I can’t even begin to tell you about Cleveland’s a-w-e-s-o-m-e food scene. If West Side Market’s ethnic and fresh food scene is any indication of its excellent food quality, then you’ll be drooling over the delicious dishes shown here.
The Diner on 55th
Prof read about the Diner on 55th in one of our official Cleveland Tour Guides. While it was a bit out of our way from our museum route, we encountered a pleasant experience of a classic throw back of an American 1950s diner. We ordered our favorite hot breakfast foods, classic pancakes, bacon, eggs, and toast combo.
Once you stepped into this silver chrome building, every detail from the red and white checkered vinyl table covers to the red vinyl, pleather seating made you feel like you were taken back in time. All we needed was a few poodle skirts, some high water black pants, and leather jackets, and we would have fit in with the decor. (We devoured our breakfast, which is why you don’t see our plated food; but trust us, it was delicious.)
On our way out, Prof noticed a photograph of the owner’s granddaughter with a Greek last name. True to Prof’s excellent language skills, he struck up a conversation in Greek on the spot. My brain, on the hand, was mush when it comes to languages, and it took about two minutes to process words from a foreign language to English and back. By the time we were in the car, I finally understood some of the Greek being exchanged. One of my few Greek phrases included, “Είμαι από την Αμερική,” which means I am from America. However, I don’t think that really applies when you are living in America. Needless to say, I clutched to my polite smiles and bowing like a Korean to the kind elderly owner, Mr. Dmetrios Anagnostos. What a unique and wonderful spot to taste good ole’ American diner food with a bit of Greek culture thrown in the mix.
Our friends recommended B Spot, a Michael Symon owned restaurant. Who is Michael Symon? I had no idea, but apparently, he’s been on Iron Chef and is a famous chef and restauranteur. The B represents burgers, brats, and beer, which was a perfect representation of the food on the menu.
We enjoyed a gorgeous day of sun and 60°F weather. Match the weather with our order of burger with a side of fries, and we were in heaven.
B Spot offers a free pickle bar, and they offered kimchi! Prof asked if they made kimchi from scratch in the kitchen, but our waiter said that it came from somewhere else. They must have ordered it from a local Korean grocery store nearby or outsourced it from H Mart. I can’t think of anyone else who would be able to make kimchi so well.
Our boys ordered from the kids’ menu, and it was nice to see fresh fruit available. I cannot believe how often fruit offered on the kids’ menu meant fruit salad from a can.
At the end of the kids’ meals, they each ate a mini chocolate frosted cupcake in a perfectly sized proportion for their little bodies.
One our first night in Cleveland, we met up with some friends for dinner at an American restaurant, Tommy’s Restaurant in Cleveland Heights, with a slice of Mediterranean flair. We ordered plenty of dishes with falafel, tahini, hummus, and the like. Unfortunately, it was so good, and we were so caught up with conversation that I forgot to take photos of our huge plates of food. Tommy’s another one of those affordable restaurants that’s been featured on the Food Network a few years ago, which tells you that Cleveland is a foodie’s paradise.
LEGO Store in Cleveland, OH
Because the Great Lakes Science Museum’s gift shop sold overpriced LEGOs, we thought the kids could use a museum break with a trip to the mall. We made a quick stop to see what was offered at the LEGO shop at Beachwood Place Mall.
With a small selection of sale items, we decided to look around the store and let them enjoy some play time.
We made a final dinner stop to Cleveland’s Little Italy on way back after our camping trip.
Mama Santa’s in Little Italy
On our last night we dined at Mama Santa’s, another highly recommended spot from our Cleveland buddies. It’s a small restaurant with a rustic interior, but the food had large portions and plenty to share, family style. The staff treated you like you were part of their family too.
I couldn’t help but take photos of the street scene on a Saturday night. It was a lively ambiance filled with laughter and happiness.
Presti’s in Little Italy
The best part about eating out on travel has to be dessert. We indulged in a little splurging on dessert when it comes to travel dining, which means our boys can try something new, and it was no different at Presti’s.
If you’re ever in doubt about whether the food is good, you can always tell the by the number of people waiting and standing outside. The even longer lines inside clearly say, “This is the pastry shop to have dessert.”
Uncle C had a delicious fruity dessert, while our boys enjoyed some gelato ice cream and a cookie almost as big as Linus’ face.
Tony Brush Park in Little Italy
Before dinner at Mama Santa’s, our boys noticed a virtually empty playground, Tony Brush Park. They asked to go and play afterwards, and we couldn’t help but check out this beautiful free green space as a nice after dinner wind down before heading back to the hotel.
What I love about this playground is the subtle and not so subtle hints of Italian pride. You can see red, white, and green flags prominently displayed next to American flags up and down Little Italy’s main street. And you can see the Italian flag embedded in the playground’s padded rubber flooring. The city maintained the park well, and it was a pleasant experience to let them play so freely.
And parents of young ones know that it’s a definite must to find downtime for the kids to run around when on vacation, especially when you’re going to go back to a hotel room.
Corky and Lenny’s – Jewish Style Deli
Sunday morning’s brunch crowd at this New York-style Jewish Deli, Corky and Lenny’s, was another one of those out of the way restaurants from downtown but worth the drive. Located inside a strip mall, a traveler wouldn’t say, “Hmmm, let’s stop by Corky and Lenny’s for brunch.” You’ve got be a Cleveland insider to eat here. Plenty of Cleveland locals and Jewish families gathered for a meal together, which created a lively and jolly atmosphere.
We ordered a load full of food – hash browns, french toast, bacon, eggs, potato latkes (Jewish-style potato pancakes), and a few others that have escaped my mind.
Piccadilly Artisan Creamery – Liquid Nitrogen-Styled Ice Cream
I mentioned Cleveland’s best homemade ice cream resides in gorgeous Chagrin Falls, but if I had to compare homemade ice cream to cream frozen by liquid nitrogen, then Piccadilly Artisan Creamery wins hands down. It’s the plethora of Kitchen Aid mixers that makes me drool and the wow factor of seeing mad scientists concocting smoke from the mixer into a cool, alternate reality smooth ice cream. Of course our boys watched in anticipation and devoured the flavorful ice cream before I could say, “Can I have bite?” Their messy, chocolatey mouths said it all… h-a-p-p-y.
The founders and brothers, Adrian and Cosmin Bota, have other two other yogurt locations in Cleveland, but this one specializes in the cream for ice cream. They give the customer complete flexibility in choosing the type of dairy, flavors, fillings, and toppings. That’s more customization than anything Starbucks can offer.
(Photo Above: Several Kitchen Aid mixing bowls behind the counter ready to use depending on the flavor you choose. Yummm…..)
(Photo Above: Kitchen Aid mixers up close….oooooh.)
(Photo Above: See that colorful Kitchen Aid Mixer in action?)
(Photo Above: Watching food and science come to life at Piccadilly.)
(Photo Above: Enjoy the cool rustic and urban eclectic interior space.)
(Photo Above: Liquid nitrogen tank at the back.)
While I may forget to photograph some fantastic Cleveland foods, I never forget the atmosphere and architecture of a space. We indulged in a variety of Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, Kosher, Americana, and other culinary fusion works of art. I was pleasantly surprised by Cleveland’s art, science, and restaurant scene in ways that I didn’t expect. The combination of smells, visuals, and textures make me want to come back to encounter more great experiences in this city.
Have you ever traveled to Cleveland? What are some of your favorite hot spots?
TRAVEL: Cleveland Museum of Art
TRAVEL: Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland
TRAVEL: Cleveland’s Steamship William G. Mather
TRAVEL: Chagrin Falls, Home of Calvin and Hobbes & Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
TRAVEL: Cleveland’s West Side Market
From my hometown to yours,