As a native Clevelander who has carried the travel bug for a long time, I love when I come across hidden treasures in my own town. It kind of ties me over until my family and I can go on our next out of state adventure. I believe every state and city have their own hidden jewels. You just have to get out and find them and on occasion sometimes they find you!
As we are slowly getting our dates night back, my husband and I have been venturing into other neighboring cities in Cleveland. One evening, we decided to set our sights on Lakewood, Ohio. Or, I should say, he surprised me by finally driving us to a few spots we had our hearts set on visiting.
The city of Lakewood like other nearby Cleveland cities has been revitalizing it’s streets with friendly enticing nightlife that not only lures the locals, but their neighboring city friends as well. You can find many favorites such as Melt Bar and Grilled (delicious colossal grilled cheese sandwiches), or if you are looking for something new I highly recommend giving Griffin Cider House and Southern Café a try.
Griffin Cider House in Lakewood, Ohio
Griffin Cider House, a Lakewood favorite since 2015, has five star ratings for good reason! Not only is the ambiance and vibe cool inside, but it has the largest selection of gin in the state of Ohio, 10 cider taps, 3 craft beer taps and home to one of the most expensive gin’s I have ever come across called Nolet’s Dry Gin “The Reserve”. If you love this particular type of gin they can make you a $100 drink called “The Gold Reserve.” It comes with Nolet’s “The Reserve”, Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth, Saffron and little gold nuggets to garnish.
Can’t decide? Take a “flight.”
If you aren’t necessarily a gin drinker, this bar is called Cider House for a reason. The Cider selection of beer would be appreciated by any Cider beer lover. We were so overwhelmed by the variety of selections that we decided to do a “flight” of ciders to sample.
The four we sampled were called After, Pear, Wake and Cranberry. If you like sweet I suggest the Cranberry and Pear. After and Wake had a soft tasting apple finish. All the samples were a delight on the tongue.
To top it off our bartender (the awesome lady with the cool tattoos) was super cool and was a wealth of information. She schooled us on the different ciders and gin’s and did a great job recommending places to eat nearby.
The owner was also super-friendly and welcoming and made a great House Martini (yes, I have a sweet spot for a good local Martini).
You can sit at the bar and chat it up with the locals, or you can venture to the back room for a comfortable setting of plush couches and small tables to enjoy your drink.
Southern Cafe in Lakewood, Ohio
As hungry as we were, we took the advice of our bartender and ventured a few streets over to Southern Café for some southern comfort soul food. My husband and I had been craving some really good soul food since our trip last summer to Winston Salem’s Sweet Potatoes Soul Food Restaurant near downtown historic Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Southern Café surely did not disappoint at all! Oh my goodness this food was finger lickin good – and I do not say that often! Good vibes, friendly staff and great music greeted us again when we opened the door. We immediately were given a seat and greeted by a friendly server who offered us water in mason jars (just like my southern grandma would, I love it!).
Fried Green Tomatoes with house hot sauce remoulade.
After wanting to order absolutely EVERYTHING on the menu, we ordered fried green tomatoes with a hot sauce remoulade as an appetizer to start. Talk about DELICIOUS! Hot, crispy, seasoned perfectly!
There was not a long wait at all until our main dishes came. My husband ordered fried perch fingers, nicely sweetened sweet potatoes, and some the creamiest, most delicious grits we had ever tasted.
Fried turkey breast with gravy and onions, Mac and cheese, greens and corn bread muffin.
The mac and cheese lover that I am, I had to order a side of mac and cheese, collard greens with a hint of sweet, and fried turkey smothered in onions and gravy. Mouthwatering!!Everything was seasoned so perfectly. I truly appreciated our kind waiter mentioning that the turkey was purchased and selected carefully from a local butcher (you could definitely tell!). Each of our meals came accompanied with a cornbread muffin (not too sweet) that was the perfect complement to our perfectly seasoned food.
Without a doubt, Southern Café would be an impressive and affordable choice to bring your family and friends to for an over the top satisfying and tasty meal.
Next time you visit Cleveland or if you are a local neighbor, a visit to Lakewood to visit these two establishments is definitely a must!
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