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Great Summer Road Trips
Food Paradise

Cleveland

Drive time: 5 hours

You grow up in Cleveland fielding a lot of lame cracks: Yep, the Cuyahoga River caught on fire—what a laugh riot. You’re right, Cleveland sure does rock—haven’t heard that one before. But these days, a group of brilliantly inventive chefs are skewering perceptions of C-Town, turning it into a foodie destination. It started with Iron Chef America’s Michael Symon, a gold-medal ambassador for the Rust Belt if ever there was one, who built an empire around snout-to-tail butchering and unpretentious Midwestern comfort food (fried bologna sandwich!). He’s not the only one drawing on deeply rooted Cleveland food traditions—and then splintering them into something thoroughly novel.

Published May 19, 2016

Three Great Breakfasts

Dante Next Door

Vacation gives you permission to eat pizza for breakfast.
Order: Everything Bagel and Lox ($16), a pizza that pairs house-cured salmon with all the fixings—capers, red onion, cream cheese, a hard-boiled egg, and dill nextdoor.
danteboccuzzi.com

Let Petit Triange Café  Photos: Billy Delfs

Le Petit Triangle Café

Enthusiastic chefs flip chewy, wafer-thin crêpes just steps from customers at this itty-bitty French bistro.
Order: The tangy housemade lemon curd crêpe ($8), which isn’t always on the menu, but they’ll usually make for you anyway if you ask.
lepetittrianglecafe.com

Corky and Lenny’s

Some locals swear by the corned beef at Slyman’s. Everyone else craves the tender, salty deli meat at this East Side fave.
Order: Thick-cut challah French toast ($6)—with corned beef on the side
corkyandlennys.com

Three Great Lunches

Melt Bar and Grilled

Nearly 30 grilled cheese variations veer from uncomplicated (bread with the slice of your choice) to keep-a-cardiologist-on-speed-dial (meatballs and fried mozzarella wedges).
Order: Cuban War Pig ($15), which layers ham with pulled pork, pork belly, and Swiss
meltbarandgrilled.com

Wild Mango

Yes, it’s in a mall. Get over it. Go to this Asian-Euro marvel at lunch, when prices are about a third of what they are at dinner.
Order: New York strip steak with tempura-battered sweet potato fries ($12—really!)
wildmangorestaurant.com

Sokolowski’s University Inn

The James Beard Foundation dubbed this cafeteria-style institution an American classic.
Order: Dense, butter-slick pierogi ($10), which have earned raves from Jimmy Fallon, David Byrne, and a prevegan Bill Clinton
sokolowskis.com

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Three Great Dinners

Trentina

James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer constantly reinvents the selections, but count on locally foraged produce, hay-roasted fauna, and twee preparations. Sawyer makes the case for the Polish Boy, a Cleveland classic, anywhere you can get one. “It’s Slovenian sausage. Sweet, split-top hot dog roll—steamed, never grilled. Sauerkraut. All topped with french fries that are tossed in a spiced barbecue sauce. It’s guaranteed food poisoning, but it’s kind of worth it.”
Order: Menu Bianco ($115), a 12-course tasting menu
restauranttrentina.com

Mabel's BBQ
Mabel’s BBQ

Mabel’s BBQ

Michael Symon’s goal: to invent barbecue instantly identifiable with Cleveland. That means a sauce made with Bertman Ball Park mustard, meat smoked with Midwestern applewood, and a kraut-heavy menu.
Order: This Is Cleveland ($19), a meatfest of kielbasa, spareribs, and pork belly
mabelsbbq.com

Minh Anh

There are plenty of flashier places to get pho here. But this no-frills storefront is the original and best.
Order: No. 22 ($9.50), a mammoth bowl of delicate, briny-sweet broth packed with beef balls and rice noodles
minh-anh.com

Minh Anh
Trentina

While You’re There:Get handsy with the infamous leg lamp at A Christmas Story House & Museum ($10), the painstakingly restored home of Ralphie and Randy from the 1983 holiday classic.

Where to Stay:Pretend you’re a home improvement scion at the Glidden House, formerly the mansion of the paint titans (from $179, gliddenhouse.com).

 

How to Spend an Hour at the West Side Market

West Side Market

Prepare for sensory overload: On any given day, thousands of shoppers visit the 100-plus vendors at this food leviathan.

Order the fiery house-smoked beef jerky at Czuchraj Meats (that’s SHOO-cray to you non-Ukrainians).

Cake Royale hand-pipes cannoli—more than a dozen types—on the spot.

The flaky Russian tea biscuits from Vera’s Bakery are what pastry dreams are made of.

Squeamish? Shield yourself from the skinless goat heads staring bug-eyed from the butcher stalls.

Browse well-curated olive and cheese selections at Mediterranean Imported Foods.

Order a link on a soft roll, doused in ketchup, from Frank’s Bratwurst. (No judgment: This is Cleveland, not Chicago.)

Head upstairs with your haul and eat it on the balcony overlooking the gargantuan main hall. westsidemarket.org

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