The 14 Hottest New Restaurants in Cleveland

by Douglas Trattner Updated May 30, 2019, 11:45am EDT

From fried chicken sandwiches to koji-cured pastrami to fat wedges of salted caramel pie, these are Cleveland’s buzziest new bites

Today, Eater returns to Cleveland, Ohio, to focus on 14 new restaurants and bars that have been garnering some serious hype. Once again, dining editor, cookbook author, and Cleveland resident Douglas Trattner has offered up his picks for the hottest openings of the past year.

“It’s been a productive and diverse 12 months in terms of food and drink gains for Cleveland eaters,” says Trattner. “A pair of food halls finally gave locals two great places to graze, twin takes on new-Jewish delis opened up on opposite sides of town, and a Miami-based chef planted a flag in the Land. Add to that exciting new spots for everything from Korean barbecue and Chinese soup dumplings to tacos, pizza and sliders. It all gets washed down with a chic wine bar and bookish brewery that bucks current trends.”

Here now, and in geographic order, the Eater Heatmap to Cleveland.

1. Rood Food and Pie

17001 Madison Ave
Lakewood, OH 44107

(216) 712-4506

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Rood Food is immutably devoted to sliders and pie. But stellar creativity and execution prevent the concept from feeling gimmicky. Menu items like goat and lamb burgers, dry-rubbed brisket, whiskey-soaked flank steak, sloppy tofu, and a dozen others are delivered alongside bottomless bags of fresh-baked rolls for a build-your-own experience. Save room for seductive wedges of pie, from airy banana cream or brown butter apple to salted honey with crunchy bee pollen. The slick South Beach-inspired digs drip with eye candy, like hot-pink neon, midcentury modern furniture, and a retro camper that doubles as the bar.

2. La Plaza Taqueria

13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd
Cleveland, OH 44107

(216) 476-8000

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For nearly a decade, in-the-know Clevelanders made their way to the back of a Latin grocery, where a makeshift lunch counter dispensed the best tacos, tortas, and tamales in the region. When business became so brisk that prepared-food customers began edging out grocery shoppers, the Ortega family finally decided to build a bonafide taqueria in the front of the store. Mexican food fans can still secure the area’s best tacos, tortas, and tamales, but now they can do so in the comfort of a fast-casual eatery with plenty of seating.

3. Dinerbar on Clifton

11801 Clifton Blvd
Lakewood, OH 44107

(216) 521-5003

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Who said there are no second acts in food? After losing its home of nearly 20 years, the Diner on Clifton seemed down for the count. But after a two-year hiatus, the business bounded back to life with a new address, name, concept, and swagger. Now called Dinerbar, the trendy American cafe traded in the cramped counter of old for a roomy central bar fortified with the good stuff. Diner fans can still bank on staples like breakfast all day, corned beef hash, club sandwiches, and patty melts, but they can now pair them with beer, wine, and boozy cocktails. A glassy display case taunts guests with dreamy desserts.

4. Good Company

1200 W 76th St
Cleveland, OH 44102

(216) 331-0318

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For three years, previous Heatmap entrant the Plum has been carving out a niche by offering a fearless feast of chef-driven fare. Good Company, the group’s newest endeavor, sidesteps the whole finer-dining tack in favor of the neighborhood bar and grill format. On the roster are pub staples like potato skins, wings, burgers, fries, and milkshakes. While faster paced and more value-driven than the Plum, the concept attracts the same food-obsessed diners thanks to easy-to-support plates like crisp-skinned potato pockets, a double cheeseburger drippy with special sauce, and a cheesesteak-style fried bologna sandwich, all of which are dished up in a contemporary setting that feels anti-sports bar.

5. Il Rione

1303 W 65th St
Cleveland, OH 44102

(216) 282-1451

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Zero pizzerias have garnered as much buzz among the Cleveland food illuminato as this dimly lit hideaway. A formerly falling-down structure now welcomes guests with a Hopper-esque glow from behind large panes of glass. The stylishly weathered interior is sparsely furnished with a bar, an open kitchen, and a few faded photos. Pitch-perfect New York- and New Jersey-style pies exit the beefy brick ovens in a handful of models, from the spicy diavolo, a red-sauce build with Calabrian chiles, salami, and mozz, to the epic clam, which is showered with briny chopped clams, salty pecorino, heaps of garlic, and more than a little fresh parsley. Great booze, wine, and tunes combine to further boost the experience.

6. Flight Cleveland

5712 Detroit Ave
Cleveland, OH 44102

(216) 400-6867

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The focal point of Flight is the 29-bottle Cruvinet system, an elegant bronze apparatus that preserves and dispenses white and red wine at the optimal temperature. Those wines are juxtaposed to create numerous flights that take tasters to various wine-producing regions around the globe. Cards provide information on the country of origin, the grape varietal, and tasting notes for each. Everything in the glass is available for purchase by the bottle in the retail section, which stocks about 400 labels. The two-room storefront in the hip Detroit Shoreway neighborhood has quickly become the community’s extended living room thanks to owner Lindsay Smith’s eye for detail.

7. Larder Delicatessen and Bakery

1455 W 29th St
Cleveland, OH 44113

(216) 912-8203

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Larder, a Best New Restaurant semifinalist for the 2019 James Beard Awards, blends the Old World atmosphere of a Jewish delicatessen with rekindled food trends like foraging, fermentation, smoking, pickling, and using koji to culture everything from pastrami to vegetable “charcuterie.” Appetizing options are ever-shifting, but be on the lookout for matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, whitefish salad, knishes, that luscious koji-cured pastrami, and one of the best fried chicken sandwiches this side of Tel Aviv. The bakery side of the business gives savory a run for its money thanks to fresh and fragrant challah, babka, rugelach, and old-fashioned black-and-white cookies. Tucked into an 1850s-era firehouse, this deli wears its charm on its sleeve.  

8. Ohio City Galley

1400 W 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113

(216) 525-9933

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The food hall trend took its good, sweet time in calling on Cleveland, but Ohio City Galley is one of two great new entries that expertly plug the gaps. The Galley Group, which has similar properties in Pittsburgh and Detroit, converted a turn-of-the-century building on the near-west side of town into a food hall that doubles as a restaurant accelerator for up-and-coming chefs and concepts. Four varied eateries offer quick-casual service built around high-quality grub, all supported by a large central bar and plenty of seating. Options range from Asian rice bowls to Southern-style hot chicken. Don’t miss the double cheeseburger from Americana-themed Tinman and the Oaxacan braised pork shoulder with green mole at Poca.

9. Bookhouse Brewing

1526 W 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113

(216) 862-4048

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From the start, Bookhouse wanted to be different, to offer an alternative to both the cavernous warehouse breweries and gritty garage-style startups. The owners transformed a 19th-century space in Ohio City, once home to an iconic beer brand, into a laid-back taphouse with fine carpentry, exposed brick, tile floors, and tin ceilings. Bookshelves line the walls, lending a snug reading-nook vibe to the 100-seat space. On tap are pints and flights of hoppy West Coast-style IPAs, Belgian pale ales, goses, grisettes, saisons, and porters.

10. LJ Shanghai

3142 Superior Ave
Cleveland, OH 44114

(216) 400-6936

Cleveland has a surprisingly robust Asiatown neighborhood, and one of the buzziest new entries is LJ Shanghai, an approachable Chinese noodle house. Initially, it was the xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, that got folks in the door. But once seated, they eagerly branched out to the spicy beef noodle soup, Shanghai-style scallion noodles, preserved vegetable and pork soup, and soy sauce duck. A glassed-off kitchen allows diners to observe the deft dumpling construction, which is nearly continuous given the rate at which they are depleted.

11. Rising Grill Korean BBQ

3709 Payne Ave
Cleveland, OH 44114

(216) 465-3561

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For nearly 30 years, this location was home to another Korean barbecue restaurant. But a recent ownership change has breathed fresh life into the Asiatown establishment, namely thanks to new hardware. Four dedicated barbecue tables feature roomy built-in gas grills for cooking thin-sliced meats like beef short rib, beef ribeye, and pork belly, which then get bundled up in leaf lettuce with kimchi, ssamjang, and maybe some pickled radish. Paired with bottomless glasses of soju, there are few more exhilarating dining experiences.

12. Lox, Stock, and Brisket

3210, 13892 Cedar Rd
University Heights, OH 44118

(216) 471-8175

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After working for mega-chef Tom Colicchio for a dozen years, Anthony Zappola came back to Northeast Ohio to open a scaled-down version of the great Jewish delis he and his family grew up on. By zeroing in on a few key components and hitting them out of the park, LS&B has quickly become a staple on the lunch circuit. Whole briskets are cured, smoked, sliced, and layered on rye with pickles and yellow mustard. Brined and smoked turkey breast is thick-sliced and crowned with Swiss, kraut, and creamy Russian dressing. The Lincoln Park is a fried chicken schnitzel sandwich on a butter-soft egg roll that flirts with perfection.

13. Van Aken Market Hall

3441 Tuttle Rd
Shaker Heights, OH 44122

(216) 491-8800

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When the leafy bedroom community of Shaker Heights was planned in the early 20th century, it was decided that it would have no central commercial districts. Fortunately, when the desire did finally arise, it came with the will to fashion a tasteful transit-oriented town square with room for a food-filled Market Hall. The building, a repurposed grocery store, is ringed by larger anchor tenants, while the interior is populated by smaller, more flexible stalls. Grab a cup of coffee from local roaster Rising Star, a baguette from stellar bakery On the Rise, a platter of gravy-soaked poutine from Banter, a plate of puttanesca from Scorpacciata, and some vegetable-heavy Middle Eastern food from Brassica. Wash it all down with a sour ale or cider from Craft Collective.

14. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

3427 Tuttle Rd
Shaker Heights, OH 44122

(216) 230-8022

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James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz isn’t exactly swapping his tropical life in South Florida for the chill Midwestern vibes of Cleveland, but he has been spending plenty of time here since opening Michael’s Genuine, sister to his 12-year-old Miami-based bistro of the same name. Like the original, this sunny, seasonally focused eatery is built around an open kitchen starring a wood-fired oven and raw bar. Overseen by chef de cuisine Vinnie Cimino, the menu stars staples like oysters on the half shell, thick-sliced potato chips with dip, cheeseburgers gilded with house-smoked bacon, and satisfying house-made pastas. From that hot-as-Hades pizza oven flow charred octopus with smoked chiles and crema, whole-roasted chickens, and heavenly thin-crust pies.