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Outdoor seating at Market Garden Brewery
Gregory Wilson

The 31 Essential Cleveland Restaurants

Where to find the city’s best eats, from koji-cured pastrami sandwiches in an old fire house to wood-fired pizzas in a sprawling beer garden

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Outdoor seating at Market Garden Brewery
| Gregory Wilson

Cleveland has always been somewhat of an overachiever when it comes to restaurants. Thanks to a handful of talented, pioneering chefs like Michael Symon, Karen Small, Zack Bruell, Dante Boccuzzi, and Doug Katz, who got the culinary ball rolling 20 years ago, the city had a jump on similarly sized Midwestern burgs. Those chefs begat other chefs, who did the same for the next generation, seeding the landscape with a serious talent pool. Residents and visitors have been reaping the benefits of that foodie farm system for years. Add to that waves of immigrants who shared tastes of their homelands, until the city overflowed with German, Polish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Colombian, Turkish, and Lebanese restaurants.

Update June, 2021:

Like every city around the globe, Cleveland lost some beloved restaurants during the pandemic. Chief among them were finer-dining bistros like Fire, the Plum, Black Pig, Spice, and Lola. But by and large the city weathered the storm better than other, larger cities thanks to more reasonable rents, looser health restrictions, and fervent community support. It also helps that all but a few places around town had some sort of outdoor seating going into the pandemic, and those that didn’t caught up quickly.

Note: The inclusion of restaurants offering dine-in service should not be taken as an endorsement for dining inside. Studies indicate a lower exposure risk to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk is contingent on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on dining offerings. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Cleveland Department of Public Health.

Douglas Trattner is a freelance writer, editor, and author based in Cleveland.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Salt

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17625 Detroit Ave
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 221-4866
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In Cleveland, small-plates eateries often struggle for existence. But that isn’t the case at Salt, where chef Jill Vedaa has been winning over skeptics since 2016. The chef has a knack for composing visually compelling dishes, and devoted diners return frequently to sample ever-changing menus including hits like smoked beets with feta and olives, lump crab with shaved fennel, smoked trout roe and sweet peas, and rabbit pot pie in a savory rye crust. Classic and creative cocktails elevate the experience.

A table with a bunch of small plates including asparagus with shaved cheese, cucumbers in a sauce, and roasted carrots
Vegetable-forward dishes at Salt
Alyse Nelson

2. La Plaza Taqueria

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13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd B
Cleveland, OH 44107
(216) 716-6244
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For many years, local Mexican food fans ventured to the rear of La Plaza Supermarket to secure the town’s best tacos, tostadas, tamales, and tortas. The arrangement — a small stand wedged between the store’s bakery and butcher case — was less than ideal. Recently, the store’s owners erected a standalone taqueria in the front of the building, allowing guests to enjoy the same great fare along with an expanded condiment and salsa bar and dine-in seating. 

A grocery store exterior beneath a blue sky dotted with dreamy clouds
Outside La Plaza
La Plaza Taqueria [Official]

3. Il Rione

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1303 W 65th St
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 282-1451
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It’s hard to put into words how much people adore Il Rione, a buzzy pizzeria in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland. Diners have been known to wait for hours at nearby bars until their phones light up to signal their tables are ready. They are rewarded with dazzling New York-style pizzas dished up in a slightly shabby, slightly chic dining room with an open kitchen and bar. The pizzeria focuses almost exclusively on stellar pies like margherita, sausage, and white clam, but the menu does offer a select few additions like meat and cheese boards and a handful of salads. To drink, there is an equally concise roster of beers, wines, and cocktails.

A hand lifts a slice of pizza away from a full pie on a platter, with cheese stretching in between, on a table beside a bottle of wine and pepper shaker
Cheese pull
Molly Geib

4. Astoria Cafe & Market

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5417 Detroit Ave
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 266-0834
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Equal parts bar, restaurant, and gourmet marketplace, Astoria has become an invaluable neighborhood asset. Locals pop into the bright, spacious, and bustling storefront to stock up on imported olives, cheeses, meats, and wine by the bottle. For those who prefer to leave the cooking to the pros, Astoria boasts a massive menu loaded with Mediterranean-themed snacks, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, large plates, and desserts. Warm, wonderful service and one of the best brunches in town keep this place jumping throughout the week. Seats are available at the bar, at tables, and outside on the patio.

5. The Cleveland Bagel Company

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4201 Detroit Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 600-5652
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Dan Herbst and Geoff Hardman started Cleveland Bagel Co. modestly, baking in a home kitchen and peddling their products at weekly farmer’s markets. The company has expanded to become one of the most beloved and recognized food items in the city. Cold-fermented, hand-rolled, water-boiled, and baked with care, these savory rolls land somewhere between svelte Montreal and chubby New York styles in terms of size. Two shops, one west and the other east, provide customers with fresh bagels, schmears, and a few straightforward breakfast sammies.

A close-up on a variety of bagels
Bagels, bagels, and more bagels
The Cleveland Bagel Company [Facebook]

6. Rising Star Coffee Roasters

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Ohio City Firehouse, 1455 W 29th St
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 273-3573
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Located in the Hingetown neighborhood of Ohio City, Rising Star shares a red brick firehouse with Larder Delicatessen. The grassroots coffee company has an offsite Cleveland roastery to supply the beans for its exceptional espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos. House-roasted beans are sold by the pound, as are a handful of pastries. A few picnic tables out front offer al fresco seating.

A person holds a bag of coffee beans labeled with Rising Star Coffee Roasters logo
House-roasted beans for sale
Rising Star Coffee Roasters [Facebook]

7. Larder

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1455 W 29th St
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 912-8203
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Set inside an 1850s-era firehouse, Larder is a modern-day version of the classic Jewish delicatessen as seen through the eyes of chef Jeremy Umansky. The old-world setting provides the ideal backdrop to display heavenly breads and pastries like black-and-white cookies, fruit-filled rugelach, chocolate babka, buttery challah, and meaty knishes. Hungry Ohio City neighbors literally line up for the now-famous koji-cured pastrami sandwiches, but also try the epic fried chicken sandwiches, matzo ball soup, housemade charcuterie, and daily specials like local beet salad. The Hingetown eatery shares patio seating with Rising Star Coffee.

Savory pastries stuffed with boiled egg and meat, on a wooden counter
Savory pies
Larder [Facebook]

8. Momocho

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1835 Fulton Rd
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 694-2122
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Chef Eric Williams didn’t invent modern Mexican cuisine, but he has been perfecting the genre at this fun and funky Ohio City bistro for many years. Set within a restored Colonial, the two-level restaurant features a main floor barroom and upstairs dining room. Both are wonderful settings in which to enjoy creative and appealing mod-Mex food like smoked trout-topped guacamole, tamale dumplings, roll-your-own carnitas tacos, and pepita-crusted trout. Momocho makes a killer blood orange margarita, but the real find is the mile-long tequila and mezcal list. On warm evenings, Momocho’s spacious patio is prime real estate.

A close-up on a bowl of especially textured guacamole, with a lime wedge sticking out on top, on a wooden tray beside other dips
One of six kinds of guacamole
Eric Williams

9. Flying Fig

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2523 Market Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 241-4243
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One of Cleveland’s pioneering farm-to-table chefs, Karen Small works closely with local farmers, farmers’ markets, and regional producers to craft a menu that changes with the seasons. Guests can always count on unfussy but delightful small plates with big flavors, plant-forward options, and a right-sized list of meat, fish, and pasta choices. Set on a quiet brick-paved lane, this bistro has been an Ohio City staple for 20 years. 

A hand drizzles sauce with a spoon on a fish under a pile of cooked vegetables
Fish at Flying Fig
Flying Fig [Official]

10. Market Garden Brewery

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1947 W 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 621-4000
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Part of the Ohio City restaurant group that includes Bar Cento, Bier Markt, and Nano Brew, this trendy brewpub manages to fire on all cylinders. The craft beer is so good that it birthed a large, dedicated production brewery in the same neighborhood. The kitchen fights well above its weight too, swapping tedious pub grub with smart, seasonal, and creative dishes. And the space, just steps from the famed West Side Market, offers ample seating indoors and out, including a spacious beer garden with a wood-burning fireplace.

Outdoor seating area full of customers at tables beneath thick treats strung with stringlights
Outdoor seating at MGB
Gregory Wilson

11. Porco Lounge & Tiki Room

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2527 W 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 802-9222
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After nearly eight years, this magical little hideaway has earned a place in the pantheon of world-class tiki bars. In place of kitschy décor is an enchanting interior filled with collector-quality mugs, art, and artifacts, many rescued from long-departed, legendary tropical bars. Some of the city’s best bartenders — clad in Hawaiian shirts, naturally — whip up boozy but balanced versions of mai tais, zombies, and painkillers, all made with top-shelf spirits, juices, and syrups, and garnished with standard umbrellas or striking dry ice. A great patio out back adds to the appeal.

A bar interior with high-top tables, nautical decorations hanging from the seating, and bright backlit bar
Inside Porco Lounge
Sam Twarek

12. Mabel's BBQ

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2050 E 4th St
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 417-8823
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Michael Symon’s downtown barbecue joint just cruised past its fifth birthday thanks to a winning formula that pairs truly exceptional smoked meat with a lively industrial-saloon setting. Cooked low and slow over Ohio fruitwoods, items like beef brisket, pork butt, pork ribs, turkey, and kielbasa exit the pits supple, smoky, and delicious. Those meats come by the pound or packed into two-fisted sandwiches. Sides and snacks include creamed corn, fried potatoes, broccoli salad, and pork cracklins with French onion dip. Brown booze fans will relish one of the best bourbon selections in town, while craft beer fans will have no complaints either. There is patio seating right on lively East Fourth Street.

A paper-lined metal tray holding slices of brisket, ribs, sausages, cracklings, coleslaw, cucumbers, and dip
Barbecue platter
Douglas Trattner

13. Prosperity Social Club

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1109 Starkweather Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 937-1938
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About 15 years ago, a new owner purchased a very old saloon and whipped it into shape without losing a single shred of history, cred, or charm. This Tremont bar and restaurant looks and feels like it’s from the 1930s (because it is), but the food and beverage service has been upgraded to modern-day pub grub starring homestyle favorites like pierogi, stuffed cabbage, patty melts, and beer-battered fish and chips. Occasional live music, a cozy wood stove, and a retro-chic patio add to the nostalgic appeal of the place, as does a first-rate craft beer and cocktail list.

A white brick building exterior with an old timey sign hanging outside the door
Outside Prosperity Social Club
Douglas Trattner

14. Fat Cats

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2061 W 10th St
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 579-0200
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Long before Tremont became known as Cleveland’s Restaurant Row, there was Fat Cats, a pioneering farm-to-table bistro that has managed to shine for 20 years. Set inside a turn-of-the-century Colonial, this easygoing bar and restaurant wows visitors not with posh surroundings, but rather with friendly service and a creative menu that blends Mediterranean, Asian, and Latin American flavors. Where else can a diner enjoy steamed buns, Filipino pancit, Greek-style grilled octopus, and good old American grilled steak in a single sitting? Toss in a broad, appealing wine list and servers who know one bottle from another, and you begin to see why Fat Cats is still thriving. Outdoor seating is available.

A building exterior, with shingled siding and residential second and third floors, and a bar on the ground level with bright red facade, neon sign, and metal benches
Outside Fat Cats
Brandon Vulpitta

15. Ginko

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2247 Professor Ave B
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 274-1202
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Cleveland, like most major cities nowhere near an ocean, has enough great sushi places to satisfy nigiri lovers. But this one, operated by former Nobu chef Dante Boccuzzi, is unique in terms of style, setting, and selection. Located beneath Boccuzzi’s namesake bistro Dante, Ginko is a grotto-like den dominated by a horseshoe-shaped sushi bar. No expense is spared to secure the finest, freshest fish, which is crafted into an unforgettable omakase or a la carte experience. A pair of dedicated shabu-shabu tables offer an interactive alternative to the fish, while sake aficionados will savor the exceptional list here too.

Plates of intricate maki rolls and nigiri, along with sake and wine, in front of a sushi counter where a chef works
A full sushi experience
Douglas Trattner

16. Noble Beast Brewing Co.

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1470 Lakeside Ave E
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 417-8588
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Cleveland is blessed with many wonderful breweries of all sizes, but Noble Beast deserves special attention thanks to both the brew and brewery. Set in a 5,000-square-foot warehouse on the edge of downtown, the industrial space is airy and comfortable. Guests are practically surrounded by the brewhouse, where brewers craft classics like Belgian strong ales, altbiers, and kölsches, as well as trendy hazy IPAs and double IPAs. Great pairings like corndogs, nachos, salads, and sandwiches round out the offerings.

A brewpub exterior, taken from a low angle, with brick exterior, large garage door open to a garage-like space inside, and neon signage
Outside Noble Beast
Gary Yasaki

17. The Spotted Owl

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710 Jefferson Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 795-5595
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One of Cleveland’s top cocktail bars, this unique watering hole is located in the lower level of a 150-year-old brick complex. At once rough-hewn and stylishly tailored, the space boasts stained glass windows, exposed brick, and salvaged materials. It’s an easygoing environment to enjoy serious cocktails from an original menu devised with care by owner Will Hollingsworth.

18. Lucky's Cafe

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777 Starkweather Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 622-7773
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Long a Tremont mainstay, Lucky’s features one of the most popular weekend brunches in town. Chef-owner Heather Haviland is a devoted locavore who works almost exclusively with nearby farms for the eggs, dairy, produce, and meats that end up on the menu. Diners can expect fresh, creative fare like Ohio sweetcorn waffles with strawberry compote, cheddar-scallion scones topped with eggs and sausage gravy, and breakfast burritos packed with all the good stuff. The weekday menu, while just as tasty, is trimmed a bit. There is plenty of outdoor seating in an adjoining lot.

Waffles on a plate topped with whipped cream, fruit, and drizzles of sauce
Strawberry rhubarb waffles
Lucky’s Cafe [Official]

19. Slyman's Restaurant and Deli

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3106 St Clair Ave NE
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 621-3760
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In a region awash in corned beef, it’s common knowledge that Slyman’s, a Cleveland staple since the mid-1960s, sets the bar. Come lunchtime, lines form out front that eventually, efficiently pass in front of the perpetually active slicer, who shaves and piles warm, soft, fragrant corned beef onto fresh rye. In addition to those rightly legendary sandwiches, this bustling carryout and full-service cafeteria offers breakfast and lunch items that range from corned beef hash and eggs, to Reubens, to french fries with gravy.

A hand holds two huge halves of a corned beef sandwich wrapped in butcher paper in front of a blurred restaurant exterior
Corned beef at Slyman’s
Douglas Trattner

20. Superior Pho

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3030 Superior Ave #105
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 781-7462
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Superior Pho was not the earliest Vietnamese restaurant in Cleveland to serve pho, but it was the first to make the beef noodle soup its raison d’etre. Going on 15 years, this uber-casual eatery, tucked away in a small mall, has managed to turn a large percentage of locals into rabid pho fans. In addition to a dozen different bowls, all paired with spring-crisp accoutrements, this efficiently operated shop also offers amazing chicken cabbage salads, banh mi sandwiches, and rice vermicelli dishes topped with beef or pork. Wash it all down with Vietnamese coffee and bubble tea.

A close-up on a banh mi sandwich, stuffed with sliced green peppers, carrot, and meat
Banh mi at Superior Pho
Douglas Trattner

21. LJ Shanghai

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3142 Superior Ave
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 400-6936
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This relative newcomer to Cleveland’s AsiaTown neighborhood, home to dozens of exciting restaurants and markets, has quickly attracted diners for steamer baskets flush with xiao long bao. But those who explore the menu further find an array of outstanding Shanghai-style soups, noodle bowls, and meat dishes. Worth calling out is the wonton soup with shrimp dumplings, spicy beef noodle soup, scallion noodles, shredded pork with preserved vegetables, and soy sauce duck.

A steamer basket of soup dumplings, beside a plate of cucumbers on a wooden table
Dumplings at LJ Shanghai
Emanual Wallace

22. L'Albatros

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11401 Bellflower Rd
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 791-7880
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If you polled a large cross-section of Cleveland diners on their favorite restaurants, chances are good that L’Albatros would land near the top of the results. Chef and owner Zack Bruell runs a handful of wonderful restaurants, but it’s this nearly perfect French brasserie that rises above the rest. Set in a renovated carriage house on the leafy campus of Case Western Reserve University, the chic eatery offers deft, modern takes on classic bistro fare like onion soup, escargot, duck confit, cassoulet, and steak frites. Most meals here end with a cheese course, assembled tableside with aid from a knowledgeable fromager. The wine list is smart and broad, featuring Cleveland’s largest selection of natural wines, and the garden patio is one of the most delightful places in town to enjoy a meal.

A pot of escargots on a plate on a white tablecloth
Escargots
Douglas Trattner

23. Presti's Bakery

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12101 Mayfield Rd
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 421-3060
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For more than 100 years, this celebrated bakery has anchored Cleveland’s historic Little Italy neighborhood. The lively corner cafe turns out exceptional fresh-baked breads, pastries, and cakes, including Ohio’s best cassata. At mealtimes, a savory selection of items comes into view, namely square-cut pizza, meatball subs, and to-die-for stromboli, served with a side of marinara.

A baker rolls out dough on a floured counter
Pastries in the making
Presti’s Bakery [Official]

24. Felice Urban Cafe

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12502 Larchmere Blvd
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 791-0918
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The terrific Felice packs so much appeal into a modest house that it’s hard to fathom. For starters, there’s the lovingly restored Colonial with three levels of drinking and dining. Outside, there’s the enchanting garage-turned-barroom and crushed stone patio, complete with fire pit, bocce court, and wood-burning pizza oven. Inside or out, Felice boasts a widely appealing Mediterranean menu that satisfies vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. Treats like tempura-fried cauliflower and chorizo empanadas join aromatic seafood stews and expertly grilled hanger steak. On weekends, the restaurant is home to one of the sweetest brunches around.

25. Zhug

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12413 Cedar Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
(216) 862-2508
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Famed Cleveland chef Doug Katz closed his 20-year-old flagship eatery Fire during the pandemic, but fortunately for his myriad fans, he opened Zhug just prior. By combining a tempting menu of Middle Eastern small plates with a buzzy lounge-like atmosphere, Katz managed to create the most talked-about and in-demand new restaurant in recent years. The menu veers from cold-smoked octopus and schmaltz-fried potatoes to curried lamb-topped hummus and eggplant moussaka. All meals include warm pita and fiery zhug. Creative cocktails and a global wine list round out the experience.

A bowl of hummus with a mound of ground meat and hot oil in the center, topped with spices and herbs, on a table beside a plate of flatbread
Curried lamb and apricot hummus
Douglas Trattner

26. Vero Pizza Napoletana

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12421 Cedar Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
(216) 229-8383
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Since opening this pizzeria, owner Marc-Aurele Buholzer has never wavered from his commitment to make the best Neapolitan-style pizza possible. Pies exit the 900-degree wood-fired oven sporting the characteristic puffy, chewy, tender crust dotted with char. The margherita stars fresh ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil, while the diavola pizza kicks things up with Calabrian chiles. Like the food menu, the wine list is short but sweet.  

A pepperoni pizza, on a large platter, with basil and charred crust, on a table with an empty plate and pepper flake shaker
Pizza from Vero
Douglas Trattner

27. Balaton

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13133 Shaker Square
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 921-9691
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Few restaurants epitomize Cleveland’s historic culinary identity better than Balaton. For more than 50 years, this beloved Eastern European eatery has been dispensing soul-satisfying fare like potato pancakes, stuffed cabbage, wienerschnitzel, Székely goulash, and velvety chicken paprikash with spaetzle. For dessert, there’s heavenly Dobos torte. The sunny storefront on Shaker Square is outfitted with sturdy wooden furniture, family photos, embroidered textiles, and enough colorful ceramics to create an old-world vibe.

28. Tommy’s

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1824 Coventry Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-7757
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Around since the 1970s, Tommy’s is a true Cleveland original. Opened by a dyed-in-the-wool hippie, the restaurant was an early proponent of vegan and vegetarian foods. These days, the long, eclectic breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu is a welcome sight to both vegetarians and meat-eaters. Salads, escarole pies, and toasted cheese sandwiches join falafel, sprout pitas, and mile-high corned beef sandwiches. The hand-dipped milkshakes and french fries here are legendary, as are homemade desserts like carrot cake and rum-soaked pound cake.

Checkered paper-lined basket with an open-faced veggie burger topped with a heap of sprouts, beside a tall milkshake on a formica diner counter
Veggie burger
Tommy’s [Facebook]

29. Anatolia Cafe

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2270 Lee Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-4400
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Turkish food fans owe Yashar Yildirim a warm debt of gratitude for opening the wonderful Anatolia Café in Cleveland Heights. The attractive wine bar and restaurant delivers a taste of Turkish and Mediterranean cuisines. Among the refreshing dips, flavorful grilled meats and fish, and aromatic stews, popular dishes include pan-seared veal liver, thin-sliced doner, grilled lamb chops, and a savory mixed grill platter that combines a little bit of everything. In the warm weather, the sprawling sidewalk patio out front is packed with contented diners, many enjoying bottles of wine from the deep cellar.

A plate of fried liver cubes, with chopped red onions, herbs, and lemon wedges
Sauteed liver cubes
Anatolia Cafe [Official]

30. Zoma Ethiopian Restaurant

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2240 Lee Rd
Cleveland, OH 44118
(216) 465-3239
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Cleveland has only a couple Ethiopian restaurants. Fortunately, one of them is Zoma. This easy-going, owner-operated eatery on the east side of town offers up a communal experience starring generous platters of colorful food. As you pinch off pieces of stretchy injera to scoop up bites of savory stews starring greens, grains, chickpeas, lentils, beef, and chicken, just remember Zoma’s berbere-scented hot sauce improves everything it touches.

From above, a metal platter filled with injera, topped with various stews and fillings
A variety of dishes on injera
Douglas Trattner

31. Flour

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34205 Chagrin Blvd
Moreland Hills, OH 44022
(216) 464-3700
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This contemporary Italian restaurant in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs is a decade old, but there’s nothing dated about the food, setting, or service. In place of heavy red-sauce platters, diners enjoy seasonal, chef-driven fare built around wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, and select fish, seafood, and meat dishes. From the sausage-stuffed peppers to the bucatini with clams, every dish is perfectly composed. The cosmopolitan bar and dining room percolates with energy, while the wine cellar bursts with some of Italy’s finest bottles. Outdoor seating is available.

Chopped lettuce salad heaped on slices of porchetta on a bed of mashed potato
Porchetta
BurkleHagen Studio

1. Salt

17625 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107
A table with a bunch of small plates including asparagus with shaved cheese, cucumbers in a sauce, and roasted carrots
Vegetable-forward dishes at Salt
Alyse Nelson

In Cleveland, small-plates eateries often struggle for existence. But that isn’t the case at Salt, where chef Jill Vedaa has been winning over skeptics since 2016. The chef has a knack for composing visually compelling dishes, and devoted diners return frequently to sample ever-changing menus including hits like smoked beets with feta and olives, lump crab with shaved fennel, smoked trout roe and sweet peas, and rabbit pot pie in a savory rye crust. Classic and creative cocktails elevate the experience.

17625 Detroit Ave
Lakewood, OH 44107

2. La Plaza Taqueria

13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd B, Cleveland, OH 44107
A grocery store exterior beneath a blue sky dotted with dreamy clouds
Outside La Plaza
La Plaza Taqueria [Official]

For many years, local Mexican food fans ventured to the rear of La Plaza Supermarket to secure the town’s best tacos, tostadas, tamales, and tortas. The arrangement — a small stand wedged between the store’s bakery and butcher case — was less than ideal. Recently, the store’s owners erected a standalone taqueria in the front of the building, allowing guests to enjoy the same great fare along with an expanded condiment and salsa bar and dine-in seating. 

13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd B
Cleveland, OH 44107

3. Il Rione

1303 W 65th St, Cleveland, OH 44102
A hand lifts a slice of pizza away from a full pie on a platter, with cheese stretching in between, on a table beside a bottle of wine and pepper shaker
Cheese pull
Molly Geib

It’s hard to put into words how much people adore Il Rione, a buzzy pizzeria in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland. Diners have been known to wait for hours at nearby bars until their phones light up to signal their tables are ready. They are rewarded with dazzling New York-style pizzas dished up in a slightly shabby, slightly chic dining room with an open kitchen and bar. The pizzeria focuses almost exclusively on stellar pies like margherita, sausage, and white clam, but the menu does offer a select few additions like meat and cheese boards and a handful of salads. To drink, there is an equally concise roster of beers, wines, and cocktails.

1303 W 65th St
Cleveland, OH 44102

4. Astoria Cafe & Market

5417 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

Equal parts bar, restaurant, and gourmet marketplace, Astoria has become an invaluable neighborhood asset. Locals pop into the bright, spacious, and bustling storefront to stock up on imported olives, cheeses, meats, and wine by the bottle. For those who prefer to leave the cooking to the pros, Astoria boasts a massive menu loaded with Mediterranean-themed snacks, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, large plates, and desserts. Warm, wonderful service and one of the best brunches in town keep this place jumping throughout the week. Seats are available at the bar, at tables, and outside on the patio.

5417 Detroit Ave
Cleveland, OH 44102

5. The Cleveland Bagel Company

4201 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113
A close-up on a variety of bagels
Bagels, bagels, and more bagels
The Cleveland Bagel Company [Facebook]

Dan Herbst and Geoff Hardman started Cleveland Bagel Co. modestly, baking in a home kitchen and peddling their products at weekly farmer’s markets. The company has expanded to become one of the most beloved and recognized food items in the city. Cold-fermented, hand-rolled, water-boiled, and baked with care, these savory rolls land somewhere between svelte Montreal and chubby New York styles in terms of size. Two shops, one west and the other east, provide customers with fresh bagels, schmears, and a few straightforward breakfast sammies.

4201 Detroit Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113

6. Rising Star Coffee Roasters

Ohio City Firehouse, 1455 W 29th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
A person holds a bag of coffee beans labeled with Rising Star Coffee Roasters logo
House-roasted beans for sale
Rising Star Coffee Roasters [Facebook]

Located in the Hingetown neighborhood of Ohio City, Rising Star shares a red brick firehouse with Larder Delicatessen. The grassroots coffee company has an offsite Cleveland roastery to supply the beans for its exceptional espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos. House-roasted beans are sold by the pound, as are a handful of pastries. A few picnic tables out front offer al fresco seating.

Ohio City Firehouse, 1455 W 29th St
Cleveland, OH 44113

7. Larder

1455 W 29th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Savory pastries stuffed with boiled egg and meat, on a wooden counter
Savory pies
Larder [Facebook]

Set inside an 1850s-era firehouse, Larder is a modern-day version of the classic Jewish delicatessen as seen through the eyes of chef Jeremy Umansky. The old-world setting provides the ideal backdrop to display heavenly breads and pastries like black-and-white cookies, fruit-filled rugelach, chocolate babka, buttery challah, and meaty knishes. Hungry Ohio City neighbors literally line up for the now-famous koji-cured pastrami sandwiches, but also try the epic fried chicken sandwiches, matzo ball soup, housemade charcuterie, and daily specials like local beet salad. The Hingetown eatery shares patio seating with Rising Star Coffee.

1455 W 29th St
Cleveland, OH 44113

8. Momocho

1835 Fulton Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113
A close-up on a bowl of especially textured guacamole, with a lime wedge sticking out on top, on a wooden tray beside other dips
One of six kinds of guacamole
Eric Williams

Chef Eric Williams didn’t invent modern Mexican cuisine, but he has been perfecting the genre at this fun and funky Ohio City bistro for many years. Set within a restored Colonial, the two-level restaurant features a main floor barroom and upstairs dining room. Both are wonderful settings in which to enjoy creative and appealing mod-Mex food like smoked trout-topped guacamole, tamale dumplings, roll-your-own carnitas tacos, and pepita-crusted trout. Momocho makes a killer blood orange margarita, but the real find is the mile-long tequila and mezcal list. On warm evenings, Momocho’s spacious patio is prime real estate.

1835 Fulton Rd
Cleveland, OH 44113

9. Flying Fig

2523 Market Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113
A hand drizzles sauce with a spoon on a fish under a pile of cooked vegetables
Fish at Flying Fig
Flying Fig [Official]

One of Cleveland’s pioneering farm-to-table chefs, Karen Small works closely with local farmers, farmers’ markets, and regional producers to craft a menu that changes with the seasons. Guests can always count on unfussy but delightful small plates with big flavors, plant-forward options, and a right-sized list of meat, fish, and pasta choices. Set on a quiet brick-paved lane, this bistro has been an Ohio City staple for 20 years. 

2523 Market Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113

10. Market Garden Brewery

1947 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Outdoor seating area full of customers at tables beneath thick treats strung with stringlights
Outdoor seating at MGB
Gregory Wilson

Part of the Ohio City restaurant group that includes Bar Cento, Bier Markt, and Nano Brew, this trendy brewpub manages to fire on all cylinders. The craft beer is so good that it birthed a large, dedicated production brewery in the same neighborhood. The kitchen fights well above its weight too, swapping tedious pub grub with smart, seasonal, and creative dishes. And the space, just steps from the famed West Side Market, offers ample seating indoors and out, including a spacious beer garden with a wood-burning fireplace.

1947 W 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113

11. Porco Lounge & Tiki Room

2527 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
A bar interior with high-top tables, nautical decorations hanging from the seating, and bright backlit bar
Inside Porco Lounge
Sam Twarek

After nearly eight years, this magical little hideaway has earned a place in the pantheon of world-class tiki bars. In place of kitschy décor is an enchanting interior filled with collector-quality mugs, art, and artifacts, many rescued from long-departed, legendary tropical bars. Some of the city’s best bartenders — clad in Hawaiian shirts, naturally — whip up boozy but balanced versions of mai tais, zombies, and painkillers, all made with top-shelf spirits, juices, and syrups, and garnished with standard umbrellas or striking dry ice. A great patio out back adds to the appeal.

2527 W 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113

12. Mabel's BBQ

2050 E 4th St, Cleveland, OH 44115
A paper-lined metal tray holding slices of brisket, ribs, sausages, cracklings, coleslaw, cucumbers, and dip
Barbecue platter
Douglas Trattner

Michael Symon’s downtown barbecue joint just cruised past its fifth birthday thanks to a winning formula that pairs truly exceptional smoked meat with a lively industrial-saloon setting. Cooked low and slow over Ohio fruitwoods, items like beef brisket, pork butt, pork ribs, turkey, and kielbasa exit the pits supple, smoky, and delicious. Those meats come by the pound or packed into two-fisted sandwiches. Sides and snacks include creamed corn, fried potatoes, broccoli salad, and pork cracklins with French onion dip. Brown booze fans will relish one of the best bourbon selections in town, while craft beer fans will have no complaints either. There is patio seating right on lively East Fourth Street.

2050 E 4th St
Cleveland, OH 44115

13. Prosperity Social Club

1109 Starkweather Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113
A white brick building exterior with an old timey sign hanging outside the door
Outside Prosperity Social Club
Douglas Trattner

About 15 years ago, a new owner purchased a very old saloon and whipped it into shape without losing a single shred of history, cred, or charm. This Tremont bar and restaurant looks and feels like it’s from the 1930s (because it is), but the food and beverage service has been upgraded to modern-day pub grub starring homestyle favorites like pierogi, stuffed cabbage, patty melts, and beer-battered fish and chips. Occasional live music, a cozy wood stove, and a retro-chic patio add to the nostalgic appeal of the place, as does a first-rate craft beer and cocktail list.

1109 Starkweather Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113

14. Fat Cats

2061 W 10th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
A building exterior, with shingled siding and residential second and third floors, and a bar on the ground level with bright red facade, neon sign, and metal benches
Outside Fat Cats
Brandon Vulpitta

Long before Tremont became known as Cleveland’s Restaurant Row, there was Fat Cats, a pioneering farm-to-table bistro that has managed to shine for 20 years. Set inside a turn-of-the-century Colonial, this easygoing bar and restaurant wows visitors not with posh surroundings, but rather with friendly service and a creative menu that blends Mediterranean, Asian, and Latin American flavors. Where else can a diner enjoy steamed buns, Filipino pancit, Greek-style grilled octopus, and good old American grilled steak in a single sitting? Toss in a broad, appealing wine list and servers who know one bottle from another, and you begin to see why Fat Cats is still thriving. Outdoor seating is available.

2061 W 10th St
Cleveland, OH 44113