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Here in Cleveland, we’ve got beef cheek in our pierogi, truffles on our hot dogs and beer in our donuts. Balance.
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If you’re not from around here, you’re probably a little “WTF with all the pierogi talk?” It’s fine. We don’t expect you to understand … until you wrap your taste buds around one (or a million) of these buttery bad boys.
For those who don’t know, a pierogi is an Eastern European dumpling. Much like that of Italian ravioli, pierogi are thick semi-circle dumplings with crimped edges. But unlike its Italian counterpart, pierogi is typically stuffed with whipped potatoes and cheese. Then, the dumplings are boiled, fried, grilled or baked, then slathered with copious amounts of butter.
Is it Polish? Is it Slovakian? Do we really care? Listen, all we know is that these Eastern European beauties are delicious. And, if you’re in Cleveland, you better belly-up to a big plate of ‘em. Trust us.
If you’re in Cleveland and you want pierogi — and we mean the really good kind — you’ve got to get make your way to the legendary Sokolowski’s University Inn in Tremont.
Run by the third generation of Sokolowski family members, the University Inn is famous for its Polish menu and old-school cafeteria-style layout featuring bratwurst; stuffed cabbage; cabbage and noodles; and the kind of food that grandma used to make (or the grandma that you’ve always dreamt of).
As for the pierogi? You bet your dupa it’s some of the best around. Smothered and covered in enough butter to require a lifetime of prescription heart medication, it’s worth every savory bite.
Before becoming the owner of the laid-back, retro-inspired Prosperity Social Club in Tremont, Bonnie Flinner had been working in restaurants and bars for years.
“Before I was born, my Polish aunt married a Hungarian chef. They created a restaurant called Bit of Budapest, which was opened from 1962 to 1986,” Flinner said. And, she started working there at the age of 14.
So, this might explain the menu choices at Prosperity, which lean rather Eastern European. Case in point? The dry ricotta farmhouse cheese pierogi. To. Die. For. They’ve got other pierogi options, too. But, don’t pass on the real deal.
Walk into the West Side Market and you’re instantly transported back in time — to a time when immigrants sold the flavors of their home countries at family-owned stalls throughout massive indoor markets.
So, perhaps unsurprisingly, the West Side Market is home to some seriously good Polish pierogi at the one and only Pierogi Palace.
Run by its second generation of family members, Pierogi Palace isn’t just vending the same old potato pierogi (although they have them if that’s what you want). They generally stuff a pierogi with anything under the sun with flavors like Irish potato, pepperoni pizza and bourbon chicken.
If you want to eat fancy while you’re in Cleveland, you go to celeb chef Michael Symon’s upscale eatery Lola Bistro. This white-table-cloth restaurant located on East 4th Street is heavy on the comfort-food-meets -gourmet concept, which is quite evident in one of its most popular dinner appetizers — Beef Cheek Pierogi.
Stuffed thick with mushrooms and beef cheek and slathered in horseradish crème fraiche, this isn’t your typical pierogi. But, seriously, who’s complaining?
When you need an incredible craft beer, you can’t go wrong at Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City. But this place also happens to have a great menu to boot. For those looking to share, go for the chorizo pierogi made with their signature wheat beer cheese. But, if you’re smart, you’ll hoard your pierogi with the smoked pork and pierogi dinner entrée.
At Jukebox in Hingetown, the rotating playlist is curated just as carefully as its list of craft beers and bar bites. Standing out on that menu is, without question, is their selection of seven different types of pierogi ranging from spicy chicken to sweet potato black bean. It’s good to have options.
Sometimes it’s those little not-so-well-known places that have the best food. Amirite? Situated in Parma, the Little Polish Diner’s name says it all. Stuffed cabbage, borsch, galumpki and, of course, homemade pierogi, this 22-seat diner offers some of the best in Polish food in The Land.
This little Detroit Shoreway joint has been churning out good music and great food for decades. Many say their big claim to fame is the country-fried asparagus (which, we might add, is incredible). But, we happen to think the pierogi at Parkview Nite Club is worth its weight in gold — solid deep-fried gold that is. Prepped by Chow Chow Kitchen, these potato dumplings are battered and fried crispy with cider cabbage. [Get in my belly!]
Located across the street from A Christmas Story House, the Rowley Inn is a laid-back Tremont bar that’s been catering to Cleveland’s working class since 1906. Recently rejuvenated, the Rowley is known for its great beer selection and uniquely Cleveland dishes like its oh-so-amazing buffalo pierogi and the pierogi omlette.
The South Side in Tremont is known for its great beer selection, eclectic menu and a great patio for dining al fresco. But, take a deeper dive into their menu and you’ll find the real gems — pierogi. Trust us when we tell you that you should not miss their deep fried mac and cheese pierogi.
Clevelanders out there just KNOW there are so many great spots for visitors to chow incredible pierogi. Share your suggestions in the comments below!
At Jukebox in Hingetown, the rotating playlist is curated just as carefully as its list of craft beers and bar bites. (Where else could you find...
Situated in Parma, the Little Polish Diner’s name says it all. From homemade pierogi, stuffed cabbage, borsch and galumpki, this 22-seat diner offers...
Nationally recognized chef Michael Symon's reincarnation of Lola Bistro. An American bistro with midwestern twists and turns using only locally grown...
Enjoy local, handcrafted food and craft beer steps away from the West Side Market. Dine inside or in Cleveland's first American Beer Garden.
1938 Tavern - a true Cleveland experience. Eclectic clientele with an unpretentious vibe. Upscale bar food, late-night dining, live music, patio,...
Established in 1923, Sokolowski’s University Inn is Cleveland’s oldest family owned and operated restaurant.
A neighborhood bar that is food driven. A place where you can drink at 5:30 a.m. and not be judged. A place that serves all generations of...
Who doesn't crave chicken and waffles? The South Side has always been a favorite Tremont joint. There’s just something about all the good vibes,...
Why is the historic West Side Market a favorite destination for locals as well as out of towners? There is something for everyone, from everyday to...