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Cleveland Solo

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I'll be in downtown Cleveland for 6 days (staying at Prospect and 6th) and looking for some places to go that would be OK to do solo. Bar seating preferred. Might have a companion for a night or two, so tell me if I must do something at a place that would be awkward alone. No car, but think nothing of walking 45 minutes for some good food - public transport (with no transfers) is fine.

Looking for the best Cleveland has to offer and/or uniquely Cleveland. Dives are fine. Ethnic is fine, but no Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese (live on the West Coast) unless you have the best Sichuan/Hunan in America.

After browsing this board I have come up with some possibilities:

Lola
Momocho
Greenhouse Tavern
Crop
Lola
Bier Markt (love beer!)
Sokolowskis (I have not had a good pirogi since my grandmother passed away...)

Yea or nay?

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Momocho
1835 Fulton Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

The Greenhouse Tavern
2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

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  1. Just thought I'd give you my thoughts on LOLA and CROP. I was in Cleveland last week (from San Diego) and ate at both on successive evenings. In short, Lola was a disappointment, and Crop was a terrific experience. I'll keep it short:

    At Lola, my friend and I ordered the two "signature" dishes (according to our waitress): the smoked Berkshire pork chop and the beef hanger steak. Neither dish impressed, and we were disappointed. Quite simply, there was nothing special about either one. In addition, the place is strangely dark unless you're looking for a very romantic atmosphere. Perhaps it was just an off night, but the fact that we weren't impressed by the "signature" dishes worries me.

    The following night, I dined at Crop by myself. It was a weeknight so the place wasn't too crowded. The waitress offered that I could sit at the chef's table and I accepted. (The chef's table is essentially a rectangular bar which can seat up to six people and overlooks the kitchen.)

    What followed was a terrific meal, made even better by friendly casual conversation with both the chef/owner and also with two chefs working the kitchen. Acting on his own, the chef/owner prepared for me two small plates/starters (compliments of the house, thanks!) which included ahi tuna over melon with wasabi, and both were creative and exciting. For my entree, I ordered the salmon, and it was perhaps the best salmon I've ever had--and if not the best, certainly the most creative. I thought the pickled cucumber on top of the salmon complemented the fish perfectly. The beet cocktail I ordered was nice, and the hot espresso poured over ice cream dessert was delicious if not a bit unremarkable.

    Now, the chef/owner did ask me where I had heard of Crop, and I told him Chowhound. So, there is a chance I was treated "special" because he thought I might post about his restaurant. But he was so genuine and friendly that I didn't get that impression. He went out of his way to make a lone diner's experience very fun by being friendly and providing a few complimentary bites he prepared himself, and he didn't have to do any of that. For that, I felt compelled to make my first post on Chowhound one telling of a very very nice experience at Crop.

    I can't comment on any of the other restaurants on your list, because I only at two real meals in Clevleland while I was there. However, I have heard from a friend who lives there that Fire is also very good.

    Hope that helps!

    Jeff

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    Crop Bistro
    Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio

    1 Reply
    1. Bier Markt and next-door Bar Cento are good options for a solo diner, as is the Greenhouse Tavern (good-sized bar with friendly bar staff). The latter is probably my current favorite in town. Also on E.4th is Chinato, an Italian venture from local chef Zach Bruell. I've yet to try it, but it's been getting great reviews. His French bistro at University Circle, L'Albatros, is excellent. It's a short cab or bus ride away from downtown. For beer and food and convivial atmosphere in the Tremont neighborhood, which is also a short cab ride from where you'll be, I'd recommend the Tremont Tap House and the Prosperity Social Club.

      I'm not sure if you'll have free time during the day, but in my opinion a visit to Cleveland isn't complete unless it includes a stop at Slyman's at 31st and St. Clair for a corned beef sandwich. They're open from 6am-2pm, M-F. There is usually a line snaking out the door for take-out, but I've never had a problem getting a table (although politely manuevering your way in past the take-out line can be a challenge).

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      Bar Cento
      1948 West 25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

      The Greenhouse Tavern
      2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

      Prosperity Social Club
      1109 Starkweather Ave, Cleveland, OH

      1. LOVE Crop and am so sad they are moving to another part of the downtown area that will make me unable to visit them for lunch, I am a regular luncher there, but alas, no more. I definitely recommend them.

        I also strongly 2nd the rec for Chinato, mentioned elsewhere in the thread, fantastic food.

        I think you would really like the Greenhouse Tavern as well. Interesting and different in every way and good food to boot.

        I like Lola, but also really like Lolita. I think Lolita has a little more character and is more "fun."

        For lunch, you've very close to Vincenza's which has GREAT pizza, and I also 2nd the rec. for Slyman's, the corned beef there can't be beat and dining solo there is fantastic as it gives you a chance to watch the goings-on in there, it's almost like something you'd see in a play except it's real life. Both Vincenza's and Slyman's are not open for dinner.

        I personally do not recommend Sokolowski's but i'm in the minority there. The atmosphere and setup is great, I think the food is really cheap and awful. Everything is swimming in yellow commercial "margarine."

        Momocho is very good food but it's very loud and busy. If it doesn't work for you, just go a couple of doors down to Johnny Mango - they have the best margaritas in the city - made with fresh lime juice. Get the bangkok chicken or flank steak "big plate." Yes, I go there all the time :)

        I work downtown and would be happy to meet you for lunch, maybe if there are other Hounds in the downtown area we could do a small/quick lunch get together if that would work for you?

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

        Momocho
        1835 Fulton Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113

        The Greenhouse Tavern
        2038 E 4th Street, Cleveland, OH 44115

        Johnny Mango
        3120 Bridge Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113

        2 Replies
        1. re: rockandroller1

          Agreed re: Sokolowski's. Feh. If the OP is looking for an old-school Eastern European experience, I'd recommend Sterle's Slovenian Country House–somewhat surly waitresses in native dress, polka music on Saturday nights, gut-busting portions of liver and onions and the like. It's a bit like being at a wedding reception, actually, with the good and the bad that entails. Not a good place for solo dining, but it can be fun.

        2. I noticed you have Lola listed twice. I'm assuming that you meant to type "Lolita". I would actually prefer Lolita over Lola for a solo experience (but it IS across the river in Tremont). The only place I'd drop from the list would be Sokolowski's. As the others have said, it's more myth than legend. If a new restaurant sold the exact same food - it would be out of business in less than a year. I would also suggest an after dinner nip at the Velvet Tango Room.

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          Velvet Tango Room
          2095 Columbus Rd, Cleveland, OH

          1. fire food and drink, Bar Cento and The Flying Fig are the three best restaurants in the area. Aside from Greenhouse, I don't think there's another restaurant that's as careful with their sources. These restaurants start with the best products available and it's apparent in the end results.

            The last time I was at the Fig, I had a nice hanger steak with terrific confit potatoes and green beans. The time before that I had an amazing pasta with bacon and tomato. I'm afraid those were both specials, so I doubt they'll be available. But there will probably be another delicious pasta. Don't neglect the bread plate. It's one of the very few in the city that's worth the effort of moving your hand from the plate to your face. The breads are all house made and recently the chef seems to be experimenting with new varieties. The old, regular breads were good, but so are the the new ones.

            The last time I was at Bar Cento, I had a fantastic pasta. It wasn't house-made like at the Fig but it was perfectly cooked and the tomatoes and clams and sauce were all terrific. Cento also has two different potato side dishes that are two of the best sides around. The first is the duck fat fried frites they've had since they opened. They've got it down to a science now and the trio of mayos they serve on the side are a great complement. Their truffled fingerlings are unbelievably good. It's not possible to raise your expectations too high. It's good that you don't have a dining companion. They'd only fight with you for those potatoes. Don't neglect the crispy bits. I also recently had their "sunnsyide" pizza (you can ask for runny eggs if that suits your taste) and the potato pizza and they were both very good. Finally, there are a couple salads on the menu that are terrific. The Caesar is amazing. It comes very (very) lightly dressed. The flavor mostly comes from the greens and the very high quality anchovies.

            Just as the Flying Fig's bread is the edible exception to the bland, unremarkable bread rule, fire's pork chop is the only reliably good pork chop I've found. It's been on the menu since they opened, but the setup changes every three months with the rest of the menu. I have yet to try the current version, but it seems similar to one that I remember from a few years ago. That spoon bread was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I hope the current one is nearly that good. I've had three items from the current menu and they were all good. The halibut in corn chowder is very good. Fish is one of fire's strengths and fire is one of the few (only?) restaurants in the area that gives serious consideration to sustainability when selecting their fish. The "steak and eggs" is also fantastic - hanger steak, poached egg, hollandaise and house English muffin.

            Cleveland is a great city if you're on the hunt for pierogis. I recommend Pierogi Palace in the West Side Market. The West Side Market is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It's frequently judged one of the best markets in the country. It's a genuine Cleveland landmark, too.

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            Flying Fig
            2523 Market Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113

            Bar Cento
            1948 West 25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

            West Side Market
            1979 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH

            Pierogi Palace
            1979 W 25th St Ste E5, Cleveland, OH 44113

            4 Replies
            1. re: stuart

              Oh, right. Transportation.

              Bar Cento, Flying Fig and the West Side Market are all in the same neighborhood. It's an easy trip on our Rapid. Take the Red line one stop from Tower City to W 25th. You've got no more than a couple blocks of walking on either end.

              fire is also easily accessible via public transportation. Take either the Green or Blue line from Tower City to Shaker Square. The rapid leaves you just steps from fire.

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              Flying Fig
              2523 Market Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113

              Bar Cento
              1948 West 25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

              West Side Market
              1979 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH

              1. re: stuart

                Stuart, thanks for the transit directions. I'm heading to Cleveland tomorrow (Saturday) and will be there on my own until Tuesday morning, traveling on transit. You all have listed lots of great choices. I'm wondering if there are any good places for breakfast that open early in the Downtown, since I'm scheduled to catch a Megabus at 8:15 am (or maybe I'll try to go to Slyman's early and run back downtown).

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

                  1. re: redrover

                    This is late since redrover's trip is over, but I'm pretty sure Puva Vida (Brandt's new place) doesn't open til 8. I would have suggested Slyman's. redrover, how did it go?

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