Best of Cleveland 2012

Food & Drink

Best Food Truck

Umami Moto

Prowling the curbs of Cleveland, Umami Moto has quickly built a following for its tasty Thai, Vietnamese, and Asian-fusion fare, including pad Thai, massaman curry on rice, and a Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich made with pulled pork. Partners Jae Stulock and Sandy Madachik launched the rig in 2010; they recently added the bricks-and-mortar Hipp, at the Agora, to their empire as well. But the mobile feast rolls on all over town. Keep tabs on the city's favorite gourmet food truck on their website and via Facebook and Twitter.,,

Staff Pick: Umami Moto

Best New Restaurant & Best Happy Hour


Since the day it opened in July 2011, clever Noodlecat has tickled palates with a slurpalicious blend of Japanese flavors and contemporary American style. Drawing equal inspiration from Tokyo shops and local, seasonal ingredients, chef-owner Jonathon Sawyer wouldn't have it any other way. While Noodlecat's prices are always moderate, daily happy-hour offerings seal the deal: bargain wings, noodle bowls, and steamed buns go down easy with deals on sake, cocktails, and those $1 cans of Black Label beer.

234 Euclid Ave., 216-589-0007,

Staff Picks: Best New Restaurant: Orale; Best Happy Hour: Flying Fig

Best Upscale Restaurant


The crown jewel in Cleveland's dining scene continues to draw a crowd of national foodies to downtown's East Fourth Street. Some are attracted by the ever-growing celebrity of chef-owner Michael Symon. Others seek the bragging rights that come with dining at an Iron Chef's restaurant. But the smart ones are drawn by the promise of sophistication, innovation, and culinary legerdemain: an approach that turns heartland faves like bologna, bacon, and pierogi into points of inspiration.

2058 East Fourth St., 216-621-5652,

Staff Pick: Crop Bistro

Best Beer, Best Brewery, & Best Single Taste of Cleveland

Great Lakes Brewing Company

Sit down with an out-of-towner, and you'll find they generally know three things about C-Town: It has a lake, it has the Rock Hall, and it has Great Lakes beer. In our book, that moves Pat and Dan Conway's 24-year-old brewery from the realm of mere "attraction" and into the realm of icon. And why not? This sudsy ambassador is now quenching parched palates in more than 13 states and the nation's capital. Meanwhile, the brewery produces more than 100,000 barrels of lager and ale annually. As for which of them is the best — the ubiquitous Dortmunder Gold? The legendary Christmas Ale? Or seasonal specialties like Blackout Stout? — that stays between you, your god, and your liver.

2516 Market Ave., 216-771-4404,

Staff Picks:Best Beer: Commodore Perry IPA (Great Lakes Brewing Company); Best Brewery: Buckeye Beer Engine; Best Single Taste of Cleveland: Slovenian Sausage from Raddell's Sausage Shop

Best Restaurant for Romance & Best Seafood

Pier W

If Pier W's perennial place at the top of our "Most Romantic" list is any measure, at least half of all Clevelanders must have gotten involved, engaged or, at the very least lucky following a visit to this cliffside showpiece. No wonder, really, with a menu of extraordinary seafood from executive chef Regan Reik, filled with treats like cedar-planked salmon, seared diver scallops, and raw oysters on the half shell. Even the Grand Sunday Brunch buffet is a heartthrob. Enjoyed in combo with the sophisticated vibe, well-stocked bar, and eye-popping view of the downtown skyline, it's no surprise that a million romances have been launched at this ship-shaped star.

12700 Lake Ave.,

Lakewood, 216-228-2250,

Staff Picks: Best Restaurant for Romance: L'Albatros; Best Seafood: Pier W