Michael Symon is a local hero. He runs two restaurants in the city – Lola and Lolita – and while both are stellar, Lolita is my favorite. It has a cozy, neighborhood vibe and the kind of dark, dusky light that makes everyone look glamorous. I’m lucky enough to live right around the corner, so I like to duck in as often as I can for a glass of wine and a snack. Everything I have ever eaten there has been absolutely delicious, and they have the best happy hour in the city. If you are going for dinner, make reservations.
900 Literary Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44113
Tuesday – Thursday, 5 – 11; Friday + Saturday, 5 – 1; Sunday, 4 – 9
Sokolowski’s University Inn
This is a 73 year old Cleveland institution run by the third generation of the Sokolowski family. Everyone from Bill Clinton to Martha Stewart has eaten there, and with good reason – it’s the closet you can get to having an old-school Clevelander make you a stick-to-your ribs lunch. Everything is served cafeteria style, so be prepared to grab a tray and dive in. While you eat your pierogies, you can marvel at the dizzying array of autographed photos covering the walls.
1201 University Rd. Cleveland, OH 44113
LUNCH: Monday-Friday, 11:00 – 3:00; DINNER: Friday, 5:00 – 9:00; Saturday, 4:00 – 9:00
This is my favorite place in town for Sunday brunch – you can’t beat the $6 steel cut oatmeal “brulee” with poached apricots and candied almonds, although sometimes I succumb to the siren song of the cured salmon plate or the brioche french toast, and we usually have to get at least one order of the cinnamon sugar clay oven bread for the table.
Don’t even get me started on the Bloody Marys (served with house-made pickles). Afterwards, it’s a very short walk to the Shake Square Cinema to catch a Sunday matinee.
13220 shaker square, cleveland, ohio 44120
monday closed, tuesday–thursday 5pm-10pm, friday–saturday 5pm-11pm, sunday 10am-2pm (brunch); 5pm-10pm