Rock and Roll: Where to Eat in Cleveland

Cleveland's restaurant scene has never been hotter: These days, you can’t toss a bagel without hitting a big city bistro, burger spot, or small-batch ice cream shop.
By: Guest Blogger
By Douglas Trattner

As more and more curious outsiders are taking a good, hard look at Cleveland, a city currently in the midst of a Rust Belt revival, they are seeing a chef-driven food scene a good 20 years in the making. These days, you can’t toss a bagel without hitting a big city bistro, craft brewery and taproom, or small-batch ice cream shop, all of which thrive alongside decades-old Cleveland classics.

Check out the full gallery for more Ohio enticements.

Photo by: BurkleHagen Photography

BurkleHagen Photography

Founder Brandon Chrostowski got his start in top-tier restaurants here and abroad, but when he set out to open a Cleveland bistro of his own, he charted a very different course. In place of seasoned pros like himself, Chrostowski brought in formerly incarcerated folks who needed a second chance. During the six-month program, student-employees work every station, from prep cook to server, learning how restaurants actually work and picking up a trade that can serve them well for years to come. It would be reasonable to look at Edwins as a charity case, deserving of our money for reasons other than food, service and setting. But that’s not the case at this stellar French bistro, where quality trumps cause on a daily basis.

Dating back to the 1920s, Mahall’s 20 Lanes was long a family-friendly bowling alley, where dads taught their boys how to roll on rainy weekends. But as the neighborhood around the bowling alley grew younger and hipper, the lane rentals began to dry up. Cue Mahall’s 2.0. New ownership revamped, repurposed and resurrected this Cleveland classic into a multilevel playland with homemade cooking, craft beer and cocktails, and live music. Neighbors come for the burgers, tacos and fried chicken, and they stick around for the lineup of great acts. The lanes are still here, too, with all 20 of them seeing more life than they have in ages.

Sure, Michael is known to most Food Network fans as a television star, but he’s also the chef at popular Cleveland restaurants like Lola Downtown and Lolita in Tremont. On top of it all, he’s selling some of the best hamburgers in the Midwest at this homegrown and growing chain of casual burger bars. Michael is the king of “meat on meat,” a lily-gilding technique that tops already delicious Pat LaFrieda meat patties with ingredients like salami or pastrami or pulled pork. If you can pry your mitts away from the killer burgers, head straight for the amazing bologna sandwiches, which are sliced thick, griddled and topped with dill pickles, mustard and cheese.

For more top Cleveland spots, including our picks for best beer garden, date night and ice cream, check out the full gallery. Then tell us: What’s your Cleveland craving? 

Top photo courtesy of Ben Pettey
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