Whether we're boating on Lake Erie, staying at a summer cottage on the shore or simply have an open night and want to get out and grab a bite to eat, these 10 restaurants on the North Coast have become some of my favorites.
Although we have a lot of places we love to dine, these are the ones I return to time and Thyme again.
Hope you enjoy my list and consider giving some of these a try!
OWNERS: Alan & Shanon Kneidel
BEST KNOWN FOR: Cleveland Chop is an award winning steakhouse offering a premium experience at an affordable price. They can accommodate large parties in their various private rooms and on their beautiful backyard deck. They are best known for their prime beef and fresh seafood.
FUN FACT: They are located in the historic Warehouse District downtown which originally housed The Joseph & Feiss Company. Much of the decor on their walls are black and white photographs of the employees from that era.
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: Their 14 oz. prime ribeye - which they say is the best steak on the menu. The appetizer everyone talks about are the steak cigars.
WHAT I ORDER: Lobster & blackened shrimp gnocchi, glass of Kim Crawford, Brian always tries the specials.
The lobster and blackened shrimp gnocchi is outstanding!
Although Cleveland Chop has been around for 7 years now, we did not stumble upon it until just this past year. We wanted to go somewhere new to celebrate our anniversary and have returned 4 times since!
Cleveland Chop has a really cool and cozy vibe. It's contemporary, yet comfortable using a mix of reds, dark wood and brick in their decor. The lighting is dim and there are a multitude of places within the restaurant to have a different dining experience each time you visit. There is a bar area with high top tables and a laid back vibe, there are wood booths within the middle of the restaurant with little lamps for a cozier, more intimate experience, there are tables and chairs for larger parties with a more fine dining feel and there are 3 party rooms to host larger groups in a private setting. This large, beautiful steakhouse - in the heart of Cleveland - has so much to offer...including GREAT steaks!
On one of our visits this summer, we sat on their outdoor deck.
Tucked within the tall buildings of Cleveland sits a stunning, outdoor grassy green space that's occupied by Worthington Yards, neighbors of Cleveland Chop. So when you are dining on the outdoor deck at CC, you feel like you are nestled in a secret, contemporary garden, tucked right in the middle of the bustling city...enjoying the best food with the best company. You MUST try dining out there this summer...add it to your list right now!
I love dining outdoors and I love the idea of dining in a building rich with history. Make a night of it! There is so much to do in Downtown Cleveland - Grab your friends and go!
824 St. Clair Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
*reservations recommended *patio open in the summer
OWNERS: Bac Nguyen & Dylan Fallon
BEST KNOWN FOR: Eclectic pan-Asian cuisine and Asian-inspired pub grub. Most popular dishes include Pho Noodle Soup, Steam Buns, Spring Rolls and Pad Thai.
FUN FACT: The characters and story lines featured in the comic book-style print menu and in the artwork throughout the space were created by Chef Bac and brought to life by local artist Kyle Harlan. (example pictured above)
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: Pho Beef Noodle Soup
WHAT I ORDER: Edamame, Spring Rolls, Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Chicken
OR Edamame, Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Double Spring Rolls
PLUS I will usually take an order of Pho to go for later!
WHENEVER I'M SICK I send Brian on a run to get me 2 orders of Pho
If there is any restaurant in the world that speaks my love language - it is Ninja City. This love fest began when I walked in owner Bac's mother's restaurant in Lakewood over 25 years ago. On her menu, my most favorite dish of all time - Vietnamese Noodle Salad. While Mom's restaurant closed many years ago, my entire family flipped when we heard her son Bac was carrying on the tradition and opening his own restaurant. I immediately leafed through his menu, while praying to the high heavens...and there. it. was. VIETNAMESE NOODLE SALAD
It is just this glorious combination of fresh greens, snappy bean sprouts, warm protein, rice noodles and crunchy peanuts that I simply love. You MUST try it!
Ninja City is located in the Gordon Square District nestled among several other popular eateries and boutiques. They actually share a common space with FOUNT
The team at Ninja City have created a super fun brand filled with color, energy, comics and humor...and of course paired with great food and drink. Be sure to give their Instagram a follow to keep up with all their great events!
6706 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44102
*open 7 days a week *patio open in the summer
OWNERS: Jessica Parkison & Jill Vedaa
BEST KNOWN FOR: Creating a culture around small plates, and only small plates. They re-create their entire menu every 10 weeks - essentially offering their customers a new restaurant several times a year.
FUN FACT: Jessica and Jill didn't really know each other! Jessica (cocktail master) called Jill (master chef), 3 years after meeting her and not seeing her, to see if she wanted to open a restaurant. The first time Jessica tried Jill's food was the day they opened. Jill made her an order of Sweet Potato Croquettas.
They say the secret to their success is allowing one another to create and excel in their appropriate areas. Jessica says "We stay in our own lanes and come together when we need to. We have nothing but love and respect for each other."
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: That's a tough one because the menu is always reinventing itself. They would say though, the calamari. It stays on their menu. Flash fried and placed in a cool pool of coconut/corriander sauce...it is so so good!
WHAT I ORDER: Something new every time! Brian and I try to visit Salt every time they change their menu. New menu, new drinks! Pictured below is a drink Brian tried on one of our visits - smoked white whiskey with Ohio sweet corn syrup & coarse salt.
Salt is located on the west end of Lakewood in a corner spot on Detroit Avenue. I love the mix of brick, wood, glass & warm colors in their decor. I also really love the fact that this unique restaurant is owned by two women - they are fun, edgy and true to themselves and it shows in everything they do.
After our many visits to Salt, Brian and I have mastered our approach to their offerings. The menu is broken down into 3 categories - Vegetables, Fish & Meat. We will read through the menu and then discuss what looks good to us and that we will both enjoy. We then order 2 from each section which gives us 6 total small plates to share.
I always eats Jill's food the way she presents it...even if it seems very different to me. One of my first dishes I tried of hers was a small plate of short ribs served with slices of grapefruit on top. I had never eaten fruit with meat before and it seemed like an odd combination...but I gave it a try...and it was DELICIOUS! From then on, I let go of my food inhibitions and explored a variety of food combinations thanks to Jill.
This restaurant is a must try for all foodies. You will not be disappointed!
17625 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
*reservations suggested *patio in the summer
OWNERS: Mike & Tess Smith
BEST KNOWN FOR: Lobster tots & great cocktails
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: Serious Problems
vodka . passion fruit . vanilla lime . sparkling rose sidecar
Based on a UK classic, you won't have to try too hard to love this martini!
WHAT I ORDER: Upon arrival, I start with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand brands are my jam and the The Wairau River they are serving right now is pure Heaven to my tastebuds. This is followed by their gem wedge salad and usually something new for dinner each time.
Mike and Tess affectionately call their restaurant "the cutest little hole in the wall." And it really is! New to Bay Village in 2019, it has definitely become a fan favorite for the locals!
This winter I decided to take some real time to connect with friends I keep saying "we should grab dinner sometime" to. So once a week I meet someone new for dinner and it is always at Thyme Table.
They do not take reservations at this restaurant, so I have found that arriving at 4:30 for dinner is the perfect time to insure a table. Trust me, by the time we leave, the restaurant is full.
There is something about the small town ease of this space, the adventurous drink menu and the simple, yet eclectic menu that just keeps me coming back for more!
FUN FACT: Their restaurant can easily be spotted when driving southbound on Dover Center Road because of the new mural that is painted on their wall by artist Lisa Quine. Mike & Tess think it's BEAUTIFUL!
583 Dover Center Road
Bay Village, Ohio 44140
*they do not take reservations *patio open in the summer
OWNERS: Brothers, Ron & Craig Heldorfer
BEST KNOWN FOR: They offer quality veal, chicken, seafood and pasta, with a large and varied wine program - in a relaxed setting - providing quality, quantity and value to their guests.
FUN FACT: They named the restaurant Fratello’s because “Fratello” is the Italian word for brother - appropriate that the two brothers are partners.
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: Veal, chicken or shrimp Fratello.
WHAT I ORDER: House salad, linguini with clam sauce, Sauvignon blanc. They start by giving you warm bread with a delicious garlic butter.
Fratello's Restaurant was opened in 1992 by brothers Craig and Ron Heldorfer.
The restaurant is housed in a simple brick building on the corner of Lear Road and Electric Boulevard in Avon Lake. The dining room space is unpretentious - a square room without windows - but it is filled with white linen table cloths, photographs Ron took while in Italy, a large wine collection and lots of guests. Super simple, yet elegant.
Over our 20 years of living in Avon Lake, we have both dined in the restaurant and picked up carry-out when we wanted something wonderful for dinner. I am a creature of habit and order the same 2 things every single time. I have to tell you though, it doesn't matter if we are popping in to eat or stopping by to pick-up our carry out, this restaurant is bustling ALL OF THE TIME!
After almost 30 years in Avon Lake, this community has embraced this restaurant and the authentic food they offer. Chef Craig offers patrons a variety of delicious choices on the menu and Ron maintains the very large and varied wine list.
There is one thing about this restaurant that stands out to me and I talked to our waiter about it the last time we were in. It's longevity.
As I mentioned earlier, we've visited this restaurant for 2 decades now and I can tell you that the faces we see when we walk in the door today are the same faces we saw when we first dined there. Owner Ron is always on the floor and the people that are serving you have been there for years, some since the beginning. That's something unheard of in the restaurant business.
Our waiter told us that the Fratellos' brothers make working there a great experience, so much so that now younger family members are starting to get jobs there as bussers and servers.
Fratello's has embraced the community and the community has embraced it in return. The restaurant space is simple and the food elegant. It's a great place for a date night!
32085 Electric Boulevard
Avon Lake, Ohio 44012
*reservations recommended *lunch Tuesday thru Friday
OWNERS: Josh & Maggie Frey
WEBSITE: @winevaultvermilion on FB & Instagram
BEST KNOWN FOR: Casual, world class cuisine, service and atmosphere
FUN FACT: The Wine Vault is located in the Old Vermilion Banking Co. building, ca. 1907, complete with original bank vault that currently serves as their wine cellar.
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: The seared scallops and their house made sangrias
WHAT I ORDER: arugula & beet salad, scallops with gnocchi, glass of Kim Crawford
The Wine Vault is located in the heart of the sweet coastal town of Vermilion right on Main Street. It is a narrow, intimate space that features it's owner right behind the bar welcoming you as you walk in. I think it was probably Josh that "had me at hello" the first time I visited. You feel like you are walking into his home, he's there every step of the way making sure you are taken care of from the moment you walk in until the moment you leave. In all of our visits, there has only been one time he wasn't behind the bar.
We love both sitting at the bar and sitting at our own table. I think one night we spent 3 hours at the bar enjoying food and drink, talking to Josh and meeting new people from the area.
A great time to visit is in the summer. Their menu expands and I was obsessed with their 2 summer salads last year. The caprese was to die for and their lobster & potato salad was out of this world. They have the most charming patio nestled behind the restaurant filled with cafe lights, Adirondack chairs, tables & a fire.
The restaurant is cozy, clean, delicious and fun! We visit the restaurant year round, but a great time to visit is in the summer when you can truly enjoy this lakeside town. Grab dinner at the Wine Vault, hop across the street for an ice cream cone at Granny Joe's, visit Erie & Anchor to shop for some nautical apparel and home goods (they carry Coastal Cleveland too!) and end your night with a walk to the lake for the sunset.
5881 Liberty Avenue
Vermilion, Ohio 44089
*they do not take reservations *patio in the summer
OWNERS: George Sortino
BEST KNOWN FOR: The Sortino brothers have been bringing authentic Sicilian cooking to the small town of Sandusky, Ohio since their father first emigrated from Modica, Sicily in 1952. Sortino’s Little Italy, has become a local favorite serving up dishes using recipes passed down from generation to generation.
FUN FACT: The family restaurant is located in a historic building that once housed an orphanage and has now been transformed into a Sicilian tratoria for you to enjoy.
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: You can't pick just one! Everything's great! Here's our local favorites: Pasta Mafia, Pasta Diavolo, Pasta Alfredo, Pasta Capri, Bella Piccolina Pasta Purses, Gnocchi di Sortino, Cannolis, Chicken LaMone
WHAT I ORDER: House salad with pink celery dressing, pasta & clams, glass of house Pinot Grigio
My dad was remarried 13 years ago and it was his new wife Donna that gets full credit for introducing us to not only boating, but to Sortino's too! Donna's brother Al docks his boat in Sandusky - so it was 13 years ago that we were introduced to this town that we really only knew of as Cedar Point town at that point.
Our tradition was to spend a day on Lake Erie with my Dad, Donna, Uncle Al and our kids and then hit Sortino's after docking the boat for dinner. The great thing about this restaurant is you can show up in your Sunday best or your t-shirt and shorts having just got off the boat. They welcome everyone!
Sortino's is set-up like a Speakeasy - so you must ring the bell to be let in. The restaurant feels like a restaurant right from Italy. Red and white decor, a hint of green accents and walls filled with Italian decor and family photographs.
One of our favorite parts about Sortino's is their basement. If they have a full house and you need to wait for a table, you are led downstairs to hang out until they call you. There is a bar, some high top tables, a cozy couch area and a complimentary spread of antipasto and breadsticks.
We absolutely love to hang out downstairs at the bar with Amy while we wait. She is full of Sandusky and Sortino's history and lore. We love to hear her stories and she can also tell you about the Orphanage that used to exist in the Sortino's building because it is where her grandmother once lived.
Whether you get a table right away or have to wait...dinner at Sortino's is simply delicious! The first thing you are presented with is fresh bread and heaping plate of olive oil & spices for dipping. This amazing plate was created by Kim, one of the servers at Sortino's and came on the scene just a few years ago. Take a look at this thing! Oil, parmesan, loads of garlic, basil, spices and deliciousness!
Our entire family loves Sortino's. You will definitely have to stop by for dinner sometime!
1220 Sycamore Line
Sandusky, Ohio 44870
*reservations suggested, but you may just want to walk-in and enjoy a relaxing time downstairs if you need to wait
OWNERS: Gabriel Zeller
BEST KNOWN FOR: BLP taco, queso and street corn
FUN FACT: They make taco deliveries to the boat docks on their golf cart
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: Watermelon jalapeño margarita
WHAT I ORDER: Chips with queso & lobster guac (to share with the table), a taco or two (I love the lobster roll, Brian loves the cauliflower), Mexican street corn (off the cob) and a glass of their house margarita with a salted rim.
Finding Barra about 3 years ago was a happy accident. We bought a vintage Lyman boat with a boat house at the Cove in Sandusky, Ohio and it was at this time we found ourselves hanging out in Sandusky more.
We wanted to grab a bite one day and found the name of a restaurant online that sounded good. We took a drive into town and upon arrival, I realized this restaurant probably wasn't one I was going to like. So we drove past and had to turn around and Brian pulled right into a parking spot in front of Barra. Before he backed out, I said, "LOOK!" An the rest is history...
Whether we are up in Sandusky working on the boat, just got back from a cruise on the lake or passing through on the way home from a volleyball tournament, we love to pop into Barra for some great food.
There are a lot of things I like about Barra.
The first thing that caught my eye when I walked in was their mix of rustic and contemporary decor. The blue acid washed wall that lines the right side of the restaurant makes such a statement when you walk in the door and it pairs nicely with their dark wood fixtures and tinted glassware.
The next thing is the food. It is the one selling point for me, the thing that keeps me coming back for more. Everything is always so fresh. I am a teensy bit of a snob when it comes to greens and produce and every thing I've ever had here has been so crispy and fresh and presented so beautifully.
I've turned several people on to this restaurant and the exciting news is they have grown! They now have an Amherst location and you can usually find their food truck at Catawba Island Brewing on weekends in the summer.
142 Columbus Ave.
Sandusky, OH 44870
*they do not take reservations
OWNERS: Cesare W. Avallone
BEST KNOWN FOR: Neo-classical French mixed with rustic Italian
FUN FACT: The restaurant is located inside of Sandusky's original icehouse
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: Duo of duck - pan roast maple leaf farms duck breast, crispy duck leg confit, butternut squash risotto, sour cherry sauce
WHAT I ORDER: Green salad, Maine lobster fettuccine, Kim Crawford
As you can see, since this is the 3rd Sandusky restaurant I have featured in this post, we do spend a lot of time in this area year round. We found Zinc when we were looking for a place to enjoy a great New Years Eve dinner back in 2018. So we booked a reservation here, had an amazing meal and enjoyed fireworks over the lake out their window. We returned for New Years Eve again this year!
Zinc actually has 4 different areas in their restaurant. A really laid back tavern area with wood fired pizza, a petite, higher end pub, the restaurant *featured in the opening picture above and a party/event room that is available for rent.
We've had the pleasure of enjoying all of these dining options and the owner Cesarre was kind enough to give us a tour of the party room when we were in on New Years Eve. Something to consider for a shower, rehearsal dinner or birthday party!
Zinc is located in the heart of downtown Sandusky and is an elegant and relaxed dining experience in this historic coastal town.
Definitely make the trip to Sandusky - there are so many great dining options. Need a place to stay? Check out the Hotel Kilbourne which is just steps away from Zinc. This is a boutique hotel which also houses Moseley's Public House and a rooftop bar.
215 E. Water Street
Sandusly, Ohio 44870
*reservations recommended, walk-ins welcome
ORCHARD BAR & TABLE
OWNERS: The Blumensaadt Family
BEST KNOWN FOR: Their award winning patio overlooking one of Catawba Islands oldest apple orchards.
FUN FACT: They were able to serve the American Pickers brunch on their set while filming up in Catawba.
THEY SUGGEST YOU TRY: Their seared scallops with corn-bacon risotto, and brussels spouts.
WHAT I ORDER: Exactly that - their seared scallop dish! I can't even explain how delicious it is. The combination of all of these flavors and textures is simply perfection.
We've gone to Catawba Island for many years now because my dear friend shares her cottage up there with us for a week in the summer. Typically we are there around our anniversary date, so Brian and I first stumbled upon this beautiful restaurant when we went out to celebrate one year.
This past year we've visited the area during different seasons and always visit Orchard Bar and Table while we are there.
My favorite spot to sit is in the bar area. It is dimly lit and super cozy. Whether we are by ourselves or with my sister and her husband, I love the 4 person, hightop table in there. There is definitely a relaxed, vacation vibe, but it is done in the most classy way.
Although I've been to this stunning restaurant several times, it appears I have several more trips to make back there. I'm trying to figure out why we've never sat on their gorgeous patio! Brian claims that it's because it is always 96 degrees out when we visit, so he prefers the air conditioning. After checking out their Instagram and seeing pictures of this beautiful space, we will definitely add the patio to our bucket list this summer. *They also have live music on the patio every night in June, July and August.
Also added to our list: BRUNCH! It too looks amazing - and if the food is anything like their dinner, I know it will be fabulous!
If you visit Catawba/Port Clinton this summer or you are anywhere in the area, you must try this restaurant. I'm telling you, you will love it!
3266 NE Catawba Road
Port Clinton, Ohio 43452
*reservations recommended in the summer *patio open in the summer
Hope you've enjoyed our restaurant journey with us. Until next time! xoxo Erin & Brian