Michael Petrakis immigrated to America in 1972 from the island of Crete, where dining is an integral part of social life. In opening Michael's, Petrakis aimed to bring the community some of the warm hospitality of Crete, an attitude embodied in his annual Thanksgiving dinners. Every year since 1983, he and his wife Anna have solicited the help of their staff and a dozen volunteers to serve free holiday dinner to everyone who comes through their doors––an average of 1,400–2,000 meals.
The quaint dining room at Michael's relies on homey touches such as stained glass windows and dangling flower baskets. Illuminated by natural light from large picture windows, diner-style tables support dishes ranging from Greek gyros to pizzas and build-your-own pasta. Those dishes are the work of Dino Tsarnas, a veteran of Cleveland Grill. He brings skills acquired there to a selection of Greek appetizers. Between trips to the restaurant's salad bar, guests can sip a glass of wine or connect to the restaurant's free WiFi.
Famous Gyro George's food-slinging chefs follow the cooking instructions listed on a menu that has dishes for every meal of the day. Sate egg cravings with a big breakfast platter of two eggs, two big pancakes, and four pieces of sausage ($6.99), or partake in lunch-focused fare with a famous philly gyro, which collects grilled mushroom, onions, and swiss cheese and stores them in the welcoming folds of a homemade pita ($6.99). A double-cheeseburger-deluxe combo slams two hamburger patties with lettuce, onion, tomato, and cheese, and balances the plate with fresh-cut fries and a fountain drink ($5.99). Dine post-dusk at one of George's 24-hour restaurants, which are open 24 hours a day in honor of Mark McGwire's age in 1988. Click here to view each location's hours.
O-Deer Diner is so dear to owner Rick Ruffner’s heart that he created the name using the first initial of each member of his family. The diner serves a small menu of house-made soups, hot dogs, and sandwiches, but the place is best known for its premium soft-serve ice cream, which swirls into specialty sundaes beneath hot fudge, chopped candy bars, and whipped cream. Like any good neighborhood diner, O-Deer places great importance on community involvement: the eatery hosts Santa Claus and collects canned goods around the holidays, participates in parades, and supplies pitchforks to chase the town Frankenstein.
Monroe Street Diner charms its visitors, including former presidential candidate Bob Dole, with an atmosphere built around comforting kitsch as well as a menu of all-day breakfasts, meaty sandwiches, and burgers. A colorful array of more than 60 clocks donated by loyal customers peppers the walls, allowing diners to accurately referee ham-and-cheese-omelet-eating contests ($6.55) or beat a personal best while packing away steak with three eggs, home fries, and toast ($5.15). Fluffy buttermilk pancakes ($4.55) add a touch of syrupy sweetness to meals, and thick bacon cheeseburgers ($6.85) and tangy turkey reubens ($5.75) lay the foundation for a hearty lunch. Monroe Street Diner hearkens back to the glory days of dinerdom with ‘50s-themed meals such as the valens' favorite ($6.05)—spaghetti and meat sauce—while kids chow down on creamy grilled cheeses sided with fries ($4.35).