What to Eat in Cleveland, Ohio

May 13th, 2022 by

You may have been born and raised in Cleveland, or you may be a newcomer to this community. Regardless of how long you’ve called Cleveland home, the city’s diverse culinary offerings won’t disappoint you. Whether you crave American comfort food classics or want to broaden your tastes with dishes from international cuisines, you can use our guide to good eating to help you find the best foods in Cleveland.

Grab a Polish Boy for Lunch

Freshly baked "Polish Boys," an Eastern European dish, sitting on a baking sheet

Image via Unsplash

Cleveland’s ethnic food specialties reflect its Eastern European heritage. The Polish Boy is one of these delicacies that you shouldn’t pass up if you have the opportunity to try one. This Cleveland creation tops a kielbasa sausage on a bun with coleslaw, french fries, and barbecue sauce.

Seti’s Polish Boys is one of Cleveland’s most recognized food trucks that prepare the Polish Boy. Featured on Food Network, in Food & Wine magazine, and by Zagat, Seti’s Polish Boys are a delicious introduction to the Eastern European foods you can sample throughout Cleveland.

Indulge in a Sweet Bite of Malley’s Chocolates

You don’t need a special occasion to enjoy a taste of the sweet life in Cleveland. Malley’s Chocolates has been putting smiles on people’s faces across northeastern Ohio for more than 80 years. From its Cleveland hometown, where you can see its signature pink factory smokestacks from the highway, Malley’s Chocolates serves customers locally and around the globe with its confections. With 19 retail stores operating across the region, you won’t have to travel far to indulge your sweet tooth.

If you’re a peanut butter and chocolate fan, you won’t want to pass up Ohio buckeyes. These distinctive Ohio delicacies contain a creamy peanut butter filling surrounded by smooth milk chocolate and finished with a peanut butter cap. No scoop of ice cream should go without a topping of Malley’s Famous Fudge Sauce, created using the same recipe developed by Malley’s founder, Albert “Mike” Malley.

Perk Up Your Palate with a Hearty Chicken Paprikash

During the 19th and 20th centuries, immigrants from Hungary settled in the Cleveland area. These immigrants brought a repertoire of Eastern European cooking that has contributed to Cleveland’s cultural food heritage.

Chicken Paprikash is a hearty Hungarian-inspired comfort food dish made with chicken browned in butter and cooked with onions and paprika. Visit European’s Best Restaurant and Bakery at 19608 W. 130th Street in Strongsville, a Cleveland suburb, to sample this specialty. Serving customers since 2001, this dining establishment takes pride in offering a full menu of European dishes, including stuffed cabbage, freshly made sausage, and wiener schnitzel.

The restaurant’s Chicken Paprikash is a savory dinner specialty when served with spaetzle, a tender dumpling made with eggs. The homemade sauce that coats the chicken in this dish will perk up your taste buds with flavors of Eastern European cooking.

Sink Your Teeth Into a Corned Beef Sandwich at Slyman’s Restaurant

Cleveland residents know where to go for the best corned beef sandwich. Since 1963, Slyman’s Restaurant has welcomed scores of locals and celebrities to its 3106 St. Clair Avenue establishment, a place where customers quickly become friends. This Cleveland legend piles premium-quality corned beef between two slices of rye bread. The superbly stacked nature of this creation is a signature element of Slyman’s sandwich-making style.

Every St. Patrick’s Day, Slyman’s sells between 2,000 to 3,000 corned beef sandwiches, according to owner Freddie Slyman in an interview with Cleveland Magazine. In addition to its downtown restaurant, Slyman’s operates three tavern locations in Independence, Orange Village, and Mentor.

Top Your Hot Dog With Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard

For more than 90 years, Clevelanders have reached for one iconic mustard brand to top their hot dogs: Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard. The slightly spicy brown mustard originated with Joseph “Joe” Bertman during the 1920s. Bertman, a son of Polish immigrants, built his food business with a customer service-focused mindset and ingenuity in innovation.

According to Bertman’s website, Bertman himself developed the company’s Original Ball Park Mustard in the garage behind his home in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood. One of Bertman’s earliest customers, League Park, was one of the first adopters of this rich, smooth, Old World-style brown mustard. Today, you can find Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard at nearly every sports venue in Cleveland. In recent years, Bertman has expanded beyond Ohio’s borders. It’s now the official mustard at Goodyear Ballpark in Arizona and NBC Grill at Universal Studios in California and Florida.

According to a WKYC news report, 2022 will be a big year for Bertman when Cleveland’s baseball team begins a new season as the Cleveland Guardians. Bertman plans to redesign its bottles featuring the new Guardians logo.

“You taste our mustard, it’s like making memories,” said CEO Michael Mintz. “People remember having a hot dog at the ballpark with their mom or dad putting this mustard on it, and they remember that flavor.”

Treat Your Taste Buds to Tommy’s Restaurant

What started as a small soda fountain on the corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard is now a popular Cleveland Heights dining destination. Rolling Stone put Tommy’s Restaurant on Cleveland’s culinary map. Soon after Tommy’s opened for business in 1972, the magazine hailed Tommy’s milkshake as the “Best Milkshake East of the Mississippi.”

Today, Tommy’s offers vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, and meat-based dishes on its menu, such as meat pies. These savory baked pies combine meats such as beef, ham, and lamb with cheeses and vegetables. Try a veggie burger made from brown rice, vegetables, and adzuki beans or soy patties served on a wheat bun with grilled onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles.

Save room for dessert. Tommy’s famous milkshakes and one of the taste-tempting baked goods, such as carrot cake, banana bread, or vegan cookies, make a sweet ending to any meal.

We hope our article detailing some of the best foods to eat in Cleveland guides you to delicious discoveries in the city’s culinary community. What did you think about our list? Did we miss one of your favorite dishes? Write to us and let us know. We’d be happy to update this article with your suggestions.

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