Neighborhood Asset: Café 55 Puts Fresh Spin on Corner Bodega

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The area around E. 55th and St. Clair might not feel much like a neighborhood, but Café 55 (1361 E. 55th St., 216-600-5275) feels very much like a neighborhood asset. This chef-driven breakfast and lunch spot, the newest component of developer Rick Semersky’s Hub 55 project to open, puts a fresh spin on the corner bodega.

In place of soda, chips and 40-ouncers of malt liquor, Café 55 is stocked with locally sourced niceties like kombucha from Bearded Buch, cold-pressed juices from Anna in the Raw, fresh bagels from Cleveland Bagel and pastries from Bonbon Bakery. Early risers can grab a cup of fresh-brewed espresso and a croissant to go or place a breakfast order to enjoy in the bright and contemporary dining room.

Like most of the food served at Café 55, the breakfast options (served until close) are fast, fresh, flavorful and affordable. All are Breakfast Scrambles ($8), which build off the same chassis of scrambled eggs on a bed of roasted potatoes. The Rise ‘n Shine, for example, adds cheddar cheese, scallions, roasted sweet onion, fresh basil and fat lardons of smoky bacon made on premises. Others feature avocado, red peppers and goat cheese, or a vegan version with tofu (in place of eggs), avocado, basil and spicy honey. Each is bountiful and delicious.

Lunch customers, too, have their pick between grab-and-go options or custom, made-to-order bowls. In the cooler are packages of sushi from Sushi 86 and special lunch bowls prepared daily. The main items, for dine-in or takeout, are build-your-own affairs, with diners selecting a base (flatbread, roasted spuds, greens or brown rice), a protein (pulled chicken, roast beef, pulled pork or tofu) and a style. The Americas ($11), for example, takes my chosen flatbread and beef and marries them with tangy chimichurri sauce, roasted onions, fresh salsa and chunks of fresh, mild cheese. There are eight different styles from which to choose.

Keen visitors to Café 55 will notice a pass-through window connecting the restaurant to the new Goldhorn Brewery, next up on the Hub 55 punchlist. That brewery will boast a roomy taproom with seating for up to 100, all of whom can order food from Café 55’s expanded menu.

Café 55 is easy to get to and has a private parking lot. It is open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

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