Lakeside views, charming Victorian-era houses and a thriving nightlife aren’t the only reasons to pay a visit to Lakewood, Ohio. With restaurants offering everything from modern Mexican and upscale seafood to craft beers and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, Lakewood boasts a vibrant dining scene. Check out our guide for the best places to eat.
View from Pier W’s bar Courtesy Pier W
Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
The DKB Burger | Courtesy Deagan's Kitchen & Bar
One of the Greater Cleveland area’s most unique restaurants, Pier W first opened in its clifftop location overlooking Lake Erie in 1965 and boasts some of the most breath-taking views of the Cleveland skyline in town. Designed to mimic a luxury cruise liner in structure, Pier W features an airy and elegant dining room and vibrant cocktail lounge with live piano. Must-try dishes include Pier W’s famous bouillabaisse fresh fish, top neck clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels and snow crab claws in a saffron-infused tomato broth with roasted garlic crostini and rouille.
One of Melt Bar & Grilled’s delicious grilled cheese sandwiches | Courtesy Melt Bar & Grilled
An award-winning gastro pub and craft beer bar based in bustling downtown Lakewood, Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar serves upmarket pub grub alongside an extensive beer list, vintage cocktails and spirits. Co-owners Dan Deagan and Daniel Stroup have created a comfy bar environment with their stylish yet welcoming space, full of both original character and contemporary comforts, while executive chef Chris Kafcsak crafts upmarket pub fare like the DKB Burger topped with pickled red onion, white cheddar and Applewood bacon with a side of fries and maple and black pepper glazed salmon accompanied by sautéed Swiss chard and roasted butternut squash.
Above and beyond your average run-of-the-mill sandwich bar, Melt Bar & Grilled, a quirky local group of restaurants with six locations across Ohio, specialize in serving an upmarket take on a much-loved classic, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Opened in 2006, its Lakewood branch is where it all began when local chef Matt Fish decided to turn his favorite snack into a restaurant and today, Melt Bar & Grilled enjoys being listed among Thrillist’s 21 Best Sandwich Shops in America. All sandwiches come with hand-cut fries and crunchy dill pickle. Signature sandwiches include the Cleveland cheesesteak with beef brisket, garlic mushrooms, sautéed peppers and onions, rosemary aioli and provolone.
A modern Mexican restaurant focusing on small plates, tamales, taquitos, bocadita and antojito, El Carnicero has received rave reviews since first opening. Established by local chef and restaurateur Eric Williams, also the proprietor of Momocho in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, El Carnicero offers a dining experience a cut above the standard Mexican fare with a cozy, stylish space decorated with offbeat artworks. This creates a vibrant ambience in which to enjoy a selection of upscale small bites like pork belly and pinto bean refritos, adobo braised wild boar tamales and slow-cooked duck leg confit taquitos accompanied by tequila and craft cocktails.
Barroco is a lively South American grill specializing in Colombian inspired eats fused with other Latin American flavors. A casual-chic, eclectic space illuminated by twinkling string lights and featuring exposed brick walls painted with vibrant graffiti murals and a menu brimming with tempting dishes like shrimp ceviche and braised beef in sweet hogado sauce with black beans and white rice await diners. The real pull at Barroco are its arepas, grilled corn pockets filled with cheese and a variety of fillings like chorizo, buffalo chicken and grilled Angus hamburger.
Known throughout Greater Cleveland for its tasty, scratch-made tacos and huge selection of tequila, whiskey and beers, Barrio is a casual, energetic venue currently enjoying a reputation as one of Lakewood’s best-loved Mexican joints. Guests can opt for a custom-made taco made entirely to their specifications with options that include corn or flour tortillas, fillings like house-made chorizo and sauces such as chipotle honey and fiery ghost pepper. If this doesn’t tempt the tastebuds, opt for one of executive chef Damon Ginnard’s taco suggestions like the Moooo-chas Gracias with braised beef, jicama, corn salsa, queso fresco and Barrio’s secret sauce, perfect washed down with a Barrio margarita.
With its expert mix of classic Italian fare with modern American flavors, elegant décor and warm, welcoming ambience, it isn’t hard to see why Players on Madison is a local diner favorite. Guests can play it safe with thin crust Tuscan pizzas in flavors such as quatro formaggio or buffalo chicken or opt for one of executive chef Anthony Romano’s exquisite entrees like the lavender-glazed lamb chops with goat’s cheese risotto, roasted artichoke hearts, Portobello mushroom and port wine syrup. A number of wine dinners hosted by expert oenophiles are also held, while Players’ charming patio is a perfect spot for brunch on warmer weekends.
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Located on the outskirts of Lakewood on a bend in the Rocky River, Georgetown is an upscale American restaurant opened by locally born restaurateur Mickey Krivosh, known for an elegant atmosphere, creative plates and expertly crafted specialty cocktails. Dine on appetizers such as the tempting banana peppers stuffed with house-made sausage, marinara sauce, parmesan and a drizzling of olive oil and mouth-watering entrees that include duck breast with duck bacon, mashed sweet potatoes, apple relish and an almond glaze. Be sure to check out Georgetown’s charming patio terrace.
A locally owned and operated restaurant and bar with a friendly, neighborhood vibe Buckeye Beer Engine is a must-visit for any dedicated beer fans, 27 premium draft beers are available on tap alongside two cask-conditioned ales and over 100 bottled beers. A vast variety of beer isn’t the only pull at this popular, local joint, a range of delicious gourmet burgers perfectly suited to complement any beverage are also served such as the Buckeye mini burger sliders with grilled onion and pickle chips or the hearty Fatty Melt, a half-pound beef patty topped with bacon and tomatoes and stuffed between two grilled cheese sandwiches.
Bar, Charcuterie, Wine Bar, Italian, American, $$$
An outstanding wine list with none of the associated wine snobbery, a warm and welcoming ambience and a menu full of Italian inspired small plates, gourmet cheese and charcuterie boards and Neapolitan-style pizzas, have made Humble Wine Bar one of local dining must-try options. Humble Wine Bar has a beautiful interior, a stylish mix of rustic wood and exposed brick featuring a stunning white tiled wood fire pizza oven, which creates a hip, inviting locale in which to try delicious bites such as pancetta wrapped shrimp and spicy sopressata pizza.