The 8 Cleveland restaurants you should be eating at right now

Credit: GINKO
Thin slices of fish stacked up like a roll at Cleveland restaurant GINKO

Dining out in Cleveland, you can’t help but get a history lesson of the city itself. Located on the Cuyahoga River, the city grew into an industrial metropolis in the late 19th century and has long been known to embrace immigrants—and Cleveland’s culinary scene is far richer for it.

That means you’ll find traditional Brazilian food like hearty stews and cheesy bread, Eastern European-inspired fare from a celebrity chef at a barbecue destination, and classic French dishes at a restaurant that gives back to the community in a big way. Read on for eight must-book restaurants in the Forest City.

Batuqui (Larchmere)

Brazilian food is hot in Cleveland thanks to chefs Carla Batista and Gustavo Nogueira. Their hit versions of Brazilian stew feijoada and cheesy roll pão de queijo led to a second location in Chagrin Falls. Plus, a bigger space is on its way in a historic downtown church this fall, so there will be even more reason (and room!) to return. Toast their success with Brazil’s tangy and citrusy national cocktail, caipirinha, that you can order by the glass or pitcher.

Edwin’s (Shaker Square)

Simply calling Edwin’s a restaurant doesn’t do it justice. Sure, you’ll find impeccable French classics like frogs’ legs and snails, but famed chef and restaurateur Brandon Chrostowski opened this spot in 2007 with a much bigger mission. The restaurant and its nearby Mediterranean offshoot edwins too train formerly incarcerated Clevelanders through their leadership and restaurant institute. Vital programs like this remain rare in the industry, and that alone is reason enough to visit.

Fahrenheit (Downtown)

The new Fahrenheit let celebrated chef Rocco Whalen go all out on the dishes and interiors. | Credit: Fahrenheit

For the new downtown location of Fahrenheit, which opened last year, celebrated Cleveland chef Rocco Whalen didn’t hold back. The two-story New American restaurant is a looker with a sophisticated vibe—check out the massive glass-wall-encased wine rack as you head upstairs to the dining room and rooftop patio. The menu matches the impressive setting, and dishes like the hot seafood sampler tower and ahi poke nachos have become favorites.

GINKO (Tremont)

Put yourself in celebrity chef Dante Boccuzzi’s hands by going for the six-course omakase. | Credit: GINKO

Since its opening in 2011, this intimate basement restaurant with shiny red vinyl walls and a pachinko machine remains one of the best sushi spots in the city. That’s because chef-owner Dante Boccuzzi serves only the highest quality seafood, flying in fish twice weekly from Japan. You’ll find both traditional and modern preparations of rolls and nigiri like a Maine lobster roll and jumbo sweet shrimp. Or you can put yourself in the chef’s hands with a stellar six-course omakase.

JoJo’s Bar (Chagrin Falls)

Prolific local restaurateur Rick Doody goes all in on the classic Italian American steakhouse at JoJo’s. Start with a chopped Caesar salad before moving on to prime steaks and fresh pasta, including a spot-on rendition of Carbone’s legendary spicy vodka rigatoni. When you’re feeling outdoorsy, head to the restaurant’s lush plant-filled patio called JoJo’s Backyard for a menu of wood-fired Argentinian-inspired fare like tenderloin and shrimp skewers.

The Last Page (Pinecrest)

The menu at The Last Page finds inspiration around the world. | Credit: The Last Page

The menu at Todd Leebow’s chic Pinecrest restaurant takes inspiration from all over the world and aces it thanks to a thoughtful approach where everything is made from scratch. Housemade Japanese milk bread gets an upgrade with whipped lardo spread, and snow crab lettuce wraps turn up the heat with gochujang Thousand Island dressing. The global influences show up on the drinks menu, too, in options like a spicy margarita or a classic American sherry cobbler.

Mabel’s BBQ (Downtown)

The Polish Girl sandwich is one of the highlights at Mabel’s. | Credit: Mabel’s BBQ

Everyone has a favorite barbecue style, and chef Michael Symon entered the fray in 2016 with what he calls Cleveland-style barbecue. Mabel’s finds inspiration in Eastern European ingredients—a nod to Cleveland’s immigrant communities—and other beloved local goods. 

like Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard that’s in the barbecue sauce. Go for the Polish Girl sandwich with kielbasa and pair it with one of Mabel’s bourbons all while seated at one of the communal picnic tables.

Astoria Café & Market (Gordon Square)

Part cafe, bar, and market, chef Cory Kobrinski’s restaurant does a little bit of everything with aplomb. The menu leans Mediterranean, digging deep into Greek food. That means you’ll find lamb boreki (phyllo-wrapped lamb shoulder) as well as hand-tossed pizzas and spicy octopus. Take full advantage of Astoria by ordering a cheese and charcuterie board, and sign up for cheesemonger Tom Leguard’s monthly classes to become something of a cheese expert yourself.

Lisa Shames is a writer focused on travel and food culture in Chicago, IL. She has covered Chicago’s restaurant scene for publications including CS, Chicago Tribune, and Time Out and is the U.S. contributor for Sogoodmag.

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