If you’re lucky enough to come home for the holidays, you’re lucky enough. While living in New York City the past couple of years I haven’t really had a chance to enjoy the perks of my hometown’s “coming up”, so I decided to take it upon myself and break away from the big city to indulge in all Cleveland has to offer for a bit of a “Cle Extended Stay”, if you will.
And while it has been a grand month-long or so food adventure coming back to the town of my roots, I really do not think I have even come close to covering all of the places to grab an extraordinary bite.
Nevertheless, here is my CLE bucket list for your 2016 food destinations (in case you haven’t already):
Bagel & Lox @ Corky and Lenny’s
There are not enough Jewish delis on the Westside of Cleveland, but if you need your bagel and lox fix, heading to Beachwood is definitely worth the trip to Corky & Lenny’s for as they would say, an unpretentious dining experience. Make sure to get the capers!
Poutine @ Banter in Ohio City
I like my poutine like I like most things, thick with gravy, and also very punny. Here is the Vladmir Poutine at Banter, a new spot in Ohio City that will make you wish you had never knew about it in the first place (because now, POUTINE EVERYDAY!).
Sidecar cocktail @ Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar
I’m a classy kinda gal, so it’s no secret I prefer my cocktails to be the same way. And for me, the Sidecar at Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar fulfills the requirements of a perfect old-fashioned cocktail with just the right amount of elegance (plus: sugared rim!).
THE CLEVELANDER SANDWICH @ LIQUID PLANET
So the rule is, when in Cleveland you must order the Clevelander pita sandwich at Liquid Planet. It has all of the vitamins and minerals—OK, by that I mean bacon—you need. Plus: chicken, lettuce, tomato, and a yummy peppercorn sauce.
brunch @ parkview nite club
When it comes to underrated bar food at hole at the wall bars, Parkview takes the cake with their amazing brunch. The huevos rancheros are a definite go-to, and I will be back soon to try more mouth-watering menu favorites.
The ever-changing menu @ Chef Sawyer’s Greenhouse
You will never not be surprised at what Chef Sawyer comes up with for his menu at Greenhouse. His take on simple concepts will make you wonder why you didn’t think of that (like: these loaded french fries with fried eggs and gravy on them, simply delicious).
Curry soup @ Bac in Tremont
Have you ever ordered something at a restaurant and wished you had taken your friend’s recommendation? That’s kinda what happened to me when I took a few bites of this curry soup at Tremont’s Asian concept Bac…#GetTheCurryForSurey
sundae funday @ The Flying Fig
You either save room for dessert, or you pretend like you didn’t save room for dessert. Because who the heck passes up on dessert? Crazy people! That’s who! You will never be disappointed at the perfection of Flying Fig’s fourth course, as you can see the chocolate sundae is stacked with sundae swag.
PHATTY SANDWICHES @ THE LEGENDARY MELT
When I moved to NYC and saw all of the Melt knock-off brands I was kind of like, “ummm…hell no!” I mean, I gave them a chance, but there was no dancing around the fact that Cleveland’s Melt is the authentic grilled cheese concept that took the sandwich game by storm. Here is the Korean War Pig with BBQ pulled pork, seared pork belly, kimchi slaw, pear onion cilantro, relish, and muenster cheese. Aka YUM! Check them out for exquisite sammies and monthly specials!
Jambalaya @ Bourbon Street Barrel Room
New Orleans is known for its cuisine filled with spices and jerk chicken, and it’s no lie that walking into Bourbon Street Barrel Room one can find themselves too longing for the south. If you want to transport closer to the equator for a little bit I suggest the jambalaya for the right amount of spice in ya life.
Happy hour @ Porco Lounge
We all have our favorite spots to get our happy hour buzz on, but I promise you that Porco will leave you feeling refreshed—OK, full of booze—ready to take on the night. Their hand-crafted cocktails go perfectly with the tiki bar atmosphere that pretty much encourages you to splurge and have 1 (or 2, or 3) more. Each drink takes about 5 minutes to make, and some can feature extra goodies like glowy ice cubes or dry ice.
wine and italian eats, with a view @ Luca in the Flats
Cleveland has really stepped it up over the past couple of years in the food department, and the Flats is one of those neighborhoods that has really started to shape up. For instance: this lovely Italian restaurant Luca situated right off the shoreway. The views offer a great landscape of the skyline, and the food ain’t too shabby either;)
Salted Caramel Martini @ Chocolate Bar
Gyros on the top floor @ Westside Market
There are two ways to eat your gyros at Westside market: 1) the boring way, and 2) the super-cool amazing way, on the second floor overlooking the whole place.
WAFFLE CONE AT @ Mitchell’s Ice Cream
I’m sort of spoiled in that I grew up on the westside and have always had access to Mitchell’s Ice Cream. I was happy to come home and discover the brand had opened two more locations in Ohio City and Avon. Here is the raspberry lemon sorbet on a delicious homemade waffle cone.
Vegetarian delights @ Root Cafe
You can do work, play board games, enjoy a quick chapter or two, sit at the bar—-there are really no limits at this gem of a cafe that is also 100% vegetarian. I got a little out of control with my sandwich art, but pictured above is a nice mix of fresh tomato, spinach, zucchini planks, Swiss cheese, and chipotle aioli on rye.
pizza @ angelo’s in lakewood
Ever since I was a kid Angelo’s was considered a “treat” in my family for pizza, and you’ll be lucky to enjoy a pie from the shop that’s been around literally forever, a Cleveland staple.
italian street food @ piada
It’s like Chipotle but not, but also Italian food, plus TOTAL CRAZINESS! Really though, the Ohio-born Piada franchise has been known to cause extreme pleasure to one’s taste buds with their Italian street food concept in a fast food fashion. Look out for more of these popping up soon.
tastes of the mediterranean @ Aladdin’s eatery
So I don’t always order salads (OK, so I NEVER order salads), but when I do they’re quinoa tabouli salads at Aladdin’s Eatery (who might I add: has THE best homemade pita bread ever).
Others I was not able to snap a pic of:
BREAKFAST @ GINA’S PLACE
You know the saying what’s simple is best? Well what’s simple is best and also true. Gina’s Place in Fairview Park is the ideal morning spot with the funny section of the paper waiting for you while you sip on coffee, smash eggs, and try and forget about last night’s hangover.
PIZZA @ MAMA SANTA’S LITTLE ITALY
There’s pizza, and there’s really good pizza. And then there’s REALLY, REALLY amazing perfected pizza from the heart of Cleveland’s Little Italy. Swinging through the east side of Cleveland I’d suggest making a pit stop at Mama Santa’s for a life-changing pizza-eating experiences.
WEDNESDAY ACCORDION EATS @ PROSPERITY SOCIAL CLUB
It’s been a while since I have had the delight of enjoying a Wednesday night dinner at Prosperity accompanied by live accordion music, but my fond memory recalls ordering the mac and cheese, sipping on a nice white, and perhaps enjoying a moment turning back time…
TABOULI @ JOE’S DELI
I don’t know what their secret is, and they will probably never tell you, but Joe’s Deli (another Cleveland staple) has offered some of the finest tabouli I’ve ever had in my life. Not too long ago they revamped, moving just across the way from their old joint, but still serving the same quality cuisine as always.
VIETNAMESE EGGS @ FLAPJACKS
Flapjacks offers the type of menu for everyone; vegan options for those steering clear from the beef, and for us normal human beings (kidding) who will be the first to hop on trying those meaty dishes such as the Vientamese eggs.