The Plum Cafe & Kitchen

Ohio City

From the adorable name to the sunny floral wallpaper adorning the restaurant walls, Plum Cafe has been charming its way onto every Clevelander's must-try list since opening its doors in April. Luckily, the restaurant’s menu is more salty than its sweet interior may suggest, serving creatively out-there dishes such as “Bone, Slugs & Hominy,” a stew of beef broth, escargot, sausage, hominy, basil, and chili marrow, and “Chickenrones,” puffed chicken skin sprinkled in sea salt and served in a tea cup with hot sauce for dipping on the side. Open Monday-Saturday 11am to 1am, diners have ample opportunity to sink their teeth into some of the hottest and most playful dishes in town.

Keith Berr

Salt + a restaurant

Lakewood

Following two decades of cooking for notable Cleveland restaurants such as Lola, Flying Fig, and Black Pig, Chef Jill Vedaa had the opportunity open her own restaurant with her own vision this August. Salt offers original small plates, such as smoked sturgeon with tobiko, French onion mascarpone, bagel chips and pickles, as well as ever-so-thoughtful beverages, like the sweet and savory “Gloria," made of fig infused vodka, ruby port, ginger beer, and rosemary simple syrup. Reservations are not accepted for parties of less than six in this cozy, ambient Lakewood spot, but we can promise the experience is well worth any wait.   

Courtesy of The Proper Pig Smokehouse/The Indie Foundry

The Proper Pig Smokehouse

Lakewood

Opening your very first restaurant in the same week that a national celebrity chef opens his… 15th? This could be the opening premise of a novel that bodes a recipe for disaster. But like lots of underdog fiction, there's a twist: the little guy succeeds. Considering that The Proper Pig was competing directly with Michael Symon’s Mabel’s by serving the exact same genre of food, the hometown showdown turned Cleveland into the newest barbecue destination nearly overnight. By staying true to their own unique brand of smoked meats, owners Shane Vidovic and Ted Dupaski have successfully found their own place in this city's ever-expanding restaurant scene. Carnivorous-inclined patrons can enjoy all of the barbecue staples, cooked Texas-style, as well as a nice selection of and hearty sides and rotating local brews.    

Barney Taxel

Mabel's BBQ

Downtown

Prior to 2016, Cleveland wasn’t exactly known as a barbecue destination. Luckily, a few restaurants, including the aforementioned Proper Pig, are helping put our town on the slow-smoked map. The most recent venture from Cleveland native and host of ABC’s The Chew, Michael Symon, Mabel’s dishes out generous portions of “Cleveland-style barbecue,” which uses stadium mustard in the sauces, Eastern European spices in the rubs and sausages, and smokes meat over local wood. Not one to forget about the drinks side of things, Symon tapped Lola's general manager Nolan Cleary to oversee a beverage program heavy on bourbons, clever single and batched cocktails, and an extensive beer list that pulls all corners of the Rust Belt and the Old World. Situated along bustling East 4th Street, it's the perfect casual but not too casual pre- or post-downtown event spot.

Kayla Barnes

REBoL

Downtown

Public Square received quite the facelift prior to this summer’s RNC. Once the madness left town and we could all breathe a sigh of relief, we were treated to a beautified, more vibrant central spot to gather in the heart of downtown. As part of the enhancements, REBoL opened its doors, inviting customers in for playful, healthful, and flavorful food and drink. From the owner of TownHall, the restaurant mainly purveys “bols” (bowls) such as tuna poke and spiced steak salad. It’s a totally excellent spot to grab a quick bite, plus a drink or two, and watch the world go by during the busy downtown lunch hour.

Up Next
Harlow’s Pizza | Peter Larson
Food & Drink

Cleveland's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
C leveland began its transformation into a food destination several years ago, with some of the best restaurants in town actually opening just last year in 2016. These days, there’s no shortage of truly excellent eats to be found most anywhere across the 216 (and 440...), and from Lola’s hip brand of swankiness to Swenson’s sweatpants-appropriate casual, everyone has their tried and true favorites. That said, 2017's food offerings were nothing to sneeze at either, and there are plenty of new arrivals deserving of a spot on your go-to list; here are our five favorite places to open this year.
Noble Beast Brewing Company

Noble Beast Brewing Co.

Downtown

A hip, industrial brewery serving fresh, local pub food
Arguably, when it comes to Cleveland breweries, we’re quickly nearing the point of saturation. However, Noble Beast truly shines for its pairing of excellent beers by Shaun Yasaki (the former opening brewer at Platform Beer) and locally sourced pub food by James Redford (formerly of Spice Kitchen & Bar). With Spice’s allegiance to local ingredients now deeply ingrained in Redford, Noble Beast’s kitchen utilizes local produce, meats, dairy and even condiments. Menu standouts include the veggie sandwich with Cheddar, garlic aioli and almond butter, as well as the zucchini Parmesan fritters with buttermilk ranch -- and if you're a diehard carnivore, there's also a smoked kielbasa corn dog that's a must-try.

Collision Bend Brewing Company

The Flats

Handcrafted beers and elevated bar food served along the river
Considering its prime location alongside the Cuyahoga River, it was a total shame when the Watermark restaurant closed its doors in 2003. Thanks in part to the recent revitalization of The Flats, the historical building reopened its doors as Collision Bend Brewing Company back in April. Beyond its picturesque setting, this latest venture from Cleveland chef and restaurateur Zack Bruell offers consistently good food alongside its handcrafted beers -- highlights off the food menu include flavorful lamb tamales with salsa verde, and salty-spicy salami & green olive pizza. Whether you’re stopping in for a few drinks or a full-on meal, don’t miss the completely moreish Collision Bend popcorn with bacon fat, Mexican pepper, lime zest and pecorino. We’ll take another handful, please.

Peter Larson

Harlow's Pizza

Lakewood

A simple Neapolitan stand-out amid a sea of new pizza joints
As the newest restaurant on this list, opening only a few short weeks ago, Harlow’s Pizza is quickly gaining a loyal following for its ultra-simple menu of five different wood-fired pizzas and a handful of drinks. Using a Pavesi oven imported from Italy, owners Emily Flamos and John Sweeney are cooking up the type of pies they learned how to make during travels to Naples. In a city seemingly bursting with new pizza joints, Harlow’s sets itself apart from the crowd as the perfect example of letting high-quality ingredients speak for themselves. Don’t miss the classic margherita, with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil, and sea salt.

Hook & Hoof

Willoughby

New American kitchen and cocktail bar in downtown Willoughby
Cleveland’s foodies may not flock to downtown Willoughby on the regular, but it’s certainly worth the trek to check out Hook & Hoof. Since its opening in April, the restaurant has been turning out top-notch New American food like lamb belly meatballs and caramelized scallops with black truffle pate. The scratch kitchen, helmed by hometown chefs Chaz Bloom and Hunter Toth, works with seasonal ingredients from local suppliers such as Green City Growers and Tom’s Foolery. An extensive yet thoughtful cocktail list of originals and classics offers the perfect boozy companions to any dish you desire -- try the Black Flag, with bourbon, brandied Amarena syrup, and Aztec chocolate bitters. We dare you to order just one.

Marble Room Steaks and Raw Bar

Marble Room Steaks & Raw Bar

Downtown

Top-quality steaks and seafood in a glamorous old bank
Speaking of revitalized historical buildings, you really can’t find a more spectacular example than Marble Room. Situated in the lobby of the old National City Bank, this restaurant features floor-to-ceiling marble columns, intricate green and gold carpeting, and plushly upholstered furniture. The over-the-top menu matches this restaurant’s completely decadent interior, featuring all of the pricey steak house classics (like long-bone tomahawks and Kobe strip loin cooked tableside) along with a raw bar menu. If you’re in the mood for something unique, check out the surf-and-turf sushi roll with wagyu tataki, lobster, avocado and kimchi purée or the Hudson Valley foie gras with funnel cake and seasonal jam. Marble Room is undoubtedly the place to knock the socks off of your out of town visitors.   

Nicholas Courtney/Shutterstock
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Published On 02/23/2018
JASON SHAFFER
Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Cleveland Right Now

Published On 10/06/2017