Against all odds, Munch managed to survive for close to two decades despite the fact that it was located on the second floor of a fitness complex on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, which enforced a strict prohibition against advertising. The "simple kitchen" began life as Shticks, but eventually changed its name because "only Jewish people could pronounce it," jokes owner Jamie Hersch.
Last year, Munch relocated after 17 years on campus to another clandestine location, this one in the back of the Shoppes of Solon (28500 Miles Rd., Solon, 216-231-0922, munch216.com), near the intersection of Brainard and Miles. They filled the spot left vacant by Organic Energy.
"We decided to leave the law school because we were tired of the academic schedule and tired of going broke every summer," Hersch notes, who runs the place with husband Scott.
Despite serving meat, the small independent operation has earned a reputation as one of the best places to go for vegans, vegetarians, or anybody who prefers healthy, freshly prepared foods. Soups ($5), made daily, are always vegetarian, with daily favorites like black bean chili and minestrone (served with toasted pita chips) joining seasonal options like gazpacho.
Thanks to a larger footprint and kitchen, Munch has been able to greatly expand its salad offerings, which is great news considering their quality. The Cobb ($9.75) is loaded with romaine, hard-cooked eggs, red onion, avocado, bacon and off-the-bone turkey. The Falafel ($8.75) is a Middle Eastern mashup of baba, tabbouleh, falafel and tahini on the side.
The bulk of Munch's menu is devoted to over-stuffed wraps, melts and sandwiches. That moist and delicious housemade falafel is available in a half-dozen pita sandwiches, all of which include copious amounts of sprouts, tomatoes, peppers and tahini. Julie's Tabbouleh ($8.50) adds hummus and summery tabbouleh.
Simpler tastes are satisfied by classics like farm fresh egg salad, white tuna salad, house-roasted turkey, and meaty Romanian pastrami on rye.
Being in the shadows of Miles Farmers Market has its plusses: The owners shop there daily for the fruits and veggies that go into the smoothies and yogurt parfaits. Of course, since your meal was so healthy, there's no shame in ordering the strawberry milkshake.
Greedy Girl (2158 South Taylor Rd., 216-465-9877), which opened this fall in Cleveland Heights, is a little harder to describe, but no less satisfying. A second career for owner Eustathea Kavouras, the small, colorful shop blends Greek and Indian cuisines under one roof, but not into single, fusion-style items. Those cuisines are divided into separate menu categories, each filled with interesting takes on classic Greek and Indian street foods.
Some dishes come across as faithful renditions, like the gyro sandwich ($9.95), which piles flavorful meat (made from ground lamb and pork), onions and tomato into a soft flatbread and douses it with a garlicy yogurt sauce with dill. In the souvlaki ($9.95), marinated and skewered pork is grilled to order and served simply on a pita with fresh veggies and lemon vinaigrette. For her pastitsio meatballs ($8.95), Kavouras packs all the flavors and components of that traditional Greek-style lasagna into spherical form. The deep-fried orbs have it all: pasta, cinnamon-spiced meat and bechamel. They get a garnish of kefalotiri, a firm, salty Greek cheese.
On the Indian side, there are handhelds like the Frankie ($7.95) that look familiar but taste anything but. Stuffed into a flaky whole wheat paratha (Indian flatbread) is chicken sauteed with onion, chiles, Indian spices and fresh herbs. If there was a Bombay-style burrito, this would be it. On the side is a small cup of cool, refreshing raita. A take on another Parsi favorite, the sali boti ($7.95) is a sweet, sour and spicy chicken (or tofu or paneer) curry that gets rolled into paratha for easy on-the-go eating.
There are surprises all over the menu, like the breakfast-all-day section with Greek omelets rolled in flatbread, Belgian baklava waffles made with yeast dough, and French toast-style challah sliders. For snacks, there are flash-fried okra fries dusted in spice, Indian-style corn and even the ubiquitous street-food snack chana chaat, a savory, crunchy nosh of chickpeas, peas, potatoes, crispy noodles, chutney and yogurt.
Greedy Girl is "fast" casual, meaning you order, pay and grab a seat. If you're in a hurry, it's best to call ahead. If not, grab a flaky spinach-filled spanakopita from the display to snack on while you wait. The operation is open for breakfast and lunch only Wednesday through Sunday.