Monday, April 11, 2016

Traveling Vegan: Cleveland, Ohio

Traveling Vegan: Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio is my hometown. My emotions on the city and the 20 years I spent there are mixed, depending on the day. My history and childhood are there but it wasn't somewhere I wanted to stay. No way. My goal from the beginning was to get out as FAST as I could. Growing up, I saw Cleveland and Ohio in general, as being behind the times, too slow paced, a forgotten place with no real significance in the world at large. Some of these things I still think are true. 

Over the last few years and as I've gotten older (now officially in my 30's), I've come to look at Cleveland with more of a fondness than outright disdain. Dare I say, apprehensive pride? Would I have felt so negatively about the city and the suburbs I grew up in if I had grown up somewhere else? I guess I'll never know.

The city and it's surrounding areas are now in an upturn as tons of money is being put into making the city a place where people want to live, and even visit of their own free will. Gasp!

One of the things that really made me see Cleveland as a city that could be part of the future instead of just the past, was all the vegan restaurants/options that I was able to enjoy on a long weekend trip I took there recently.

Is Cleveland somewhere I would like to live again? No. But it does pull at my heart strings from time to time. But I guess it's true what they say,

You can take the girl out of Cleveland, but you can't take ALL of the Cleveland out of the girl.

Cleveland Vegan
17112 Detroit Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 832-7440

Of all the new vegan/vegan options popping up in Cleveland, I was most excited to try Cleveland Vegan. So much so, we stopped there as soon as we left the airport. An ALL VEGAN restaurant in CLEVELAND. I never thought I would see the day but I'm oh so glad I did. Cleveland Vegan, along with all the other places I visited are located in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood. Lakewood is the place to go for vegan food and a great place to spend time at. Cleveland Vegan is a bright an airy place with lots of seating and good staff.

Whenever I cross over the state line into Ohio, my 24 hour a day craving for pierogis returns with a vengeance. I was giddy to see that Cleveland Vegan had them on their menu! But before I got to that, I had to try their kale mac and cheese, which was amazing. We'll see if it makes it on my top 5 vegan mac and cheese post. The pierogis were out of this world, topped with sour cream, green peppers and onions. My husband got the chicken and waffles, which were some of the best he's had anywhere. They were the perfect lunch to have on that absolutely freezing Cleveland afternoon. I can't wait to get back to Cleveland Vegan the next time I'm in town. You definitely need to check it out as well.

Kale Mac and Cheez
Cashew cheez, whole wheat pasta, tomato, onion, hemp parmasean

Classic Potato Pierogis
Sautéed peppers, onion and sour cream

Seitan and Waffles
Homemade breaded seitan, pepper gravy, cashew cream, cornmeal waffle with scallion and coconut bacon

 The Root Cafe
15118 Detroit Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 226-4401

I think that The Root Cafe is Cleveland's version of Oakland's Timeless. The Root Cafe is an all vegetarian cafe with many vegan options. The place was packed when I arrived for brunch on a Saturday morning, which tells me this is a really popular place for locals to hang out in the Cleveland area. It's very eclectic and quirky, which was right up my alley. Plus, cute latte art!

My husband tried the homemade hummus wrap with roasted potatoes, which he liked but wouldn't order again.

I ordered the Quadratic calzone. I wasn't blown away with the calzone as a whole but the bread they used was delicious.

The Root Cafe is the perfect place to hang out, enjoy a coffee or work on your computer. I would like to come back here to find a dish that I really love, but for now, I'll settle for the great atmosphere and lattes.

Homemade Hummus Wrap
Hummus, spinach & fresh sliced veggies

The Quadratic
Marinara sauce, mushroom trifecta, kale & broccoli.

Melt Bar and Grilled
14718 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood OH 44107
(216) 226-3699

If you have spend any amount of time in the Cleveland area or Ohio for that matter, you've probably heard of the the great and powerful Melt Bar and Grilled. It has been on every notable food show and it deserves to be. Melt's concept is making outrageous grilled cheese sandwich's.

I always frequent the original location in Lakewood, and it is ALWAYS busy. Be prepared to wait a while, especially if you have a large party but believe me it's worth the wait. Melt is very proud to be started in Cleveland and you can pass the time by guesses all the notable Cleveland residents from the huge mural near the door.

The best part? 10 of their grilled cheese sandwiches can be ordered vegan. Melt was really ahead of the game on this one because they have been offering vegan options for years in Cleveland, which was rare at the time.

My pierogi addiction struck again! I ordered the Parmageddon, which is my favorite sandwich they have and it is simply AMAZING. I have to have it every time I visit the Clev. My husband went for the Mushroom Melt, which he absolutely loved. Remember, we had to request that these melts be made vegan. If you didn't think that these huge sandwich were enough food, you also get fries and a pickle as well. I always go home with half of my food but that just means double Melt goodness! If you are visiting Ohio, take my word for it. You don't want to miss the vegan amazing-ness that is Melt Bar and Grilled.

Potato & onion pierogi, fresh Napa vodka kraut, sautéed onions, sharp cheddar

Mushroom Melt
Garlic mushrooms, caramel port onions, wilted baby spinach, provolone

Aladdin’s Eatery
14530 Detroit Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107
(216) 521-4005

Aladdin's is a great place for a vegan to eat in Ohio when you are in a pinch. They have locations all over north east Ohio. And that's not to say that their food isn't delicious. It is. It's amazing. Aladdin's is another restaurant that has had clearly labeled vegan options from the beginning.

The highlight of Aladdin's menu, in my opinion, are their appetizers.

We always order the hummus (with hot sauce), tabouli and dawali (ordered plain). These three items together are worth the trip to Aladdin's all on their own. They are so tasty.

For my main course, I usually get the hummus falafel rolled pita. It's warm, yummy and fulling. Just what you need when you're out for dinner on a cold Ohio day.

While some of the other places I've reviewed here are new to me, I ate at Aladdin's often when I was living in Ohio. It's one of the few mid-west restaurants that I wish we had in the Bay Area! So, I always stop at Aladdin's when I'm in the area.

A creamy blend of chickpeas puréed with tahini and lemon juice, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil

A delicate mixture of chopped parsley, sweet onions, diced tomatoes, bulgur, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fine herbs

Dawali (order plain)
Rolled grape leaves stuffed with rice, chickpeas, tomatoes, and parsley, topped with Aladdin’s dressing, feta, and chopped parsley

Hummus Falafel Rolled Pita
Falafel and Hummus with greens, tomatoes, turnips, pickles, and chopped parsley

Notable Mentions:

Sweet Moses
6800 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 651-2202

Tremont Scoops
2362 Professor Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 781-0352

Earth Bistro Cafe
11122 Clifton Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 201-9338

All photos by Ashley of

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