Melt Bar And Grilled (various locations) – Opened in 2006, this decadent grilled cheese joint has become without a doubt the must-visit casual-eating restaurant in the Cleveland area. It’s been featured on Man Vs. Food and Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives, and has expanded to three locations with a fourth opening this fall. Loosen your waistband and dive right in! Aubrey recommends the Chorizo And Potato (add a fried egg), and Scott’s favorite is the Godfather.
Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Ave) – This place is brilliant in its simplicity. For only $5, you get either a hot dog or veggie dog, plus as many of the 50-plus toppings they have available—everything from homemade ketchup and ballpark mustard to fried eggs, chow mein, chunky peanut butter and pimento macaroni and cheese. Be as adventurous as you’d like—it’s only five bucks! (Make sure to get side order of tater tots—they’re Aubrey’s favorite.)
Beer Engine (15315 Madison Ave, Lakewood) – Whether the wait is too long at Melt or you’re just on the hunt for one of the best beer menus in the Midwest, Beer Engine is the place for you. They brew their own beer year-round as well as feature a few dozen others on tap (rotated daily), plus a bottle list that’s as long as a phone book. And we haven’t even mentioned the burgers, which are elaborate as they are tasty. Scott highly recommends the Chipotle Blue, while Aubrey endorses the West Side.
Great Lakes Brewery (2516 Market Avenue, Cleveland) – No visit to Cleveland is complete without sampling the City’s best beers. Great Lakes Brewing distributes their craft lagers and ales widely throughout the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard, but they are brewed and bottled in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood (a stone’s throw from the West Side Market). There is no finer way to enjoy them than a visit to the brewpub, where you can sample small-batch and seasonal brews that may not be available in stores. Additionally, Great Lakes offers tours of the brewery, which typically happen every hour, on the hour. It may be worth calling the brewpub to confirm, however. If you plan to stick around for lunch, Aubrey endorses the sausage plate with a pretzel with mustard. As for beer, if they have it on tap, you’ve got to try the Christmas Ale. Otherwise, Dortmunder, Elliot Ness, and Edmund Fitzgerald are all worth your while!
Angelo’s Pizza (13715 Madison Ave, Lakewood) – Scott’s been eating Angelo’s on the regular since he first moved here in 2004, and Aubrey’s quickly done her best to catch up. We order so much Angelo’s that the owner sends us a Christmas card every December. (That is not a joke.) All of their pizza is delicious, but make sure you ask for deep dish pan crust!
Anything related to Michael Symon – You might recognize him as an Iron Chef, but Michael Symon is a Cleveland boy first and foremost. He creates some seriously delicious food, at three price points: B Spot Burgers ($), Lolita ($$) and Lola ($$$) all offer excellent options and unique dining experiences. Food & Wine Magazine recently named Symon’s Lola Burger at B Spot one of the “Best Burgers In The U.S.” It’d be a shame not to try it! Aubrey will also attest to this burger’s awesomeness.