I'm a recent (well 2 yrs) transplant from NYC area (Westchester) stuck/studying in Cleveland, and I should be here for a few more years. So in order to settle-in better, I spent a lot of time trying restaurants in the area that would provide me with more than just simple sustenance (which I can whip-up myself), but indeed an emotional experience. Initially I was consistently disappointed and fell into a deep depression. But in the year or so since then, I've found and frequent restaurants that for one reason or another I can recommend to those familiar with NYC-food (the best in the world). Of course the caveat is that eating is often biased by those I eat with, so an average place may have people associated with it that make it particularly special
(or repulsive). The list follows:
Chinese: I go to Richie Chans on Cedar (and Lee). Or Siam Café on St Claire and about 40th. Atmosphere is almost as good as the food.
Dim Sum: Either Li Wah or Bo Loong are ok.
Japanese: No place in Cleveland will ever have particularly great fish, but I force myself to go to Shinano on Wilson Mills Rd, Shuhei on Chagrin in Beachwood where Thursday is supposed to be the day they get the fish, or Sushi Rock W.6th(?) if I have the patience to deal with the staff. Ive been to Columbus where the fish is a little fresher, but again not NY.
Korean: I think Seoul Hot Pot is great. Payne Ave and in the upper 30s-lower 40s
Thai: Mekong River on Lee in Cleveland Heights. Much better than Lemongrass or Thai Orchid or any other place Ive tried. They also have Cambodian food, but it was not so good compared to their Thai curries.
Pizza: Valentinos in Little Italy is my favorite. Ive tried other places and they can be worse than prison food.
Italian: Frank and Paulys on Public Sq. is quite good. I recommend Gallucis on Euclid and 63rd(?) for meats and olives.
Breakfast: I will always love IHOP, but since I cant find any I go to Michaels diner on the RTA tracks of Shaker Square. MI on a plate for 5 bucks.
Indian: I think Saffron Patch on Chagrin Blvd in Beachwood is the best, but the lunch buffet can disappoint. Stick to the dinner menu.
I cannot (or had the time to) find a French bistro, Mexican, or Middle Eastern place to rave about. I would be grateful for any recommendation in these departments or others that I have missed. And any comments on the above list would also be appreciated. Thanks.