern was named best restaurant by Bon App. magazine and the chef there is a James Beard nominee this year, they have wonderful duck fat fries.
                  Mike Symon's new burger joint in Woodmere, ohio is cool as well, 16 tap beers and burgers I'd drive two hours for because they are that good...."The B Spot"

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: nemis

                    Thank you, nemis. Woodmere is not far from where I am, I'll try it. Any specific hamburger you want to reccommend ?

                    1. re: collegedad35

                      In the same Woodmere plaza is Taza which is a Lebanese grill - very good. Also in the same plaza Woodmere plaza is Paladar and their flavor is Latino food - very good. Just thought I would mention them if you get a craving for ethnic food. Not sure how it would compare to ethnic food in OC but I know you can find better ethnic food in LA than in Cleveland. Saffron Patch (Indian) has a wonderful lunch buffet on Chagrin - east of I-271 near the Warrensville Ctr intersection. Enjoy your trip - if you are coming any time soon, be prepared for SNOW!

                      1. re: CurryLover

                        I disagree with Saffron Patch. It is 2 minutes away from home and we went there once. It is now crossed off my list. The food was bland and service was below average. I asked for recommenadtions for my son and the plate they chose for us was disgusting; not only my son could not eat it, neither did we. The member who posed the question is asking for restaurants not to be missed and this is one is definitely to be missed. I will add to the ethnic restaurants Aladdin on Som Center: Shawarma Platter is amazing

                      2. re: collegedad35

                        The "Fat Doug" just won best burger at the south beach food & wine festival.

                    2. I just want to say BBQ in Cleveland IS to be missed. I imagine 9/10 cities have better BBQ. Lots of good suggestions here though. Do try the Symon burger joint, I have heard nothing but good things. The Fat Doug burger just won a national competition.

                      1. My top 3 restaurants in Cleveland are as follows: L'Albatros, Crop Bistro & Lolita. A close 4th would be Momocho.

                        1. I'll throw Shaker Square's hat into the ring. You can't go wrong at Sarava (Brazilian mainly) or Sasa (Japanese and other asian, small plates, sushi, etc.) Balaton (Eastern European) is good if you're looking for big portions, Fire uses lots of local, sustainable ingredients and has great seasonal choices. Just around the corner, up Larchmere is Felice where you'll find good food and great service. Really, you could just walking around the Square stopping in and trying a small plate here, an appetizer there. Have fun in Cleveland!

                          1. Definitely, don't miss Tommy's on Coventry! It is a happy place. Lots of vegeterian dishes, some vegan specials but my favorite is the Cee bee sandwich. Toasted pita bread filled with humus, warm falafel, tomato, sprouts, cheese and sunflower seeds. Everything melts in your mouth. It is amazing. My second choice is a lighter version with Baba ghanouj,warm falafel, mushrooms, and the above veggies in a toasted pita bread. I heard that their strawberries smoothie is to die for. I also tried a special vegan dish : Hungarian goulash and it was great. I am not even vegeterian. I sit at the bar and watch the amazing cooks working.vegeterian by the way

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: diver4

                              Oh! and for breakfast and Brunch, since you are not too far away from Woodmere I suggest the Original House of pancakes, across the street from Eaton place. This is not Ihop. Far from it. Not only they have every sort of pancakes (banana, apple, chocolate, caramel,..) but also try their omelets. My favorite is the smoked salmon one and a close second is the spinach, feta, sundried tomatoes. All omelets come with 3 pancakes, your choice. Enjoy! Please make sure to let us know what recommendations worked for you from an OC tourist point of view

                              1. re: diver4

                                I love the Original House of Pancakes, especially their huge cinnamony apple pancake, and it's my "go to" restaurant for breakfast in my travels. However, it's worth pointing out that they are nationwide, including a location in Orange County CA (Aliso Viejo) where the OP lives, so it's not going to meet the request for "I can not find the same food in another city".

                                1. re: nsxtasy

                                  I did not know they are a chain. Mmmm!!! points down!

                                  1. re: diver4

                                    They are a chain - but the two Cleveland outlets are locally owned by a couple who work very hard in the stores. I confess to an occasional breakfast there - but if its lunchtime - I'm at B Spot, across the street at Eton. Awesome burgers etc.

                                2. re: diver4

                                  diver4, thank for your time, I tried Original House of Pancakes on my previous visit to Cleveland. It was very good and I plan to try their location here in OC, California. Following are restaurants people should not miss when visiting Cleveland: Lola, L'Albatros, Moxie, Crop, B Spot and Yours Truly. My son loved the steak and deserts at Moxie. Lola, L'Albatros and Crop are restaurants I can come back again and again. Yours Truly Beachwood is a small place but the food is consistent and the staff is friendly. I liked the Chicken Wrap and The Gyro at Yours Truly, Their Hummus is not that great. If I come back to Cleveland area I would try Fire and the places visited by DDD on Food Network. For my 3 weeks at Cleveland I have tried enough, and spent enough. Forbes rated Cleveland as the most miserable city, I think it is B.S. Cleveland is a beautiful city with nice and unique restaurants, beautiful houses, I enjoyed my time here. So long Cleveland.

                                  1. re: collegedad35

                                    Thank you for the kind words about Cleveland, collegedad! Add Dante to your list if you haven't yet tried it. And you need to do a tour of our Asiatown - we have some fabulous restaurants there!

                                    1. re: collegedad35

                                      Thanks for reporting back collegedad, and for your kind words, we hope to see you again soon.

                                      We think Forbes is staffed by people who have it in for Cleveland for some reason. See this site for more fun: http://www.whattheforbes.com/

                                3. We just recently ate at the Greenhouse Tavern and were completely impressed. Light Bistro is a favorite. We have not been to Dante's in Tremont which recently opened, but we did go to his last restaurant and it was excellent. Enjoy your time in Cleveland!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Johnny K

                                    Get thee to Dante! If you liked GHT and Light, you will love Dante (they are all faves of mine).

                                  2. For lunch you absolutely don't want to miss Slyman's on St. Clair. (http://www.slymans.com/) Only open 6AM-2PM, and there will be a line (especially for lunch) but by far the best corned beef sandwich anywhere I've been in the country. I have friends that travel from Chicago to get their corned beef sandwich. Oh yeah, and they're one of the ones that was on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

                                    PS - Good enough for the President to eat there...

                                    1. I think there are about a half dozen very special restaurants in Cleveland with very good food, some of which are quite distinctive and because they are here and not in NYC, LA, SF are probably about 30-40% cheaper. Here is my list:

                                      Lolita - Iron chef Symon's casual restaurant, don't miss the charcuterie appetizer.

                                      Lola - not to be missed, but bear in mind that this is heavy fare. Order pork or anything slow cooked.

                                      L'Albatross Bistro (classic French bistro with comparable food to Balthazar in NYC) Univ Circle, close to Severance Hall (try to hear the orchestra as long as you're in Cleveland

                                      Paladar - nuevo Latino - fabulous food,terrific drinks,and even on weeknights this place really rocks, in Eaton Center, Woodmere in eastern subs, definitely worth the drive, still not well known outside the suburbs, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

                                      B Spot - Micheal Symon's fast food hamburger joint in Eaton Center, Woodmere - DO NOT MISS if you're in the Eastern subs, cholesterol heaven, I suggest the national award winning "Fat Doug" topped with pastrami or the " Red Hot burger with pulled pork piled on top for nine bucks and a side of onion rings with a draft of hoppy Dogfish Head IPA (20 boutique drafts in stock) - then you can check into the Cleveland Clinic to get your coronaries unclogged (BOTH HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!)

                                      Momocho is fun, too -

                                      If you have the craving for Asian - try Siam Cafe in "China Town" area, they do Chinese and Thai very well and have an extensive menu

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: atievsky

                                        Dear friends,Thank very much for all of your responses. Thank to your recommendations I have tried the following places: L'Albatros, B Spot, Balaton. I was not impressed with Balaton. I could not get a reservation at Lolita it was bookedup. L'Albatros is excellent, especially the services. The hamburger at B Spot was excellent, I tried Fat Doug, my wife had Lola Burger, I liked Lola better. Price is stiff, I would prefer In and Out Burger in California where I can get a very good burger for less than $3. When you're in California do not miss In-and-Out Burger. Thank you Cleveland. I hope I will come back someday to try all of your recommendations.