Food & Drink

The Best Places to Eat in Cleveland Right Now

Updated On 01/11/2019 at 06:09PM EST

Best New Openings

Nicole Steffen @eatlocalohio

Lox, Stock and Brisket

University Heights

Arguably the best Jewish deli the east side of Cleveland has ever seen
A young adult leaves Cleveland, launches their career in a big city, then returns home to share their talents with their beloved hometown -- we all love a good boomerang story, especially when said boomerang is pumping out delicious food for all to enjoy. Chef Anthony Zappola gained critical acclaim in Las Vegas before returning home to open Lox, Stock and Brisket last year. The Jewish delicatessen serves contemporary takes on traditional sandwiches, soups and sides. Don’t miss the Upper East Side featuring cured and smoked brisket, cucumbers, dill and mustard on rye -- rich meat perfectly balanced with just the right amount of freshness and tang. Geshmack!

Courtesy of Boss ChickNBeer

Boss ChickNBeer

Berea

Cool beers and crispy wings in downtown Berea’s newest strip
New Year’s Resolutions be damned -- it’s time for some chicken wings. For a truly satisfying version, head to Boss ChickNBeer along Berea’s Main Street. The wings are baked, brined and fried, then served with sauce on the side, so customers are guaranteed an always-crispy, never-soggy batch. These wings then make an excellent vehicle for the tasty homemade DipNSauces, such as jalapeno buffalo, citrus bbq and chunky bleu cheese. Pair your order with one or two Side Pieces, including MacNCheese and onion rings. Finally, wash your meal down with a local craft brew. Definitely not light, but undeniably delicious.   

Courtesy of Polpetta

Polpetta

Rocky River

Balls on balls on balls at this bustling Rocky River restaurant
There were more than a few broken hearts when Cork & Cleaver shuttered its doors in June, after five years of service in the suburbs. On the bright side, the closure meant chef and owner Brian Okin could place his focus on Polpetta: a new joint venture with the owners of Porco Lounge. Since its opening, this Rocky River hot spot has been dishing up hearty, meatball-centric combos. Diners can opt for a Go-To such as The RR Pirate with a lobster and crab ball, Thai hot and vegetable hash, or create their own combo by selecting a ball, sauce and side. The mouth-watering options are seemingly endless.       

Serenite

Serenite

Medina

Fine French fare prepared and served to a culinary T by recovering addicts
Chef and owner Brandon Chrostowski has seen great success with EDWINS, which provides culinary training to formerly incarcerated adults. So, it was welcome news when Chrostowski announced he would be opening Serenite, which supports men and women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction through education in culinary arts. A noble mission indeed, but what ultimately keeps diners coming back for more is truly well-executed French fine dining. Try the trout almondine -- almond-crusted trout with whipped potatoes, green beans and lemon butter sauce or the coq au vin -- red wine-braised chicken with bacon, carrots, mushrooms and pearl onions. The coziest of cozy meals on a cold Cleveland night.

Nicole Steffen of @eatlocalohio

Larder

Hingetown

Arguably the best Jewish deli the WEST side of Cleveland has ever seen
Although two top-notch Jewish delicatessens opened in Cleveland in 2018, there’s more than enough room for both given that there’s no such thing as too much delicious deli food. Larder offers a curated menu of quality sandwiches, soups, and sides, PLUS some of the best pastries and sweets to be found anywhere in town. Enjoy the rich-yet-simple fried chicken sandwich with Larder sauce. Take a short break, then sink your teeth into a giant chocolate chip cookie or generous dish of melt-in-your-mouth bread pudding. You'll leave feeling awfully full, but terribly happy.

La Plaza Taqueria

Lakewood

Genuine, straightforward Mexican food on the Lakewood-Cleveland border
Few could have anticipated the whopping success of this Mexican supermarket’s tacos when the store first opened in 2011. Over time, though, La Plaza’s small counter became absolutely packed with loyal customers craving the no-frills, authentic fare. In response to the demand, the store’s owner added a dedicated taqueria toward the end of 2018; customers can now enjoy all of their favorite dishes (tacos, tortas, tamales and quesadillas) in a new and expanded space. The stars of the show are the fresh, house made salsas, so don’t forget to pile your dish high with a taste of each delicious kind.  

Andrew Wells

Flight Cleveland

Gordon Square

Endless wine and top quality nibbles in a vintage-meets-modern setting
With 29 wines on tap and over 400 bottles on the shelves, wine lovers stepping into Flight Cleveland may feel like they’ve died and gone to boozy heaven. Of course, there’s only so much wine a person can imbibe before needing some food, and happily, this restaurant’s small menu delivers. Locally-sourced cheeses, meats, olives and chocolates are plentiful enough to piece together a tasty meal, so customers can lock themselves in for a wine-soaked night on the town.

Best of the best

Il Rione Pizzeria

Gordon Square

New York-style Italian fare in one of Cleveland's warmest, trendiest atmospheres   
There’s no such thing as too many pizza places when the pizza is this damn good. Since opening in November of 2017, Il Rione has quickly become one of the most buzzed about restaurants in Cleveland for its warm atmosphere and most importantly, its fantastic New York-style pizzas. Bring some friends, because you’re going to want to taste a little bit of everything, including a perfect meat & cheese plate, a fresh arugula salad with romaine, honey lemon vinaigrette, fontal, polenta croutons, and almonds, and of course, several of the suggested pizzas. Don’t miss the green pie, with red sauce, mozzarella, arugula pesto, fried sage leaves and basil -- or just go rogue and build your own dang pie.
 

Noble Beast Brewing Co.

Noble Beast Brewing Co.

Downtown

Cold craft brews and excellent farm-to-table bar food
Really excellent beer and really excellent bar food are a winning combination just about anywhere, which is probably why you’ll find Noble Beast’s indoor picnic tables packed most any night of the week. Sip on one of the brewery’s signature beers (like the hoppy Evil Motives IPA) while you peruse the menu, which incorporates locally sourced, seasonal ingredients wherever possible. Favorites include a Cleveland corn dog with smoked kielbasa, spent grain batter, honey beer mustard, and caraway kraut, as well as the Don't Quarry, Be Hammy sandwich with Quarry Hill apple & caramelized onion compote, Deejay's smoked ham, goat cheese fromage blanc, and griddled sourdough.
 

Courtesy of The Plum

The Plum

Ohio City

Ultra-stylish restaurant with dishes as creative as the decor
It’s hard to categorize the cuisine at The Plum, but it doesn’t matter when the food is consistently delicious. Since opening its doors in 2015, this adorably decorated spot has quickly won hearts by serving dishes that are just outside our comfort zone in the best possible way. Ever tried a donut with pineapple jam and ham spread? We didn’t think so -- but you’re definitely going to want to, and soon.

Courtesy of Molto Bene

Molto Bene Italian Eatery

Lakewood

Homestyle Italian cooking and BYO wine in a charming old home
With its tiny, open kitchen and bring-your-own-wine policy, stepping into Molto Bene almost feels like you’ve been transported to a charming, family-owned cafe in the heart of Italy. Beautiful pasta dishes such as rich lasagna and pillow-soft gnocchi, as well as entrees such as trota al cartoccio (trout baked in parchment paper), are served in generous portions. Be sure to save room for some of the restaurant’s luscious house-made gelato, in flavors like raspberry cheesecake and espresso. 

Donna Ruhlman/Courtesy of Fire Food & Drink

Fire Food & Drink

Buckeye Shaker

A sophisticated Shaker Square institution, serving some of Cleveland’s best seasonal, local fare
Since opening in 2001, Fire has continued to draw crowds of newbies and regulars to Shaker Square by offering a dependably great menu that always entices with something new. Chef Doug Katz has since gone on to open several new ventures, yet Fire remains the very best of his local, sustainable bunch.

Flickr/Edsel Little

The Flying Fig

Ohio City

Curated menu of cocktails, appetizers, entrees and desserts, plus a sweet grab-n-go cafe next door
Ohio City has quickly gone from relatively quiet to one of Cleveland’s busiest and hippest neighborhoods in the time that The Flying Fig cozied into its spot across the street from Great Lakes’ taproom. Amidst the great wave of change, this small eatery and bar is turning out some of the best farm-to-table fare you’ll find anywhere in town.

Gigi's on Fairmount

Gigi's on Fairmount

Cleveland Heights

A glittering taste of Paris serving a rotating daily menu
With an eclectic interior, ever-changing menu with whatever’s seasonally fresh, and an emphasis on great wine, this Parisian-in-Cleveland bistro is just too adorable, with food too tasty to pass by. From a full-on meal of hearty dishes like prime rib and duck confit to drinks and shared apps, Gigi’s is always buzzing with a solid crowd of age-diverse patrons.

Lola Bistro

Downtown

Hometown hero Michael Symon’s original (and arguably best) restaurant
If there’s one thing hometown hero Michael Symon knows and loves, it’s gotta be meat. So it should come as no surprise that his flagship restaurant’s steak selections, including beef hangar, strip loin, and the ultra-deluxe bone-in ribeye for two, are the best of the best that Cleveland has to offer. There is a small selection of salads and seafood for those who don't eat meat, and we wouldn't blame you if you tried to order every single dessert on their menu, because they are all mouth-watering. The atmosphere is sleek and elegant, making Lola the perfect place to indulge your carnivorous cravings.

Carissa Russell/Thrillist

Marotta's

Cleveland Heights

Romantic Italian cafe serving some of the best homemade pizzas and pastas in town
Around since 2000, Marotta's hearty portions of classic Italian dishes continue to stand the test of time. In one of the most intimately romantic settings in Cleveland, expect delectable pastas such as gnocchi with sausage and roasted red peppers in a tomato cream sauce, plus some of the best pizzas in town. While the temps allow, don’t miss Marotta’s completely lovely, newly renovated patio.

BILL BECK/COURTESY OF RED

Red, the Steakhouse

Downtown

A special occasion steakhouse that’s absolutely worth the money
Good steak is, well, pretty damn expensive. So if you’re going to shell out, be sure to choose a top-notch spot. Featuring decadent seafood, generous sides, and, of course, perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked steaks, Red gives you exactly the quality you’d expect from looking at the bill.

Spice Kitchen + Bar

Spice Kitchen + Bar

Gordon Square

Chef/farmer Ben Bebenroth sources most ingredients from his own farm  
Farm-to-table is one thing, but Chef Ben Bebenroth is so committed to the concept of a local, sustainable menu that he and his family actually live on and run a 13-acre farm in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. That same passion is evident in each wholesome, soul-satisfying dish coming out of Spice’s ultra-creative kitchen, such as mushroom beignets with honey and goat cheese crème fraîche, as well as pan-seared salmon with Spice Acres ginger, braised butternut squash, Killbuck Valley mushrooms, kohlrabi, and cashews.

Lucky's Cafe

Tremont

Always-buzzing daytime cafe serving decadent pastries, coffees, brunch, and lunch
As every good Clevelander knows, Lucky’s is the place in town for a truly hearty brunch that delights with something a little different. In recent years, out-of-towners have been catching on too, thanks to Guy Fieri’s visit during an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. On a weekend morning, don’t miss the cheddar scallion biscuits with soft scrambled eggs and sausage gravy. It is sleep-coma inducing, in the very best kind of way.

Tess Smith

Salt+

Lakewood

Refined small plates, killer cocktails and beautiful wines draw an elegant crowd
It’s true that after years of becoming so accustomed to mega-size portions, small plates restaurants can be slightly annoying. The exact opposite is true at Salt, where small, shared plates equal more room to sample, and trust us, you’re gonna want to. A few hours with a few good friends, a selection of the menu’s vegetables, meat, and fish, and a couple of killer cocktails make for a near perfect evening.

Courtesy of The Black Pig/Alexis M. Carek

The Black Pig

Ohio City

European-inspired spot with a well-crafted, meat-focused menu
When you're after high-quality, perfectly cooked meat, The Black Pig is the place to park it. Chef Michael Nowak pairs decadent meats such as slow-braised short ribs and melt-in-your-mouth pork belly with top notch, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to create one helluva good meal. Don’t miss the three-course or pasta-tasting menus for a delicious overview of some of the very best the restaurant has to offer.

The Greenhouse Tavern

The Greenhouse Tavern

Downtown

Chef Jonathon Sawyer’s original outpost, with some of CLE's most innovative dishes
As one of the original hot spots on Cleveland’s now-booming East Fourth Street, Greenhouse Tavern has remained one of the area’s most frequented hangouts by consistently turning out unique food in a comfortable-yet-lively setting. Diners can go casual with dishes such as confit chicken wings and a lamb burger with stinky cheese fondue, or go all out with a 40-day aged Delmonico steak. No matter what strikes your fancy, it’s all worth sinking your teeth into.

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