The Best Food and Drink in Ohio for 2018 from The Best Food and Drink in Ohio for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Ohio for 2018 Gallery
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The Best Food and Drink in Ohio for 2018
Ohio likes to call itself “the heart of it all,” and that’s not just because of its shape. The Midwestern state truly is a cross-section of the entire United States. It has rolling hills of farmland, booming metropolis cities, plenty of all-American suburban neighborhoods, and everything in between. There’s a reason why it’s the ultimate swing state; Ohio has all walks of life within its borders, and that makes for a fascinating and diverse food personality. To celebrate the vast landscape of Ohio, we rounded up 27 of the Buckeye State’s finest foods and fairs as part of our first-annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Cleveland is the state’s true culinary hotspot. Once dubbed “the mistake on the lake,” Cleveland has seen a resurgence in recent years not only thanks to its sports dominance but because a few prominent chefs (such as Michael Symon) have taken a chance on the city. That’s led to a few phenomenal eateries in the Cle, such as Mexican hotspot Barrio, the high-end steakhouse Red, and the classic cocktail bar The Velvet Tango Room.
Mary S. / Yelp
Best Bar: The Velvet Tango Room, Cleveland
Proprietor Paulius Nasvytis and the bartenders of The Velvet Tango Room are “torchbearers of tradition.” Since 1996, long before it was trendy, the bartenders here have been serving classic cocktails. There are now more than 80 cocktails on the menu, and about 30 of them are house creations, including the India Lime Fizz (a rich, creamy, and powerful cocktail that combines gin, rum, floral India limes, vanilla, and a whole egg). The bar is housed in a space that was once a speakeasy — bullet holes can still be seen in the ceiling — with the bars made of refinished mahogany and the front room featuring a baby grand piano at which music is played nightly by a three-piece jazz combo and a late-night pianist. The second room is reached by walking through a mirror in the coatroom. There’s another baby grand piano there, along with a cozy fireplace, comfy leather chairs, and a patio where some of the bar’s cocktail ingredients are grown. Both rooms have an old-fashioned black-and-white TV that shows classic movies with no sound. There are limited snacks such as speck, which is locally sourced smoked pork belly made by a German family in Cleveland.
Courtesy of Columbus Brewing Company
Best Beer: Bodhi, Columbus Brewing Company
Best Burger: Lola, B Spot Burgers, Various Locations
Iron Chef Michael Symon has won too many burger contests to recall, and with good reason — the man understands good food, he understands meat, and more importantly, he understands how to make a great burger. The Lola, Symon’s burger with bacon, Cheddar, pickled red onions, and a sunny-side up egg, is going to be on the rarer side, the saltier side, and the gooey-dripping side. If you’re really into burgers, and really know the way chefs like to make them, well… you’ll be into the Lola.
Best Chili: Camp Washington, Cincinnati
Camp Washington was founded back in 1940, and it’s the only Cincinnati chili parlor that has a James Beard Award under its belt. The usual Cincy chili lingo applies here: Two-way, three-way, four-way, etc., but what sets Camp Washington apart from the crowd is the chili itself. Made with a closely-guarded secret recipe, it’s rich, comforting, supremely beefy, and unlike any other game in town.
Amanda S / Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: King Wah, Rocky River
King Wah is an unassuming restaurant on the outskirts of Cleveland, but it is a major find for those on the hunt for great Chinese fare from the Hunan, Canton, and Szechuan provinces. Since 1973, it’s been packing in crowds who have flocked to its lychee duck, pan-fried noodles, ginger flounder, honey walnut chicken, Mongolian beef, and Chinese-style steak. Its full bar is also popular.
Scott C / Yelp
Best Craft Brewery: Fat Head’s Brewery, Various Locations
Fat Head’s started as Fat Head’s Saloon in 1992 on Pittsburgh’s historic South Side. As their popularity (and list of awards) grew, they opened Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon in North Olmstead, Ohio, in 2009. They expanded to a full-scale production brewery in 2012 in Middleburg Heights, due to an explosion in demand for their craft brews. Try the Hop Juju Imperial IPA, which in 2016 won the gold medal for Imperial India Pale Ale at the World Beer Cup and the bronze at the Great American Beer Festival.
Best Cupcakes: Fate Cakes, Columbus
Darren R. / Yelp
Best Deep Dish Pizza: Antonio’s Pizza, Various Locations
Antonio’s got its start back in 1967, and it’s still family-owned, with 15 locations in the Cleveland suburbs and beyond. Deep dish is one of a handful of pizza styles on offer, but it’s definitely the way to go. These pizzas start with fresh-made crust, which is layered with provolone, toppings, more cheese, another layer of crust, house-made sauce, and grated romano cheese before being baked to a golden brown. The topping options are pretty extraordinary as well; you can choose from everything from Hungarian peppers to thick hand-cut pepperoni, meatballs, and sliced steak.
Phil B / Yelp
Best Dive Bar: Dick’s Den, Columbus
“Why not?” an illuminating sign outside of Columbus’s Dick’s Den asks. And, yeah, why not walk in to this bar, which isn’t too far from Ohio State’s campus. Inside, you’ll find a bar where everyone fits in and live jazz music on most nights. There aren’t many frills to this bar, but that’s just how we like our dives.
Jessica S / Yelp
Best Doughnut: Bill’s Donut Shop, Centerville
This classic doughnut shop, which originally opened in Dayton, has changed locations several times over the years, but has now found its home in Centerville. Bill’s Donut Shop is currently run by the children of the original owners, but it still maintains its old-school atmosphere and feel. Make sure you treat yourself to one of the pretzel doughnuts: They’re the most popular item on the menu for a good reason.
Brittany S / Yelp
Best Farmers Market: West Side Market, Cleveland
Best Food Truck: Barrio, Cleveland
A large calaca (stylized Mexican skeleton) with arms open wide adorns the Barrio food truck, inviting you to build your own tacos. You can choose from five different kinds of tortillas, such as the “White Widow,” a soft flour tortilla with guac, sour cream, and “crunch”; nine different kinds of filling, including a fish of the day; queso fresco, smoked Cheddar, or Chihuahua cheese; and a bevy of toppings, salsas, sauces, and sides. But hey, it looks like these guys know what they’re doing, so try one of their suggestions, like the “El Puerco,” with pulled pork, quesos blanco and fresco, salsa roja, and chipotle honey; or their taco of the month, which features the most seasonal of ingredients.
John W / Yelp
Best French Fries: Melt Bar and Grilled, Various Locations
Best Fried Chicken: Belgrade Gardens, Barberton
Barberton is known as the “Chicken Capital of the World” because it serves seven and a half tons of chicken a week between just four restaurants, the oldest of which is Belgrade Gardens. The restaurant, which opened during the Great Depression, serves fried chicken in the Serbian-American (or “Barberton”) style, which is said to resemble Serbian fried chicken (pohovana piletina) very closely. This recipe relies on fresh (never frozen) bird, lard, and no seasoning. The fact that this creation tastes so good without seasoning is truly something worth going to Ohio (or Belgrade) for.
Jungle Jim's International Market
Best Grocery Store: Jungle Jim’s, Cincinnati
With more than 200,000 square feet of all the food stuff you can imagine, Jungle Jim’s International Market is like a grocery store theme park. Nancy of Cincinnati explained the appeal in one Google review: “THIS is the stop all my out-of-town visitors insist on seeing. You can find wonders and treasures and oddities… You will be distracted by all the shiny things. PLUS, the selection of beer, wine, cheese and even butter is amazing. Oh, and an acre of produce... did I forget to mention that?”
Pastina Rustic Italian Kitchen
Best Homemade Ravioli: Pastina Rustic Italian Kitchen, Mentor
Located on the outskirts of Cleveland, this 46-year-old Italian spot owes its success to its commitment to using only the freshest local ingredients and making all of its bread, pastas, sauces, sausage, and desserts from scratch. You really can’t go wrong with the ravioli, which is available in four styles: three cheese with house marinara; pea with roasted carrots, celery, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, oil, garlic, and Parmesan; house-ground beef with tomato sauce, ricotta, fresh basil, and melted mozzarella; and butternut squash with brown butter, sage, and crispy sunchoke chips.
Brian H / Yelp
Best Hot Dogs: Senate Restaurant, Cincinnati
Senate is one of Cincinnati's hottest restaurants, and while some restaurants relegate hot dogs to the children’s menu, here they’re front and center in eight over-the-top varieties (including one that changes daily). Their custom dogs are made by Avril-Bleh butchers just down the street, and they go through 800 of them weekly. The real showstopper is the croque-madame dog: A béchamel-slathered dog, topped with Black Forest ham and a poached egg in a toasted brioche bun. It’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one.
Best Italian Restaurant: Trentina, Cleveland
Everything chef Jonathon Sawyer touches turns to gold, and that’s certainly true of Trentina, which he runs with his wife Amelia. There’s a nice selection of wood-fired pizzas (try the one with duck confit, whipped taleggio, Ohio corn, caramelized onion and sherry gastrique); pastas including a stunning house-made bucatini della nonna and wood-fired lasagna; and entrées including a local strip steak grilled over hay. Can’t decide? The 12-course, $115 tasting menu is one of the Midwest’s finest.
Jae A / Yelp
Best Mexican Restaurant: Barrio, Cleveland
This beloved Downtown Cleveland hotspot trusts its guests to build their own ideal tacos from a selection of fillings, including Coca-Cola-marinated steak, braised beef, homemade chorizo, pulled pork, bacon, shrimp with garlic cream, grilled portobello mushrooms, apple jicama slaw, and Western Reserve smoked Cheddar, but we suggest you let the masters build it for you and choose from the variety of “El Jefe’s Selecciones.” Don’t miss the spicy Carne Trozo: braised beef, smoked Cheddar, lettuce, tomato, cilantro, onion, corn salsa, salsa verde, and secret sauce in a hard shell. It’s a party in one bite.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Red, The Steakhouse, Cleveland and Beachwood
Melt Bar & Grilled
Best Over-the-Top Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: Melt Bar & Grilled, Various Locations
This legendary Cleveland spot offers a mind-blowing selection of nearly 30 grilled cheeses. Some of the most outrageous offerings are the Parmageddon (pierogis, sauerkraut, sautéed onions, and sharp Cheddar); Mighty Macaroni (homemade deep-fried mac and cheese, cheese sauce, and melted cheese); The Dude Abides (homemade meatballs, fried mozzarella wedges, marinara, roasted garlic, provolone, and romano); Korean War Pig (Korean BBQ glazed pulled pork, seared pork belly, kimchi slaw, pear onion cilantro relish, and Muenster cheese); Chicken & Waffles (fried chicken, Belgian waffle, sriracha butter, pepper jack cheese, and maple syrup); and Big Popper (jalapeño poppers, Cheddar, and herb cream cheese, deep fried and topped with powdered sugar and berry preserves). If you’re feeling especially gluttonous, you can also take the famous Melt Challenge, with three slices of grilled bread and an insane 12 different types of cheese.
Best Pasta Dish: Trentina, Cleveland: Bucatini Della Nonna
Chef Jonathon Sawyer offers a host of amazing dishes at his 3-year-old Trentina, which he runs with his wife Amelia. His pastas are all stunning, but the true showcase of his culinary chops is the classic Bucatini Della Nonna. The bucatini is house-made, and it’s tossed in a simple sauce of heirloom tomato butter, Soave white wine, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s not easy to make something this simple.
Nishant S / Yelp
Best Pizza: Vero Pizza Napoletana, Cleveland
Iron Chef Michael Symon and Jonathan Sawyer may be among the most well-known Cleveland chefs nationally, but if you asked them to name an Ohio pizzeria that deserves attention, they’d likely single out Vero Pizza Napoletana helmed by Marc Aurele. This Cleveland Neapolitan pizzeria is serving a leopard-spot charred Neapolitan crust that should be the envy of many a Naples-obsessed American pizzaiolo. The 13 pies on the menu are garlic-, sausage-, and egg-heavy — as if that’s something to complain about.
Sheena W / Yelp
Best Sandwich: Slyman’s Restaurant, Cleveland: Corned Beef
This old-school deli is a Cleveland institution, going strong and serving gargantuan sandwiches for more than 50 years. Only open for breakfast and lunch, it’s most renowned for its massive corned beef sandwich, heaped with a mound of house-made corned beef. For deli aficionados (or just lovers of a great sandwich), this is a can’t-miss.
BonniB / Yelp
Best Seafood Shack: Jolly Rogers Seafood House, Port Clinton
A seafood shack in a big culinary capital like Chicago makes sense, but in Port Clinton, Ohio? You better believe it. Jolly Rogers Seafood claims to have Lake Erie’s finest yellow perch and walleye, along with onion rings and jumbo shrimp. It seems diners agree — this summertime destination, nestled along the shores of Lake Erie, has customers lining up to feast their stomachs on the region’s specialty dishes all season long.
Jeev D / Yelp
Best Soup: Souper Market, Cleveland
Cleveland’s 16-year-old Souper Market has become a serious local cult favorite for its ever-changing lineup of soups, all of which are served with “a big chunk of bread.” Fan favorites include jambalaya, chicken paprikash, pulled chicken noodle, New England clam chowder (pictured), and lobster bisque. It’s all homemade, so they’ll also sell you chicken, veal, fish, or vegetable stock by the quart or gallon.
Best Steakhouse: Red, Cleveland
With two locations in Cleveland, Red is stylish, classy, and just about everything you look for in a steakhouse. Steaks are certified Angus and there are plenty of traditional classics like oysters, French onion soup, and shrimp cocktail, but you’ll also find unique offerings like a free-range veal chop stuffed with foie gras, mushrooms, and fontina as well as Italian options like lobster fra diavolo and linguine with clam sauce. Their off-menu surf and turf, which pairs an herb-brushed tomahawk rib-eye with a king-crab-stuffed 16-ounce lobster tail, also might just be America’s best. High-rollers, take note: If you want to top your steak with seared foie gras with black truffle demi-glace, nobody will stop you. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.