Food & Drink

The Thrillist Awards: Cleveland's Best Food & Drink of 2015

Published On 12/30/2015 Published On 12/30/2015
Night Market Cleveland

Best new lunch

Café 55

Address and Info

St. Clair-Superior

As part of the Hub 55 project bringing more culinary destinations to the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood, Café 55 is a bright, crisp next step. All-day breakfast and quick-serve lunches make for a cozy-yet-modern place to escape with your laptop for some laid back afternoon work and Wi-Fi connectivity. Snatch up local food favorites in stock from CLE Juice Box and Cleveland Bagel Company.

Tabletop Board Game Cafe

Best new place to be board

Tabletop Board Game Café

Address and Info

Ohio City

Need a change of pace from the West 25th strip? Tuck into Tabletop, where you can pluck one of hundreds of games from their shelves and challenge your partner to a duel. They’ve also got sandwiches, snacks, and, of course, beer (this is gaming for adults, anyway). Just don’t ask us what games like Dwarven Miner or Exploding Kittens exactly entail.

Best new dance night

'90s Night at Mahall’s

Address and Info

Lakewood

Cutting the rug at a bowling alley should already be enough of a reason to make it out to Mahall’s intermittent '90s revival nights. Dancing with wall-to-wall people to Garbage, Nirvana, and REM should be your other reason.

Citizen Pie

Best new pizza

Citizen Pie

Address and Info

Waterloo

The masterpieces of Vytauras Sasnauskas had already amassed a cult following when he would serve up pies at the swanky, tapped-by-Esquire cocktail bar Velvet Tango Room. Taking root in the Waterloo Arts District directly across from the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, Citizen’s wood-oven Neapolitan pizzas are a welcome addition to a growing roster of food offerings in the neighborhood.

Best new nightlife

FM at Touch Supper Club

Address and Info

Ohio City

There’s already plenty of intrigue surrounding Touch following its reopening after a year-long renovation. Amplifying the chatter is this new weekly Sunday speakeasy-type event, which caps off at an intimate 75 people. To enter, attendees must enter through the back alley and are then escorted by the doorman to the basement. DJs spin low-key house and techno until the early hours.

Story Club Cleveland

Best new bar event

Story Club Cleveland

Address and Info

Cleveland Heights

Storytelling nights -- where featured readers and the audience take turns handing off the mic -- have drawn crowds to bar basements since 2014 thanks to Keep Talking at Happy Dog and Told at Market Garden Brewery. Story Club, founded by Mary Norris in Chicago, came to Cleveland Heights’ The BottleHouse Brewery in late 2015, and takes place every first Monday of the month. If you’re afraid to throw your name in the hat to tell your own story, throw back a few and you might change your tune.

Best specialty bar

Griffin Cider House

Address and Info

Lakewood

Blink and you might miss this pub on Lakewood’s Madison Ave corridor, but it’s worth seeking out the locally brewed ciders that Richard Read has been making since 2010. This year he opened the bar, which has a variety of Griffin’s own ciders on tap and other regional varieties on hand for a taste of Ohio apples.

Flickr/stu_spivack

Best triumphant return

Seoul Hot Pot

Address and Info

Asia Town

For the past 30 years, if you were craving a fix of Korean barbecue, Seoul Hot Pot was the go-to. However, when they shut their doors a few years ago, it was uncertain if the AsiaTown staple would return. Longtime customers rejoiced as the restaurant swung back open this summer for plenty of sizzle-your-own fare on their tables built with grills. Plus, Cleveland loves a good comeback story.

Best new retail

Banter Beer and Wine

Address and Info

Detroit Shoreway

Banter, you had us at “bottles, sausage, poutine.” The beer and wine shop has a fully stocked and carefully chosen selection ready to grab and go. In the fast-growing area of Ohio City, the team behind Banter made it into a stop for a bite (or two) as well. The small-but-mighty menu can be enjoyed over a boozy beverage or chilled wine pulled straight from the store.

Kaitlyn Hale of Mod Meals

Best new expansion

Coda

Address and Info

Tremont

Cleveland institution Cobra Verde ripped through a set at this new Tremont music venue when it was less than a month old, making it one of the first reasons to add it to the to-do list. The next is that it’s in the hands of all-star chef (and musician) Dante Bocuzzi, located directly under his Dante Next Door, offering a below-ground venue to steal away to for libations and late-night snacks.

Cafe Avalaun

Best new healthy restaurant

Café Avalaun

Address and Info

Warrensville Heights

For those cutting gluten out of their diets, a new haven opened this year. Celebrated chef Brian Doyle and Maggie Downey, who both worked together on Doyle’s SOWFOOD catering company, opened the entirely gluten-free café offering salads, sandwiches, breakfast dishes, and crepes. They took that one step further with a creperrito, a crepe rolled like a burrito. Yes, a burrito crepe. The breakfast of your dreams.

The Funky Truckeria
Batuqui Cleveland

Best new ethnic eats

Batuqui

Address and Info

Larchmere

It feels right that a family owned restaurant -- serving authentic Brazilian food from the couple’s native country, no less -- would set up shop in a Victorian home on the cozy strip of Larchmere. Feijoada stew, a signature Portuguese dish, is a specialty here. And don’t skimp on the caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail served up traditionally with cachaça (a liquor distilled from sugar cane that dates back to the 1600s), sugar and lime.

Best destination restaurant

Great Scott Tavern

Address and Info

Euclid

You won’t find this building, home to an old Postal Service operation, in any trendy strip or hot “new” neighborhood. Instead, Great Scott is breathing new life into Euclid, where independent dining is harder to find. Great Scott’s tagline is “The Start of Something Great,” and it seems to certainly be true for the city.

Crop Rocks

Best new concept

Crop Rocks

Address and Info

The Flats

This was the year the east bank of the Flats came back -- we got the gleaming new Alley Cat Oyster Bar, Portside Distillery rum and beer watering hole, and much more. But of all the new nightlife spots, Crop Rocks has a few things the others don’t: Bone Thugs and Hominy. Hotel California Cobb. Friend of the Devil-ed Eggs. Dark Side of the Moon shots. This new joint of Steve Schimoler is lined floor to ceiling with more than 15,000 vinyl records, includes a full DJ booth -- with guest spinners -- and a 1977 VW Bug out front.

Best new life for an old favorite

Forest Hill Kitchen & Ballroom

Address and Info

Cleveland Heights

The city mourned the shuttering of Grovewood Tavern’s 16-year run. It seemed all was lost for those adored spicy sesame noodles. But then came Forest Hill Kitchen, and like that, the legacy of Grovewood lives. The newest venture of John Bausone, the beloved restaurant's last chef, has taken over the gorgeous space once owned by Rockefeller’s, and keeps busy with full-service catering and event hosting. And, of course, gives people the spicy noodles that they love.