Emma Beno, 23, and Alexia Rodriguez, 31, met in 2009. They live in the West Park/Kamm’s Corners neighborhood. They are co-owners of the Pork Chop Shop at the West Side Market. They stay here because of the quality of life in Cleveland, including the nightlife and dining scene.
What makes Cleveland’s foodie scene unique? There is an abundance of fresh food, locally grown. There is also a great tradition of many ethnic cuisines. The increasing numbers of creative chefs and adventurous restaurants and customers makes the Cleveland food scene second to none.
What can visitors expect to find at the West Side Market? It is a unique experience. You’ll see things and discover food that won’t be found anywhere else. The other thing you’ll notice right away is that this is a working market. You can do your grocery shopping here. At the same time, you’ll learn about and taste new foods, talk with vendors and get to know where your food comes from.
What are some of your favorite things about Cleveland? It’s easy to get around, which is great because there are so many fun and exciting neighborhoods. There are many pockets of hip and interesting places to go, whether you like art, dancing, dining, sports, culture, theater, or whatever. We live in the Kamm’s Corners neighborhood, where there are lots of great restaurants and bars; we work in Ohio City, where there are galleries, breweries, clubs, restaurants and more. Also check out Tremont, University Circle, Little Italy, East 4th St. and Waterloo. There are so many.
Throughout the year, art and culinary events heat things up another notch in Cleveland. From food festivals dedicated to everything from garlic, wine and hamburgers; events showcasing local farmers, producers and sustainability; to art and multicultural parades and demonstrations, there’s never a dull moment.
Aug. 31 – Sept. 3: The Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest held at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds is a Cleveland tradition, attracting a diversity of fun-lovers from every walk of life, generation and ethnic background, offering an exciting menu of activities, entertainment, dancing and traditional German food and beverages.
Sept. 8 – 9: Shaker Square, home to the ever-popular North Union Farmers Market, once again becomes the place to be for “all things garlic” in the region during the Cleveland Garlic Festival. Attendees, armed with breath mints, enjoy garlic-themed food (everything from ice cream to oysters) prepared by local chefs, an onsite celebrity chef Grill-Off, live music, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, taste and grow tents for children and more.
It’s that time again. Time to eat until your belly’s content, get inspired and rub elbows with some of foods biggest named chefs. The 6th Annual Fabulous Food Show heads to Cleveland November 11-13 and you could be the winner of two tickets courtesy of the I-X Center.
Celebrity chefs Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Robert Irvine, Duff Goldman and Michael Symon will be on hand to share their secrets and culinary delights. And, don’t miss the Market Place featuring more than 225 exhibiting companies, the Culinary Celebration Theatre, the Grand Tasting Pavilion, Sweet Street and more than 100 ongoing demonstrations on six different stages.
This year’s all new Taste of the Neighborhood Stage features Cleveland’s top local chefs. The Culinary Celebration Theatre offers theatre seating for 400, featuring top-ranked culinary pros from Cleveland and around the country, showcasing their skills in 30-minute demonstrations.
For your chance to win two tickets simply tell us in the comments below what you’re most excited for this year at the Fabulous Food Show. Please include your contact information so we can reach you if you win. The winner will be chosen on Monday, November 7 at noon. Good luck and happy eating!
The winner of two Fabulous Food Show tickets is CLEgal. Thanks to all who entered!
For more information on the Fabulous Food Show and to buy tickets, visit www.fabulousfoodshow.com.
Michael Ruhlman is a freelance journalist, author and culinary show judge.
How did you initially befriend local chefs?
I became well-known in the food world writing books. I worked with some of the best chefs in the country. One of the guys I wrote about was Michael Symon. It was a natural thing. How could I not enjoy the bountiful and thriving food scene here in Cleveland?
Have you been surprised by the amount of attention that Cleveland’s culinary scene has received?
No. I think it’s happening in cities all over the country. I have drawn attention to Cleveland and Michael Symon has drawn attention to it. Attention begets more attention. In 1998, Michael Symon got a Food & Wine Award and people started to look at Cleveland. Then Jonathan Sawyer gets one and one thing feeds another.
How would you describe Cleveland’s food scene? Does it have a distinguishing feature or is it just wildly eclectic?
I would say wildly eclectic. It’s smart and we have a great territory for most of the year to grow stuff. We have a great produce scene and farming community. That makes it easy for chefs to fulfill their ambitions. It would be much harder to do this in say Texas or Arizona where you don’t have the produce we have.
Where’s your favorite place to buy produce?
A farmer’s market is as good as it gets. I go to the North Union Farmer’s Market at Shaker Square on Saturdays and the one at the Cleveland Clinic on Wednesdays throughout the summer.
What’s your favorite new restaurant?
There are so many great restaurants, it’s hard to choose just one. I love the ones that are pushing to do new things and use local ingredients. It’s incredible. It’s a thriving scene here in Cleveland and it’s only going to get better.
What’s your favorite place to hang out that isn’t food related?
My house. I’m a homebody. I don’t like to go out.
You moved back here in 1991. How has the city changed in the time you’ve been back?
Food-wise, it’s night and day. We have any number of restaurants that would be equally successful in New York City or in other major cities. We have the West Side Market that continues to make obscure things available to us, like lamb hearts and fresh portabella. We have great Asian markets. It’s a very good place to be a cook.
As a writer, what about the city do you find inspiring?
It’s a quirky city and I’ve always loved that about it. It seems to encourage eccentricity rather than sameness. I love the neighborhoods and the different landscapes, from rural to gritty city. I love everything about it.
What’s the city’s best-kept secret?
Why would I want to make that public?
Q+A with Jeff Niesel
The culinary scene in the Cleveland Plus region has won more than just ten minutes of fame through numerous features on national television shows and networks. Celebrity Iron Chef Michael Symon, who owns two major restaurants and a burger chain throughout the region, helped propel culinary Cleveland towards stardom. Now the spotlight shines brightly on the chefs forging the region’s starlight status on shows such as the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives, the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food and even more.
Hot Sauce Williams
The Travel Channel hosts Adam Richman and Anthony Bourdain each visited Hot Sauce Williams for its legendary BBQ delicacies such as ribs, fried chicken and of course, the Polish Boy. This kielbasa sausage is buried by fries and coleslaw, stuffed in a bun, and drenched in Hot Sauce Williams’ famous spicy barbecue sauce. 216.391.2230
Trattoria on the Hill
This quaint family-owned restaurant located in Little Italy was featured on Rachel Ray’s $40 a Day. In addition to their homemade sauce, the Gnocchi Al Burro and lasagna dishes consistently claim the title as the best Italian meals around. 216.421.2700, www.trattoriaromangarden.com
The original owners, who opened Cleveland’s Geraci’s Restaurant in 1956, have kept the business under the same family ownership ensuring the quality of the meal is never compromised. The menu features everything visitors would expect from a decades-old Italian restaurant with everything from specialty pizzas to homemade Italian sausages and meatballs, all of which was recently featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. 216.371.5643, www.geracisrestaurant.net
J+J Czuchraj Meats
Michael Symon raves about J&J Czuchraj Meats in the “Salty Goodness” episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network. For more than 50 years, the small stand in the West Side Market has been providing simply craveable homemade fresh and smoked meats such as kielbasas, chorizo, jerky and much more. 216.696.7083, http://stores.jandjmeats.com/StoreFront.bok
Cleveland’s Iron Chef Michael Symon opened this trendy Mediterranean bistro when he moved his original restaurant, Lola to the East 4th street entertainment district downtown. With an original menu using fresh and local ingredients, Lolita receives the attention of Anthony Bourdain and Michael Rulhman, as well as numerous reviewers’ with mouth-watering house cured meats and other dishes full of Mediterranean flair and flavors. 216.771.5652, www.lolitarestaurant.com
Lopez Southwest Kitchen
Lobster enchiladas, smoked gouda-jalapeño grits and mushroom-goat cheese quesadillas are just a few of the simply divine dishes created by Lopez. And the bar pours fifteen different types of margaritas and more than ten types of aged-tequilas. Located in Cleveland Heights, the restaurant strives for innovative interpretations on traditional southwestern dishes which received rave reviews on the “Totally Unexpected” episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network. 216.932.9000, www.lopezonlee.com
Recently featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Momocho is a modern Mexican joint located in Ohio City. A cucumber margarita compliments anything on the menu which includes six different kinds of guacamole (one is made with goat cheese and poblano chiles) and chilaquiles with smoked trout, crab and a fried egg. 216.694.2122, www.momocho.com
Seti’s Polish Boys
Seti’s puts a unique spin on the traditional Polish Boy by adding chili and cheese to the top of the sandwich. This is just one of the reasons Michael Symon labels the east side restaurant as the best thing “Between Bread” on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Anthony Bourdain has No Reservations about visiting the westside’s Sausage Shoppe. He gets a firsthand look at the sausage-making craft, perfected since 1938. The hams, kielbasas and sausages continuously win awards for the best meats in the state and from the American Association of Meat Processors. 216.351.5213, www.sausageshoppe.com
Sokolowski’s University Inn
Run by the third generation of Sokolowski family members, the University Inn is recognized on numerous culinary shows for its Polish menu featuring pierogi, bratwurst, cabbage and noodles. 216.771.8967, www.sokolowskis.com
While certainly not the “haute couture” of upscale culinary, the highly coveted Slyman’s Deli has been serving Cleveland’s best corned beef sandwiches for countless generations. Rachel Ray takes her bite of the legend on $40 a Day. 216.621.3760, www.slymans.com
Sterle’s Slovenian Country House
Guy Fieri makes a visit to Sterle’s, located on East 55th Street in Cleveland on Diners, Drive-In and Dives. The Slovenian Country House serves Slovenian dishes in an Alpine-style atmosphere. On Friday and Saturday nights entrees such as the veal and Wienerschnitzel are just an appetizer of an evening of dancing the polka and the waltz with live musicians and accordionists. 216.881.4181, www.sterlescountryhouse.com
For more than 21 years, Steve’s Gyros has been perfecting the Greek dish at a stand inside the West Side Market. In 2007, their gryo stuffed with juicy meat, wrapped in a warm and buttery pita and topped with homemade tzatziki sauce was named the best in the country by Maxim Magazine. It also was recently featured on Man vs. Food with Adam Richman. 216.566.9825
The Greenhouse Tavern
While most of the publicity about The Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th street features their sustainable operating practices and farm-to-table initiatives, it is also important to observe the French-inspired menu options and techniques. Many variations of frites (the gravy frites come highly recommended), and foie gras steamed clams are great starters, while duck, fish and egg-based entrees make it a “Guilty Pleasure” on The Food Network’s, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. 216.393.4302, www.thegreenhousetavern.com
Viewers should tune in to the current season of the Food Network’s the Great Food Truck Race to catch local food truck sensation Chris Hodgson and his Hodge Podge truck race across the country and compete to win the grand prize of $100,000. And stay tuned for Restaurant Impossible’s stunning makeover of the Mad Cactus, located in the suburb of Strongsville. Other local favorites spotlighted on the silver screen include Big Al’s Diner (The Best Thing I Ever Ate), Great Lakes Brewing Company ($40 a day), Lola (No Reservations, The Best Thing I Ever Ate), Lucky’s Café (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, The Best Thing I Ever Ate), Melt Bar and Grilled (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Man vs. Food),Tommy’s Restaurant ($40 a day) and the Velvet Tango Room (The Best Thing I Ever Ate). – AI
The kitchens of Northeast Ohio have produced an elite crew of cooking professionals. “Clevelandhas a lot of talented chefs,” says Chef Jonathon Sawyer, owner of The Greenhouse Tavern on East 4th Street. “I would say a lot of our local chefs are very unique and inventive, but there is always room for more.”
The craft of fine cooking has been the passion of Sawyer since he was a Cleveland kid of 13. Today The Greenhouse Tavern (thegreenhousetavern.com) is one of downtown’s great independent restaurants — a French/American-fusion bistro that focuses on delicious, locally-sourced, farm-to-table dishes — the first certified green eatery in Ohio.
Before The Greenhouse Tavern, Sawyer actually worked with arguably Cleveland’s most famous indie cook, Michael Symon. As a Food Network Iron Chef, national author, and local restaurateur, Symon’s name has become synonymous with gourmet Cleveland cooking, at both of his food boutiques — Lola downtown and Lolita in Tremont (www.lolabistro.com).
Of course imaginative recipes are not just the work of TV kitchen celebrities. Matt Fish loved grilled cheese so much he opened Lakewood’s Melt Bar and Grilled in 2006 (www.meltbarandgrilled.com), serving up the tastiest, two-fisted sandwiches in Cleveland. Serving 600 Melt sandwiches on a typical Friday night, the tattooedClevelandcooking veteran decided to open a second location onCedar RoadinCleveland Heights.
Northeast Ohio is brimming with similarly-gifted chefs. Chef Sergio Abramof has been creating award-winning menus in Cleveland for over 16 years at his cross-cultural and Brazilian bistros, Sergio’s in University Circle and Sergio’s Saravá in Shaker Square (www.sergioscleveland.com) respectively, but uniquely Cleveland dining destinations like his flourish because of the patronage of local and visiting foodies.
“Great independent restaurants will continue to thrive as long as there is strong, continued, and active community frequenting them,” says Abramof. “That’s why my wife and son often enjoy a Saturday lunch at Nate’s Deli. Or on a night off, I often find myself eating delicious sushi and tempura at Shuhei Restaurant in Beachwood, or you might catch me atPearlof the Orient inShaker Heights, getting the chicken corn soup, with some fresh shrimp chips to go.”
– Submitted by Keith Gribbins, guest blogger
EDITOR’S NOTE: We talked to a few notable Clevelanders and asked them what they liked about Northeast Ohio. Here’s Jonathan Sawyer, celeb chef and chef/owner of The Greenhouse Tavern, Ohio’s first green-certified restaurant.
Were you born in Cleveland?
I was raised in Cleveland but I was born in Chicago. Both sides of my family have lived in Cleveland. My grandparents lived in Maple Heights and Bedford Heights, so my roots are here.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
I live in Shaker Heights. I grew up in Strongsville and met my wife in Strongsville.
What’s the best thing about living in Shaker?
The school district. That and my house, which is almost 200 years old. I really like old things and my house was built in 1855. It’s a really cool old farmhouse. There’s a lot that we could do to it to make it more livable and modern, but I’m okay with the way it is. The way that the houses were built back then, it had a coal cellar, a root vegetable cellar, and a regular cellar all fully-enclosed in giant layers of brick. I use one for my wine cellar and all the vinegar we use in the restaurant is made in my basement. It has an 83-case production capacity.
Why do you think the restaurant scene in Cleveland has taken off like it has?
Cleveland, for a city as small as it is, really has a phenomenal food culture and chef culture. Thanks to people like Michael Symon, we started getting the national spotlight even though we had chefs pushing the envelope and doing incredible things well before that. It was through the national media paying attention to him that people started paying attention to chefs like Zack Bruell and me. Without Mike and what he brought to the scene, we probably wouldn’t be getting as much attention. We owe him a huge thank you for that. One of the most interesting things is that it’s much easier for us to compare ourselves to the Pacific Northwest. We don’t have the mass, but man do we have the product. I think that’s one of the most interesting things: how fertile the Cuyahoga Valley is. We’re so lucky to have the products we have in such close proximity. We’re weights and pounds ahead of other cities. No offense to Colorado, but their tomatoes suck. No offense to Florida, but they can’t grow corn.
Cleveland Plus offers a multitude of steakhouses from which to choose, many of which also carry fresh seafood. Now your only problem is deciding amongst all these incredible restaurants!
Benihana Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse
23611 Chagrin Blvd, Cleveland, 216.464.7575
This is not your ordinary steakhouse by any stretch. Benihana offers delectable steak and chicken prepared right before your eyes on a traditional Japanese hibachi grill. But many are surprised to learn that they also hand-rolled sushi, sashimi and other Japanese favorites. It’s most fun to experience Benihana with a group.
Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse
1300 West 9th Street, Cleveland, 216.575.0699
Start your dinner off the Brasa way – with a trip to their salad bar (which is more like a buffet with pasta, fish, cocktail shrimp and mussels). Then, Brazilian Gauchos come right to your table and slice cuts of meat right in front of you. Not much of meat fan? Check out Brasa’s full sushi menu.
Six various locations throughout Cleveland Plus, 440.826.4500
Bucci’s is a name that’s been in Northeast Ohio for what feels like forever. And, they continue to offer consistently good food. Their extensive menus are filled with seafood, steaks, chops, veal, chicken, pizzas and pasta. You’ll have a fabulous time whether you’re looking to dine with the family, with the boss or just your sweetheart.
Quail Hollow Resort, 11080 Concord-Hambden Road, Painesville, 440.497.1100
While dining in this rustic, lodge-themed restaurant, guests can choose from any of their mouth-watering filet mignon, bone-in ribeye and strip steaks. When you’re finished, enjoy a romantic overnight stay in Quail Hollow Resort, which houses the restaurant.
Cleveland ChopHouse + Brewery
824 West Saint Clair, Cleveland, 216.623.0909
Enjoy the casual elegance of the 1940s at the Cleveland ChopHouse + Brewery, which specializes in delicious steaks, chops, burgers and veal. Don’t leave without trying their hand-crafted beer and white cheddar mashed potatoes!
Marriott at Key Center, 127 Public Square, Cleveland, 216.696.9200
Renowned by locals, visitors shouldn’t pass up the fresh seafood, chops and Black Angus steaks at David’s Restaurant located inside the Marriott at Key Center downtown. Large group? No problem – they can accommodate groups up to thirty people in a semi-private atmosphere.
6001 Quarry Lane, Independence, 216.573.1991
Conveniently located in Independence, this retro-styled steakhouse features prime steaks, fresh seafood and great Italian classics. But what makes this place so special is that all the servers are trained wine stewards who can help you pair the perfect wine with your dish.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
28869 Chagrin Boulevard, Woodmere, 216.896.9000
4000 Medina Road, Akron, 330.670.5200
Flemings, which has a winning reputation across the country, knows the way to a perfect steak. And, with 100 wines by the glass, this is a must-visit restaurant for the avid wine connoisseur. Make sure to try their “5 For $6 ’Til 7” bar menu, featuring five tempting appetizers, premium cocktails and unique wines by the glass – each priced at $6 and served nightly until 7pm. Two locations in Cleveland Plus.
Hyde Park Steakhouse
123 W. Prospect Avenue, Downtown, 216.344.2444
26300 Chagrin Blvd., Beachwood, 216.464.0688
21 Main Street, Westlake, 440.892.HYDE
4073 Medina Road, Akron, 330.670.6303
A trip to one of Hyde Park Steakhouses is an experience all its own. This upscale, white-gloved restaurant was rate rated among the best steakhouses in America by the Zagat Guide and is known for going above and beyond the traditional steakhouse offerings. For all the wine connoisseurs, you’ll want to check out their extensive wine list.
John Q’s Steakhouse
55 Public Square, Cleveland, 216.861.0900
Warm lighting, cozy booths and a menu featuring the finest in steaks, lamb, pork and seafood create an exquisite setting to enjoy food comfortably. The menu features only Certified Angus Beef including its porterhouse, strip steak, bone-in filet and rib eyes.
8001 Rockside Road, Valley View, 216.524.9404
Located right on the cusp of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, this upscale restaurant has a quaint and quiet ambiance that is relaxing after a long day. You know you’re in for a treat as soon as you bite into their warm bread and peruse their Italian-based menu featuring pastas, steaks and seafood.
Holiday Inn Cleveland Airport, 4181 West 150th Street, Cleveland, 216.252.7700
Head to the Holiday Inn Airport to check out this relaxed bistro bar that knows delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated. They offer American-Italian fare, ranging from their “chubby” sandwiches to their traditional Italian pasta and wonderfully prepared steaks.
Morton’s The Steakhouse
Tower City, 1600 W. 2nd Street, Cleveland; 216.621.6200
Nationally recognized, Morton’s is a name you can trust. This upscale steakhouse specializes in amazing cuts of beef, family-style sides and mouthwatering desserts. But don’t forget to check out their bar, which is known for serving scrumptious “bar bites” like mini cheeseburger sliders, mini crab cake BLTs and iceberg wedge bites. Perfect spot to hit before a sporting event or a romantic night out on the town.
Porter’s Seafood & Steakhouse
Hilton Hotel, 3663 Park East Drive, Beachwood, 216.464.5950
Whether you are looking for steak or seafood, you will find what you’re looking for here, where the classic American steakhouse meets the traditional seafood restaurant.
Red, The Steakhouse
3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, 216.831.2252
Recognized by Playboy, Esquire and Gourmet Magazine, Red, The Steakhouse provides a steakhouse experience guests are not likely to find anywhere else. Exceptional food (everything fresh, everything from scratch) is served in a sleek, yet intimate setting. Enjoy a trendy night out in Beachwood at this renowned spot.
13225 Shaker Square, Cleveland, 216.295.1200
Sergio’s, one of Cleveland’s most notable chefs, never ceases to amaze his guests with a Brazilian cross-cultural menu featuring main entrees and an array of small plates that encourage diners to discover new taste sensations in a relaxing, fun environment.
But that’s not all. Check out these other locations serving up a perfect steak in Cleveland Plus.
- Austin’s Smokin’ Steakhouse (Mayfield Village)
- Big City Chophouse (Canton and Warren)
- Cabin Club (Westlake)
- Ferris Steak House (Detroit-Shoreway Neighborhood)
- Ken Stewart (Akron)
- Market (Rocky River)
- Shula’s 2 (Independence)
- Strip (Avon)
- XO Prime Steaks (downtown)
– Submitted by E.H.
The Cleveland Botanical Garden presents RIPE! Food & Garden Festival Friday, September 24 through Sunday, September 26 in celebration of the budding culinary scene in Cleveland Plus.
RIPE! highlights the edible gardening revolution and Cleveland Plus’ thriving commitment to local food. At the time when nature’s bounty is at its peak, this joyous festival offers one-stop access to our most prominent local food purveyors and proponents, along with the farmers and gardeners bringing fresh food to our own backyards. Learn what, when and how to grow and eat, and how you and your family can enjoy doing this together.
RIPE! visitors can expect a leisurely fall day full of fun, delicious food and inspiring gardening ideas. Amidst 20 outdoor gardens, interact with the region’s wide array of local experts, including area farmers, farm-to-fork champions, restaurants specializing in local food, slow food practitioners, your kitchen and your healthy lifestyle – as well as recipes, tips and locally prepared goods from the minds, stoves and drawing boards of our area’s food and garden trendsetters.
Advance, discounted tickets are on sale now at www.cbgarden.com or at the Garden’s box office and all area Heinen’s Find Foods. Tickets purchased online will be held at the box office for pick-up during the event. Advance tickets are $5 member/$10 nonmember (children $3/$5) and tickets are the door are $7 member/$12 nonmember (children $4/$6). Children 2 and under are free.
The Cleveland Botanical Garden is located at 11030 East Boulevard in Cleveland, Ohio.
*Information provided by Cleveland Botanical Garden