The 31 Essential Cleveland Restaurants

Cleveland has always been somewhat of an overachiever when it comes to restaurants. Thanks to a handful of talented, pioneering chefs like Michael Symon, Karen Small, Zack Bruell, Dante Boccuzzi, and Doug Katz, who got the culinary ball rolling 20 years ago, the city had a jump on similarly sized Midwestern burgs. Those chefs begat other chefs, who did the same for the next generation, seeding the landscape with a serious talent pool. Residents and visitors have been reaping the benefits of that foodie farm system for years. Add to that waves of immigrants who shared tastes of their homelands, until the city overflowed with German, Polish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Colombian, Turkish, and Lebanese restaurants.

Update June, 2021:

Like every city around the globe, Cleveland lost some beloved restaurants during the pandemic. Chief among them were finer-dining bistros like Fire, the Plum, Black Pig, Spice, and Lola. But by and large the city weathered the storm better than other, larger cities thanks to more reasonable rents, looser health restrictions, and fervent community support. It also helps that all but a few places around town had some sort of outdoor seating going into the pandemic, and those that didn’t caught up quickly.

Note: The inclusion of restaurants offering dine-in service should not be taken as an endorsement for dining inside. Studies indicate a lower exposure risk to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk is contingent on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on dining offerings. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Cleveland Department of Public Health.

Douglas Trattner is a freelance writer, editor, and author based in Cleveland.

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