Where to Eat and Drink in Cleveland Right Now

Here’s where to get your culinary fix

April 6, 2024 11:45 pm
a bar with a sign hanging over the bottles that reads welcome to cleveland
The bar at Cordelia
Dylan Palchesko

Cleveland has always been a good place to eat. Growing up, we’d make the hour drive from Canton to see a Guardians game or go to the theater, and there would always be a stop for something delicious. Like many cities, Cleveland has changed a lot in the last three decades, I think for the better. The lake is cleaner, the Browns had a winning season last year and the culinary scene is thriving, both with old favorites and new spots that are making the city a very exciting place to eat and drink right now. While there are so amazing places to try, these are the best Cleveland restaurants and bars to check out right now. 

Where to Start the Day

Every good morning starts with a solid cup of coffee, and local chain Phoenix Coffee is my personal favorite place to get a fix. There are six locations around the city, so wherever you stay or wander throughout the day, there will likely be a Phoenix nearby to fuel you with their house-roasted beans and pastries. An old friend who moved from NYC back to The Land lamented the lack of good bagels, until she tried The Cleveland Bagel Company. I agree that they are top-notch, but go early if you don’t want them to run out of your favorite kind. Juneberry Table is a light-filled cafe that serves dishes like Ohio spelt pancakes with sorghum butter and a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich for both breakfast and lunch.

Check Off Your Culinary Shopping List

Cleveland’s West Side Market is perhaps the city’s most famous establishment. While its iconic yellow brick building and clock tower has been renovated over the years, the original structure has remained since it opened to the public in 1912. It’s where my grandparents would go to buy eel and other fish for our annual Feast of the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve celebration, and it’s where you can (and should) go to shop and sample some of Cleveland’s finest culinary businesses. 

Astoria Cafe & Market has an excellent dine-in menu, but if you don’t have time to stay for a meal (or the excellent happy hour), stop in to shop at the on-site market. Astoria features a huge selection of cheeses and charcuterie, olives from around the world, specialty oils and vinegars, and plenty of pantry items to inspire a meal.

Lunch in Cleveland Reigns Supreme

There are so many amazing lunch spots in Cleveland, it was difficult to narrow it down to just a few — but you can’t go wrong with any of these spots. Not only is Larder the best deli in Cleveland, but I think it’s the best deli in the country. Multiple James Beard Award-nominee and author of Koji Alchemy, chef Jeremy Umansky features local producers and homemade everything in his Eastern European Jewish cuisine. The koji-cured pastrami here is outrageously good, and you have to add a pickle plate to anything you order, which shows off Umansky’s fermentation prowess. 

For cozy, chic French cafe vibes, The Judith is impeccably styled and absolutely delicious. Try the jambon beurre sandwich — made with Ohio City Provisions prosciutto cotto and walnut nutmeg compound butter — or the preserved lemon and carrot salad with French lentils and pistachio dukkah. There are two very good reasons to travel east and visit Cleveland’s Coventry neighborhood — a show at Grog Shop and a meal at Tommy’s Restaurant, which has been around since 1972. While the restaurant does cater to omnivores, Tommy’s was making delectable vegan and vegetarian food before it was mainstream. You can’t go wrong with one of their falafel pitas, tempeh sandwiches or toasted cheeses. 

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outside of great lakes brewing with people sitting on a sunny day
The patio at Great Lakes Brewing Co. comes alive in warm weather.
Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Breweries With Really Good Food (and Yes, Beer)

Noble Beast Brewing Co. serves some of the best wings in town (honestly, they were some of the best I’ve ever had) with unique homemade sauces like miso-honey with scallions and everything bagel dry rub. The Satanic Dentist Drill Imperial Stout — a blend of three bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts that’s conditioned on Ugandan vanilla beans — tastes as fun as it sounds. You may have seen Great Lakes Brewing Company’s beers even if you don’t live in Cleveland, but going to the source is a superb experience. Stop by their Ohio City brewpub for a meal and enjoy tap beers only available there. Not only does Butcher and the Brewer make their own excellent beers and hard seltzers, they team up with other companies for special guest brews (think a yuzu ginger cider from Vermont darling Shacksbury). They also serve cocktails, wine and some good snacky bar food. 

a spread of food including salads, fish, toast and a plate of ritz crackers
The spread at Cordelia
Dylan Palchesko

Top Off a Day of Eating With More Eating

I ran into Cleveland’s very own Michael Symon at the Mohegan Sun Wine & Food Fest back in January, and Mabel’s BBQ came up in our conversation when chatting about how chefs are going to get even more into regional cooking this year. “We’re in Cleveland, it’s Eastern European influence, so we do sauerkraut, we do mustard,” Symon says about the focus at Mabel’s. “Those are the flavors that we grew up with.” The food (don’t miss the crispy pig ears) and cocktails here are excellent, so it’s definitely worth a stop. And while many mourned the closing of Symon’s flagship restaurant Lola Bistro, the opening of Cordelia in its old space is a welcome celebration of seasonal produce and an optional tasting menu. Chef Vinnie Cimino was just named a James Beard Award semifinalist in the “Best Chef: Great Lakes” category.

Bright Side is one of the prettiest dining rooms in Cleveland with its rectangular bar and vibrant color scheme. Ingredients are sourced from Northeast Ohio farms and given a global twist — think a banh mi with house-made French bread, marinated tofu, wild mushroom pate and kimchi mayo. More smoked meats await at The Plum, where you can tuck into a bowl of ramen with pork belly and house-made fish sausage. Don’t miss the excellent fish fry that goes down every Friday.

a red cocktail in a lowball glass surrounded by palm leaves
Cloak & Dagger’s Anything From the Garden?, made with aquavit, herbal liqueur, tomatillo and blackberry
Josh Dobay

Get Your Cocktail (and Wine) Fix

Cleveland’s own Porco Lounge & Tiki Room is one of the best tiki bars in America, and its dive-bar-meets-tropical-oasis is one of my personal happy places. Come for the Mai Tais, Singapore Slings, Zombies and Scorpions Bowls, stay for eats by Pinoy Fine Foods like chicken adobo tacos and tofu sisig. The cocktails at Cloak & Dagger are probably the best in the city — this spot is an absolutely must. The bar’s gothic air is present in the decor and the changing cocktail books that feature both new drinks and favorites from menus past. Formerly The Spotted Owl, La Cave du Vin has a ton of excellent wines that rotate frequently. They also feature a few cocktails from their former iteration and a small but mighty whiskey list. 

looking into a vault entrance
Metropolitan at The 9 features a bar inside a former bank vault.
Autograph Collection

A Hotel for the Culinary-Minded

With so many food and beverage options at Metropolitan at The 9, Autograph Collection, you could come to Cleveland and spend all your time at the hotel, and we wouldn’t blame you. The Centro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you can’t go wrong with Nonna’s meatballs, the classic Caesar or anything from the grill (we’re partial to the bone-in veal chop). Ledger Bar overlooks the lobby and makes a mean Martini (which you should pair with the aforementioned meatballs for a cocktail hour snack). The Garden of Eden is a seasonal delight and one of the best places to be downtown during the warmer months. The gorgeous terrace bar serves signature cocktails and light bites and hosts events like movie nights throughout the season. Last but certainly not least is Vault, which is located in — you guessed it — a century-old bank vault beneath the Cleveland Trust Rotunda. Stop in for the bar’s signature Old Fashioned and a s’more board for dessert.


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