Most visitors in Cleveland look to the Downtown or Tremont areas for the best restaurants in the city. If one ventures only a few minutes away to West Park, however, the food is of the same quality and is often sold at half the price. Check out the best cuisine West Park has to offer, from Middle-Eastern tapas to regional comfort fare.
Located on West Park‘s main through-way Lorain Road is the Emerald Necklace Inn and Tea Room. True to its name, the Emerald is a hidden gem near the lush greenery surrounding the West Branch Rocky River. The inn was built in 1863 during the American Civil War and originally functioned as the county general store, and today, the Victorian origin of the inn is evident in the decor, characterized by porcelain trinkets, crystal chandeliers, and old-fashioned portraiture. Afternoon tea includes fresh pastries, scones, and savory tea sandwiches – not to mention bottomless specialty tea blends. Address & Telephone Number: 18840 Lorain Rd, Cleveland, OH, (440) 333-9100
In the Jefferson neighborhood of West Park is George’s Kitchen, a classic diner serving comfort food favorites. Walk into George’s and be welcomed home by friendly staff and cozy booth seating, surrounded by a local crowd. The menu, not unlike most diners, is extensive, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner late into the night. Swing by George’s for some corned beef hash or slow-cooked barbecue, and you’re sure to leave happy.
Upon looking at Al & B’s BBQ, one’s first instinct is to drive right past it. This is a tiny hole-in-the-wall in the center of a strip mall, but don’t let appearances fool you – this is one of the best barbecue joints in Cleveland. A simple blackboard menu behind the deli counter lists classic comfort staples such as chicken wings, smothered ribs, and Cleveland-invented ‘polish boys’ with collard greens. Though the ambiance is not much to speak of, the dishes are cooked with old-fashioned Southern love and care.
Specializing in Syrian and Middle-Eastern cuisine in West Park is Damascino, a cozy family-style restaurant on Lorain Avenue. This is a simple spot that serves simple, natural food prepared exactly how it should be. After being seated in booths with classic checked picnic tablecloths, you are served massive helpings of Middle-Eastern favorites from hummus to tabouli. The food is so authentic one feels as if they’ve stepped into a Syrian kitchen, welcomed by amiable staff and a casual atmosphere.
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The Thai Elephant is a tranquil slice of Thailand in the middle of Cleveland. As a family operated restaurant, the owners at the Elephant honor their Thai ancestors by crafting dishes with authentic taste and creative presentation. The interior has table and booth seating next to bamboo-bordered walls dotted with Asian artwork. All traditional Thai meals are available, such as Panang curry and Tom Yam, a creamy hot and sour soup with lime juice, lemongrass, and mushrooms.
Gene’s Place to Dine resembles a retro diner with its own kitschy 1930’s and 40’s celebrity theme. Booth seating is surrounded by framed black-and-white photographs of everyone from Marlon Brando to Mae West, a jukebox, and checkered floors. The menu is typical of a diner, aside from the titles, all of which are named after old Hollywood movie stars and jazz singers. The Gene Kelly steak sandwich and the Zhivago burger with chives, sour cream, and mushrooms are among the most popular dishes at Gene’s. Swing by for great food with a touch of nostalgia for a bygone era.
You know it’s an authentic taco stand if the smell of chipotle spices is wafting from a ramshackle corner store and there is line out the door. Cap’n Taco is a local cantina and taco stand that has been turning out delicious Mexican comida for decades. The decor is, oddly enough, floor to ceiling airplane paraphernalia, in addition to the neon beer signs and sports logos that are native to the dive bar scene. Tacos and beer rule in this spot, and nothing on the menu will break the bank.
Like many of the best restaurants in West Park, Bylo Gyro doesn’t look like anything more than a roadside pit stop from the outside. However, this classic deli serves some of the most delicious gyros in Cleveland. The menu consists of gyros cooked to absolute perfection as well as other Greek and American entrees.
Many locals of West Park claim that Athens Pizzeria is the best pizza joint in Cleveland, and some even say its the best in Ohio. What is certain is that Athens serves fantastic pies, by any standard, at bargain prices. Make-your-own and specialty pizzas are available on Athens’s unique crust that is somewhere between thin and thick, and mildly sweet. This spot also offers Italian appetizers and entrees including mouthwatering meatball subs and homemade stromboli. Grab a take-away pizza, sit on the outdoor picnic tables and enjoy the summer sun. Address & Telephone Number: 4341 Rocky River Dr, Cleveland, OH, (216) 476-1944
Bar, Pub, American, Wine, Beer
Located in Kamm’s Corner is American sports bar and grill Back Stage Bar, which goes way beyond tap booze and average pub fare. Although the menu is a variation on American cuisine, the Back Stage surprises all with their flavorful twists on classic dishes. The Asian Steak Salad is bursting with citrus taste, and the burgers are marinated until juicy and cooked to perfection. Live music is often playing on the outdoor patio, and weekly specials such as Wednesday Taco Nights are posted on their website.