The 8th edition of this popular dining guide introduces a world of exotic cuisines—right here in our own backyard! These 356 authentic ethnic restaurants and markets (from more than 50 different countries and cultures) are recommended by the experts: Cleveland’s ethnic citizens themselves. Laura Taxel found out where they go for an authentic meal; her book shares those delicious discoveries. Detailed listings tell what you’ll find when you go, from menu items and specialties to prices, hours, ambiance, attire, and parking.
The following excerpt includes five restaurants and markets in Northeast Ohio that can be found in Cleveland Ethnic Eats, 8th edition.
Kobawoo Oriental Food Market
City: Cleveland Area: Near West Side
Address: 4709 Pearl Rd. Food avail.: Meat (frozen), fish (frozen, dried), produce, grains, beans, flour, rice, canned & packaged goods, spices, condiments, tea, prepared frozen foods Hours: MonSat 10 a.m.9 p.m., Sun noon7 p.m. Payment: MC, VS, DIS, checks Access: h None Other ethnic: Chinese, Japanese, Korean
Well stocked with products from Korea, plus a small selection of ingredients for Chinese and Japanese cookery, this store replaces Kims Oriental Food Company, formerly at this location. Though most of their clientele is Korean, the current owners, like their predecessors, also cater to the growing number of Americans interested in preparing Korean dishes in their own kitchens, and in using Asian flavorings to spice up American foods. You can find seasonings in both powder and liquid form here, as well as many varieties of canned and jarred pickled vegetables and kimchee. Though small, Kobawoo prides itself on its selection of fresh produce. The store has its own parking lot.
City: Parma Heights Area: Southwest Atmosphere: Casual Cost: $$
Address: 6339 Olde York Rd. Hours: Mon, WedSun 11: 30 a.m.10 p.m.; closed Tue; Lunch buffet Mon, WedFri 11: 30 a.m.3 p.m., SatSun 11: 302: 30 p.m. Reservations: Taken Payment: MC, VS, DIS Bar: None Takeout: Yes Access: h Full access
This may well be the most exotic spot to eat in Cleveland, if you define exotic as having the charm of the unfamiliar, strikingly and intriguingly different. And imagine finding such singularity in a strip mall, in a town not known for the unusual. But the fact is, theres nothing else like this place in Northeast Ohio. Thats because the all-vegetarian dishes served represent the cuisine of Udupi, a coastal town in southern India in the state of Karnataka. Its said that food there is a religion, and their style of preparation is renowned throughout the country. In contrast, most Indian restaurants in America offer a northern approach.
Although the two have a palette of ingredients and a few dishes in common, the food at Udupi is a revelation to the uninitiated. I can offer only a sampler here. Iddly are rice and lentil patties; vada are fried lentil donuts; bonda are potato dumplings; and sambhar is a side dish and condiment made with spiced lentils and vegetables. The menu features 13 different dosai. These are among the most famous regional creationsvery large, thin, crisp rice flour crepes filled or topped with various combinations of potatoes, onions, or creamed wheat accompanied by chutney and sambar. Another is uthappamgriddle-cooked pancakes topped with tomatoes, onions, peas, chilies, or coconut. Bagala bhath features rice with yogurt, mustard seeds, and cucumber. Avial is a curry made with coconut sauce. In addition to the freshly baked tandoori breads that are typical of Indian restaurants, Udupis pice de rsistance is the colossal batura, an extraordinary, delicious puff of bread the size of your head that implodes, souffl-like, as it cools.
The variety and flavor of the food here are so enticing that Ill wager only hard-core carnivores will miss the meat. There are many ways to try many things, from the weekday lunch buffet to the assorted appetizer platter and the thali dinneror come with a group and promise to share. Some items are quite spicy but the heat in many can be adjusted, so speak up and ask for what you want. Cold milk or fruit drinks and desserts are must-havesI simply am never too full, no matter how Ive stuffed myself, for the homemade ice cream or the badam halwa, a sweet confection made with ground almonds and honey.
The dining room is a sprawling space with seating for about 150, and it is usually populated with Indian families and large groups of young Indian men, students perhaps, who appear delighted to be eating these wonderful things from home. The dcor is strictly utilitarian, but that in no way detracts from the reality that this is a meat-free paradise.
Barwulu/Hookes African Food Market
City: Euclid Area: East Side
Address: 917 E. 222 St. Food avail.: Meat (frozen), fish (frozen, dried), produce, grains, beans, spices, condiments, beverages, tea, coffee Hours: MonSat 10 a.m.8 p.m.; closed Sun Payment: MC, VS Access: h Limited Other ethnic: Caribbean
William Barwulu Hookes is from Liberia and his wife, Ramona Hookes, is American born. Hes been in this country since the 1980s but never lost his taste for the foods of home, and hes banking on the fact that other people from Africa feel the same. Thats why the couple decided to buy the business from its former owner in 2001, and are keeping the shelves stocked with African staples and delicacies: stockfish, cassava leaf, potato greens, palm oil, palava sauce, fufu (plantain flour), fermented banku (flour of ground cassava and maize), and kenkey, a cereal from Ghana thats much like farina.
But Barwulu is convinced that Americans will also like some of his products. I get frozen free-range chickens flown in from Africa. And I tell you thisonce a person has tasted this they will be running here to get some more. It is very special. In addition to all sorts of spices and condiments, as well as the beans, grains, and frozen goat meat that are used in African cooking, shoppers will also find ingredients more familiar to those who prepare Jamaican food. This should come as no surprise if you know anything about the history of the Caribbeanthe interplay of indigenous, European, Indian, and African cultures, the result of slavery, colonialism, and immigration, is vividly displayed in the regions cuisine.
There are only two narrow aisles in this tiny store, but the floor-to-ceiling shelves and the boxes on the floor hold a whole world of food. Space for three cars to park head-in directly in front of the store, with additional parking on side streets.
City: Akron Area: Farther South Atmosphere: Relaxed Cost: $$
Address: 286 E. Cuyahoga Falls Ave. Hours: TueThu 11 a.m.9 p.m., FriSun 11 a.m.10 p.m.; closed Sun in summer; closed Mon Reservations: Not taken Payment: Cash only Bar: None Takeout: Yes Access: h None
This is a joint, in the best sense of the wordsmall, inexpensive, and with a no-fuss, no-frills atmosphere that comes from being itself with no apologies or excuses. You pays your money (cash only)and you get really good, really authentic Mexican food in return. Thats it. Places like this are a dime a dozen in Austin, Texas, but rare in these parts. When former Akron Beacon Journal food editor Jane Snow and I walked in, early in the day before the lunchtime crowd appeared, chef, owner, and sometime server David Soreque already had a pot of stock simmering, evidence that everything here is made from scratch, just as his mother taught him back in Michoaca, a little town east of Mexico City where he has born. Although there are some Tex-Mex items available, what makes his menu special is the more traditional preparation of things like tamales, enchiladas, and quesadillas. Tortillas are top quality. Tacos, filled with cubes of spiced pork, chicken, steak, chorizo sausage, or tongue, are fried twice and topped with grilled onions, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkling of cilantro. According to David, the Mexican dishes most popular in the U.S. would be considered merely appetizers in a proper meal. So on the weekends, he cooks more complicated, time- and labor-intensive specialsmole, chiles rellenos, or a dish made with pork and nopales (cactus)because he wants to give Americans a taste of what he describes as the true Mexican cuisine, adding, thats why lots of Mexicans come here. Its real home cooking to them. Seating is limited to an eight-stool counter and three four-top tables, plus a couple more outside in good weather.
Little Polish Diner
City: Parma Area: Southwest Atmosphere: Relaxed Cost: $
Address: 5772 Ridge Rd. Hours: TueFri 11 a.m.7 p.m., Sat 11 a.m.6 p.m.; closed SunMon Reservations: Not taken Payment: MC, VS, DIS Bar: None Takeout: Yes Access: h Limited
Sophie Hart emigrated from Poland in the early 1990s and brought with her an expertise in making galumpki (cabbage rolls) and chicken paprikash. She prepares those dishes and a short list of other Polish specialties for her customers. Be prepared for close quarters as you slurp borscht or chow down on smoked kielbasa, sauerkraut, and pierogies. The dining area is smaller than many suburban kitchens with shoulder-to-shoulder seating for 22, including six stools at the counter. Its a plain, narrow space with a few pieces of traditional arts and crafts on the wall for decoration. The atmosphere is friendly, and regulars are treated with an extra helping of sociability. Hart and her partner John Holt also operate a small party center in the same building, and theyll gladly provide a traditional Eastern European menu for event guests. There is a parking lot behind the restaurant.
Excerpted from the book Cleveland Ethnic Eats 8th Edition, copyright © Laura Taxel. All rights reserved.
This excerpt may not be used in any form for commercial purposes without the written permission of Gray & Company, Publishers.
by Laura Taxel
Discover a world of exotic cuisines—right here in our own backyard! These 356 authentic ethnic restaurants and markets (from more than 50 different countries and cultures) are recommended by the experts: Cleveland’s ethnic citizens themselves. Laura Taxel found out . . . [ Read More ]
Laura Taxel has been writing about food and the people who prepare it for three decades. Her articles have appeared in local, regional, and national publications. She has won numerous Excellence In Jo . . . [ Read More ]Blog