The Best Cleveland Restaurants Of 2021, According To Scene Readers

Best Local Snack: Terranean Herbs Za’atar Chips

Za’atar is a variety of wild thyme that is used in Middle Eastern Cuisine to spice up the food native to their region. Tina Chamoun took her knowledge when she was marketing director for Aladdin’s Eatery and the website and Instagram account Your Lebanon and opened Terranean in 2019, with their awesome pita chips, which come regular and spicy, being the star of the show. Their products are used locally at establishments like Aladdin’s, Boaz Cafe, Taza, Sittoo’s, Cocky’s Bagels and more and are sold at Heinen’s, The Olive Scene, Happy Cow Group Share and Chuppa’s Market.

Photo via Terranean Herbs
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Best Seafood Market: Kate’s Fish

1979 West 25th St., Cleveland

For 20 years, one of the biggest draws to the West Side Market has been Kate’s Fish, the seafood stand with some of the best quality fish in town. Whether you’re looking for their house smoked salmon, sushi grade fish, whole fish, homemade crab cakes or whatever’s fresh that day, you’re sure to find something delicious to take home and throw on the grill or stove.

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Best Restaurant: The Marble Room

623 Euclid Ave., Cleveland

Located in the old National City Bank building, it’d be hard to find a more beautiful restaurant in town than the swanky Marble Room. The name says it all – the beautiful marble columns and intricately designed molding is absolutely stunning. And the steak is up there for the best in town. Get the ribeye and thank us later.

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Best New Restaurant: Cloak and Dagger

2399 West 11th St., Cleveland

This bookish cocktail lounge has nicely settled in at the revolving-door space in Tremont that has been home to many short-lived restaurants. Billed as a neighborhood craft cocktail bar, the library-themed salon boasts a book-like menu filled with libations described with tasting notes like herbal, floral, smoky and spicy. The beverages are buoyed by an all-vegan roster of bar bites like fries, “pork” rinds, BBQ “chicken” skewers and banh mi sammies.

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Best Coffee: Rising Star

Multiple Locations

Coffee connoisseurs sing the praises of Rising Star baristas, who are as knowledgeable as their keenly sourced coffee is potent. Each cup is meticulously brewed to order using beans straight from the onsite roaster. The results are nothing short of the perfect pour over imbued with nuanced, undiluted flavor. We’re not surprised that after just eight years in business, the successful shop already has expanded to seven different locations.

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Best Teahouse: Cleveland Tea Revival

1434 West 29th St., Cleveland

This pretty-as-a-picture Hingetown shop caters equally to the casual tea drinker and the fine tea connoisseur. Knowledgeable staffers can guide one through an extensive menu of organic varieties, from herbal to oolong, plus custom blended specialty teas with names like Church Avenue Lavender. Take some home to steep on your own time or enjoy it on-premises in sweet little tea kettles. A lovely, relaxing hideaway with vintage style, this Ohio City nook feels made for unwinding with a good book or good friend. Pair sips with snacks like avocado toast (of course!) for the full experience.

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Best Chef: Dante Boccuzzi

Multiple Locaitons

After earning a Michelin Star and multiple James Beard nominations in New York City , Boccuzzi moved home to Cleveland and opened his namesake restaurant Dante in Tremont in 2010. Since then, the chef has quietly built up a mini-restaurant empire. Located below Dante is Ginko, possibly the best sushi joint in the state. Next door to Dante you’ll find the aptly named Next Door, a breakfast and brunch spot with Coda in the basement, Dante’s music venue and bar. Outside of Dante’s block in Tremont, he has DBA and Northside Speakeasy in Akron, the newly opened Japanese restaurant Goma on East Fourth, a great pizza spot Inferno in the Flats plus Pasta al Dante at Progressive Field and Air Dante, a craft cocktail lounge out of an old Airstream Trailer, coming soon. And he’s just getting started.

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Best Ramen: Otani Noodle

234 Euclid Ave., and 11472 Euclid Ave., Cleveland

Otani Noodle, from the same owners of long-standing Mayfield Heights hibachi restaurant Otani, recently opened their second location, this time in the heart of Downtown in addition to their University Circle home, and if you haven’t been yet, you’re missing out. The tonkotsu broth they make for some of their ramen is delectable.

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Best French Fries: Tommy’s Restaurant

1824 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights

Known for their vegetarian and healthy options, this Coventry Road staple has been serving up Clevelanders since 1972. While they had vegetarian and vegan options before those became popular, they have more than just healthy options. The thick-cut french fries are divine and their milkshakes, especially black cherry, is a must try.

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Best German Restaurant: Der Braumeister

13046 Lorain Ave., Cleveland

What started as a speakeasy in 1925 still serves up some of the best German fare in Cleveland. In fact, they’ve been given that title multiple times now according to Scene’s Best Of Cleveland. What started as Herzog’s turned into Der Braumeister in 1983.

Photo via Der Braumeister/Facebook
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Best Mexican Restaurant: La Plaza Supermarket

13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd., Lakewood

All it takes to get your hands on what many deem the best Mexican in Cleveland is venturing to this Lakewood supermarket. This grocery store cooks up tacos with barbacoa, carnitas, chorizo and al pastor tacos in front of your eyes. They’re served up as-is, but load up on diced onion, cilantro, guac and salsas to your heart’s desire. In addition to their infamous tacos, you’ll find burritos, quesadillas, tortas and all the Mexican sides you desire.

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Best Jamaican Restaurant: Irie Jamaican Kitchen

621 E. 185th St., Euclid and 4162 Pearl Rd., Cleveland

This beloved Jamaican spot, which recently opened a second location in Old Brooklyn in addition to their original Euclid location, achieves an ideal balance between authentic and unique when it comes to their tasty cuisine. Irie offers diners heaping plates of fiery jerk chicken, supple braised oxtails and sweet shrimp curry alongside the customary warm cabbage slaw, rice and beans and much more. Next up for the popular brand is Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood.

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Best French Restaurant: Le Petit Triangle

1881 Fulton Ave., Cleveland

A little cramped, occasionally noisy, and quite possibly the city’s smallest restaurant, this tiny French bistro still manages to turn out superlative crepes, earthy pâtés, and one of the best Croque Monsieur sandwiches this side of the Seine. Whether you hit this bistro up for brunch, lunch or dinner, you’ll be transported to Paris for a couple hours here.

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Best Korean Restaurant: Rising Grill

3709 Payne Ave., Cleveland

It was right around the time our server wheeled a cart up to the table that we regretted not inviting more friends to dinner. Our combination platter had enough beef short rib, ribeye, pork and chicken to feed half the dining room. But we persevered, cooking up tasty bits of Korean BBQ on Rising Grill’s trusty new gas-powered grill tables. Hot off the grate, we bundled up the charred, garlicky pieces of meat into cold lettuce wraps, dragged them through sauce, popped them in our mouths, and washed them down with ice-cold OB beer. We never stood a chance, but at least we went out with a smile.

Photo by Doug Trattner
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Best Sushi: Ginko

2247 Professor Ave., Cleveland

::Keep it simple:: is a mantra that is valued but often ignored. Not at Ginko, the Tremont eatery from Chef Dante Boccuzzi that has a monastic focus on raw fish. Here, almost all of the admittedly small subterranean space is dedicated to the sushi bar, where obsessively fresh fish is draped over lumps of steamed rice. Diehard sushi fanatics travel distances long and short to belly up to this bar for the city’s best tuna, yellowtail, uni, mackerel, eel and octopus, all of which is served up in a boldly designed setting.

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Best Japanese Restaurant: Bar Oni

2173 Professor Ave., Cleveland

Last summer, chef Matt Spinner announced that he was closing Ushabu, his shabu-shabu restaurant in Tremont. But he also announced its replacement, Bar Oni, which opened last fall. The hip, casual izakaya specializes in yakitori items like grilled chicken, sausage, pork belly and assorted vegetables. The skewers are joined by tempura, dumplings and pork katsu. To drink, there’s beer, sake and draft cocktails.

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Best Chinese Restaurant: Li Wah

2999 Payne Ave., Cleveland

Located in the Asian Plaza — a three-floor complex of professional offices, gift shops, herb stores, and Asian food markets — Li Wah offers an assortment of traditional dim sum as well as a large menu of fresh seafood and authentic Hong Kong-style cuisine. If you’re going for their delicious dim sum, go on a Sunday afternoon, when the variety of dishes being pushed around on carts is at its maximum.

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Best Thai Restaurant: Thai Thai

13735 Madison Ave., Lakewood

Few restaurants have made as big of a splash as Thai Thai, the tiny Lakewood eatery beloved for its flavorful, fiery Bangkok-style street foods. From the day it opened in 2016, this pared-down eatery excelled by focusing on a handful of Thai classics and knocking each and every one of them out of the park.

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Best Vietnamese Restaurant: Minh Anh

5482 Detroit Rd., Cleveland

For many diners in Cleveland, Minh Anh Restaurant was where we first learned to love pho, the Vietnamese beef noodle soup. While pho is now available all across the region, this modest restaurant on Cleveland’s near-west side was a pioneer in the field. Unfortunately, after 37 years in business, Minh Anh closed this September. We’ll sure miss it.

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Best Pho: Superior Pho

3030 Superior Ave., Cleveland

The Asia Town mainstay — an absolute favorite for quick lunches, group meals, and dates — also dishes up a great banh mi, bubble tea, and other Vietnamese appetizers and entrees. Try them, but do yourself a favor and get the pho first.

Photo via Superior Pho/Facebook
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Best Desserts (Restaurant): Rood Food and Pie

17001 Madison Ave., Lakewood

The only way this concept rises above the level of novelty is by offering not just delicious food, but by presenting it in a way that transforms it into a convivial, communal experience, much like Korean barbecue without all the splatter. A restaurant based on pies? Well, when you have the quality of pies that Rood Food has, it just works.

Photo via Rood Food & Pie/Facebook
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Best Irish Restaurant: Stone Mad Pub

1306 West 65th St, Cleveland

Everyone who talks about this Detroit Shoreway neighborhood spot mentions two things; the bocce ball court and the beautiful patio. St. Patrick’s Day is next level at this Irish pub, which knocks their menu out of the park when it comes to food and drinks.

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Best Pizza: Il Rione

1303 West 65th St., Cleveland

It’s safe to say that there are no other pizza joints in town quite like Il Rione. The warm lighting, stylishly weathered interior and upbeat soundtrack spinning out tracks combine to create more of a pizza lounge than pizza shop. But here’s the kicker: the New York/Jersey style pizza is phenomenal. The diavolo and the clam are our favorites.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
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Best Brunch: Astoria

5417 Detroit Ave., Cleveland

Astoria manages to put a smile on our faces morning, day or night. While we enjoy their market, their dinners and whatever else they offer, their brunch is also top notch. The Mediterranean dishes that you can’t really find anywhere else like the saganaki and eggs, the lamb and shrimp eggs benedict and the duck and waffles are what we’d highly recommend.

Photo via Astoria Cafe and Market/Facebook
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Best Vegan Restaurant: Cleveland Vegan

17112 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

Cleveland Vegan has one of, if not the most extensive vegan menu in town. ‘S’more French Toast’, ‘Creamy Shiitake Benedict’ and the ‘Buffalo Cauliflower Dip’ are three items that really make our mouths water. The baked goods are really delicious too.

Photo via @ClevelandVeganCateringAndCafe/Instagram
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Best Late Night Eats: Edison’s

2373 Professor Ave., Cleveland

When it comes to late night pizza and a beer, you can’t go wrong with Edison’s. It’s the quintessential Tremont bar, the quintessential Cleveland bar — a real bar’s bar, you dig? But they also have great pizza, so you should definitely hit this place up.

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Best Burger: Heck’s Cafe

2927 Bridge Ave., Cleveland and 35514 Detroit Rd., Avon

If you’re on a search for the best burgers in town, Heck’s is surely not to be overlooked, as they’ve been serving up burgers since 1974. If you can handle the spice, the Hot Fire Burger is the way to go. Don’t forget an order of Heck’s Fries, topped with salt and pepper and a side of malt vinegar aioli. In addition to their original Ohio City location, they’ve expanded to Avon.

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Best Latin Restaurant: Barroco Grill

Multiple Locations

If you’ve never had an arepa before, you need to head to Barocco ASAP. Arepas, which hail from Colombia and Venezuela, are grilled white tortilla’s stuffed with a variety of ingredients. The ‘La Gringa’, stuffed with braised beef, feta cheese, avocado, chimichurri, greens and mozzarella, and the ‘Buffalo Chicken’ arepa are two of our absolute favorites. Barrocco also has fantastic live Latin music three nights a week.

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Best Butcher Shop: Ohio City Provisions

3208 Lorain Ave., Cleveland

Reports of the death of the small neighborhood butcher shop have been greatly exaggerated. At West 32nd and Lorain, you’ll find Ohio City Provisions, which happens to be the neighborhood grocer to a very hip and food-obsessed neighborhood. This meticulously run shop stocks meats that tick off all of the health-conscious requirements: locally reared animals raised without the use of hormones, antibiotics and GMO-laden feed. Which means, of course, that the meat is some of the finest protein in all the Land. You can order a whole smoked ham or a Frenched rack of lamb for the holidays, or just walk in any day and purchase grass-fed ground beef, three finger-thick Porterhouse, or bacon sliced as thick as you’d like.

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Best Barbecue (Tie) – Woodstock BBQ

13362 Madison Ave., Lakewood

If you love barbecue, this is a spot that is definitely worth checking out. The smell of smoke wafts into your nose as you enter this place. They really have all the staples of barbecue, including delicious ribs, wings, pulled pork, brisket, cornbread and much more.

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Best Barbecue (Tie) – Ohio City BBQ

3829 Lorain Ave., Cleveland

The brisket, the star of Texas barbecue, which is what this Ohio City spot is going for, is tender and delicious with a mild smoke flavor here. Ohio City BBQ also sells a delightfully old-school Polish Boy, a no-frills Cleveland pileup of smoked sausage, fries, chip-chopped slaw and sauce.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
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Best Polish Restaurant – Pierogi Palace

36495 Vine St., Willoughby and 1979 West 25th St., Cleveland

Not necessarily a Polish restaurant but more of a stand and bakery that sells pierogies and other tasty Polish dishes, this is certainly the spot when it comes to the Polish dumpling. The variety of pierogies sold here is second to none, with up to 20 flavors at once including chicken pot pie, taco, Italian meatball, buffalo chicken, apricot cheese and much, much more. In addition to the pierogies, the Pierogi Palace also has an awesome Polish Boy, stuffed cabbage, cabbage and noodles and more.

Photo via Pierogi Palace/Facebook
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Best Bagels: The Cleveland Bagel Co.

4201 Detroit Ave. and 7501 Carnegie Ave., Cleveland

Despite opening less than five years ago, The Cleveland Bagel Co. has already established itself as one of the most iconic food spots in town. Their homemade, creative bagels make for an awesome breakfast, especially when you add their homemade schmears and try their lox or bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.

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Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Johnny Mango World Cafe

3120 Bridge Ave., Cleveland

You’ve got to love a place that makes Ohio City feel like a beach shack in Cozumel, and Johnny Mango — a ::world café:: and juice bar — does just that, with a blend of Asian, Mexican, and Caribbean flavors, and items that range from burritos to pad Thai to Jamaican jerk chicken. Service is speedy, portions are hearty, and there are plenty of choices for vegetarians.

Photo via @Johnny_Mango_World_Cafe/Instagram
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Best Steakhouse: Strip Steakhouse

36840 Detroit Rd., Avon

Housed in a 160-year-old Pennsylvania Dutch barn, this steak house is anything but old-fashioned. Owner Ron Larson spiffed up the interior in ways that will pleasantly surprise diners expecting doilies and drapes. The two-story barn features a first-floor lounge with an open kitchen and a spacious loft dining room. First-rate steaks and chops share the menu with less conventional steakhouse fare, like smoked chicken, pasta Bolognese and horseradish-crusted grouper.

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Best Middle Eastern Restaurant: Aladdin’s

Multiple Locations

When you think about it, it was quite the coup for founders Fady and Sally Chamoun to convince a townful of Midwesterners to put down the corned beef sandwiches and pick up pitas stuffed with falafel, shish tawook and shawarma in their place. That sort of Lebanese voodoo has lead to an explosion of locations, with two dozen sites in multiple cities and states. You accomplish that feat, of course, by serving up a steady diet of fresh, healthy, delicious and affordable cuisine. And as more and more people adopt vegan and vegetarian diets, Aladdin’s stands to benefit even more thanks to numerous meat-free options.

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Best Sandwich: Slyman’s

3106 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland

16 tons and what do you get? The best corned beef sandwich in Cleveland. They still slice every sandwich to order, and every sandwich still towers above much of the competition. Amaze your friends by ordering in Slymaneze: a “natural” means plain; “original” comes with mustard; and “Smurf” buys you one with Swiss and mustard (which ain’t kosher, by the way).

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Best Food Truck: Fired Up Taco’s

If nothing gets your engine revved up quite like tacos, then Fired Up Taco Truck is your kind of rig. In just about five years’ time, this Latin-themed lorry has expanded from one to three trucks, spreading its taco feelers all across the Land. More than just your run of the mill tacos, these well-designed handhelds feature an array of zippy sauces, garnishes and meats. We’re fond of the original Fired Up, a twistup of beef (or chicken or pork), cheddar, slaw, corn and green chili salsa and chipotle aioli. But tacos aren’t the only foods that chef Brian Finks excels at. Consider the crispy chorizo-filled empanadas, taco salads, and seasoned fries topped with chipotle aioli and scallions.

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Best Patio Dining: Georgetown

18515 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

Formerly Three Birds, Georgetown not only has a great menu but also boasts one of the most beautiful patios in Cleveland. The food is pretty great too – we highly recommend the sausage-stuffed banana peppers, any of the pizza appetizers and the charred beef tenderloin.

Photo via Georgetown Restaurant Lakewood/Facebook
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Best African Restaurant” Zoma

2240 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights

We’re slightly obsessed with Zoma. We love the communal atmosphere of the experience, where diners sit around a platter of colorful, savory stews, pinching off bites with stretchy injera. Rare is the place that hungry vegetarians and omnivores can so peaceably coexist thanks to items starring chopped greens, chickpeas, lentils, beef and chicken. The housemade Ethiopian hot sauce, fueled by an exotic berbere spice blend, is righteous.

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Best Chicken Wings: Dina’s Pizza and Pub

5701 Memphis Ave., Cleveland

Many Clevelanders say that Dina’s in Old Brooklyn has their favorite wings in town and who are we to argue? Their ‘Buffalo Ranch’ and ‘House Hot’ are two of the standout flavors when it comes to these crispy, bold wings.

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Best Italian Restaurant: Luca

2100 Superior Viaduct., Cleveland

One of the best Italian restaurants in town also contains one of the best views of the city. The sacchetti, which contains white truffles over ricotta stuffed pasta shells, may sound heavy for the summer but you have to get it while sitting on the patio at this Superior Viaduct located spot. The husband and wife team behind Luca recently opened a more fish forward output called Acqua Di Luca which is one of the hottest new restaurants in town.

Photo via Luca Italian Cuisine/Facebook
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Best Indian Restaurant: India Garden

18405 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

India Garden is simply traditional Indian food with all the staples and it’s all delicious. We love the sauce heavy dishes like tikka masala and vindaloo with whatever meat you prefer but they’re all delicious. They also have a lunch buffet every afternoon – be careful though – we’re not sure you’ll be able to get back to work after!

Photo via @BrownieBatter/Instagram
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Best Donuts: Brewnuts

6501 Detroit Ave., Cleveland

Yeah, Brewnuts makes some awesome, unique donuts. If you’re a Clevelander and still unaware of this fact, you may be living under a rock. The ever-changing menu always incorporates the time of year, whether it’s special dones for Browns’ games, holidays and many more themed days. But it really doesn’t matter what the theme is, you’ll get a killer donut whenever you visit (unless they’re sold out for the day).

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Best Breakfast: Grumpy’s Cafe

2621 West 14th St., Cleveland

Grumpy’s Cafe has been a Tremont staple since 1976. Current owner and longtime employee Kathy Owad took over ownership in 2004 and after a fire, turned the new space into a laid-back, comfortable eatery that embraced the local art scene. Grumpy’s is known for having one of the best brunches and breakfasts in town, featuring local and fresh ingredients. The corned-beef hash and smothered french toast are just two of our many favorites.

Photo via @Grumpys.Cafe/Instagram
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Best Diner: Dinerbar on Clifton

11801 Clifton Blvd., Lakewood

Loyal fans of the original Diner on Clifton, which operated for 17 years just 160 meters away from the new Dinerbar on Clifton, will quickly observe how much has changed. But they will also appreciate how much has stayed the same. They’re packing them in on weekends for brunch, thanks to full bar service and reliable breakfast fare served all day. In addition to their all day breakfast and brunch, Dinerbar serves up traditional diner fare like a tasty hot roast turkey dinner and macaroni and cheese. But it’s the breakfast and tasty dishes like their french toast and corned beef hash that keep us coming back for more.

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Best Bakery: On The Rise

3471 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights

Known for their artisan breads and mouth-watering pastries, On The Rise’s casual and local atmosphere is quintessential Cleveland Heights. The sandwiches may be simple, but the freshly baked bread they come on takes them to another level. On The Rise has expanded to the Van Aken District’s Market Hall and was named one of Food & Wine’s 100 Best Bakeries in America in 2020.

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Best Cakes: Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes

Multiple Locations

If you want to see some of the most beautifully designed cakes and pastries in town, check out one of Kelsey Elizabeth’s cake shops. In addition to their first two locations in Avon Lake and Rocky River, Kelsey Elizabeth has opened a flagship shop in Avon, a stand at Crocker Park and a shop at Cedar Point. The cakes really do taste as good as they look. In just seven short years, this bakery has become a mini-empire with a cult following that is only growing.

Photo via @KelseyElizabethCakes/Instagram
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Best Breadmaker: Blackbird Baking Company

1391 Sloane Ave., Lakewood,

At this hip Lakewood shop, each rustic loaf is a one-of-a-kind creation, with loaves and loaves of focaccia, ciabatta, baguettes, challah and soda breads inhabiting the shelves. In the sweets department are airy delights like fruit tarts, sticky buns, cranberry scones, peanut butter cookies and coconut macaroons.

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Best Greek Restaurant: Astoria

5417 Detroit Ave., Cleveland

Astoria manages to put a smile on our faces morning, day or night. The retail market keeps our pantry flush with gourmet foods like imported cheeses, cured meats, olives and wine. The large bar is an ideal place to meet up with a friend over cocktails, glasses of wine and a fully loaded meat and cheese platter. The animated dining room is where we land for full meals of tender wine-poached octopus, veal and ricotta meatballs, pizzas, and grilled lamb chops.

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Best Soul Food: Zanzibar Soul Fusion

13225 Shaker Square and 627 Prospect Ave., Cleveland

This Shaker Square eatery, which expanded to downtown in 2018, is a must-visit soul food spot. This place does their own take on southern comfort and the catfish po’boys and fried chicken are staples on the menu. Owner Akin Affrica, a third-generation restaurateur whose family runs Angie’s Soul Café, has not only spiffed up the notion of a soul food restaurant; he has spiffed up the soul food itself.

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Best Fried Chicken: SOHO Chicken + Whiskey

1889 W. 25th St., Cleveland

Put ::chicken:: in your name and you better do it right, and SoHo does. While SoHo temporarily changed their concept to a takeout spot called Chicken Run for the pandemic, they’re still serving perfectly fried thighs and breasts. They also have a bunch of different, super flavorful chicken sandwiches and yummy chicken and waffles too.

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Best Ice Cream: Mitchell’s

Multiple Locations

Pete and Mike Mitchell’s handmade ice cream is annually voted the best in the region, and their colorful, contemporary ice cream parlor couldn’t be more inviting. Campfire S’more and Mint Cookies and Cream are our current passions among the 30 or so ice cream and sorbet flavors, but we’ve never found anything that wasn’t great. The brothers from University Heights opened their first shop in Westlake in 1999 and have become a regional phenomenon in just over 20 years in business with a flagship store and production facility on West 25th in Ohio City, nine other locations around town and their product in basically every grocery store in Northeast Ohio.

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Best Deli: Larder

1455 West 29th St., Cleveland

At its heart, Larder is a Jewish deli, with matzo ball soup, thick pastrami sandwiches, out of this world fried chicken sandwiches and awesome baked goods. But there’s so much more going on here than that. Chef-owner Jeremy Umansky utilizes techniques like koji (a Japanese mold) curing, foraging for wild edibles, cold and hot smoking, and fermentation and pickling to produce an ever-shifting roster of seasonal plates. Umansky, along with wife/co-owner/pastry chef Allie La Valle-Umansky and co-owner/chef Kenny Scott were nominated in the Best Chef: Great Lakes category in 2020.

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Best Bar Food: Prosperity Social Club

1109 Starkweather Ave., Cleveland

Cozy and retro, this former workingman’s watering hole serves up food, booze, and a bowling machine along with the live music. You’ll find locals laying down everything from lounge and jazz to folk and bluegrass. They also have a kitchen that stays open nightly until midnight and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Our favorites are their old school Cleveland bar dishes like their kielbasa, cabbage and noodles, their haddock fish fry and of course their pierogi.

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Best Juice Bar: Beet Jar

1432 West 29th St., Cleveland

It took a lot of hard work, sacrifice and home-cooked meals as payment to get Beet Jar open in 2014. Once in business, the juice makers quickly established themselves as purveyors of some aggressively healthy and delicious plant-based foods and juices. It’s not just dreamy concoctions like Cashew Mylk or the pun-titled smoothies like Cayenne West that have brought these produce wranglers righteous acclaim. It’s the Bravocado sandwich, a vegan take on the BLT that has won the shop rabid fans (food celeb Alton Brown among them). If you happen to find yourself in Hingetown come happy hour, duck into neighboring bar Jukebox to enjoy Beet Jar juices featured in cocktails that are tasty and almost —almost —good for you.

Photo via Beet Jar/Facebook
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Best Romantic Restaurant: Pier W

12700 Lake Ave., Lakewood

This Lakewood seafood restaurant has won Scene’s best of ‘most romantic restaurant’ multiple times, and for good reason. Since 1965, these views of Lake Erie and the city are unmatched, the atmosphere is sophisticated and elegant and the seafood is delicious. Oh, and the brunch is perfection.

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Best Sub Shop: Herb’n Twine

4309 Lorain Ave., Cleveland

People lose their minds over the sandwiches at Herb’n Twine, a -year-old gourmet sandwich emporium in Ohio City. They opened in 2015 and have quickly established themselves as the premier sandwich shop in Northeast Ohio. The smoked turkey club is a crowd favorite but the porchetta, Italian and shaved prime rib aren’t far behind.

Photo by Tim Harrison
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Best Small Plates/Tapas: Salt

17625 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

::Nobody orders small plates in Cleveland.:: Since the birth of the turnip, that has been the conventional wisdom in these parts. Of course, at her whip-smart Lakewood bistro Salt, chef Jill Vedaa continues to upend that old saw by composing exceptional dishes that focus on a single theme. In place of a meat-and-three, diners zero in on carrots three ways, or earthy beets blasted with sparkle, or a savory lamb ragu over a few supple gnocchi. Mix and match your way to the perfect meal; variety, after all, is the spice of life.

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Best Hot Dog: Happy Dog

5801 Detroit Rd., Cleveland

Happy Dog is the perfect Cleveland bar – the food is reasonable and good and most weekend nights there’s live music and shows are usually free or cost just five bucks to get in. If you haven’t been to this institution, go next time you have a chance. There are more than 60 toppings for their hot dogs and while we won’t stop you from going all out, restraint is key to really enjoying a dog to its full potential.

Photo via Scene Archives
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Best Polish Boy: Banter

3441 Tuttle Rd., Shaker Heights

The polish boy is a Cleveland staple, and Banter has moved itself to the top of the list in town. In early 2020, the Food Network let loose their list of the ::Best Sandwiches in America.:: Banter, which has locations in Detroit-Shoreway and Shaker Heights’ Van Aken District, was included on the list, with its Polish Boy being one of 99 sandwiches across the nation that were featured.

Photo via Burklehagen Photography
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Best Local Chain: Barrio

Multiple Locations

Yeah, Barrio has blown up in recent years with locations all over town. But their expansion has just made them more beloved in the eyes of Clevelanders, because now wherever you live, you’re a stone’s throw away from some delicious and inexpensive tacos. In addition to their seven Cleveland locations they now have four locations out of town including two as far as Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Photo via @Barrio_Cleveland/Instagram
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