Fran Golden and her husband, David Molyneaux, the former travel editor for The Plain Dealer, regularly traverse the world, cruising the world’s waterways and sampling some of the best food the globe has to offer. But when they come back to Cleveland, they look forward to visiting a local restaurant or picking up ingredients for a home-cooked meal at the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square, which is steps away from their home. Late summer offerings, like local tomatoes and peaches, top the list.
Some of their other favorite foods, markets, restaurants, and bakeries in the city are highlighted in their new book, Unique Eats and Eateries of Cleveland, published by Reedy Press. The book pays homage to food and eating in Cleveland, but also to the people who supply, create, or serve the food.
“We wanted to tell their stories,” says Fran. “On one end of the spectrum, we found two female James Beard-nominated chefs: Karen Small, owner of The Flying Fig in Ohio City, and Jill Vedaa, co-owner of Salt in Lakewood. On the other, we discovered small places that might not look so fabulous on outside, but turn out to have amazing, delicious food.”
With Cleveland’s reputation as a foodie destination, the pair had a difficult time choosing how many places to include, so they narrowed it down to 90 eateries located mostly within the metro area. Even so, suppliers like Hahn Farms in Huron, The Chef’s Garden in Milan, and Certified Angus Beef in Wooster were worth noting for their influence on what local chefs ultimately include on their menus. “Clevelanders have so much access to great food,” says Fran, “and so do the chefs.”
She and David also dug deeper into the ethnic foods, trying Ethiopian injera (flat bread traditionally made from teff flour) at Empress Taytu, and Guatemalan garnachas (flat tortillas topped with ground beef, raw red onion, cheese, and salsa) at El Rinconcito Chapín.
When they first walked into El Rinconito Chapín in Old Brooklyn, Fran says she and her husband were expecting fast food because the restaurant is located in a former Arby’s restaurant. Instead, they were pleasantly surprised by extraordinarily delicious Latin American cuisine. The food is made by Engel Godinez, who immigrated to the U.S. looking for employment and eventually saved enough money to open his own restaurant.
“There’s so much flavor in his dishes,” says Fran. “We tried the ceviche, churrasco, and garnachas. Unbelievably good stuff .”
Unique Eats and Eateries of Cleveland will appeal to anyone with an appreciation for Cleveland’s culinary offerings and will bring new meals to the table, even for the most in-the-know foodie. The book will be available in May, but presale orders have already begun.
For more information, visit UniqueCle.com.