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Gaius

Off-the-Cuff CLE Recommendations

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One obvious tack would be to get eaters to weigh in on their most favored pizzas.

Convivial Mexican?

Then, of course, it's often appreciated that the most glitzy sushi emporia are not necessarily the best in town. Insider info here? I won't name places so far, except to mention we've had to leave one due to decibel level.

Among places we've eaten, Lolita, Fire, Lopez, Sun Luck so far have been great. Heard about Lola...saw the Cleveland Asian-food thread post at eGullet regarding the Thai place [replete with photographs -- where is it, again?] -- and if you'd like to sling off a few recommendations as to where else we might take out or eat out, we'd be most appreciative.

Care to weigh in on Moxie?

[Already searched eGullet on these topics, but current status is always best.]

Many thanks...


Jamie M. Forbes

"Everything I know about life I learned in the kitchen."

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My favorite sushi/Japanese restaurant in general is Pacific East on Coventry (right by the Mayfield Corner). This is the only Japanese restaurant I bother to go to any more.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I'm a transplanted New Yorker - and I've got to say, we have so many fantastic restaurants here in Cleveland that I haven't yet tried them all!

Moxie is awesome - I'm having lunch there today and again next week! It is my "go to" business lunch spot. Dinner is a bit pricey, so I don't get there as often for dinner, but the food never disappoints.

For Neuvo Mexican - Momocho in Ohio City. Best gauc selection on the planet and other fresh and fabulous food.

For pizza, the only place that does it for me is Vincenza's, downtown (open only for lunch, alas). I have been told that Capri Pizza in Middleburgh Heights, and Marrotta's in Cleveland Heights are very good, but I haven't tried them yet myself. Don't waste your Cleveland time on pizza - there are much better things to eat here - like Lola's Beef Cheek Pierogi and Smoked Lobster Salad!

Just had a fabulous dinner last night at Lago - across the street from Lolita - calamari 2 ways, bibb lettuce salad with a whole poached pear, housemade pappardelle with two huge meatballs - one veal, one chicken and cheese, and a taste of hubby's veal tortellini, which were to die for!

On the subject of Italian - you MUST get to Carrie Cerinos in North Royalton. Housemade pastas, sauces and dressings, housemade (and imported from Armandino Batali) salumi platter, Blue Egg Ravioli (ask in advance for them if it isn't the first Friday of the month), Blue Egg Carbonara, Umbrian Lentils with Sausage, Linguine with Fresh Clams - and in a few weeks - Copper River King Salmon fed-exed from the Alaskan boat and Panzanella Salad. I can't believe it took me almost ten years of living in Cleveland to find this gem - go now!

Whew - what else? For a pastrami sandwich that will take you home - Mister Brisket on South Taylor Road. Best corned beef sandwich - Slyman's.

I think the "Thai" place you are thinking of is Siam Cafe, another excellent choice - go for dinner for a better selection. We also have a great Pho spot on Superior, aptly named "Superior Pho". Also - the best Cambodian food I've had outside San Franscisco was at the original Phnom Penn on Lorain (I haven't tried the new branch on West 25th).

I agree with Kris on Pacific East, though the sushi (and other food, which is not Japanese) at Parallax can't be beat.

Hope this is enough to keep you busy - how long will you be visiting us?


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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As a Cleveland expatriate who goes home to visit once in a while, it would be really great if folks could post addresses when they talk about places. I'm much more likely to remember to go check a place out if I know it's within striking distance when I'm visiting my Mom for a quick weekend.

Addresses or not, I'm subscribed to this thread and looking forward to hearing more about what's been going on since I've been away...

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Good point about the locations, germuska. I'll try a little experiment to see if really long links are tolerated by the eGullet server software:

Google Maps Mash-up of Tremont and Ohio City

EDIT: long link didn't work. Tinyurl to the rescue!

Those are a few favorites from those neighborhoods. Many were mentioned upthread. Here's another set of restaurants mentioned in various threads:

Misc downtown, East, and South


Edited by edsel (log)

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That map is great, Edsel!

But I have to admit, I think Phnom Penh is going to be my first shot. Mom lives in Bay Village and I love hole-in-the-wall asian, and as far as I know, we don't have any Cambodian here in Chicago.

I'm going to have to look into coming out for the eGullet gathering since it's in Cleveland this year...

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That map is great, Edsel!

But I have to admit, I think Phnom Penh is going to be my first shot.  Mom lives in Bay Village and I love hole-in-the-wall asian, and as far as I know, we don't have any Cambodian here in Chicago.

I'm going to have to look into coming out for the eGullet gathering since it's in Cleveland this year...

Do try to make it!

We have some incredible meals planned.

Phnom Penh is also on my to go to list (again!) this summer. It has been on the list for the past 4 years and for some reason have never made it.

I had forgotten about Momocho, wonderful Mexican food! I am definitely going back this summer.

I had also forgotten about Parallax for sushi as it isn't a Japanese restaurant but their sushi was also worth going back for.

Carrie Cerrino's is worth the trip from anywhere in Northern Ohio (though I wish it was more centrally located :sad: ) This place is definitely in my top 3 for best Cleveland restaurants, now if I could figure out the other 2... :biggrin:


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Hello all!

Those are all great places that everyone has mentioned! Do check them out.

And you're always invited to our place, Light Bistro, in Ohio City, whenever you'd like to come out. It's on the corner of Bridge Ave. and W. 28th. We feature progressive American cuisine, lots of tapas style dishes. Nancy and Edsel have been out, you should too!

Hope to see ya soon! Ask for Chef Matt and Chef Jeff if you stop by!

-Jeff Jarrett

Chef de Cuisine

Light Bistro

www.lightbistro.com


Jeffrey J. Jarrett

Chef de Cuisine

Light Bistro

Cleveland, Ohio

www.lightbistro.com

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Hope to see ya soon! Ask for Chef Matt and Chef Jeff if you stop by!

Hi Jeff. I included Light Bistro in the Google link above. I should have added a comment - I'm surprised that NancyH didn't mention you guys.

Your all killing me!!!!!  No dessert places? 

Hey Cory, your desserts at Lola and Lolita are the best! Fire and Moxie also have good desserts, as does Sun Luck Garden.

Gaius: here are links to some of the topics about Cleveland restaurants:

Cleveland's Asian Restaurants (Thai place is Ty Fun), included in my Tremont map link.

Lola and Lolita

Lolita Reviews ( also here )

Light Bistro

Carrie Cerino's

various

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The best Mexican food in Cleveland is El Tango Taqueria. I don't think people would call it innovative or nuevo or sophisticated but the food is delicious. In fact, it's one of my favorite restaurants of any kind. Anywhere.

Get the green chile stew and a couple pork tacos. Or beef tacos. That would be my recommendation for a first visit. I also like all the other soups. I just tried the quesadilla for the first time - great. There's a pork dinner and a beef dinner with Mexican names which escape me. They're both fantastic. The vegetables here are simple but flavorful which beats many much more expensive restaurants. The dinners come with a simple cabbage salad that's fantastic. The soups come with a tortilla in them and the dinners come with a tortilla hiding somewhere underneath. Corn tortillas and Mexican food have evolved together for generations and the food loses something when they're omitted by restaurateurs who think that Americans won't appreciate them.

The chips are served in an unreasonably large portion but they're worth getting because the salsas are good (pico de gallo, cinnamon, pineapple). The guacamole is made fresh to order. It tastes different from day to day which seems to bother some people. The chips and salsa are sold together. The salsa is sold separately. The dinners are also large and should be enough for a hungry person but I recommend eating too much. Two tacos, soup and chips, salsa and guacamole is enough for one meal and will leave you with a pile of chips virtually indistinguishable from the pile as it was when it was delivered to your table.

Antonio, the owner, has come back to the kitchen. El Tango was a favorite even before I saw him regularly but I think he's raised the consistency and beneficially tweaked some of the preparations since he's returned. The art on the walls is his, by the way.

It's always a one or two person operation. They get backed up sometimes. That seems to be less of a problem with Antonio back but it still may happen. You order at the register and your food is brought to the table. Finally, they don't serve alcohol but you can bring your own.

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Moxie is one of the best restaurants in the area. It's one of the very few with bread that isn't an afterthought. Their bread basket makes an excellent first impression. From their current menu, I would recommend the lobster but I don't think that you can go wrong here. Moxie is also one of the very few restaurants I can think of where the quality holds out through dessert. Several of my all time favorite desserts are from Moxie. I think I've had most desserts from their current menu and I'm not sure that any of these will become permanent favorites but they're still the best in the area. Maybe try an old standard - their baked hot chocolate is a permanent fixture.

Siam Cafe is another personal favorite. In fact, I'll be going their tomorrow. I'm not so familiar with the Thai portion of their menu but I've been working hard to cover as much of the Chinese and Vietnamese items as possible. I know a lot of people are wary of restaurants with such diverse offerings but that concern isn't warranted at Siam Cafe. There may be a few dishes that aren't as phenomenal as the rest but I've had literally dozens of dishes that were phenomenal. In a post on Chowhound I recommended

I could go on for pages with just the highlights from my own meals. Consider: bun bo hue (spicy soup), fried oysters, salt baked shrimp, fried tofu with conch, ong choi...
Add to that stewed beef with curry sauce, beef noodle soup with or without wonton

Light Bistro also starts of with a nice bread service. With Moxie, I think they're the only bread in Cleveland worth eating that I'm familiar with. On top of that, I was very pleased with my dessert at Light Bistro which as I've said is also uncommon. I don't think it's any coincidence that I think that Light Bistro is also with Moxie (and fire) in the top echelon of contemporary American food in Cleveland. I've only eaten there once so perhaps I should make this a provisional ranking but I think the food at my one meal was diverse enough and delicious enough that I don't think it was a fluke. My one disappointment, a serious one, was the salad. It was very balanced at all. A companion felt that adding salt helped but I don't like having to cook my own food when I eat out.

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Shanti's kitchen is the last of the restaurants that I think are unpassupable in Cleveland. It's Caribbean - curries, stews, jerks. Goat, chicken, lamb. Oxtail stew. Ribs with Guyanese chow mein. Roti. All the food is well seasoned but the jerks are spicy. They have fish which you can get curried, jerked or ?? It's best to call ahead if you want the fish. It takes time. If you like the spicy, I would recommend the jerk for your first visit.

Shanti's is the only restaurant I've ever been to and never once said "that was good" or "that was good but not for me". I've gone a dozen times and I usually try something different each time and it's always phenomenal. Every time. The jerks have real heat but the vegetables still have a great taste.

I eat at the restaurant but I think I'm the only one. They have bright flourescent lights and two tiny tables. Now that Spring is coming, maybe you could take your food to a bench in the park. Garfield Reservation is very close. They're closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The food they make is very labor intensive. Some items are only available on specific days. I think their website has up-to-date information.

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How could I not include Light in my recommendations? What was I thinking? I must have been in a foie gras coma (no wait - I didn't have those luscious slabs of goodness until two days after I wrote that post).

Needless to say, I second (third?) those who have mentioned it.


"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" (coined while playing with my food at Lolita).

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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my current favorite at the moment has got to be lucky's cafe for early sunday brunch. the prailine bacon is really interesting, definitely a good play on the old sweet and salt. sausage gravy with cheddar scallion biscuits, local farm eggs, and homemade toast/jam. . . mmm. i can't wait to try the free range,grass-fed meatloaf panini for lunch sometime.

oh, and also still on my list of favorites, even though it ended last week), are st. josaphat, st. stanislaus and st. procop's fish fries. doesn't get any more cleveland than that.

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my current favorite at the moment has got to be lucky's cafe for early sunday brunch.  the prailine bacon is really interesting, definitely a good play on the old sweet and salt.  sausage gravy with cheddar scallion biscuits, local farm eggs, and homemade toast/jam. . . mmm.  i can't wait to try the free range,grass-fed meatloaf panini for lunch sometime.

oh, and also still on my list of favorites, even though it ended last week), are st. josaphat, st. stanislaus and st. procop's fish fries.  doesn't get any more cleveland than that.

Lucky's is a local treasure. In addition to great food, they're very active locally. A learning garden. They'll be hosting a benefit dinner soon. They supported a neighborhood farmers' market. They use local ingredients. Local art on the walls. But really, it's the great waffles that are the feature attraction as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, there's exciting Lucky's related news. They'll be closing.

For a couple weeks. Then they'll re-open better than ever with a bigger menu and brunch available seven days a week. I'm not aware of the schedule. They're still open so rush over, get some waffles and find out for yourself if they have more specific details. I also don't know whether just the food service will close or whether the entire coffee house will close. They may serve coffee and pastries straight through. Call to check.

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I hear a lot of people talk about Lucky's these days - is this the original location that was just down the street from Hotz' in Tremont? It seems so small there that they could be serving brunch. But I haven't been there in a long time.

I know I'm jumping into the thread late, everyone's suggestions are great. I too highly recommend Carrie Cerino's, Lola and Lolita. I think I sold a stranger on pig ears last week at the West Side Market when I told him about how yummy they were when I had them at Lolita. And I've probably drug 70 friends to Lola since they opened, including several from out of state and everyone loves it and it's really helping to re-define "cleveland dining" in their mind, which makes me so proud. I held a big dinner with my friends at Carrie Cerino's a few weeks ago, some people had never been there, some had only been for weddings and weren't impressed. EVERYONE loved their meals and all are planning to come back. I love it when we can do things like this to help change people's minds and show them the great food that's available here.

We just had a great, small gathering at Momocho last week. Really good and unique food for this area. I just wish they'd turn down the music; our throats were sore from shouting and we were only in there about 1.5 hours.

I wanted to throw out the Borderline Cafe for breakfast in Lakewood (on Detroit just before the bridge/border between Lakewood and Rocky River). It's very unassuming and inexpensive (but note: cash only) but good and offering some nice, different choices. Also, Stino da Napoli in Rocky River (on Detroit just west of the Lakewood/RR border across from Heinen's) has some really, really excellent food - tiny restaurant and very small menu but prepared with TLC, I've never had a bad meal there.

For informal bar eats, I really like the Moosehead Saloon in Westlake (on Dover north of Detroit)

I like the places everyone mentions but it ends up being pretty pricy for us to dine at places like this all the time - we more frequently go to places like the Moose and Borderline for affordable, cheap but good eats.

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My favorite ice cream is the gelato at La Gelateria, it has two east side locations but I prefer the Cedar-Fairmount one.

My favorite flavors are pistachio and chocolate-hazelnut.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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