Winter is just around the corner here in Cleveland, and, like in many midwestern states, it’s about to get quite chilly for several months. While nobody has figured out a way to hibernate through winter, Cleveland certainly has perfected eating warm and hearty comfort foods to get us through it.
Comfort food in Cleveland is perfect for those chilly wintry days or just when you need a pick-me-up (so basically all of 2020). There is creamy pasta in Little Italy, soul-warming pho in AsiaTown, and plenty of spots to get some crispy fried deliciousness all across the city.
Without further ado, let’s talk about our favorite places for comfort food in Cleveland.
We should note that, as with everything food-related, this post is entirely subjective! These are some of our favorite soul-warming foods in Cleveland, but we’re not suggesting that this is the be-all, end-all list; Cleveland has too much great food for that! We’d love to hear about your favorite comfort foods in the comments, too.
Our 20 Favorite Comfort Foods in Cleveland
1. Ramen at Mason’s Creamery
4401 Bridge Ave., Cleveland (Ohio City)
This place is well-known for serving up some of Cleveland’s best ice cream in the summertime, but when the leaves start to turn, Mason’s Creamery becomes a pop-up ramen shop. With three kinds of ramen including chicken, pork, and veggie, they serve up warm soup with spongy noodles that are perfect for slurping.
Also right now they have the option to buy the noodles uncooked so you can prepare it at home and eat it later!
Oh, and don’t worry, they’re still selling pints of ice cream to enjoy as a post-ramen treat, too.
2. The Dude Abides Sandwich at Melt Bar and Grilled
Grilled cheese is pretty much the ultimate comfort food, right? At Melt, they take that classic grilled cheese to the extreme with sandwiches so large and jam packed that you may seriously question how to take a bite.
So when it comes to comfort food in Cleveland, nothing will prepare you for a long winter’s nap quite like the Dude Abides. This “grilled cheese” is packed with meatballs, fried mozzarella, marinara, roasted garlic, provolone, and romano cheeses. I wouldn’t plan on doing much after enjoying one of these.
And for those looking for veggie options, they have vegan and vegetarian giant sandwiches too!
3. Gyro at Steve’s Gyros Stand
1979 W 25th St., E-13, Cleveland (Ohio City)
This stand at the West Side Market has been around since 1989 and has been featured on the Food Network, Man V. Food, and more!
After a bite of a giant gyro here, you’ll understand why. This cash-only joint has a line wrapped around the corner most days, and you can smell the juicy gyro meat rotating on the spit from a good distance.
Come early before they sell out and enjoy one of Cleveland’s classic comfort foods as you wander around the market for other treats!
4. Phở Tái Nạm at Superior Pho
3030 Superior Ave., #105, Cleveland (AsiaTown)
Warm soup with hearty meats, tasty rice noodles, and lots of aromatics make Superior Pho an obvious choice for comfort food in Cleveland. Located east of downtown in AsiaTown, this place can be hard to find but is well worth the journey.
Order up a bowl of their Phở tái nạm, or pho with round eye steak and well done flank, and enjoy the delicious flavors of this classic Vietnamese soup. It’ll warm you up even on the chilliest sub-zero night.
5. Stoner Queso at Barrio
Most Clevelanders are very well acquainted with Barrio. Incredible made-to-order tacos, a fantastic margarita menu, and phenomenal queso combined with locations all over the city make this casual taco place fun to visit year-round.
So in the cooler months, while of course you’ve still got to order up their tacos, be sure to also get their stoner queso. Sure, it seems super simple; gooey white queso with some rice thrown in, but that texture is everything! The soft rice combined with the warm cheese sauce and hot and crispy tortilla chips is kind of everything you need.
6. Arepas at Barocco
Cheese and meats stuffed into a homemade thick tortilla sounds heavenly, right? If so, then you’ll definitely want to order up this Cleveland comfort food at Barocco, an arepa bar with locations in Lakewood, Crocker Park, and Willoughby.
Try the perico arepa with eggs, chorizo, green pepper, grilled onions, and mozzarella, or for those looking for veggie options they have a sofrito potato or avocado plantain arepa. The best part of getting these tasty flavor pockets has to be the ample amounts of sauce they leave on the table. Put on as much of the many sauces as you like to enjoy every bite of this Colombian specialty.
Don’t forget to get some guacamole served with crispy plantains and tortilla strips too!
7. Biscuits and Gravy at Cleveland Vegan
17112 Detroit Ave., Lakewood
Biscuits and gravy is such a delicious breakfast comfort food. And at Cleveland Vegan, the dish is completely plant-based! Enjoy some pepper gravy, seitan crumble “sausage,” and homemade biscuits.
Be sure to also grab a tasty treat from their bakery to pair with your delicious gravy laden brunch!
8. Kuy Teav Chha Kreoung Tek Trey Phem at Phnom Penh
1929 W 25th St., Cleveland (Ohio City)
Imagine rice noodles topped with chopped up spring rolls, basil, lettuce, onions, peanuts, coconut whip, meat, and delicious sauce and you’ve got a comfort staple food you never knew you needed to try ASAP.
Tucked away between the PNC bank and Nate’s Deli on West 25th Street, this Cambodian restaurant has a hefty menu with all kinds of Southeast Asian delights. This one, though, is full of tasty flavors from the crunchy spring roll to the fresh ingredients and sauce.
9. Braumeister Schnitzel at Hofbrauhaus Cleveland
1550 Chester Ave., Cleveland (Downtown)
Anything fried makes for delicious comfort food! Here, you have the option of either pork or chicken fried up and topped with ham and bier cheese, and, if that wasn’t enough, it’s also served with a side of fried potatoes.
And you can’t go to Hofbrauhaus and not get a liter of beer, right? Fill up on all the German comfort food as you imagine yourself celebrating Oktoberfest in Cleveland! Prost!
10. Catfish at Goodfellas BBQ
2847 Noble Rd., Cleveland Heights
Specializing in BBQ, seafood, and soulfood, this place is serving up the most delicious catfish, BBQ, wings, and more.
Plus, Goodfellas has been giving back during the pandemic by donating meals to kids in the area. Delicious cuisine and gives back to the community? Yes, please!
11. Cassoulet at Le Petit Triangle Cafe
1881 Fulton Rd., Cleveland (Ohio City)
If you’re looking for delicious French food without the stuffy atmosphere, this is the place. It is the perfect date night destination for when you want to be transported to a Parisian sidewalk cafe – but it also serves up some amazing comfort food.
Try the cassoulet with duck confit, chicken sausage, white beans, and veggies. Pair it with a glass of robust French wine and a crusty baguette and you’ll have a “bon appetit” indeed.
12. Potato and Cheese Pierogi at the Little Polish Diner
5772 Ridge Rd., Parma
You can’t visit Cleveland without eating some pierogi! It is a well known comfort food here, and is truly a thing of beauty. The soft, pillowy dough is filled with potato and occasionally cheese before being boiled up and served with butter, onions, and a side of sour cream. Delicious.
We have a whole article dedicated to finding the best pierogi in Cleveland, but if you want the best traditional one, this is the place to go! With perfect texture and full of flavor, you’ll want to order these heavenly Polish dumplings from the Little Polish Diner again and again.
13. Shrimp and Grits at Zanzibar Soul Fusion
Maybe it’s because I’m from the south, but southern food is the best comfort food as far as I’m concerned. And the food at Zanzibar is no exception. Their perfectly cooked shrimp served with onions and peppers placed on creamy grits is nothing short of perfection.
Pair it with some candied yams and fried green tomatoes and you’ll have all of the southern comfort and cozy vibes.
14. SW Louisiana Cajun Jambalaya at Bourbon Street Barrel Room
2393 Professor Ave., Cleveland (Tremont)
Searching for a taste of New Orleans in The Land? Look no further than Bourbon Street Barrel Room in Tremont. This place has all the tasty Nola flavors from gumbo and po’ boys to hurricanes and sazeracs.
One thing you must order, though, for the ultimate comfort food, is the SW Louisiana cajun jambalaya. Served with dirty rice and andouille sausage, this jambalaya packs on the spicy and delicious flavor.
15. Hotdog at Happy Dog
5801 Detroit Ave., Cleveland (Gordon Square)
Amp up your childhood favorite food at Happy Dog. This make-your-own hotdog place has several unique toppings from spaghetti-o’s to Froot Loops. (But don’t worry, they have all the “usual” hot dog toppings, too!)
My personal favorite is a hotdog topped with peanut butter, cucumber, tomatoes, garlic aioli, and feta. It sounds weird, but trust me. Get some tots with it and enjoy the cozy dive bar vibes at this classic Cleveland spot.
16. Sunnyside Pizza at Bar Cento
1948 W. 25th St., Cleveland (Ohio City)
Bar Cento has some amazing pizza, but if you’re going to get a pizza here, you may as well get the best pizza in Ohio according to Zagat and the Food Network!
The sunnyside pizza is great comfort food with its pancetta, mozzarella, black pepper, and runny egg topping. It is cheesy, gooey, and delicious wrapped up in one pie!
17. Mr. Hobo Skillet at Nick’s Diner
4116 Lorain Ave., Cleveland (Ohio City)
Nick’s Diner is easily one of the best breakfast spots in Cleveland. With great value for your money, they serve up large plates of food including omelettes and amazing black cast iron skillet dishes.
They have a whole skillet menu, where your delicious breakfast is served in the skillet. But the best one is definitely the Mr. Hobo Skillet. It’s served with sauteed mushrooms, onions, green peppers, cheddar cheese, and three eggs all served over hash browns. Yum!
18. Fat Head’s Original House Smoked Wings at Fat Head’s Brewery
Great beer and amazingly gigantic sandwiches encompass this iconic Cleveland brewery. If you ever make it over to this place, you’ll want to order up some of their original house smoked wings.
These wings are dry rubbed, smoked, then chargrilled before being topped with their amazing sauces ranging from mild backyard BBQ to killer sauce. Grab them before a big game or for a tasty comfort food meal in Cleveland.
19. Fettuccine Carbonara at Mia Bella
12200 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland (Little Italy)
Creamy, salty, and savory describes the perfection that is the fettuccine carbonara at Mia Bella. This restaurant in Little Italy is perfect for a cozy Valentine’s Day date, or any time you’re craving Italian comfort food.
Served with prosciutto, scallion, cream, cheese, and eggs, this flavorful dish will transport you to Rome on a plate. So if you’re looking to escape the cold in Cleveland, this welcoming restaurant is the place you need.
20. Cream Puff at Presti’s Bakery
12101 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland (Little Italy)
Who says comfort food is only savory? Sometimes comfort comes in a little tasty after-dinner treat.
After a hearty dinner at Mia Bella, stop at Presti’s Bakery across the street! This place is usually packed and occasionally has someone singing off to the side. It is a charming little place with so many amazing desserts. And while I encourage you to try as much as you can, you must get the cream puff.
It will warm you up after a day of exploring in Cleveland!
Comfort food in Cleveland is easy to find. From cheesy delights to Cleveland classics, there are so many great spots in the city to enjoy during a cold blustery day!
What is your favorite comfort food, and where can you find it in Cleveland?
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Kat is a Cleveland transplant and has lived here for over 5 years. She loves to eat, drink, and explore all across the city, and has made it her personal mission to find the best breweries and pizza in Northeast Ohio. She also runs a couples travel blog and podcast called World Wide Honeymoon.