Mr. Wonderful's veteran chefs batter and fry a menu's worth of soul food, including crisp chicken and fish. A variety of chicken and waffle meals ($6.99–$12.99) star boneless or bone-in poultry, drizzled in a signature glaze that underscores the duo's complementary tastes, textures, and zodiac signs. Satisfy seafood hankerings with a shrimp po boy slathered in tangy sauce ($5.99) or a fried catfish dinner ($10.99), accompanied by a duo of hearty sides, such as candied yams, slow-cooked greens, and creamy mac 'n' cheese. A choice of more than 10 stuffed baked potatoes ($4.99–$11.99) transforms the humdrum spud into a tableside celebrity, while the restaurant's family meals ($8.99–$69) supply clans with the energy to tackle overdue tasks such as cleaning the basement or sewing matching sweater vests by hand.
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.
Melange Restaurant serves contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal and organic ingredients. Working stiffs and wobblers alike can examine the lunch menu's soups, salads, and sandwiches, taking advantage of choices such as the Melange salad, with mixed greens, grapes, dried apricots, and feta cheese ($8), or the lobster BLT ($12.50), which combines the ocean's untold mysteries with the stability of an old standby. On the weekend, breakfast lovers and lunch enthusiasts join forces to devour brunches of Belgian waffles topped with seasonal fruit ($5) and surf-and-turf Benedicts crammed with alternating bites of lobster and Canadian bacon ($12). At dinner, Melange's watermelon and black-bean salsa ($4) warms teeth up for the main events of small-plate gyro-style lamb ribs ($13.50) or the main dish of Kobe-style flat-iron steaks ($32). Finish dinner with a dessert of Linda's chocolate-chip cookies and milk ($7) and at least half of the dessert proceeds will go to cancer research and family support.
From its outpost in the Cleveland Heights, The Mad Greek crafts a menu of Greek and Indian food, which is prepared fresh every day. Chicken curry dishes and alu ghobi are served alongside pita sandwiches filled with beef and lamb gyros, chicken souvlaki, or falafel. Small bites include spanakopita and hummus and the Athenian burger acts as a culinary Trojan horse, delivering tzatziki sauce and feta cheese into open mouths.
The antipasti counter, panini bar, and wood-fired pizza oven combine to give guests plenty of reasons to visit Valenti's Ristorante. If that's not enough, notes belt out from an 1856 piano as the scents of pasta, steak, and seafood waft from table to table. The chefs, in addition to crafting popular dishes, craft them with locally acquired ingredients, antibiotic and hormone free meats, Gerber Amish chicken, and fish delivered fresh on a daily basis.