Food lovers' guide to Cleveland

Jan 15, 2013 at 9:15 a.m. ET

Not long ago in Cleveland, the only "gourmet" food you could find was squeezed between a bun and topped with relish. Now, this town is becoming a mecca for innovative yet unpretentious cuisine. Here's a list of our favorite, must-visit restaurants and bars.

Westside Market
Photo credit: Kenneth Sponsler/iStockphoto

The newfound fame Cleveland recently has received in the food and restaurant department brings a desperately needed breath of fresh air to the once desolate city still shaky from years of high unemployment and a failed steel industry. Thanks to the help of superstar Michael Symon and a local, very enduring population hungry for better food, the wounded city is finally getting the culinary respect it deserves. Foodies, Cleveland is no longer just a city of cheap hot dogs or Polish sausages. The food scene is definitely "Hot in Cleveland" right now.

Westside Market

The Westside Market, located on the up-and-coming West 25th Street, is a Cleveland institution. The historic brick market house is home to more than 100 vendors, including supreme chocolate shops, Polish bakeries, butcher blocks and small food stands. You can get anything beneath the arched exposed ceilings of the market, like a batch of homemade pierogis (the bourbon mushroom is divine) from Pierogi Palace or a few heavenly wedding cake cupcakes from Grandma Freda's Fresh Bakery. You won't leave the market empty-handed (or hungry, for that matter).


Michael Symon deserves a lot of credit for awakening the Cleveland food scene. His fresh-from-the-farm mentality and focus on in-house preparation (the chefs at Lolita cure and age most of their meats in the cellar) gained him respect from the locals as well as national accolades. When dining in the chic Lolita, located in the hip Tremont district, we recommend making a meal with the stellar appetizers. Start with the charcuterie "big" board (the pate is light with a hint of sweetness and the prosciutto is perfect), then order some crispy chicken livers, crispy pigs tails and ears (completely unexpected and delicious), chicken mac and cheese and the Lolita burger (made from freshly ground meat). The bartender is also revered as one of the best in the city, so grab a fun cocktail from him while you wait for your grub.


Forget everything you know about tired Mexican food when you walk into the doors of Momocho on Fulton, because your expectations will be completely blown out of the water. The chef, who was a 2010 and 2011 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Great Lakes region nominee, updates classic Mexican dishes, like taquitos, with more upscale ingredients, like braised pork and duck confit. The mole braised short ribs and the grilled corn on the cob with jalapeño butter are out of this world.

Up next: More places to eat in Cleveland >>

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