Cleveland's Exploding Culinary Scene Is One Reason to Visit the City This Fall

by Brandon Schultz

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday September 14, 2022

Summertime in Cleveland
Summertime in Cleveland  (Source:Nathan Migal)

From the world-famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the always-free Cleveland Museum of Art, ever-growing Cleveland has plenty to experience for a full weekend getaway, but the best reason to visit this former Kardashian residence remains the city's vibrant culinary scene.

With influences from more than 100 ethnicities, and a strong history of beloved dining from traditional comfort to white cloth elegance, Cleveland's foodie features have long been appreciated by those in the know, but it continues to expand and explode, even post-pandemic. Yes, it's worth traveling to Cleveland for the food alone, and you'll find no shortage of sights to ogle between meals in this city that retains an extraordinary level of vintage architecture repurposed in delightful ways today. Here are some of the most exciting new additions to Cleveland's tantalizing trove of can't-miss restaurants, along with a couple of established favorites to hit while you're in town.

Juneberry Table

Freshly opened earlier this year, Juneberry Table is a breakfast and brunch, no-reservation nook in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood offering clean cooking of locally-sourced ingredients in a cozy environment of good food and good company. The menu changes regularly, but look for winners like Bourbon apple buckwheat pancakes with candied walnuts and maple sorghum butter; biscuits and local mushroom gravy with Swiss chard; and pickle brine fried chicken sandwich with Fresno chili and spiced maple.

The cocktail menu features variations on traditional brunch choices with a few creative additions, all named simply by color, and certainly worth exploring, and be sure to treat yourself to at least one slice of honey pie somewhere in your meal (Juneberry Table offers it as a starter, so take this as official permission to have dessert first).


After the Covid-closing of Michael Symon's Lola, the summer opening of Cordelia in the same 4th Street location earlier this year brought one of the city's most anticipated arrivals to life in successful style. Self-described as offering a "modern Grandma" menu of nostalgic flavors from local farmers, rest assured that your grandmother probably couldn't whip up these elegant plates of culinary intrigue. While the menu changes so constantly they come stamped with the day's date, you'll generally find the categories of Pantry Snacks + Relish Trays, Breads + Things (fish toast with kohlrabi and caviar; beef tartare with corn cream and pickled shallot), Eat Your Veggies! (corn ribs with miso, burnt honey, and dukkah; fried watermelon with vegan ranch dipping sauce; and variably layered fat noodles you need to see to believe—reserve a seat at the open kitchen expo counter if you can), and From our butchers (oysters two ways; pork belly with sarsaparilla beurre blanc; and steak cordelia with beefy bread, fatty tomatoes, and roasted carrots).

House cocktails are explained by flavor profiles so you don't need to ask for "something not too sweet," wines are called "juice" here, and you'll regret not saving room for dessert, so feel free to bring home leftovers like you would from Grandma's. You may also come away with a recipe, and your souvenir-worthy menu will include both the names of the chefs and creatives who developed it, as well as the local suppliers from which your meal was sourced.


A public expression of a ghost kitchen started during the pandemic, the uber-stylish Amba opened this Spring in Ohio City's Hingetown neighborhood. Whether you dine in the seductive dark of the main dining room's striking simplicity or the al fresco alley beyond, the Indian menu here is designed for sharing, so pull up a seat and select a generous sample of dishes. Plates are served as they're ready, but save some bites for pairing with upcoming creations; blending the exciting flavors of these plates creates an entirely different experience and offers endless potential for discovery.

Some top choices include spicy cauliflower in Indian-inspired sofrito; chickpea fritters with green papaya slaw; beet root raita yogurt with pomegranate seeds and pistachio; panner cheese with dal and mustard seed; and venison-tomato curry keema with serrano chili (cutely called Sloppy Joe keema). If you don't choose a dish that comes with the restaurant's namesake amba, a pickled mango sauce that's both tangy and sweet, request some on the side.

Jade New Asian

Another 2022 introduction to Cleveland, Jade New Asian & Sushi Bar brings more than a restaurant to the Flats East Bank area. The three-level waterfront collection of concepts includes a lively first-floor sushi lounge with a limited menu, a second-floor steakhouse of stylish fine dining, and a member's-only rooftop social club with VIP service and striking views.

In the dining room, start your experience with a bang with the Party in Your Mouth cocktail that includes a Szechuan flower that will set your tongue to tingling (it doesn't last long) and prepare you for the treats to come. Then, choose from starters like lobster tacos with wasabi aioli and pickled chilis; Hamachi sashimi with yuzu ponzu; and udon noodles with mushroom and truffle cream. Between courses, consider the sweet potato coconut bisque with jasmine rice and Ohio corn, then move on to mains like miso baked black cod with baby bok choy; Imperial fried rice with blue crab and togarashi seasoning; sake braised short rib with potato puree; or a selection from the steak menu. Both the creamy truffle corn and kung pao cauliflower should be added to any meal.

The Vault
The Vault  

Don't Forget Some Older Favorites

The Metropolitan at the 9 is an iconic Cleveland stay with modern rooms oozing chic sensuality in a tower that's also home to plenty of notable drinking dens, including the underground Vault (set in real former vaults) and the 12th-floor Garden of Eden, which becomes a buzzy club by night.

Across from The 9, the ground floor of the Kimpton Schofield is home to Betts, serving mouthwatering meals throughout the day but especially fab for breakfast or brunch. The from-scratch menu has a decidedly healthy slant but there's plenty of room for indulgence. Pop by for a morning meal and choose from the farmers egg white frittata with roasted red peppers and spinach; carrot cake oatmeal with raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, and syrup; or the scramble bowl of hash, eggs, bacon, sausage, and cheese with a scallion aioli. Cold-pressed juices come from local business Anna in the Raw, and feel free to snag a brûléed grapefruit or Belgian waffle for a small dessert (they're listed as Sides, here, so there's no guilt involved).

While Betts opened in 2020 and is hardly considered "old," head to Little Italy to find the oldest restaurant in the city, Guarino's, still serving classic Italian cuisine since its opening in 1918. From calamari and tomato bruschetta to ravioli in marinara and chicken parmigiana, your favorite Italian dish is guaranteed to be on this menu, as traditional and comforting as the yesteryear interior. In agreeable weather, the outdoor patio is an inviting option, too, but you'll be giving up the amusing charm of the dining room, so that might be better saved for a second visit.

Brandon Schultz is the author of 6 travel and lifestyle books, and his work regularly appears in Forbes, Fodor's, Global Traveler, and Thrillist, with contributions to dozens of others including OUT, Out Traveler, and The Advocate. He lives in New York City.