Many people think of Cleveland
as the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
and the champion city of the microbrewery, but this Midwest locale is rising in true underdog fashion as a hub for foodies all across the country. These spots range from the ultimate locals’ choice restaurants to sensational fine dining food, so bring your appetite and check out the 10 best restaurants in Downtown Cleveland.
Blue Point Grille
The Blue Point Grille has retained the title of Cleveland’s premier seafood restaurant since its opening in 1997. The massive bay windows overlook the heart of downtown’s historic Warehouse District, littered with transformed factory buildings and shopping centers. The Grille offers traditional seafood made form the freshest ingredients at the raw bar, as well as award-winning wine pairings. Fine dining meets an open air atmosphere in this sizable urban locale, which has two stories connected by ornate columns. Happy hour is one of the best deals in town, with oysters at $1 each and martinis at $5.
Address & phone number: 700 W. Claire Ave, Cleveland, OH, (212) 875-7827
Authentic south-of-the-border flavor is a rare find in the Midwest – a dilemma that a tiny cubbyhole restaurant called Momocho is trying to redress. The decor is chic and edgy, with designs on the wall resembling a tattoo parlor, mixed with traditional Mexican ornaments. Chef Eric Williams puts a fresh spin on Mexican favorites; his menu features such unique items as goat’s cheese guacamole and Korean barbeque-style taquitos. During happy hour on Tuesday-Friday, Momocho offers half-priced signature margaritas and taquitos.
Address & phone number: 1835 Fulton Rd, Cleveland, OH, (216) 694-2122
There is no better spot in Cleveland to find New York-style deli food than Slyman’s Restaurant on the East Side. It is a simple diner setting with friendly and attentive staff who serve up traditional American fare, from Ruebens to sweet hotcakes. Don’t miss the classic pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, which are rumored to be the best in the Midwest.
Address & phone number: 3106 St. Clair Ave, Cleveland, OH, (216) 621-3760
Bar, Bistro, Restaurant, American, Steakhouse, $$$
Michael Symon, an Iron Chef winner and judge, opened Lola in 1997, which would be the first of his four restaurants to open in the Midwest. Lola offers upscale American cuisine, predominately surf-and-turf, which Symon cooks to absolute perfection. The interior is spacious and elegant, with an open kitchen and a towering wine rack behind the almost retro tortoise-shell bar. This spot was named one of America‘s Best Restaurants by Gourmet Magazine, and continues to be a cornerstone of Cleveland’s fine dining scene.
Address & phone number: 2058 E. 4th St, Cleveland, OH, (216) 621-5652
Santorini Greek Taverna
If you are struggling to find authentic Greek cuisine in Downtown Cleveland, look no further than the Santorini Greek Taverna in the Warehouse District. The decor offers a taste of Santorini, with clean white walls and subtle blue accents supported with classical pillars. The staff is, in true Greek fashion, is hospitable and always eager to please their guests. Order anything from the spanakopita to lamb kebabs with seasoned fries, and this taverna will deliver delicious Greek food exactly how it was meant to be.
Address & phone number: 1382 W. 9th St, Cleveland, OH, (216) 205-4675
Crop Bistro is located in the historic Ohio City area on the outskirts of Downtown Cleveland. Although it is somewhat distanced from the heart of downtown, Crop is well-worth the detour. Upon entering the restaurant, one is struck by the sheer scale and grandeur of the space, which consists of a high vaulted ceiling, exposed stone walls, and a massive classical fresco on the far wall. The menu focuses on intense, complex flavors, and chef Steve Schimoler puts an experimental twist on American fare. The ‘cherry bomb and hot balsamic popcorn’ and ‘short rib noodle bowl’ are among the many unusual dishes available at Crop.
Address & phone number: 2537 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH, (216) 696-2767
The Rusty Anchor
With a name that sounds more like a dive bar than an upscale seafood and steak restaurant, The Rusty Anchor surprises and goes well above its expectations. The interior is, of course, nautically-themed – the dining space is elevated on a curved wooden slope resembling the hull of a boat and other sailing paraphernalia hangs on the walls. The outdoor patio is directly on the Cuyahoga river’s East Bank, offering amazing views of the city by night. There is also live music and an exhaustive wine list available.
Address & phone number: 1148 Main Ave, Cleveland, OH, (216) 242-1250
Sokolowski’s University Inn
Polish cuisine is a staple of the Cleveland area, due a considerable amount of the population being of Polish decent. Sokolowski’s, the oldest family owned and operated restaurant in Cleveland, founded in 1923, is the best-of-the-best when it comes to traditional, well-executed Polish meals. It is a cozy pub setting with a wood-burning fireplace and stained glass behind the bar, above which hangs three family portraits. Guests are welcomed by warm staff, often the owners themselves, and plates piled high with pierogies.
Address & phone number: 1201 University Rd, Cleveland, OH, (216) 771-9236
L’Albatros, a French brasserie on the outskirts of Case Western Reserve, is one of chef Zack Bruell’s six restaurants in Cleveland. From the outside it looks like a small carriage house, but the interior is deceptively large and completely modern. The walls are white-painted brick and the furniture is similarly stark white, which is offset by a sleek black marble bar and striking artwork. The menu consists of French staples like duck confit and escargots, beautifully executed, as well as some more offbeat items.
Address & phone number: 11401 Bellflower Rd, Cleveland, OH, (216) 791-7880
Ice Cream Parlour, Ice Cream, Dessert, American, $$$
It is only right that the best dessert parlor in Cleveland top off this list – that spot being Sweet Moses, a classic neighborhood dessert parlor with a Rockwellian 1950s vibe. Simple wooden booth seating is available and the menu has every treat one could hope for, from turtle sundaes to root beer floats. The staff even use an antique soda machine and phosphate syrups to make old-fashioned soda drinks.
Address & phone number: 6800 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH, (216) 651-2202