Cleveland, Ohio, is now a true foodie haven, with a variety of innovative dining options. Here are five top restaurants to check out.
Contrary to some popular beliefs, Chicago isn’t the only Midwestern city serving up innovative cuisine. Situated on blustery Lake Erie, Cleveland, Ohio, has blossomed into a true foodie haven. Gourmet, Food & Wine, Esquire, and Playboy.com have all praised Cleveland’s new restaurants, farm-to-table dining scene, and neighborhood eateries. Notably, the city is home to “Iron Chef America” competitor Michael Symon, who has four restaurants in Cleveland: Lola, Lolita, Mabel’s BBQ, and B Spot Burgers.
Wander through downtown Cleveland to find local roasters pouring excellent coffee and the expansive West Side Market, an open-air market filled with fresh produce, fish, and spices. Popular breweries serve local craft beers, and various old-school Italian and Polish restaurants and American steakhouses offer taste bud tempting dishes. Consider these prime suggestions for dining your way through Cleveland:
Chef Dante Boccuzzi injects artistry into every element of Dante, from the atmosphere to the new American cuisine. A multicourse small plate experience includes specialty fish and meats, such as Hong Kong-style mussels, oysters on the half shell, cinnamon-rubbed duck breast, house-cured meats, and foie gras. Pair the entrees with vegetables, hand-made pasta, polenta, or risotto. Order a la carte or try one of Dante’s chef-prepared personalized tasting menus. As an alternative, head downstairs to Ginko, Boccuzzi’s Tokyo-themed sushi bar, which serves exciting “Dante” twists on the bite-sized tradition. Ginko flies in fresh fish twice a week, some from Tokyo. If you’re not into the raw delicacies, try the Shabu Shabu. Ginko is the first Cleveland restaurant to offer this Japanese hot plate dish.
Michael Symon’s Lola calls itself the “crown jewel” of Cleveland’s dining scene — for good reason. The restaurant has been a local favorite for well over a decade, and it fills up fast, so reservations are highly recommended. Lola uses premium ingredients and local produce to create contemporary American cuisine with sophisticated presentations. Try the king salmon with peas, fava beans, artichokes, and turnips or the beef hanger steak with pickle sauce, chiles, and Lola fries. Let your server suggest a wine pairing. Lola’s wine list won the 2016 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
Nestled in Cleveland’s Battery Park neighborhood, Vita Urbana delivers creatively presented small plates of new American fare. Chef Scott Popovic’s menu includes “cool plates,” such as steak tacos with cabbage slaw, crumbled goat cheese, and herbs; “warm plates,” such as short ribs, rubbed pork loin, and mac and cheese; and an array of cured meats and cheeses. Before or after your meal, visit the Artisan Market to pick up locally made gourmet fare as well as staples like milk and eggs.
If you’re in the mood for a decadent meal, make L’Albatros Brasserie your destination. The Cleveland classic serves timeless French cuisine that’s rich in taste, but with reasonable prices. Start with escargot, chicken liver, and foie gras on toast points or braised leeks with mustard sauce. Continue with an arugula or radish and cucumber salad. For the main event, choose from salmon with lentils and béarnaise sauce, duck confit, or a hearty Cassoulet. Vegetarians also have a few good alternatives, including pizza. Don’t miss the daily specials and extensive cheese and wine lists.
The Flying Fig
The Flying Fig is a casual-chic eatery and bar that emphasizes locally sourced ingredients for brunch, lunch, and dinner. A frontrunner in the farm-to-table movement for more than 15 years, the restaurant supports family farms and local artisans when delivering seasonal small plate fare. A summer dinner could include tempura green beans, a strawberry rhubarb salad, and oven-roasted walleye or a grass-fed burger. Brunch includes an array of sandwiches, sweet and savory breads, and mains such as quiche, biscuits and gravy, and scrambled eggs with chorizo. You can even take the Flying Fig home with you by picking up lunch and carryout items from the Market at the Fig next door.
If you’re a foodie looking for your next great meal, Cleveland never disappoints. Share your favorite Cleveland restaurants with us on Twitter.