Fine Dining in Cleveland

If you’re traveling to Cleveland, don’t make the mistake of assuming the city is all the same, Cleveland is full of diversity and each of the cities carries its own unique flare and personal charm. And with that individual personality comes loads of fine dining options and something that is bound to delight each taste bud.

Lola must be a top mentioned restaurant when speaking of the best cuisine in Cleveland.  It’s owned and operated by Food Network star Michael Symon who is currently the city’s golden child of culinary delights. Lola pairs food and wine in the same way they pair sophistication and sexy, it’s an exceptional dining experience that will leave you satiated and wanting more. And don’t forget its sister restaurant Lolita which is a little more casual but still packs a powerful dining punch. If you want to see more of Chef Symon, look for his appearances on the Iron Chef, his own show The Melting Pot, and his numerous mentions in popular foodie magazines such as Food & Wine Magazine who names him one of the 10 best chefs in America.

Situated in the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel is a dining gem like no other in Cleveland. San Souci has a Mediterranean atmosphere with hearthside seating, country murals, beautiful views of Public Square and worn wood floors that is only surpassed by its excellent Pan-Mediterranean flavors paired with influences of Southern France. San Souci has an incredible menu that is punctuated by its seasonal selections which are so delightful you’ll want to pop in more than once to enjoy your favorites before they’re gone.

Move into the warehouse district and you’ve got seafood that simply can’t be beat at Blue Point Grille. In fact, Blue Point Grille doesn’t even give other restaurants in the area a chance as it’s been voted Cleveland’s Best Seafood Restaurant every year since it opened. Not only is the food exquisite, the atmosphere is just as lavish with elongated windows that give you a view onto the world and give passers by a peak at the lavish interior with dark blue accents, high ceilings and impressive chandeliers. The adventurous souls will really appreciate that the Blue Point Grille makes an effort to spice up the menu with unique combinations and fish that don’t usually find their way onto a menu, especially in Cleveland.

And as long as you’re in the warehouse district, how about giving Johnny’s a try, but make sure you have the right Johnny’s. First there was Johnny’s Bar, then there is Johnny’s Little Bar and finally, your target destination, Johnny’s Downtown. Built as a response to the popularity of Johnny’s first restaurant, the downtown location was designed to give visitors to the heart of the city a classy upscale Italian dining option.  The cuisine is delightful as the pastas are all homemade and come paired with sauces that include the finest liquors, creams and spices. Don’t forget to add wine to your experience as Wine Spectator has seen fit to award this restaurant its coveted Award of Excellence and the Zagat Survey Guide has given it a top ranking for fine cuisine.

Think you’ve had the best Italian food Cleveland has to offer after tasting Johnny’s Downtown? Well, think again, The Baricelli Inn has also garnered it’s own slew of awards including  being named Cosmopolitan’s Sexiest Place in Ohio, one of the Top 50 Best Restaurants in America and Chef Minnillo’s recognition as the Best Chef in the Midwest. Baricelli not only comes with a respectful amount of praise, but its history is almost as impressive as the beautiful Inn that houses the restaurant. Built in 1895 by Dutch architect John Grant as his primary residence until it was purchased by the very well respected Baricelli family. It wasn’t until 1981 that the home’s true potential was realized and after four years of renovation Chef and owner Paul Minnillo opened his dream restaurant. Bringing more excitement to the table, Baricelli features its own aged, artisan handcrafted cheeses that encourage you to take home a treat from the Baricelli Cheese Company.

Cleveland harbor at sunset

Cleveland harbor at sunset

For the flavor of Spain in Cleveland give Marbella Restaurant a visit. Marbella’s fills the restaurant with staff that have lived in Spain at one point or another, including their Chef Marcelo Fadul. The recipes are also direct descendants from Spain and come with all the bold zesty flavors that one would expect in fine Spanish themed dishes. For a real treat, head to Marbellas on the weekend and experience the live entertainment. If you don’t want to go all the way over to the east side of town, how about Marbella’s downtown sister restaurant,  Mallorca. This restaurant also deserves a nod as one of the top fine dining options in Cleveland. Still specializing in traditional Spanish flavors and the more is more theory. Whether its Mallorca or Marbella’s, you’re in for a Spanish treat.

Another Cleveland chef to keep your eye on is Chef Marlin Kaplan of One Walnut. This restaurant comes with a very sophisticated atmosphere that reflects the menu and the attitude of this fine dining establishment. The menu is a delightful blend of American basics with international tastes. This upscale experience is one to be had by only the most serious of diners looking for some of the best tastes of the region. Pay attention to the seasonal menu as these treats are too quickly gone.

If your idea of fine dining is a simple steak that is truly divine then give The Cabin Club in Westlake a try. Light in pomp but heavy in charm and delectable delights, The Cabin Club claims to be the only steakhouse west of the Cuyahoga River. The restaurant is exactly what you’d expect at first glance, a log cabin built just after World War II. It wasn’t until 1991 that the cabin was turned into a local hotspot. But don’t expect the Cabin Club to be a run down antique, the fine dining atmosphere is comfortable inside this historic home and plays host to some of the best steaks around.

More than a one note town, Cleveland really has something for everyone and whether you’re looking for an upscale steakhouse or the best seafood around, you’re sure to find it in the greater Cleveland area.

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Flickr/Edsel L