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Cleveland Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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#1 crispy

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 06:29 AM

Hello My name is Crispy. Having recently moved to the Cleveland area I have 2 questions 1. Where can I find the most exciting food in the near by area?(50 mile radius) 2.Is Cleveland actually in The Heartland? Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies.

#2 coolranch

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 07:20 AM

Hello Crispy,
1)I'm not in Cleveland (Texas, actually), but my husband went to Case Western, so we still visit there from time to time. Try Lola's. The chef, Michael Symon, was one of the chefs featured in the book "Soul of a Chef", which is what motivated us to try it---great spin on local meat-and-potatoes type fare.
2) I consider it to be in the heartland

I'm sure others will have more ideas, which I will be interested in too, for our next visit.
Challah back!

#3 Deacon

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 02:06 PM

1) I was really impressed by the Baricelli Inn the last time I was in Cleveland.

2) Apparently to eGullet "The Heartland" is everything west of Pittsburgh, east of Portland, and north of Dallas. :smile:

#4 John Whiting

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 02:29 PM

For whatever they're worth, these were my gastronomic adventures in Cleveland in 1966. I've no idea if these places still exist, or whether they were figments of my fevered imagination.

############################

Cleveland Ohio Tuesday November 5 1996

. . . The only serious retail outlets of any kind in close proximity to my hotel are two good restaurants. One, called Sergio's, is putatively Brazilian and last night was serving as a special the grilled ribs of an exotic Amazonian fish called tambaqui, which purportedly eats nuts and berries (how it gets to them was not revealed). It arrives in Cleveland in frozen chunks, but that's no great sacrifice, since it's a firm, meaty fish like tuna or anglerfish. Served on a bed of spicy rice, quite delicious.

Permanently on the menu is "Brazilian style bouillabaisse". Nothing to do with the Provencal variety, but then fish stews of this sort all over the world were born out of whatever didn't sell that day, dressed up with the local seasonings. This one took me back to my childhood in Provincetown, where the local Portuguese fisherman served up strong spicy stews which would have been interchangeable with this Brazilian version. No nouvelle cuisine here; two courses sent me away bursting at the seams.

Here in mid-continent the fish, mussels and clams can be faultlessly fresh. But this shouldn't surprise me. A dozen years ago in Austin, Texas, I ate a broiled Maine lobster which had been glowering at me from a tank a few minutes before (no wonder). Too full to finish it, I asked if I could take the claws home to Mary in London and was promptly supplied with a dry-iced doggy bag. Those lobster claws were as well-traveled as Santa Claus.

Wednesday November 6

Down a back alley is another serious restaurant which calls itself dismissively, That Place on Bellflower. Here the cuisine is decidedly eclectic, though calling itself "French-inspired". My starter was a broccoli soup consisting of both pureed and chopped broccoli, rich with thick cream and enough strong parmesan to make me wish that I'd ordered a tureen of the stuff. Until my main course arrived, that is, which was a jamboulaya with lots of shrimp, chicken, chorizo sausage, poblanos peppers, mushrooms, peas and almond rice. Another great spicy fish stew - I could eat them every day! It was assertive enough to stand up to a mature '89 Cahors of the old-fashioned black malbec variety, a bargain in any restaurant in the world at twenty dollars. Again, a couple of courses were enough even for a glutton (me). Two stars, one in each eye.

A few blocks away was a promising ethnic area called Little Italy, where I went for lunch to Guarino's, "Cleveland's oldest family restaurant", founded in 1918. The bread which arrived must have been left over from opening day, the salad was hunks of iceberg lettuce thrown on a plate and dowsed with cheap oil and vinegar, and the lasagna was about two percentage points better that a frozen package. My glass of Chianti might have been poured in error from the vinegar bottle.

So much for family values.

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#5 Rosie

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 02:33 PM

Hi Crispy, Long time no see. Welcome. Last time we were in Cleveland we went to Fire which we heard was the "best" and is a James Beard restaurant but we weren't impressed. Be sure to give us a report on where you dine.
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#6 Fat Guy

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 02:41 PM

My Cleveland recommendations are also totally out of date. I have some foodie friends in Akron/Canton. I might be able to cajole them into providing some current information. Here's what I wrote about one restaurant a few years ago. Don't know its current status, though:

+++

The Fulton Bar & Grill is in Ohio City, one of Cleveland's off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods (though I'm not sure anything in Cleveland can really be described as on-the-beaten-path) that is striving (like the rest of this once totally depressed and now only semi-depressed city) for gentrification. Driving around the neighborhood's poorly marked streets, it was hard to believe that a restaurant was forthcoming, and, upon seeing the drab red brick building that is Fulton Bar & Grill, I was prepared for the worst. But this place turned out to be orders of magnitude better than I could have imagined. The chef's name is Steven Parris, and he's managed to create an original, eclectic menu evocative of California cuisine but with some Midwestern weight to it. The wild mushroom and goat cheese turnover, served with wilted greens, balsamic "syrup" (a reduction of balsamic vinegar, I suppose) and what seemed to be a yellow-pepper sauce, woke me up even before I tasted it--the presentation alone (pictured above) was delicious, and we're talking about a $6.95 item here. A trio of spreads was also tasty, although two of the spreads (red onion confit and garlic/onion jam--the other one was tapenade) were too similar. The two salads we tried--"mixed field greens with Danish blue cheese, grapes and white balsamic peach vinaigrette," and "chicken & fruit with field greens, tropical fruit quinoa salad, pistachios and passion fruit vinaigrette") were ideal dishes for al fresco dining. My favorite dish was shrimp and lobster ravioli (at $13.95, one of the most expensive things on the menu) which came with the unannounced bonus of some (a lot, actually) whole-wheat angel-hair pasta tossed in with the ravioli (the pasta comes from a place called Ohio City Pasta, which, judging from this sample, makes a great product). The only flawed items were two sandwiches: Grilled tuna and grilled chicken, both of which were overcooked and then cooked a little more. There's a nice patio out back as well as an upstairs dining room with an open kitchen (the main bar area, downstairs, is the least desirable place to eat).

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#7 Eric_Malson

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Posted 17 September 2002 - 09:50 PM

I know it's an old thread, but I just happened across it and, as a long-time former resident of Cleveland, thought I'd add my $.02

It's been over 10 years since I moved away away from Cleveland, and sadly (tragically, even!), 4 or 5 of my favorites no longer exist (Miller's Dining Room and the old George's Diner--oh, that ham!--top the list). Still, there are a few joints left worth mentioning......

Ali Baba's on Lorain at around W. 121st St.--I've passed through Cleveland twice in the last year and was not able to find them open either time, so call ahead. They make the most delicious Lebanese food I have ever tasted (it's been over 10 years, and I can still taste the hummus, labnee, and shish taook--with homemade garlic mayonnaise!). It used to be--and I presume still is--dirt cheap, too.

Balaton--I have not been to the new location on Shaker Square, but the old Balaton on Buckeye (the encroaching slums forced them to move, no doubt) made simply incredible Hungarian food, for ridiculously cheap prices. All palpably homemade....easily the best (and biggest!) Wiener Schnitzel I've ever tasted, and that includes anywhere in Austria, goulashes, soups, palacsinta.....oops.....I'm drooling....

Mama Santa's in Little Italy--best pizza in town. Great homemade cavatelli, too.

Player's--with Mama Santa's already cited, Player's Pizza on the west side has quite good yuppie pizza (you know, goat cheese and smoked chicken and roasted red pepper toppings), with a varied menu and nice, low-key ambience.

Presti's Donuts, in Little Italy--I still have dreams about these, but you must heed my advice: go in the middle of the night (3 or 4 a.m. is best). One or two guys are in the shop all night, from about 11 p.m., making donuts for the next day, which they will sell you as they come out of the oven. By 3 or 4 in the morning, there is a better selection and it's so very calm and....well, there's just something about devouring fresh, hot donuts at 4 a.m. At 7 a.m., they close the shop and all the donuts are sent to the bakery (of the same name) a few doors down the block.

Draeger's--An old fashioned candy store and ice cream parlor that makes hot fudge sundaes the way they're supposed to be made--with quality, old-fashioned vanilla ice cream and a separate pitcher of hot fudge made the way a real, old-fashioned candy store makes it. I hear their candy is good, too.

There is also a truly wonderful Cantonese restaurant at 39th and St. Clair, the name of which I can't recall right now. I tried to go there on my last two passes through Cleveland, and was so crowded both times it was hopeless...... Bo Loong! That's the name....call ahead and try to reserve--it's well worth it.
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#8 torakris

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Posted 17 September 2002 - 11:35 PM

GO BROWNS!!!
:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

It's not the right thread but I thought it was fitting.
I was born and raised in Cleveland, unfortunately I didn't get interested in food until after I left.
For some reason in Cleveland all the good restaurants seem to disappear pretty quickly, so a lot of my favorites are now long gone.
East side or West side?
I am an East sider myself and one of my favorites is Hunan on Coventry (On Coventry Rud, duh!, in Cleveland Heights). By far some of the best Chinese in Cleveland. Coventry has some other good restaurants, of course I am not sure what is there currently. If you are just looking for some fun, up the street from Hunan is BD's Mongolian Barbeque, this is a chain restaurant all over the midwest. It is a big do it yourself stirfry. You pick any kind of meat/seafood/tofu/veggies from a salad bar type set up, top it wih one (or as many as you like) of their many sauces/oils/spices/condiments and take it over to the guys at the big fry pan. Here your food is cooked alond with about 10 other people's on griddle about 3 or 4 feet in diameter. This is not gourmet food, but it is really a lot of fun especially if you are with a group.

Also a must go to is Phnom Penh (13124 Lorain Ave), incredible food and unbelievably low prices. This restaurant is the only reason an Eastsider would go to the West side!

Give me some time to think of some more. but these are 3 places I willd efinitely be going to on my trip back in December.

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#9 Eric_Malson

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Posted 18 September 2002 - 08:36 AM

Also a must go to is Phnom Penh (13124 Lorain Ave), incredible food and unbelievably low prices. This restaurant is the only reason an Eastsider would go to the West side!

Well, not quite the ONLY reason.....I consider Ali Baba's a very compelling reason to go the west side.

As is Luchita's (Mexican) on W. 117th St. One day one of my colleagues, a native Clevelander, came to me and said, "Eric, we just found this wonderful Mexican restaurant....you have to try it--it's just like eating in Mexico!" (She and her husband had lived in Mexico for a few years when he played in an orchestra down there.) When I asked what it is, she said Luchita's. I then told her I had been going there ever since I moved to town....I assumed she already knew about it. I just knew it as the only Mexican restaurant around I could stand (not a big Mexican fan, but Luchita's IS good).
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#10 torakris

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Posted 18 September 2002 - 03:34 PM

[
As is Luchita's (Mexican) on W. 117th St.  One day one of my colleagues, a native Clevelander, came to me and said, "Eric, we just found this wonderful Mexican restaurant....you have to try it--it's just like eating in Mexico!" (She and her husband had lived in Mexico for a few years when he played in an orchestra down there.)  When I asked what it is, she said Luchita's.  I then told her I had been going there ever since I moved to town....I assumed she already knew about it.  I just knew it as the only Mexican restaurant around I could stand (not a big Mexican fan, but Luchita's IS good).

I guess I will have to drag my butt over to the West side again!

There used to be a great Mexican place in Cleveland Heights, Lopez y Gonzalez, I wonder if it is still there......

In South Euclid at the corners of Mayfield and Green there is a little tiny place called Amir's (I think that was the name). It is a restaurant/store/factory? A lot of their home made product (hummus, tabouleh, etc) can be found at the store and at supermarkets all over the East side. I go there for lunch at least once a week, very very good.

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#11 torakris

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Posted 18 September 2002 - 04:17 PM

Well Lopez y Gonzalez folded a little while back, but it has resurfaced as Lopez Bar and Grill, it sounds worth checking out. http://www.cleveland...ssf?4474?4474_1

Edit:
I guess i need to work on getting my links to look like everyone else's. Is there a way to do it with out typing in the whole thing?

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#12 Suvir Saran

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Posted 21 August 2003 - 02:04 PM

I find myself in a situation where I may have to help a friend in the opening of an Indian restaurant in Cleveland.

They are thinking of getting a place in a rich suburb and want to open a fine dining establishment.

Any tips I should have in my efforts of helping my friend? What should I know in terms of Cleveland food lore?

Any critical pointers?

Any and all help is most welcome. :smile:

#13 torakris

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Posted 21 August 2003 - 04:30 PM

Indian restaurants are severely lacking in the Cleveland area!
At least on the East side (don't know about the West since I never venture over there)

Not to offend my fellow Clevelanders but they can tend to be simple and cheap :blink:

Most Indian in Cleveland is really on the cheap side and the one moderate priced one Cafe Tandoor and although it is quite good, I have never seen it packed on a weekend night. My family frequents the Cleveland Heights branch quite a bit and have been since it opened quite a while ago (they know have branched to 2 stores on the West side but none of us have been since the C.H. branch is just minutes from my parents) and it has seemed to gain popularity over the years, but I don't know how anything more expensive would fare. Clevelanders just don't like to part with their money, not even for good food!

Here is a list of the Indian restaurants in Cleveland:

http://www.cleveland...9&loc=&x=15&y=3

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#14 Suvir Saran

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 07:32 AM

Thanks Kristin!

What do you know about the area called Fairlawn?

#15 jglazer75

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 09:22 AM

I too am originally from Cleveland and I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY that they can be a little 'meat and potatoes' in their outlook. I have lived on the East Side (I went to HS there) and I've lived on the West Side (in Lakewood after college). I will tell you that unless you are planning on opening in Lakewood, stay on the East Side. Most West-siders will see "Indian food" and wonder why they'd have a whole restaurant devoted to suquetash. On the other hand, the East Siders tend to be a little more 'worldly' although the best-sellers are still Steakhouses and Italian. Particularly the Beachwood/PepperPike/Orange area has a rather large Indian population that could probably support a good Indian Restaurant (perhaps on SOM Center going into Mayfield or in that area, in Chagrin Falls, or for the more daring in Coventry).

My advice: there's a reason the restaurants tend to congregate together in the Cleveland area, don't think you'll be 'novel' by setting up shop in an out-of-the-way area where no other restaurants are around.

#16 Suvir Saran

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 08:52 AM

Thanks for your comments jglazer. What do you know about an area called Fairlawn?

#17 beans

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 04:11 PM

Hmmm. Interesting thoughts!

I'm not so sure I agree with them either!

Fairlawn is not a rich suburb of Cleveland. It is actually a burb of Akron.

#18 torakris

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 04:33 PM

sorry beans! :sad:

Like she said, Fairlawn is part of Akron and you would have to rely on the business of the Akronites, since I can't imagine anyone driving from Cleveland down to Akron for food. What I know about Fairlawn is that is one of the nicer, newer suburbs. If you are looking for the Cleveland business I second most of the areas jglazer75 mentioned, especially the SOM Center/Mayfield area, the Beachwood area, and Coventry (most of my favorite restaurants in Cleveland are in the Coventry area). You might also try any of the "newer" suburbs on the East side, basically anything south of Chagrin Road going down 271 south.

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#19 KHT20

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 07:49 AM

I'm heading to the home of the Browns, the Indians, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a couple weeks for a friend's wedding. Looking for a fun place (hopefully downtownish) to eat dinner on a Friday night with an old high school pal. Any suggestions?

#20 beans

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 12:11 PM

Price range? Cuisine?

#21 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 01:04 PM

Ever since I read Ruhlman's Soul of a Chef, I've been dying to try Lola Bistro. If I ever get to Cleveland, I will do my absolute best to dine there.

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#22 beans

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 01:48 PM

That is a most excellent goal ronnie. It's in a unique neighbourhood well worth visiting and checking out all of the restaurant and watering hole offerings. :wub:

#23 KHT20

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 01:50 PM

Price range? Cuisine?

Any cuisine - we're both total foodaholics (we can't get enough foodahol :raz: )

As for price range... pretty flexible, but it's a black-tie wedding so nothing too fancy schmancy. Don't want to overload one weekend with schmanciness.

#24 beans

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 02:31 PM

For some Friday night fun, along with some good food I would recommend visiting any of the following downtown/very near to downtown neighbourhoods.

Ohio City - Flying Fig (Mediterranean, great food and acrossed from GLBC), Great Lakes Brewery (a brew pub with good food, great beer, casual fun), The Wine Bar (next door to GLBC), Velvet Tango Room (a couple blocks away from GLBC), Parker's Bistro (fantastic food, and also a couple blocks from GLBC)

Tremont - the aforementioned Lola's (fantastic food), and many popular bars, mostly within walking distance such as The Treehouse and Edison's. If it happens to be the right Friday night, there may be an artwalk going on. Those are always fun.

Flats - West Bank - Well, there's always us, Shooter's. I'd be embarassed to recommend the food and you found it so-so, but the view, the drinks and those that show up to see and be seen will be out and afloating on the river, epecially if it isn't raining. Then there's our sister restaurant, Riverwalk, a wee bit further down the river at the Powerhouse. In between there's Jillian's, a soon to open McCarthy's Pub, the historic and true beer lover's pub - The Harbor Inn and the other restaurant/club/bar tenants of Powerhouse (Improv Comedy Club, Howl at the Moon, Rock Bottom Brewery).

West Ninth/Warehouse District - many great places over there; all downtown proper and all within easy walking distance of eachother! Metropolitan Cafe (good food), Circo Zibibbo (Italian), Mallorca (Spanish/Portugese -- great food!), XO, Blue Point Grill, The Chop House, D'Vine (a wine bar), Wish (a fun bar), Mercury (an expensive, fun bar), Liquid (one of my very favourite bars, and *busy*), Sushi Rock, Velvet Dog, Funky Buddha, Blind Pig and of course that all in one sandwich place (slaw and fries inclusive) Panini's.



I hope some of this helps.

Edited by beans, 28 April 2004 - 02:33 PM.


#25 jglazer75

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Posted 29 April 2004 - 08:55 AM

or some Friday night fun, along with some good food I would recommend visiting any of the following downtown/very near to downtown neighbourhoods.

Glad you posted this, I'm from Cleveland but haven't lived there in a while. It is all coming back to me now. My suggestions (though at the time I was there the Warehouse District was about it, Tremont and Ohio City were just getting started), sorry for the randomness:

-Circo Zibibbo - the food is good but pricey, some of the food is worth it, some isn't; Blue Point is pretty good seafood; Lola's is excellent
-D'Vine is a great wine bar as is The Wine Bar
-I've always been partial to Johnny's (there used to be one in the Warehouse District, is this still there??) for steaks and Italian
-If you go nowhere else while in Cleveland go to Panini's - there are zillions of them around the city; the best sandwich you will ever eat. Get the Corned Beef with Egg.
-As for bars, I've never been a fan of Velvet Dog (crappy 70s and 80s dance music whose patrons are entirely too pretentious for their own good) or Spy Bar (see "Velvet Dog" except substitute 'pretentious faux-trance' for the music); the Funky Buddha is alright (I've been there twice and saw Drew Carey there both times);
-My favorite is probably the downstairs at Blind Pig - good party music, decent DJ, strong drinks; Liquid is OK, but I think the success has gone to their head; Mercury's alright if you're not stuck standing all night;
-Treehouse is a good hangout; Most everything in the Flats isn't worth going to - all the good places have been condemned - Shooters is about it and it's, well, Shooters - though they do have good live music every so often (I've seen OAR, Lisa Loeb, and the 10,000 Maniacs there for free);
-oh, the Velvet Tango was surprisingly tolerable as a chill place to hang out and get some pretentious drinks
-You can also check out the Coventry area, there's always places to go there; most of the restaurants are pretty decent, not crowded, and value-oriented (it's where most of the students at Case Western live)
-Little Italy has lots of little restaurants, most of which are pretty decent; make sure you know which one you're going to - most require reservations and every now and then you'll hit a bad one if you're not careful.

#26 beans

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Posted 29 April 2004 - 09:26 AM

... I'm from Cleveland but haven't lived there in a while. It is all coming back to me now.

* * * * * *

Most everything in the Flats isn't worth going to - all the good places have been condemned - Shooters is about it and it's, well, Shooters - though they do have good live music every so often (I've seen OAR, Lisa Loeb, and the 10,000 Maniacs there for free);

:hmmm:

I disagree, I've heard countless oohs and ahhs from visitors to this comfy, old shoe of a town about visiting the Flats. As an employee that has been in and out of a few venues in the Flats for some time, I feel compelled to respond.

True, the East Bank is a ghost-town. As far as I'm aware (I often sit in on Flats/Oxbow community group meetings) the buildings are not "condemned" in the sense that they are about to fall on someone's head. Many of the bars went out of business (Fado, Fagan's, The Beach Club, Kindler's, The Watermark, Hooter's, Have a Nice Day Cafe, Max and Erma's, Dick's Last Resort and Joe's Crab Shack are among the dead) and many failed health inspections and were found with several state liquor law violations. (Think: The Basement) Additional residential and more retail are speculated for the area.

The freighters that are on a tight summer schedule that pass every few hours are an awesome sight to behold, especially when they are floating by multi-million dollar yachts of fun-seeking, recreational boaters. This year, we, at Shooter's, are returning to full service on the boats. :smile: I'm working with Those-That-Be into developing a Shooter's Yacht Club program complete with their own set of amenities, goodies and bennies. (Gotta try to do something with the current fuel prices to hopefully keep the interest to stay in your own "home port" a bit more attractive instead of the expense of travelling to western Lake Erie to the islands).

Okay, my apologies for chiming in on my plug for the Flats.... But when I wasn't working in Put in Bay or in Alaska, the Flats were my home away from home so to speak, both my work/play grounds -- on solid ground or afloat. :cool:





edit: clarity

Edited by beans, 29 April 2004 - 09:36 AM.


#27 LaurieB

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 10:12 AM

Definitely Lola Bistro!! Also, Theory and Sokolowski's University Inn. All are in Tremont.

Battuto's in Little Italy is really good.

If you have time, check out the West Side Market. Have a bratwurst sandwich from Frank's.

Flying Fig and Great Lakes Brewing Co. are across the street.

And if the weather cooperates, it's fun to sit on the deck at Shooter's and hope to see an ore boat come down the River.

Laurie

#28 torakris

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Posted 04 May 2004 - 03:39 PM

This thread is really making me look forward to my month long trip to Cleveland this summer.....

I will second the Coventry area on the East side, besides the fact that this was the area I grew up in :biggrin: , it is really a wonderful area! Not sure of what is there currently (as stuff seems to come and go between my trips back) but Hunan on Coventry is my favorite Chinese place in Cleveland and all of the food in the area is a really great value for the price you are paying.

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#29 TJHarris

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 09:19 PM

Just a foot note: Circo Zibibbo has closed. The space is being taken over by the group that own Mallorca and Marbella and will be opening a Chirascarrea (sp) in the location. :biggrin:




Edited for clumsy fingers typing! :wacko:

Edited by TJHarris, 26 May 2004 - 09:20 PM.

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#30 beans

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Posted 26 May 2004 - 09:28 PM

I know you've been around eG a bit now TJHarris by already having 50 some posts, but welcome! There's a handful of Clevelanders here now. :cool: