Cleveland is fast becoming a dining destination. As Cleveland has been transformed, several nationally known chefs have been opening new restaurants in the downtown area in recent months. My recent finds include:
Lola Bistro: At 2058 East 4th St., this is chef Michael Symon’s flagship Cleveland restaurant. I enjoy him as one of the hosts on ABC’s The Chew. This is a lively, popular restaurant. I really enjoyed my smoked duck entree with mushrooms, fresh corn, corn puree and topped with peaches. The fig and goat cheese ice cream with cookie and truffle was the perfect end of the meal.
Symon recently opened Mabel’s BBQ at 2050 E. 4th. St. The menu is influenced by Eastern European flavors and features such items as lamb and pork ribs, kielbasa, beef brisket and Cleveland kraut and pickles.
Greenhouse Tavern, 2038 E. 4th St.: I really enjoyed this fun local spot with great energy. It has two floors of dining plus outdoor seating and fun rooftop bar/dining. I enjoyed my halibut entree and the great service. It is headed by Chef Jonathan Sawyer, who won the 2015 James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes. His other local restaurant is Trentina for rustic Italian.
Society Lounge: At 2063 E. 4th, this is a lovely, downstairs cocktail lounge with a dark, warm decor with an old speakeasy feel. I tried and really enjoyed their own Coco Fashioned. It is made with cocoa nib infused bourbon, rich syrup, barrel-aged bitters and xocolatl mole bitters.
Rising Star Coffee Roasters: Rising Star is one of the top local coffee roasters. While exploring downtown Cleveland, stop in at their downtown location at 412 Superior in the Hyatt Hotel arcade. The building itself is worth the visit!
Urban Farmer: At 1325 E. 6th, in the Westin Hotel, this is a local farm-to-table restaurant. It is a great spot for breakfast in a great setting!
Karl’s Inn of the Barristers: At 1264 W. Third St., this restaurant, recommended by the Aloft Hotel and others, is a fun downtown spot for breakfast if you don’t want to eat at your hotel.
Heinen’s Grocery Store, 900 Euclid Ave.: Stop in for a coffee or snack and enjoy the wonderful, historic rotunda.
West Side Market: I love markets! This historic market from 1912, is located west of downtown in the Ohio City neighborhood. It has more than 100 food vendors selling such items as fish, meats, cheeses, bread, fruits, vegetables, flowers, nuts and spices. Make sure to visit the market, have breakfast at the West Side Market Cafe, visit a local coffee shop and checkout the two microbreweries nearby. It is not open every day so check the website for days and hours. 1979 W. 25th St.
West Side Market Cafe: The perfect spot for breakfast or lunch when you are in town. It is a short cab ride from downtown. The atmosphere and service is great and the frittata was very good. Make sure to walk through the market before or after your meal! 1979 W. 25th St.
Market Garden Brewery: Located next to the West Side Market at 1947 W. 25th, is a local brewery which features their porters, stouts, pilsners, IPAs and wheat beers. They have a restaurant open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch; plus their new brewery features tours and tastings. They also have Speakeasy for cocktails, Bar Cento for Italian food and Bier Markt at 1948 W. 25th.
Great Lakes Brewing Co.: At 2516 Market Ave., this is Ohio’s first microbrewery from 1988. They feature a line of lagers, pale ale, IPAs, porter, stouts and an Irish Ale. They also have a great food menu. Tours are available.
Koffie Cafe, Coffee Bar & Bakery: Located across from Great Lakes Brewing is a fun local coffee shop. The owner and staff were great! 2521 Market Ave.
East of Ohio, you might stop in at Sokolowski’s University Inn which is Cleveland’s oldest family owned restaurant. Serving Polish and Eastern European cuisine since 1923, it received an American Classic award from the James Beard Foundation. 1201 University Rd.