5 Cleveland Restaurants You HAVE To Visit

For your culinary pleasures, here are Five Restaurants in Cleveland You HAVE To Visit.

There are no shortages of restaurants in the Cleveland area, this is part of the reason it was ranked as the 7th out of ten American Best Food Cities. There is no end to what you can find. Cleveland truly has some amazing local places to eat. You could eat at a different restaurant every day and not eat at the same one twice in a year.

What is even more amazing is how vegetarian friendly this town can be. As a new vegetarian, I felt it was going to be hard to enjoy going out and eating at places due to the changes I have made, that could not have been further from the truth.

For your culinary pleasures, here are Five Restaurants in Cleveland You HAVE To Visit.

Fat Cats

Tucked away on the bank of the Cuyahoga River is nestled a most amazing restaurant called Fat Cats. If you blink you will almost certainly miss it as it is a converted 120+ year old Colonial house with one of the most unique atmospheres imaginable. Every corner is used to give a space to experience food and atmosphere uniquely imagined for all visitors.

Ricardo Sandoval is one of the founding people who revamped the dining scene in Tremont, back in the 1990s.  What really sets Fat Cats apart is that it was one of the first and best farm to table restaurants Cleveland has to offer. In an adjoining plot, they have put up their own small garden to help with the dishes they prepare. Fat Cats was also one of the first early adopting restaurants to cater to vegans, vegetarians, and gluten free patrons, alike.

Fat Cats has an ever changing seasonal inspired menu, offering appetizers, small plates, and entrees. Take my word and go for the small plates option. This is where Fat Cats truly shine in their food and is best shared with a date, friends, or family. My three all time favorites are the braised mushrooms, tofu banh bao, and crispy brussel sprouts. I know you have probably had brussel sprouts and thought they were nothing special, take it from me I have had plenty myself and these are the best and unlike others I have had. The combination of Ohio grown apples and curry sauce is amazing, a must try.

If you have not experienced this amazing find then get in your car and head over to 2061 W 10th St Cleveland, OH 44113. Just in case, give them a call to make sure you get a table. Fat Cats in Tremont.

Falafel Cafe

Everyone that knows me knows that I love supporting a local business and this place is definitely one that I love supporting whenever I am in that part of town. I have grown to love Mediterranean food, even more so with having to change my diet last year. The woman who owns this restaurant is there every day cooking up and serving some of the most amazing dishes. Eat in or take out, she has you covered.

My first experience of this amazing little spot came after I had been diagnosed with cirrhosis. Karl had gone to get us lunch while I was going through my appointments. It was a rainy and chilly day to go along with my dour mood. As I get in the car he presents me with two rolled pitas, falafel and a vegetable pita. The best part is that they also have fries. It lightened my mood and made my day feel a little better. Since that time, it has become one of my favorite places to go, especially when I am at Cleveland Clinic for my many appointments.

A restaurant owned and operated by a woman with the desire to carry on the memory of her husband in their food. The love she had for her husband and their dream of a restaurant can be tasted in every item on their menu. If you are ever in University Circle and looking for food, stop in and let Mae Ellassal serve you up some amazing food to go. Falafel Cafe

Buckeye Beer Engine

What bar and restaurant in the West Side of Cleveland got started in Bedford Heights in a beer bar/brewery? That would be the Buckeye Beer Engine. What this restaurant lacks in parking it more than makes up for in food and beer. This locally owned restaurant is known for offering 29 premium draft beers, two authentic cask conditioned ales, and over 100 different bottle varieties, as well as offering a host of vegetarian-friendly options. What makes the Buckeye Beer Engine truly special is that they rotate the beverage offerings and was one of the first and only Duvel taps mounted on the wall.

I don’t think I have ever had a bad dinner at the Buckeye Beer Engine. Their cauliflower wings are onpoint and fried up nice and crispy, your choice of sauces are served on the side for you to dip to your heart’s content. I never was a fan of black bean burgers and after having one at the Beer Engine, I now understand why. There are few places that know how to make a black bean burger that holds together and cooks quite the way the cooks at BBE have figured out. My favorite way of getting one there is to use the Steakhouse burger as a template. Imagine a perfectly cooked black bean burger topped with bleu cheese, thyme mushrooms, caramelized onions, and a garlic chive butter on a brioche style bun with their sweet potato fries. It is simply heaven in your mouth and all you have to do is chew to experience it. Get out of that chain and head over to Buckeye Beer Engine and check it out for yourself.

Aldo’s Italian Restaurant

One can argue that the best place in Cleveland is Little Italy and because of that most every place is always full. It also is simply not true. While Little Italy has amazing restaurants, it isnt the only place to get great Italian food. A short drive to Brooklyn, Ohio is a small restaurant that sits inside a strip mall. It is easy to miss as the road driving by is on higher ground than the actual building, you will find them at 8459 Memphis Ave, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144.

Aldo’s is another small floor plan that boasts a HUGE selection and atmosphere. When you walk in there is a specials board on the wall behind the hostess station. The kitchen is just off the dining room that feels more like your grandmother’s dining room than a restaurant. Seating is at a minimum and reservations are an absolute necessity. From the time you walk in and are greeted by the hostess till the time you leave, you are treated as if you belong to a large Italian family. The waitstaff is super attentive and always ready to offer you suggestions, should you find yourself a loss for what to eat.

When it comes to the menu you will find the traditional Italian flair, it is best to have taken a picture of the Specials board and make that what you choose from. These are limited time dishes that usually have the freshest of ingredients and are a true delight to any sophisticated palate. The wine menu boasts plenty of Italian must tries. This restaurant has been in business for over 20 years and has been featured in numerous top restaurant articles throughout its history. If you love Italian and are looking for a new place to try, make your way to Brooklyn and be sure to visit Aldo’s Italian Restaurant.

Empress Taytu

Prior to moving to Cleveland, I never had the pleasure of Ethiopian food, it simply wasnt a type of food easily found in my little corner of the south. After I met Karl, he insisted that we had to go to a place called Empress Taytu Ethiopian Restaurant. At first, I was a bit nervous, not knowing what the food would be like or the overall atmosphere. I agreed to go out of the ability of experiencing something new. Setting on St. Clair, not far from 55th street is where we went. I had driven by this place, quite a bit, on my way to work and never saw it.

From the outside you can see that this has been several types of business before but upon entering you see just how different it has become. In the middle of the main room are two tiki or grass hut inspired areas – one as a bar and the other covers two tables. The walls are covered in tapestries, pictures, stories, and photographs from various things in Ethiopia. The staff is warm and welcoming and quickly get you to a table. As I mentioned, I had never been to an Ethiopian restaurant so when the wait staff came out holding a pair of tongs and steaming rolls of something, I was taken aback to learn they were steamed towels for cleaning yourself before dinner. I was immediately shocked and didn’t know how to react. Karl reassured me that it was normal and I should take one as it is proper etiquette. 

The first dish, and my go to favorite, is the number 10 Vegetable Combo. It comes with 5 vegetable dishes: yellow split pea, lentils, collards, cabbage and beets and potatoes that are smothered over top of several pieces of injera (Ethiopian flat bread). As a southerner, I grew up on collard greens, cabbage, beets and potatoes, so this was already a shoo-in for me. I had not had a lot of experience with lentils prior to my switch to vegetarianism but, aside from Karl, Empress Taytu makes some of the best in town. The collard greens remind me of my grandmother and the cabbage is second to my mothers for flavor. I recommend this dish to anyone that wants a great sampling of what Empress Tatyu Ethiopian Restaurant has to offer.

If that has gotten your mouth watering, make sure to visit them at 6125 St Clair Ave Cleveland, OH 44103. At the time of this posting, their website was down 😦

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