JASON SHAFFER
Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Cleveland Right Now

Published On 10/06/2017
Flickr/Edsel Little

Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen

Broadview Heights

Broadview Heights may seem like an odd location for a dining hot spot, yet since 2013, Cork & Cleaver has been drawing suburbanites and city dwellers alike with generous portions of seriously flavorful dishes. Start with a plate of melt-in-your-mouth confit chicken wings, continue with a dish of pillowy gnocchi with braised lamb and tzatziki, finish with one of the completely decadent homemade desserts, and roll on out the door. Trust us, it’s well-worth the drive.

Lara Talevski/Courtesy of Edwins

EDWINS

Buckeye Shaker

Here’s something you don’t typically hear about at some of the best restaurants: Your food is being cooked to a culinary T and served with class by formerly incarcerated adults. Under the leadership of founder Brandon Chrostowski, this is EDWINS’ unique ethos, providing its staff with a foundation in the hospitality biz and a support network for successful reentry. Perhaps a bigger factor in the restaurant’s success, EDWINS' French-inspired dishes are consistently spot-on.

Donna Ruhlman/Courtesy of Fire Food & Drink

Fire Food & Drink

Buckeye Shaker

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

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

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.

Jason Shaffer/Courtesy of GINKO

Ginko

Tremont

Situated below ground in the basement of Dante, Ginko exudes a hip vibe while turning out some of the best sushi found in Cleveland. With only a few tables up for grabs, diners can instead nab a spot around the sprawling bar to enjoy traditional Japanese sushi with a fresh, modern twist.

BARNEY TAXEL/COURTESY OF LAGO

Lago

The Flats

Lago first gained a loyal following in Tremont with its contemporary take on Northern Italian dishes paired with fine Italian wines. Relocating to The Flats in 2013, it was one of the first restaurants to spearhead the area’s revival. Now with a decidedly different atmosphere, one thing that hasn’t changed is the restaurant’s commitment to superb Italian fare.

Flickr/Edsel Little

Lola Bistro

Downtown

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

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.

Courtesy of Momocho

Momocho

Ohio City

Chef Eric Williams’ modern Mexican joint serves up dishes that are everything great Mexican food should be: fresh, bold, and adventurous. Taking account of Momocho’s homey-yet-lively atmosphere (not to mention stellar margs), it’s obvious how this spot has stayed relevant for nine years.

BILL BECK/COURTESY OF RED

Red, the Steakhouse

Downtown

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

Ohio City

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.

TIM SMITH/COURTESY OF TOAST

Toast

Gordon Square

"Revitalized farm fare," like the brisket burger with bacon, blue cheese fondue, pepper jam, and salt and vin cottage fries, as well as the market fish in coconut curry sauce with spaghetti squash, pepitas, carrot, and scallion, and an uncommon wine list, including lesser-known selections that only true winos can appreciate, is what draws a happy crowd to Toast. The restaurant’s rustic charm makes you want to linger over just one more glass of the good stuff, long after the dishes have been cleared away.

Lucky's Cafe

Lucky's Cafe

Tremont

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

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

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.

Courtesy of Sokolowski’s University Inn/Billy Clarksville

Sokolowski's University Inn

Tremont

This decades-old, family-run spot has diners lining up for hearty plates of stuffed cabbage, chicken paprikash, and some of the best damn pierogies you’ll find anywhere in town. Grab a tray, get into the cafeteria-style line, and choose one entrée and two sides (plus a roll), then head to the salad bar and load your plate to your heart’s content. As if that’s not enough, Sokolowski’s generous slices of homemade cakes and pies are certain to take you over the top. This is comfort food at its finest.

Cantinebar/Instagram

Cantine Bar + Bottle Shop

Broadview Heights

When Cork & Cleaver opened its doors in 2013, it was welcome news for west side suburbanites seeking a quality independent restaurant closer to home. Now with the addition of Cantine, these lucky diners have yet another tempting option right in their own backyard. Featuring an excellent wine and beer bottle selection (for consumption onsite or takeaway) plus outstanding small plates like herb focaccia and chèvre-stuffed peppadews, Cantine is a worthwhile destination for any Cleveland foodie. This place feels way hipper than its suburban strip mall locale might suggest.

The Greenhouse Tavern

The Greenhouse Tavern

Downtown

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.

Courtesy of The Plum Cafe & Kitchen/Jonah Oryszak

The Plum Cafe & Kitchen

Ohio City

It’s hard to categorize the cuisine at the Plum Cafe, but it doesn’t matter when the food is consistently delicious. Since opening its doors just over a year ago, 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.

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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.

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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.   

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