Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Practical Guide for a Weekend of Eating in Cleveland

Or, how I make good when I tell out of town visitors that I could entertain them for four days before running out of places to eat. This post is prompted by yesterday's, where I noted that this is not a restaurant review blog. But I eat out a lot, and I host guests occasionally. Below are my thoughts on dining (and related activity) going from late Friday through mid-day Monday.

Friday evening (assuming a late arrival):

Option #1 - Lava Lounge. Open late and generally reliable for a good meal and music.

Option #2 - Lolita. Also in Tremont, a nice late happy hour menu (if you can find a seat in the bar area), and some seriously good charcuterie (if you can't).

Option #3 (a.ka. what to do if your friend is very hungry and patient, or got in pretty late) - Just Like Mom's. Usually open until around 5 am on weekends, it provides plentiful, if not slowly delivered, soul food.

Saturday Breakfast:

Option #1 - Presti's Bakery. For a light breakfast in Little Italy with some better than decent espresso.

Option #2 - Juniper Grille. Nice downtown location with enjoyable food and regrettable service. Really nice for a relaxed bite.

Saturday afternoon food fun:

Option #1 - West Side Market. No need for an explanation.

Option #2 - A North Union Farmer's Market. Comforting in the winter, and carnival-like in the summer, it highlights great local produce, meats, and crafts.

Option #3 - Gallucci's. Great Italian import store. Could be combined with a Chinatown market crawl.

Saturday Lunch:

Option #1 - Nate's Deli. Great for Middle Eastern and traditional deli fare. Also great service and a fair price. Right next to the West Side Market.

Option #2 - West Side Market. Falafel or sausage sandwiches that will buy some time before the real meal that's to come.

Saturday Dinner:

Option #1 - Moxie. Great, consistent food and impeccable service. It's almost too consistently great. (And half price bottles of wine under $100 on Monday nights--at least it used to be that way)

Option #2 - The Flying Fig. Great combination of being local where possible and using finely procured high quality ingredients where it's not. One of my favorite places in town, it pleases everyone.

Option #3 - Pacific East. If I could eat at just one restaurant this might be it. Truly fresh and creative sushi that shocks out-of-towners. As good as anywhere I've ever been and better than most.

Saturday Drinks:

Option #1 - Market Avenue Wine Bar. Nice wine selection and intimate (read: claustrophobic) environment right across the street from The Flying Fig.

Option #2 - La Cave Du Vin. White belt clad servers tell you how much cooler their music is than yours in a really nice place with good beers and wines. Usually able to find a table to be discreet, or be right in the mix. Here for East Side representation.

Option #3 - Great Lakes Brewing Company. For the beer minded. Also in Ohio City.

Sunday Brunch (the two extremes):

Option #1 - Pier W. $35 will get you all the standard brunch offerings along with some great oysters all with one of the best views of the City around, regardless of the season.

Option #2 - Bialy's Bagels. Some of the best bagels in town, usually still warm. To go only.

Sunday Dinner:

Option #1 - Bar Cento. Good, affordable, and creative bar food. Great beer list and friendly staff. Some of the best Neapolitan style pizzas in town.

Option #2 - Udupi Cafe. Both the best vegetarian and best Indian place I've been too. Worth the trip out to Parma, it's good stuff. East Coast Custard is across the street for dessert.

Option #3 - Cook some of that food you should have picked up on Saturday.

Monday Breakfast:

Option #1 - Irv's Sandwich Shop. Great East Side greasy spoon.

Option #2 - Nick's Diner. Kind of like the West Side's interpretation of Irv's.

Monday Lunch:

Option #1 - Slyman's Restaurant. Best corned beef in Cleveland, and an institution. Can't miss going here.

Option #2 - The Town Fryer. Open for lunch. Best red beans and rice and gumbo outside of the Crescent City. Fried Oreos too.

That's what I've got. I left out some great places, including, but not even close to limited to, #1 Pho and Sokolowski's University Inn, both places that visitors tend to enjoy, but there's only so much I can do here. I tried not to stray too far from the City and stick with neighborhoods that I enjoy (Sorry Melt and Three Birds, and 2182.). And I've have good luck with the aforementioned places, with the prices varying enough to keep it interesting. Plus, it's a short four days.


Anonymous said...

Great suggestions and I agree with all of those that I've been to. May I suggest the following also?

For Saturday or Sunday brunch, Lucky's in Tremont is pretty great. Plus, in the warm weather, you can sit on one of the picnic tables. Another great brunch is Fire.

Could one consider grabbing take-out at Dish in Tremont and eating in Lincoln park on a Saturday afternoon or taking your bootie and heading to Wendy Park and watch the world pass?

The CFT said...

I like the suggestions. I've never been to Fire but have plans to go in the very near future. Same with Dish--but I have been to the similarly named Global Deli in Ohio City, which I like. Thanks for chiming in.

I like Wendy Park too.