The Cleveland culinary scene is well saturated with chefs cooking outside of the box, says Melt owner Matt Fish. “It’s fantastic right now,” he says. “The scene has really exploded in the last 10 years.” Here are some of Fish’s recent and longtime favorite local haunts.
Ole Reliable Aladdin’s Eatery is quick and consistent. I get the hummus falafel roll most of the time. Got to get hot sauce with it; their hot sauce is amazing.
Family Favorite I’ve been going to Dante in Tremont since even before my wife and I got together, and we've become friends. I think Dante Boccuzzi is by far one of the best chefs in Cleveland if not in the country.
Cocktails King Wah in Rocky River has fantastic Polynesian drinks. It's one of the best Polynesian bars in Cleveland. My wife and I get the Zombie ($10). It's a dark rum and fruit drink. Very potent. We’ve gotten in trouble there many times from drinking those.
Just Plain Fun Li Wah downtown is excellent. They do dim sum on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s kind of like eating little individual plates, these one- to two-bite, little appetizer-y things. And they roll a cart through the dining room, and they stop at your table and you just pick stuff off this cart. It’s really fun because you can try different flavors and different tastes.
Inspiring Cleveland Chef Michael Symon was a big influence on me starting out — that's going back 25 years ago now. When Lola first opened in Tremont, he would change the menu seasonally, and I would go religiously just to see what the heck he was doing and try to dissect it and figure it all out. I always wanted to be the first to try it.