Where to Eat in Cleveland Right Now
2020 has royally sucked for all of us, but among the hardest hit are our friends in the restaurant industry. Fortunately, Clevelanders have long been enthusiastic backers of our local establishments, and that support is needed now more than ever. Whether you want to order takeout, dine outdoors, or dine in at a distance, Cleveland’s restaurant scene has options. Here’s a few of the top spots that have opened in 2020, alongside our picks for the best still standing through the past few years. Tip generously, if you can.
Lox, Stock, and Brisket
The gist: This contemporary take on the traditional Jewish deli amassed an enthusiastic following when it opened in 2018. Earlier this month, Chef Anthony Zappola moved his original Cleveland concept to Van Aken Market Hall. Diners can expect a similarly great menu, in a vibrant new location.
The food: Hearty sandwiches, sides, and salads. Try the classic Reuben with brisket, kraut, Swiss cheese. and Russian dressing on rye.
The cost: Sandwiches are $10-13. Add on sides, such as chips or slaw, start at $1.
How to order: Call 216-471-8175 or stop in to order.
The Rice Shop
The gist: Chef Anthony Zappola’s Asian-fusion concept gained an ardent fan base during its stint at the Ohio City Galley, so it was a bummer when the galley closed its doors back in February. Fortunately, Zappola quickly found a new home for his popular restaurant -- the former Lox, Stock and Brisket location.
The food: The menu is sublime yet simple with just six rice bowls to choose from, such as Korean beef and Kentucky fried fish.
The cost: Rice bowls are $11-14.
How to order: Call 216-785-9490 or stop in to order.
Lakewood Truck Park
The gist: This 12,000 square foot rotating food truck concept couldn’t have come at a better time, as socially distant, outdoor dining becomes the new norm. Two permanent bars offer diners plenty of boozy libations to quench their thirst.
The food: Ever-changing food truck options may include Cleveland mainstays such as Barrio, Proper Pig Smokehouse, and Hatfield’s Goode Grub. A permanent ice cream stand includes selections from Mitchell’s Ice Cream, Sweet Moses, and Tremont Scoops.
The cost: Costs vary, based on the available food trucks.
How to order: Orders can be placed on site. Outside food is also welcome.
The gist: Since opening four and a half years ago, this Thai street food restaurant has generated a lot of buzz by offering a playful taste of Bangkok. In March, Thai Thai moved to a new, larger location to accommodate its impressive growth.
The food: As you’d expect, rice, noodle, and curry dishes are the backbone of the menu. Don’t miss the Pad Kee Mao -- fresh rice noodles with vegetables, chili, basil, and your pick of protein. Rumor has it, this dish is the ultimate hangover cure. True or not, it’s pretty damn delicious.
The cost: Entrees range from $9-13.
How to order: Call 216-226-4890 to place an order for pickup.
Dang Good Foods
The gist: This casual Singaporean food concept began as a food truck, but quickly gained a following large enough to warrant its own space. The perfect opportunity came up when Thai Thai moved locations, and Dang Good Foods quickly swept into their former spot.
The food: Singapore cuisine is influenced by a number of diverse cultures, and that’s evident in DGF’s eclectic offerings. Try the nasi lemak -- pandan infused coconut milk flavored jasmine rice with crispy chicken wing, cucumber slices, egg, and chili sauce.
The cost: Appetizers are $5.50-7. Rice, noodles, and rice wraps are $6-14.
How to order: Order takeout online. Delivery may be available, but can be spotty.
The gist: This intimate, Modern Mediterranean-inspired restaurant was off to a beautiful start when it opened its doors late last year… and then a global pandemic hit. However, since reopening for takeout in June, then restaurant seating in July, Alea is catering to its ardent supporters once again.
The food: Alea is currently a tasting menu-only establishment, featuring ever-changing options. Dishes such as Hamachi crudo and duck breast with roasted tomato and honey have recently graced the menu.
The cost: The five course menu is $100 for two + $50 for wine pairings. The eight course menu is $150 for two + 70 for wine pairings.
How to order: To reserve tasting menu tickets (available 7pm Friday-Saturday), email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 216-912-8890.
The gist: From the owner of Barroco arepa bar comes a street taqueria that offers some damn good tacos, and other classic favorites, from an outdoor only stand.
The food: Try Hola’s “famous” birria de res taco -- slow-cooked braised beef, Chihuahua cheese, seared in beef broth, with cilantro. For the full experience, add a side of consommé dipping broth.
The cost: Tacos are $3.50-4.25 each. Other entrees are $10.25-12.
How to order: Walk up, drive up to one of the designated spaces, or go online to order.
The gist: Chef Doug Katz and his team are offering superb South American cuisine out of a ghost kitchen for curbside pickup or delivery only. As COVID continues to put a serious damper on dining in, this innovative ghost -- or virtual -- kitchen concept may be the way of the future, at least for now.
The food: A concise list of small plates, including grilled Peruvian chicken and jackfruit tamales, plus a few takeout-friendly desserts. Don’t miss the Mexican spiced brownies, as chocolate is never a bad thing nowadays.
The cost: Small plates and desserts range from $7-17. All orders are served with complimentary corn tortillas.
How to order: Order online or call 216-932-3333 for pickup or delivery.
The gist: Since opening late last year, chef Doug Katz’s Zhug has become one of the east side’s most raved about spots, offering tasty Middle Eastern mezze, or small, shareable dishes.
The food: Cozy up with your quarantine buddy and share a selection of plates including harissa peanut hummus, butter roasted shrimp, and beef kofte.
The cost: Selections range from $5-22.
How to order: Order takeout or delivery online.
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
The gist: Michael's Genuine, by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, offers simply prepared, seasonal food. Since shifting to a takeout and delivery service model, the menu has evolved to offer dishes that can be taken to-go without sacrificing quality.
The food: Pizzas, such as salumi & gorgonzola dolce, and salads, such as heirloom tomato & burrata, comprise the majority of the current menu. Wine, beer and soda is also available for carryout.
The cost: Salads are $8-15. Pizzas are $15-19.
How to order: Order takeout or delivery online.
Thyme X Table
The gist: With outstanding comfort food and a warm, welcoming atmosphere, Thyme Table is so good you’ll forget you’re tucked away in the suburbs. Now that Ohio’s stay-at-home order has been lifted, the restaurant recently reopened with adjusted hours (5pm-9pm Monday-Saturday).
The food: Let’s face it, we could all use a little indulgence at a time like this. Tuck into substantial dishes such as the loaded lobster tots or the barbecue & beer braised short ribs.
The cost: Shareables and salads are $7-19. Sandwiches and entrees are $11-28.
How to order: Reservations can be made online.
The gist: Part of the allure of Il Rione (aside from its spot-on, classic New York-style pizza) has always been its cozy, buzzy interior and absolutely charming patio. But that’s going to have to wait, for now. In the meantime, satisfy your cravings with takeout, available 4-8pm Monday-Saturday.
The food: Create your own pie, or opt for one of the suggested combos, such as the speck pie with lemon ricotta, pistachio, and hot honey or the green pie with red sauce, mozzarella, arugula pesto, fried sage leaves, and basil.
The cost: Pies, small size only for now, start at $13. Each topping is $1-2 extra.
How to order: Call 216-282-1451 to order takeout.
Molto Bene Italian Eatery
The gist: You can’t help but fall in love with this cozy little restaurant that makes you feel like you stepped into a house where grandma is turning soul-satisfying food out of her tiny kitchen. Molto Bene is now open for dine-in, takeout, and patio seating.
The food: Italian food, done right. Try the big-as-your-head chicken parmesan, smothered in a generous helping of mozzarella cheese, over a pile of pasta. Or, for something lighter, opt for the trota al cartoccio -- fresh trout baked in parchment paper with shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels, and Pomodoro sauce.
The cost: Starters and salads are $8-15. Entrees are $17-25.
How to order: Dine-in customers are encouraged to make reservations at least 24 hours in advance. For reservations, or to place an order for takeout, call 216-273-7333.
The gist: Cleveland is just not Cleveland without our very own Viking-themed neighborhood cocktail bar, which is why it was welcome news when LBM announced a full reopening in July. Indoor, takeout, and sidewalk dining options are now available.
The food: LBM’s new “apocalypse menu” offers a touch of humor that we all so desperately need. Select from the hunting, gathering, or scavenging chapters, including dishes such as pork 'n’ beans, cup o’ noodles, and trail mix.
The cost: All dishes range from $6-15.
How to order: Reservations can be made, and takeout orders can be placed, online.