CHAMPCAR/CART: Kika's guide to Cleveland dining

Ethnic food is a specialty in Cleveland, whether it's a Polish dog smothered with Cleveland's famous Stadium Mustard, an open-pit-barbecued spare rib, or a spicy burrito. There are restaurant rows in the Flats, the Warehouse District, the area ...

Ethnic food is a specialty in Cleveland, whether it's a Polish dog smothered with Cleveland's famous Stadium Mustard, an open-pit-barbecued spare rib, or a spicy burrito. There are restaurant rows in the Flats, the Warehouse District, the area around Gund Arena and Jacobs Field, and on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights.

Johnny's Downtown  Northern Italian / Continental Cuisine (216) 623-0055 - 1406 West 6th St Cleveland, OH  . Private Dining Rooms can accommodate from 10 to 100 people. "....More and more, greater Clevelanders are discovering, the city's hub; and Johnny's Downtown with its excellent food, service and decor...." Gordon Bleu, Currents "......Want to know where the hottest spot in town is? It's the Warehouse District....and the hottest restaurant....is Johnny's Downtown...." Parma News

Johnny's Bar  Northern Italian / Continental Cuisine  (216) 281-0055 - 3164 Fulton Road Cleveland, OH . Private Dining Rooms can accommodate from 8 to 36 people. "....Of all the superb places to eat, Johnny's Bar on the near West side is my favorite. Johnny's has gone from linoleum floors to mahogany paneling, but the food has remained unchanged - excellent...." Eleanore Osborne, Restaurant Critic "....Undoubtedly Johnny's has the best gnocchi in the world, dressed in a garlicky cream sauce and accompanied by tiny veal meatballs...." Daytona Beach News-Journal. BEST RESTAURANT IN CLEVELAND "Zagat Survey of America's Top Restaurants"

Lola Bistro  Contemporary tel.: 216/771-5652 - 900 Literary Rd.Cleveland , OH Cleveland $10-$20. Chef-owner Michael Simon describes this hot spot in the Tremont neighborhood as "an American bistro specializing in urban comfort food." Translation: homey classics with nouvelle twists. Bestsellers on the winter menu are shrimp-escargot pot pie; wild-mushroom shepherd's pie; and macaroni-and-cheese with fresh rosemary, goat cheese, and roasted chicken. Fish and game are also first-rate, and desserts are out of this world. Chef Michael Symon has been lauded in Bon Appetit for his winningly inventive comfort food. Highlights include moist and flavorful herb-crusted local walleye and dreamy rosemary-herbed macaroni and cheese (the goat cheese is a divine touch). Service is excellent. Call ahead for exact directions. Reservations essential

Blue Point Grille Contemporary Seafood Cuisine - 700 West St. Clair Cleveland, OH  Tel. (216) 875-7827. "....Offering gourmet dining in the heart of the Warehouse District, The Blue Point Grille serves the absolute freshest and highest quality seafood available...." Cleveland Magazine "....Cleveland's premier seafood restaurant...." West Life Magazine "....Everything is done right! A great restaurant...." Cableviews Magazine. This Warehouse District spot is Cleveland's newest see-and-be-scene--don't be surprised if you spot a local sports hero or two among the stylish patrons. The kitchen excels at both creative and straightforward preparations of flown-in-daily fish, which can range from a Masala-spiced sea bass to a simple seared sushi-grade ahi. The oysters are top-grade, natch, and steaks are on hand for non-fish eaters. Reservations highly recommended.  

Metropolitan ( Ex-Piccolo Mondo )  (216) 216-241-7655 Address:- 1352 West Sixth ST Cleveland, Ohio. ".... They say still good, but I haven't been there since they changed to "Metropolitan.

Il Circo   - Address: 1300 W. 9th St., Cleveland, OH 44113 - 216-575-0699. The city's best looking contemporary restaurant. One of the Warehouse District's newer restaurants, Il Circo is also one of the city's most interesting looking. Nearly all of the Warehouse District's buildings are among the oldest in town, so creating a contemporary look can be challenging. One of the most striking visual elements is the collection of fifteen glass panels that separates the restaurant from Zibibbo, its popular bar. The panels are composed of glass chips that are illuminated by constantly changing colors passing through fiber optic wires in the glass. The cuisine successfully combines the traditional and contemporary. Most Italian places serve calamari-usually breaded and fried rings. Here, though, calamari bistecca, a hearty appetizer, consists of two nicely seasoned sautéed calamari steaks with roasted tomatoes and spinach between them and stone-ground mustard butter over them. Another amazing appetizer is carciofunghi ragout con tartufi, breaded artichokes stuffed with goat cheese, served with wild mushrooms, chicken sausage and roasted red peppers laced with truffle oil. Typical of the entrée standouts are vitello T-osso, a 12-ounce veal T-bone with a Cognac and morel mushroom sauce served with smoked mozzarella ravioli, asparagus and pearl onions; and rospo rostini Gambatese (named for the chef), a Carolina black grouper filet served in layers with prosciutto and goat cheese, ratatouille, basil vinaigrette and a Parmesan tuile; and scallops alla Parma, several large scallops wrapped in prosciutto and pan seared, and served over artichoke hearts, crimini mushrooms and arborio rice with a tomato- basil butter.

Shuhei Restaurant of Japan - Best Sushi - 23360 Chagrin Boulevard -Cleveland OH, 44122 - Phone: 216-464-1720. My friends in Cleveland agreed as the best Sushi ! Hiroshi Tsuji previously owned Shujiro, one of Cleveland's top-rated restaurant, and he's keeping up the tradition at this "stylish" Japanese serving "excellent sushi" - be sure to book - most nights it's packed and "noisy". Tucked into the lower level of a small office building in this strip of upscale Chagrin Boulevard, Shuhei is a small, tastefully understated room with blond wood tables and sushi bar, pretty Japanese art on the walls, Japanese artifacts around the room and servers in Japanese garb. More than 50 varieties of sushi include such delicacies as eel and cucumber, grilled smoked salmon and sesame seeds, tempura shrimp and avocado, crab and flying fish roe, plum paste and oba leaf. The double-size (cut into eight slices) rainbow roll, includes tuna, whitefish, smoked salmon, yellowtail and shrimp. More than 20 other appetizers include frog legs sautéed in hot peppers, garlic and sake; and seasoned hijiki seaweed simmered with tofu and carrots. The many entrées include terrific renditions of Japanese favorites, and adapted dishes, such as marinated, grilled lamb chops, roast duck with plum wine sauce, roasted and grilled garlic-marinated steak. Service is not only professional, but, traditionally Japanese, unfailingly polite and helpful.

Kosta's - (Historic Tremont, area of Cleveland) - 2179 West 11th Street - Cleveland, Ohio 44113 Phone 216.622.0011. Kosta's is located in Tremont, a inner suburb of Cleveland. Approx. drive time is 4-5 minutes from public square. Brandt Evans, the executive chef, trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Food is eclectic and fantastic. Directions: Take route 90 west out of Cleveland from downtown. Most locals call this the interbelt. Travel only a mile or so and exit at the west 14th Abbey Road ramp. (to the right of roadway) The exit is on an elevated highway, so keep your eyes open! The exit immediately splits to the left and right. Take the exit to the left. You travel under an overpass and will hit a light right away. Go straight thru first light and take a left at the next light. (.02 mile You will see Franklin Park at this second light) Continue to the stop sign and take a left(.01 mile). Continue to the next stop sign.(.01 mile) Kosta's will be directly in front of you across the street on the right hand side. Parking is only available on the street.

Morton's of Chicago  The Steakhouse  (216) 621-6200 - The Avenue at Tower City -  230 Huron Rd NW Cleveland, OH . "....With service beyond compare and an elegant, club-like setting, Morton's of Chicago offers a truly memorable dining experience. Famous for USDA prime aged beef, Morton's signature 24-ounce Porterhouse, succulent New York Strip and whole baked Maine lobsters are legendary. The classic interiors, celebrity wall of fame, open exhibition kitchens and verbal menu presentations are steakhouse standards...." The Critics' Choice . 1997 GOURMET MAGAZINE AWARDSTOP STEAKHOUSE TOP 20 RESTAURANT TOPS FOR BUSINESS

Hyde Park Grill 1825 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights Phone 216-321-6444. Here's the original and, by most accounts, best of Cleveland's Hyde Park Steakhouse trio, offering consistently excellent food and service" in a "very New York City" atmosphere; the dark paneled bar is where many regulars prefer to eat.

Hyde Park Downtown  Steak House Extraordinary- 123 Prospect Ave NW Cleveland, OH (216) 344-2444. Voted in the Top 10 "Best Steakhouses in America" Voted "Best Steakhouse in Cleveland" 8 Years in a row! Voted in the Top 150 "Best Restaurants in America" . Wine Spectator "Award of Excellence" Recipient.Zagat Survey of American Top Restaurants

Greek Isles 500 West Saint Clair Avenue - Cleveland, Ohio 44113 - Ph: 216.861.1919. With focus on Greek dishes, this is a relaxed place. Expect the average entrée to cost $12 to $20, and in general, people dress casual. When weather permits, enjoy outdoor seating. Reminiscent of sunny Crete with its airy white-stucco interior, this eye-catching restaurant serves authentic, high-quality fare. Expect all your Greek favorites, including excellent moussaka. The fish is always fresh, and the ample combo plates offer great value.

Cleveland Chop House : ( I don't have the address - call 411) Bruce's Review - I didn't realize that the Chop House is actually another one of the many local breweries popping up in and around town. So initial impressions were "oh another Diamond Back". The place has a real open feel with high wood ceilings and rafters. Kinda noisy with wood floors, tables, and chairs. There is a long bar that stretches the length of one wall on the way in and most of the tables are in the back. The menu was fairly traditional with fish, steaks, and chops as expected. All the meals were served with an all you can eat tossed salad, brought to the table in a large bowl. The salad was very fresh, cold, and delicious. I can't recall the type of dressing the salad had on it, but it was excellent. I ordered a herb grilled chicken with a side of pasta and fresh steamed veggies. My partners had a broiled fish dish and a peppered strip steak, both prepared to perfection with garlic mashed potatoes. Service was top shelf. Very attentive but not pretentious. We had a great meal in a comfortable setting with cocktails, wine, salad and main course for about $100 for three people. I look forward to going back sometime soon. Try it.

One Walnut - another one that I don't have the address... but recommended

Watermark  Contemporary Cuisine featuring Fresh Seafood 1250 Old River Road Cleveland, Ohio.Tel.(216) 241-1600 "....With a water side location for enjoying river traffic while dining, this place delivers good taste in both decor and food...." Ohio Magazine."High marks to the Watermark, an upscale restaurant on the East bank..." Miami Herald.PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD Cleveland Magazine.BEST OUTDOOR DINING Silver Spoon Awards.AWARD OF EXCELLENCE Wine Spectator Magazine  

Baricelli Inn  European and American Cuisine - 2203 Cornell Road, Cleveland, OH tel.(216) 791-6500 -  Elegant & romantic old mansion in Little Italy."....Paul Minillo is a chef with a great palate and a knack for blending old world concepts with new world ingredients...." William Rice, Chicago Tribune"....The seasonal menu is strongly influenced by the fine restaurants of Europe, but the ingredients and style are American...." Best of the Midwest . Sushi Rock: 216 623-1212

Sans Souci  Seafood 24 Public Sq.Cleveland , OH  Cleveland tel.: 216/696-5600 Sophisticated seafood dishes and contemporary cuisine are served in a comfortably elegant dining room overlooking Public Square. Reservations essential..The prices are astonishingly low, give the exceptional quality of the food and the beauty of the surroundings. Sans Souci may be casual, but it's still classy...." Ohio Magazine"....Cleveland's perennial favorite restaurant, Sans Souci offers the spirited atmosphere and exceptional cuisine found along hte Mediterranean coastal areas of Italy, France, Spain and Morocco...." The Critics' Choice  

Luchita's  Mexican 3456 W. 117th St.Cleveland , OH tel.: 216/252-1169 The menu changes every three months at this basic Mexican restaurant. It's jammed on the weekends--and with good reason: great authentic Mexican fare in generous portions, along with good margaritas and friendly service. What more could you need? Hours: Closed Mon. Credit cards: AE, MC, V.  

Fat Fish Blue PROSPECT AVE E CLEVELAND OH (216) 875-6000 - Great Seafood - that's all I know.

Mama Santa Restaurant & Pizzeria ..In The Heart Of Little Italy - 12305 Mayfield Rd Cleveland, OH 44106 (216) 231-9567 Delicious Pizza & Italian Food.

Geracis Pizza 2266 Warrensville Center Road - Cleveland, Ohio 44118 Ph: 216.371.5643 GREAT PIZZA.- that's all I was told.

Mexico Mi Pueblo - recommended for Mexican food- but I don't have the address.

See you in Cleveland - have a safe trip. Ciao, Kika

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