There were no rules, no categories and no limits. Just a smorgasbord of options when Cleveland Magazine opened its mailbox and had readers chime in on their three favorite restaurants. Take this culinary wayback machine to 1982 and find out what spots remain, who was at the top of their game and discover modern-day counterparts.1. THEN
Giovanni’s: The elegant Italian eatery may have featured crystal chandeliers and tables decked in pink linen, but menu items were fairly affordable back in the day, and portions were hearty.
Giovanni’s: The restaurant is still top-notch thanks to tableside service and dishes such as seafood linguini ($40) and charred Ohio raised rib-eye ($55). 25550 Chagrin Blvd., Beachwood, 216-831-8625, giovanniscleveland.com
Au Provence: This Cleveland Heights restaurant only had 11 tables, but it felt like a far cry from the traditional night out by serving wine made in a basement cellar alongside a small menu of traditional French cuisine.
Gigi’s on Fairmount: The bistro’s got more than 40 bottles of wine on hand and offers mix-and-match bruschetta boards ($19.95 for four). 3477 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-291-7237, facebook.com/gigisonfairmount
Heck’s Cafe: Even 35 years ago, the burger joint was busy for lunch and dinner thanks to over-the-top 1/2-pound burgers such as one topped with peanut butter, and another with caviar, sour cream and Bermuda onions.
Heck’s Cafe: The menu of great, juicy burgers has us cheering ever since Heck’s opened a second location in Avon. 2927 Bridge Ave., Cleveland, 216-861-5464; 35514 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-937-3200, heckscafe.com
Earth by April: When it opened in 1973, the Cleveland Heights spot aimed to be the area’s first counterculture seafood and vegetarian restaurant with a vast buffet of marinated vegetables and cold salads.
TownHall: The eatery took a risk and overhauled the menu to feature non-genetically modified organism ingredients in its vegan, paleo and gluten-free dishes. 1909 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-344-9400, townhallohiocity.com
Swingos’ Keg & Quarter: The hotel restaurant was a swanky hot spot for celebrities such as Cher and Gene Simmons. Even Elvis shook things up when he ran up a $20,000 bill and used it as a hub during a Midwest tour.
Adega: This multifaceted restaurant serving Spanish, Greek and Italian dishes has seen its fair share of celebrities such as Justin Bieber and David Beckham. 2017 E. Ninth St., Cleveland, 216-331-6289, metropolitancleveland.com
The Garland: This old-school French restaurant in Westlake was rated 21st in Esquire’s 100 Best New Restaurants in America in August 1981 for its lobster bisque and “perfect chicken Kiev” that “oozes butter.”
Edwins: The restaurant serves fine French cuisine, including the Caneton de Rouen a la Presse ($125) — a rare delicacy of pressed duck prepared tableside. 13101 Shaker Square, Cleveland, 216-921-3333, edwinsrestaurant.org
The Iron Gate: With a full-time pianist, this Cajun haven in Westlake was filled with lavish parties for Mardi Gras and dishes from lobster, crab and shrimp filled
pancakes to stuffed cherrystone clams.
Bourbon Street Barrel Room: The menu at this Tremont spot features Johnny’s Famous Gumbo ($5.95), a rich and earthy mix of chicken, sausage and okra. 2393 Professor Ave., Cleveland, 216-298-4400, bourbonstreetbarrelroom.com
Jim’s Steak House: Within the first eight years of opening in 1930, this upscale Collision Bend chophouse served 280,000 steaks along the Cuyahoga River, making it one of the most beloved destinations for T-bones, sirloin and fillet.
Red, the Steakhouse: Hunks of meat, including the marbled 1-pound rib-eye ($61) are savory gold here. 3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, 216-831-2252; 417 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, 216-664-0941, redthesteakhouse.com
The Wagon Wheel: Owner Freddy Voisin was known to strut boisterously through this Shaker Square French bistro and entertain guests while they dined on traditional cuisine such as frog legs sauteed in garlic.
Le Bistro du Beaujolais: Georges d’Arras and his wife, Claudie, renovated this 1830s colonial home and turned it into a quaint French tavern in 2005. 8134 Columbia Road, Olmsted Falls, 440-235-8883, lebistrodubeaujolais.com
That Place on Bellflower: Located in a former stable and coach house, this French kitchen in University Circle churned out dishes from tournedos to fresh fish. It also gave Zack Bruell his first job as a server and a chef.
L’Albatros Brasserie and Bar: Bruell renovated and revived the place where he once thrived, serving familiar French dishes with modern twists. 11401 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, 216-791-7880, albatrosbrasserie.com