Cool breezes caress the faces of diners seated at the brick-walled outdoor patio at Marbella Restaurant, recalling the Mediterranean climate of the Spanish seaside resort for which the eatery is named. Indoors, tuxedoed waiters deliver fresh seafood such as twin lobster tails, grilled scallops, and jumbo shrimp to tables lit by flickering candlelight. Spanish wines, from sparkling cavas to rich, red riojas, pour into glasses from a full bar.
Serving up French-style Louisiana cooking along with traditional American favorites for lunch and dinner, Fat Fish Blue also hosts live jazz and blues performances five nights a week. Start tongues tapping with a half pound of boiled crawfish ($6.99) and fried green tomatoes with collard greens, mobile relish, and Cajun mayo ($5.99). Entrees include the mumbo jambalaya chicken ($9.99) and the Cajun crawfish ravioli, which replaces the tiny crustaceans' hard outer shells with tender pasta and tosses them with sauteed chicken, onions, and pepper in a Cajun pepper cream ($17.99). Vegetarians can nosh a crisp veggie burger heaped with lettuce, tomato, and shaved onion ($7.99), while roving sweet teeth can be wooed back with desserts such as the carpetbagger, a chocolate sack filled with sponge cake, fresh fruit, and Godiva white chocolate mousse ($11.99). Fat Fish Blue also offers a spacious bar full of potent potables.
First-time visitors to Chowder House Cafe often fixate on the dining room’s walls—or lack thereof, as every square inch has been painted over with electric flowers, guitar players, crowned kings, and other artistic testaments to the café’s funky and unconventional outlook. This same outlook makes its way onto the menu, which features the namesake clam chowder alongside salads, sandwiches, and dinner entrees similarly inspired by the sea. Aside from the Sunday brunch’s traditional omelets and buttermilk pancakes drenched in fresh Ohio maple syrup, a crab cake benedict celebrates the weekend atop a toasted ciabatta roll. Regardless of the time of day, a considerate BYOB policy accommodates the sailors who often stumble into the café with unlabeled bottles of clam juice.
The Fifth Season Restaurant's chefs prep robust steakhouse classics with upscale panache. Situated in an old tavern, the restaurant's muted, earth-toned dining room complements its woodsy surroundings. Warmer seasons bring outdoor seating, where eyes feast upon the surrounding game reserve and mouths dine on selections from the rich menu. Oil rusty jaw-hinges with appetizers such as stuffed mushrooms broiled with crabmeat and swaddled in a melted swiss-cheese blanket ($8). Entrees include the seafood puff pastry ($25), which allows diners to taste a variety of underwater delicacies without the hassle of stealing a shark's lunchbox, as well as the center-cut USDA-choice filet mignon ($26 for 6 oz.) and top sirloin ($12 for 6 oz.). The wine list offers a cornucopia of more than 700 domestic and imported Dionysian delights.
As a child in Lima, Peru, Cesar Augusto Mugaburu Garcia spent most days watching his mother cook traditional dishes. He learned the bountiful flavors native to the country, some of which are still rarely used in the United States. The food-loving teen immigrated to the United States at 16 and took a job as a pantry cook in an Italian restaurant. His love of worldly cuisine took him to Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal for professional training, before returning to Cleveland to open his own restaurant that pays homage to his Peruvian roots.
Chef Cesar stuffs olives, eggs, peppers, and chicken inside tamales, and marinates pork chops in a Peruvian adobo sauce. The Peruvian flavors he discovered as a child are used in many of the dishes, including the hangar steak kebabs and the Muscovy duck breast. The Latin-infused eatery even offers salsa on Friday and Saturday nights, when a DJ fills the room with heart-pounding Latin tunes and guests can spin and bear-walk their way across the dance floor.
The recipient of taste-based honors such as Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Award and the Plain Dealer’s Best Fried Chicken Spot, Phil the Fire transports traditionally Southern comfort fare into the heart of the Midwest. The restaurant’s chicken and waffles, made with fluffy belgian waffles and hot-sauce-ready meat, anchor a wide-ranging menu, packed with hearty Southern victuals. Owner Phil Davis works closely with his daughter Machiah Imani and a dedicated staff to establish a family-friendly vibe and to forge comfort fare staples, including casseroles, meatloaf, and mac ‘n’ cheese, from fresh, wholesome ingredients. A casual, brick-and-wood-laden interior and low-lit dining room keeps meals less intense than those eaten inside saunas, and a fully stocked bar sates thirsty crowds during daily happy hours.