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Cooking Up Cleveland

Article by Douglas Trattner 04.19.2018

It’s no secret that Cleveland is having a moment. Simply put: Folks here love to eat, drink and be merry, as evidenced by a fertile dining scene that has been percolating for 20 years. Here, a food and nightlife lover’s guide to this Rust Belt city.  

Designed by George B. Post, architect of the New York Stock Exchange, the turn-of-the-century Cleveland Trust Building debuted in 1908 as a bank but now lives on as Heinen’s Grocery (900 Euclid Ave., Stop by in the afternoon to shop for gourmet goodies while sipping wines by the glass.  

Chef Michael Symon’s restaurant empire has continued to expand (he now has seven concepts spread across multiple states), though downtown Cleveland is home to his two flagships. Lola Bistro (2058 E. 4th St., is a glitzy, polished gem that serves the Iron Chef’s hip spins on modern Midwestern fare.

Lola’s Bistro

Next door at Mabel’s BBQ (2050 E. 4th St.,, Symon gives barbecue a Cleveland twist by rubbing meats with pastrami-style spices, smoking meat with native applewood and dishing up big plates of Hungarian kielbasa with kraut.

The “Polish Girl” sandwich at Mabel’s BBQ

The “Polish Girl” sandwich at Mabel’s BBQ

Then head to TURN Bar + Kitchen at The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland (1515 W. 3rd Street,, whose lively bar scene and dazzling new design make it perfect for a well-crafted nightcap.

For more than 100 years, the West Side Market (1979 W. 25th St., has served as Cleveland’s primary grocery store. Grab a cup of coffee or tea at the
City Roast stand and peruse the more than 150 indoor and outdoor vendors.

For breakfast with an unhurried Parisian feel, head over to Le Petit Triangle Café (1881 Fulton Road, Enjoy smoked salmon and spinach omelets, savory ham and cheese crepes, and airy croissants.

Craft beer fans will want to make their way over to Market Garden Brewery (1849 W. 24th St., Behind-the-scenes guided tours of the high-tech production facility are offered hourly from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tours end with a four-beer tasting.

For a little something sweet, pop into Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream (1867 W. 25th St., Thanks to a glassy open kitchen, you can savor views of the creamy process along with your cone.

West Side Market

West Side Market

Tremont, immediately south of the city center, is where Cleveland’s emerging dining scene really started cooking. Prosperity Social Club (1109 Starkweather Ave.,, a 10-year-old restaurant set in an 80-year-old saloon, draws neighbors in for standards like pierogies and beer-battered fish and chips.

For something a bit more upscale, make reservations at Parallax (2179 W. 11th St.,, one of uber-restaurateur Zack Bruell’s eight unique Cleveland-based eateries. This posh boîte focuses on seafood with Asian influences.  

Like many of Cleveland’s best finds, The Spotted Owl (710 Jefferson Ave., takes a concept — here matchless craft cocktails — and delivers it in a pleasant, unaffected fashion.

If art, music or culture is on your agenda, you likely will find yourself in University Circle, home to the city’s finest parks, museums, galleries and symphonies. As if designed to complement that sophistication, Coquette Patisserie (11607 Euclid Ave., is a chic little bakery and cafe that marries fine French pastries and savory small plates with craft beer, champagne and cocktails.

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