When our kitchen was being remodeled, we had to eat out every single night for two months… Every night. For two months.
We maybe could have tried to set up some sort of makeshift burner plus mini fridge situation, but with the entire contents of our kitchen in boxes we had no pots and pans, no spices, no real utensils — not to mention nowhere to wash dishes. Surrounded by boxes and a dusty, dirty house, it was just so much easier to go out. I think we cooked on the grill one day using tin foil spatulas. It wasn’t worth the bother.
Going into it, we thought we were going to try a new restaurant every day and we were going to have a wonderful adventure! It was going to be so much fun! But, this is real life. And in real life, at the end of the day you’re tired and you don’t always want to try something new or drive across town, and you just want to go to that place nearby that you already like and where you already know what you’re going to order. So we ended up going to the same places over and over. What’s lucky for us, though, is that our area is FULL of so many good restaurants, so we were never (very) bored and we had delicious food every night.
We thought it would be fun to share with you some of the restaurants we went to the most often. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all of our favorite restaurants in Cleveland. These are just the places that we found ourselves going most often, where we could have a casual dinner with excellent food without spending a ton of money or driving too far out of our way. We live in Ohio City, so along with Tremont, Detroit-Shoreway and occasionally Lakewood, this is our stomping ground.
1. Dewey’s Pizza, Lakewood — Andy is kind of a pizza snob. Probably because he lived in NYC and now he’s an expert. So it’s really hard to find a pizza place that he likes in Cleveland, where pizza, well, it doesn’t compare. Dewey’s is not NY-style pizza and it isn’t trying to be, but it’s really good for what it is, and it’s where we go most often when we have a pizza craving.
2. Luxe, Detroit Shoreway — This is probably our favorite restaurant in Cleveland. We’ve never had a bad meal here, and we love the casual yet upscale atmosphere. Luxe is perfect for a date night, especially if you can go during happy hour and drink lots of Blooms. (I do miss the goat cheese fondue, though.)
3. XYZ the Tavern, Detroit Shoreway — Just a couple blocks down the street from Luxe is XYZ. It’s a nice place to have a beer and get a bite to eat, no fuss, no muss, which is what you want sometimes. They have a daily gnocchi special that is always good. Plus, we order a side of their cheesy grits with everything. Yummm.
4. The Harp, Ohio City — In the summer we love to ride our bikes to The Harp so we can sit on their amazing patio with views of Lake Erie and downtown Cleveland. It’s definitely one of the best patios in the city, and in winter it’s always nice and cozy inside by the fire. Andy likes the Guinness. I like the fish and chips.
5. Hecks Cafe, Ohio City — This is the only new-to-us place we tried during construction, and I’ll just go out and say it: best burger in Cleveland. Ok, so I didn’t eat a burger anywhere for about five years, which probably doesn’t make me the biggest authority, but when I went to Hecks I decided to have my first restaurant burger after all that time… And I ate the whole thing. It was that good. Andy likes the burgers too, so it’s not just me. I’m so glad we finally tried this place because it’s just a few blocks from our house.
7. TownHall, Ohio City — So sometimes this place can get crazy busy and sometimes the crowd can be a little, um, annoying, but we like the food. When the bar side is packed, we like to go over to the cafe side, where you order at the counter and seat yourself, for what we’ve found to be a quieter, more peaceful meal. (OMG when did we get so old?)
8. Southside, Tremont — What I like most about Southside is that the menu has a little bit of everything. It’s a great place for those nights when you just don’t really know what you feel like, where you can have a big meal or a sandwich, and whatever you pick, it’s going to be good. The menu also changes regularly so it’s fun to see what’s new.
9. Barrio, Tremont — Build your own tacos, $3 each, plus delicious margaritas. Done and done. I can’t imagine what else you could ever need.
10. Bac, Tremont — This is our favorite restaurant for Asian food. It’s also where we go when we know we want leftovers for the next day. Don’t have anything for lunch tomorrow? Go to Bac! The portions are huge and the food is soooo good that you’ll be happy to eat it again the next day. (Unfortunately, when your kitchen is being remodeled, you have no fridge and can’t get leftovers! There’s plenty of small plates on the menu, too.)
11. Prosperity, Tremont — Near Bac is a little old bar that looks like it hasn’t changed in decades, and it probably hasn’t. I have no idea when Prosperity opened, but it feels like it’s been there forever. And it’s perfect. It’s the quintessential neighborhood bar with a menu full of comfort foods including the best mac and cheese in Cleveland. If you’ve never been, put it at the top of your to-do list.
And now I’m hungry!
So do you find yourself going to the same places a lot because they’re comfortable and familiar, like we do? Or are we the only lazy ones? haha! What are some of your favorite go-to places?