On the Road: Clevelanders Know How to Eat

By: Catherine LeFebvre

Cleveland's a melting pot of various culinary traditions, and as the final three teams of The Great Food Truck Race cruised into town, so was the diversity of food the trucks dished out. Starting with a Truck Stop challenge of cooking with homegrown, ripe Ohio tomatoes, it was important that each team catered to their surroundings. The best example of this was Pop-A-Waffle taking advantage of their Truck Stop win:  They catered to Cleveland's large Polish population by offering a "Polish Boy," which includes "kielbasa, French fries, coleslaw and hot sauce."

For the next couple of weeks, we’re following the Food Trucks city by city with our guide of the best eats, compiled by the On the Road app and website. Today we’re exploring the best that Cleveland has to offer.

Michael Symon’s Lola just might be the crown jewel of Cleveland's culinary scene. The menu gives diners a modern spin on their favorite dishes (smoked pork chop with chiles and cheesy polenta, anyone?), while always showcasing the best of what local purveyors are producing closeby.

Any local will admit it: Cleveland is obsessed with corned beef. Head to Danny's Deli for one of the best corned beef sandwiches in town. Its key ingredients are generosity and freshness, according to the Danny's website.

The market first opened way back in 1840, and ever since it's been a destination for fresh vegetables and quality meats. Today you can also find seafood, baked goods, cheese and ready-to-eat foods like candy and nuts. Start in the beautiful yellow-brick market house and then make your way outside.

ABC is an old-school bar in Cleveland's historic Ohio City district, but the menu is fresh, creative and modern. Plus, everything is well under $10. Jeff Mauro loves the House-Cured Pork Belly BLT or you can try one of the "somewhat famous" burgers.

Melt’s raison d’etre is to provide gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and as many beers as possible in a slightly kitschy, but memorable, environment. Guy stopped in to try The Godfather, a lasagna sandwich on garlic bread.

Tommy’s prides itself on being able to satisfy any diner, whether he or she is vegetarian, vegan, pro-meat, health-minded or just plain hungry. They also make a mean milkshake — Rolling Stone rated it the “Best Milkshake East of the Mississippi.”

Don’t let the name fool you: The Velvet Tango room is a serious cocktail lounge, not a place dripping with glitzy showgirls. All the drinks are mixed using homemade sodas, bitters and syrups and the focus is on historical classics like Manhattans and fizzes. Grab one of Michael Symon's favorites, the Lime Fizz.

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