Behind Bluekiwi's sunny blue door, servers sprinkle dollops of nonfat frozen yogurt with fresh fruit and candy toppings. The owner draws from a degree in hospitality with an emphasis on nutrition to craft wholesome icy treats and answer customer questions and concerns, while counseling them against common nutritional errors such as trying to eat plastic fruit. The rotating selection of fresh yogurt flavors, such as classic California tart, cupcake, and cherry amaretto, teem with calcium, potassium, and live active cultures. Containers of freshly hewed fruit line countertops alongside dry cereal and candy toppings, while a stock of miniature cupcakes can deluge taste buds with mouthfuls of peanut-butter cup, cinnamon, and red-velvet flavors. Blue tabletops and Frank Gehry–style stools allow customers to linger over treats and chitchat, while whiteboard walls allow them to draw out detailed map reminders of where they parked their cars.
In 1981, Luchita Galindo and her son Jorge began Luchita's, a humble family endeavor that focuses on fresh, authentic dishes. Over the course of 30 years, the Galindo family has continued to grow along with their restaurant, which began as a 24-seat eatery and currently occupies three locations throughout the Cleveland area.
Luchita's chefs work to maintain the family's vision while constantly seeking out new flavors to add to the menu. Their specialties include authentically prepared meats and seafood, such as shredded chicken simmered in a smoky sauce (tinga de pollo), tender strips of marinated steak (carne asada), and shrimp sautéed with potatoes, cactus, and poblano peppers (camarones borrachos). Chef Galindo also concocts vegetarian-friendly entrees, such as cheesy chiles rellenos, and tinkers with new recipes until—like a klutz unleashed on the stage of an awards show—he stumbles on a winner.
The sumptuous aromas of cheese and rich tomato sauce fill Zeppe’s Pizzeria & Italian Bistro, where Old World Italian specialties and thin-crust pizzas line tables in the elegant dining room or on the sunny outdoor patio. The bistro menu serenades the senses with savory medleys of pastas, salads, and seafood plucked from Italy’s creamy alfredo coastlines. Chefs fling golden-baked frisbees into take-out boxes as passing caravans consult the pizzeria menu, which carries a delicious cargo of thin- and stuffed-crust pies, chicken wings, and baked subs. Sauce-soaked penne dishes and cheesy calzones exude a royalty befitting of the restaurant’s columned arches and red drapery, and a covered patio supplies the shrubbery necessary to fashion makeshift crowns of laurel.
Shay Café––a contender on Cityvoter's Hot List for Best Healthy Lunch and Best Coffee Shop––employs a devoted crew of culinary craftspeople to quell appetites with creatively constructed sandwiches, wraps, and specialty drinks. Stretch jaws around an ensemble of zucchini, mushrooms, and eggplant as it dances across a grilled-veggie-and-cheese ciabatta stage or nosh on Grandma's chicken salad, a secret recipe brimming with tomatoes, red onions, and hand-knit sweaters disguised as lettuce. Appease a plantivore palate with the Savannah pecan salad, in which a lemon-poppy-seed dressing glistens atop a bed of crispy greens bedecked with plump mandarin oranges and sundried cranberries. A mug of caramel-apple cider or a fresh blackberry smoothie can refresh parched throats whereas Shay Café's organic, fair-trade coffee keeps the mind alert and the conscience greener than a recycling bin filled with chartreuse bamboo bed sheets.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers pick up from the drive through or receive from skating car hops without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.