If you ask Clevelanders about which food(s) they consider to be local specialties, chances are they’re going to name things like Polish boys and paczki – and of course pierogi.
None of these foods originated in Cleveland, of course; they were all brought here from various parts of Eastern Europe as people immigrated to the city throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s from countries like Poland, Ukraine, the Austro-Hungarian empire (Hungary now), Slovakia, and more.
The food traditions brought by those immigrants have survived and thrived in Cleveland, and today are some of the city’s most popular dishes.
What is a pierogi?
Many cultures around the world have a food tradition of dumplings. In Eastern Europe, these pillowy pockets of deliciousness are called pierogi (or pierogies, depending on who you ask).
Traditional pierogi are usually made from a noodle dough and filled with potato (and sometimes cheese), boiled, and then served up slathered in butter and onions.
You can find plenty of traditional pierogi throughout the Cleveland area, but you can also find some inventive takes on them.
No matter what kind of pierogi you prefer, chances are you can find them in Cleveland.
The best pierogi in Cleveland
In Cleveland, many restaurants serve a version of pierogi. I haven’t tried them *all* (yet), but I have eaten my fair share of these delicious dumplings in order to identify the very best pierogi in the city.
Food is of course quite subjective, so my list of favorites might not exactly match yours – but if you’re looking for really good pierogi in Cleveland, this list is a great place to start!
Here are my favorites in Cleveland and the surrounding neighborhoods:
1. Pierogi at the Little Polish Diner
5772 Ridge Rd., Parma
The neighborhood of Parma has long been home to a large Polish population, and has a designated Polish Village with several Polish restaurants and bakeries. The Little Polish Diner is a well-known spot in Parma and the Greater Cleveland area, and in my opinion serves up the best traditional pierogi.
The pierogi: The pierogi here are exactly what I think of when I think of pierogi: soft but not too soft, covered in butter but not swimming in it, and served with a side of sour cream. I tried the traditional potato and cheese-filled pierogi, and the filling was flavorful and delicious.
The setting: The Little Polish Diner is indeed little; it only seats a total of 21 people (16 at tables and 5 at the small bar), and does get crowded, especially on Saturday afternoons. Nothing about the diner is fancy, but the food is some of the best.
Good to know: You can call in orders for pick-up, too, and they serve up lots of classic Eastern European dishes like stuffed cabbage, kielbasa, and more.
2. Jukebox’s vegan pierogi
1404 W 29th St., Cleveland (Ohio City)
Jukebox has Kat’s favorite pierogi in Cleveland, so I knew I had to get over to this neighborhood bar to try them for myself. Jukebox doesn’t serve “traditional” pierogi (no butter baths or boiled dumplings here), but I think that’s part of what makes them so good!
The pierogi: Jukebox has a full pierogi menu, with 8 different types of pierogi to choose from, along with a dozen different dipping sauces. While these pierogi are served with grilled onions, they’re almost more of a finger food than something you need to eat with a knife and fork. My favorites here are actually the vegan buffalo chickpea pierogi, and Elliot and I also enjoyed the potato bacon ones.
The setting: Jukebox is a newer Ohio City neighborhood bar with a jukebox (duh) and a great bar staff. They serve up a bunch of tasty bites beyond pierogi, and also have an extensive beer list and some good cocktails (the Tony-rita is famous here).
Good to know: They update their jukebox catalog every month!
3. Pierogi at Sokolowski’s University Inn
1201 University Rd., Cleveland (Tremont)
Sokolowski’s University Inn is a Cleveland institution. This family-run restaurant has been operating since 1923, serving up a mixture of classic Polish, American, and Eastern European dishes. They’re known for their large serving sizes and their buttery pierogi. The restaurant won a James Beard “American Classics” Award in 2014.
The pierogi: The pierogi here are probably the most traditional ones you’ll find in Cleveland. They’re a classic boiled/sautéed potato pierogi, served dripping in butter and onions. Just like Grandma used to make. (Coincidentally, if you want to make your own, Sokolowski’s has their pierogi recipe online!)
The setting: Sokolowski’s has always been a “working man’s” type of restaurant. Food is served up cafeteria-style, and seating is in a series of wood-paneled rooms. It feels like eating at your Grandma’s house – if your Grandma had a cafeteria in her basement. You can also get beer from the bar.
Good to know: During the week, Sokolowski’s is only open for lunch. Their hours are 11 am-3 pm Monday through Friday, which additional dinner hours on Friday (5-9 pm) and Saturday (4-9 pm).
4. Beef cheek pierogi at Lola
2058 E 4th St., Cleveland (Downtown)
Iron Chef Michael Symon’s downtown restaurant is a go-to for a fancy night out. And if you’re on a pierogi quest in Cleveland, then you don’t want to miss Lola.
The pierogi: There’s only one pierogi dish on the menu, but it packs a punch: beef cheek pierogi with mushrooms and horseradish crème fraiche. The dish is not only plated beautifully, but also is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
The setting: Lola is one of the higher-end restaurants on this list, but it’s not the type of place where a suit and tie is required; this is Cleveland, after all! Lola is located on the lively East 4th Street, and is an excellent spot to hit up on a date night.
Good to know: Lola is only open for dinner (5-10 pm, 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays), and reservations are recommended.
5. Poutine pierogi at The Rowley Inn
1104 Rowley Ave., Cleveland (Tremont)
The Google listing for The Rowley Inn in Tremont describes it as a “neighborhood watering hole since 1906.” Its website adds that it’s “a place where you can drink at 7 am and not be judged.” I say that it’s a fun place to stop for a drink – and of course some pierogi!
The pierogi: The Rowley Inn serves up a couple different kinds of pierogi. They have buffalo pierogi on their starters menu, a pierogi poutine (pierogi covered in cheese curds, gravy, and onions), a pierogi dinner, and a kielbasa and pierogi dinner. They also have a special called the Loko Moski, which is pierogi topped with a burger patty, onions, eggs, and gravy. Kat and I tried the pierogi poutine on one of our pierogi crawls. It doesn’t look very pretty, but we both agreed that it’s delicious!
The setting: The Rowley Inn still feels like a neighborhood bar – but not one of those with sticky floors and a shady atmosphere. This is a fun place to grab a drink and some really good local food.
Good to know: The Rowley Inn is located across the corner from the A Christmas Story House in Tremont! They can also do vegan pierogi.
6. Mac and cheese pierogi at The South Side
2207 W 11th St., Cleveland (Tremont)
If you’re looking for a spot with a great patio and good vibe in Tremont, then The South Side is it. Not only is the space great (especially in the warmer months), but they serve up a lot of locally-sourced food, too.
The pierogi: They have two types of pierogi on their menu: fried mac and cheese pierogies, and sweet potato pierogi. I personally thought the sweet potato pierogi were just okay, but really liked the crunchy mac and cheese version, which is completely different to what you’ll find elsewhere in the city. And the dill-infused sour cream they serve here is SO good.
The setting: Like I said, this spot has a great patio and is especially nice during the warmer months.
Good to know: The South Side does a great brunch on the weekends, and on Sundays serves the $25 Mother Mary Bloody Mary, which has to be one of the most over the top Bloody Marys served in Cleveland.
7. Pierogi at Market Garden Brewery
1947 W 25th St., Cleveland
Market Garden is one of the many breweries in Ohio City – and probably one of the best ones with its own restaurant. Market Garden is of course known for its beer and not for its pierogi, but still has some on the menu that are worth trying.
The pierogi: Market Garden has its “Cle Skyline Pierogi” on its Shareables menu. These are traditional cheddar and potato pierogi, served with a house chorizo chili and shredded cheddar. (Note: They used to serve pierogi smothered in their beer cheese, which is what’s in the photo above.)
The setting: Market Garden is a great brewpub with lots of space, cool decor (including a ton of atmospheric chandeliers), and a really good menu year-round.
Good to know: The menu changes here pretty frequently – but you’re pretty much guaranteed to find some type of pierogi on the menu.
8. Breakfast pierogi at Prosperity Social Club
1109 Starkweather Ave., Cleveland (Tremont)
Prosperity Social Club is a cool, retro-inspired bar in Tremont. It’s a relaxed, no-frills sort of place, but serves up some pierogi dishes that I felt deserved a spot on this list!
The pierogi: During the week, Prosperity offers 3 types of pierogi on its dinner menu: potato, farmhouse cheese, and loaded potato. But it’s weekend brunch menu is what I came for. On weekends, you can order a Polish Breakfast, which comes with fried pierogi, smoked kielbaski, and scrambled eggs.
The setting: Prosperity Social Club isn’t an actual social club; in fact, it’s a completely unpretentious spot with vintage vibes. It has a “kitschy game room” indoors, and a retro vacation-themed patio for use during the warmer months.
Good to know: It’s only open after 4 pm on weekdays.
This of course isn’t an exhaustive list; there are so many places to find pierogi in Cleveland! These are just some of my personal favorites, in most cases backed up by others who also love these Polish dumplings.
But in case you need even MORE pierogi guidance, here are other places you might want to check out in the Greater Cleveland area:
Other noteworthy spots that serve pierogi
- Urban Farmer – Serves a rabbit and duck pierogi as a starter.
- Parker’s Downtown (inside the Kimpton Schofield Hotel ) – Has loaded potato pierogi with bacon jam.
- P Jay’s Pizza – Has a potato pierogi pizza on the menu.
- Der Braumeister in Lakewood – It’s known for German food, but also has Cleveland-made pierogi on the menu.
- Buckeye Beer Engine in Lakewood – Has dessert pierogi!
- Pub Frato in Painesville – Serves short rib pierogi with goat cheese and horseradish aioli.
- Olesia’s Taverne in Richfield
Places to get carry-out pierogi
If you’re in the mood to eat your pierogi at home (or freeze them for later), here are a handful of places you can buy pre-made pierogi year-round:
- Pierogi Palace at West Side Market in Ohio City
- Mom’s Pierogies in Brooklyn
- Perla Pierogies in Parma
- Rudy’s Strudel and Bakery in Parma
- Pierogis of Cleveland, with stores in Middleburg Heights, Richfield, and Medina (in Richfield, you can also dine-in at their small cafe)
And of course there are several churches and other cultural associations that make and sell pierogi throughout the year, too!
Who’s ready to go on a pierogi crawl in Cleveland? Where does your favorite pierogi come from?
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Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of the state. Now, she wants to share her love of Cleveland with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE.