Dave’s Cosmic Subs

Established in 1997, Cosmic Dave’s™ has become a legend here in Northeast Ohio.  A legend that is spreading at “Cosmic” speed across the state and beyond.  What started out as a humble sub shop in Chagrin Falls is now revolutionizing the sub world with a franchise with stores currently in four states and looking to expand into more.

Cosmic Dave’s™ is known for its crispy bread and tasty and generous toppings – and Dave’s Cosmic Sub Sauce™ (I have a bottle of it in my fridge right now). Dave’s Cosmic Sub Sauce™ is kind of like a creamy Italian, but better. The Original Dave’s Cosmic Sauce TM is all-natural, vegan, and sold in all of the Dave’s Cosmic Sub shops as well as select local stores. After leaving the family business in Cleveland (Seaway Wholesale Cash n Carry on Woodland Avenue) and moving to California for ten years, where he gigged as an actor, musician with his own band (they opened for Huey Lewis and the News and Steppenwolf), and playwright, he moved back to Cleveland and decided to mix the memory of sharing great sandwiches late at night with his dad and the music of the decade that shaped him. Dave knew what to look for in the right kind of bread, sauces, and combinations of the highest quality ingredients to create the “ultimate sub that rocked.”

Their first and most popular sub is #1 – The Original Dave’s Cosmic Sub™ (also referred to as the OG), which is made with pepperoni, Genoa salami, prosciutto, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced banana peppers, onions, fresh garlic, herbs, Provolone cheese – smothered with Dave’s Cosmic Sauce™.

The Crazy Dave – photo from the Dave’s Cosmic Subs website (bottle of Dave’s Cosmic Sauce in the background)

#8 – The Crazy Dave™ (prosciutto, capicola, hot peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, fresh garlic, Provolone cheese, sprinkled with crushed red peppers, herbs, and Dave’s Cosmic Sauce) was voted best sandwich in Cleveland. I’m not a fan of hot peppers or red pepper flakes, so I’ve never tried it. I probably should some day.

I like Dave’s subs because they are tasty. All of their subs are served on vegan, kosher Italian or whole wheat bread baked fresh in their ovens throughout the day. Gluten-free bread is now available.

The Incredible Dave before I picked off the banana peppers

My favorites are the #9 – The Incredible Dave™ or # 5 – Dave’s All American™. The Incredible Dave is made with “two generous layers of juicy chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sliced banana peppers, lots of Swiss and Cheddar cheeses, herbs, smothered with Dave’s Cosmic Sauce.” I always leave off the banana peppers. The combination of the chicken, cheese and herbs with the sauce just satisfies something in me deep down inside. As for the Dave’s All American, it is his roast beef sandwich with “delicious tender roast beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, American and Swiss cheeses, herbs, and Dave’s 1000 Island Dressing.” It’s like a Reuben but with roast beef and cold. I prefer my roast beef cold, so I love this. Roast beef changes flavor and texture when you heat it.

Slap some cole slaw on the All American and heat it up, and you have the #19 – Hey Dave™. The Hey Dave features “delicious tender roast beef, Dave’s Famous Horseradish Sauce, Swiss cheese, with Dave’s homemade cole slaw piled a mile high, topped with sliced banana peppers and herbs.” It is only available as a Regular Size sub.

#2 – Dave’s World Famous™ combines chicken and roast beef and features their horseradish. I love horseradish, and it is a good accompaniment to roast beef as well as chicken and roast beef. The World Famous is made with “delicious tender roast beef, succulent chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced banana peppers, Swiss cheese, herbs, and a generous portion of Dave’s Famous Horseradish Sauce.

The Grateful Dave

Two other favorites of mine are #25 – Dave’s Famous Bleu™ (turkey, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, Cheddar cheese, hot peppers, topped with Dave’s Bleu Cheese Dressing) and #27 – The Grateful Dave™ (turkey, tomatoes, red onions, mayo, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, and hot pepper juice). I’m a sucker for avocado and alfalfa sprouts. Not enough sandwich shops serve them.

#29 – Dave’s Peace Steak™ is another hot sub that I enjoy, which is surprising because I prefer cold subs. It is made with premium steak, mayo, green peppers, tomatoes, crisp onions, mushrooms, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, and topped with Provolone cheese. Some of my other favorite hot subs are @25 – Dave’s Famous Bleu™ (turkey, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, Cheddar cheese, hot peppers, topped with Dave’s Bleu Cheese Dressing) and #20 – Dave’s Cordon Bleu™ (juicy chicken, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, Dave’s Bleu Cheese Dressing, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce and a slice of Swiss cheese and herbs). Obviously you have to like bleu cheese to appreciate them.

I would be remiss to leave out Dave’s meatball sub (#17). Called “Dave’s Best Meatball Ever™ (And We’re Not Kidding!),” it features three large meatballs, Dave’s Cosmic Sauce, fresh garlic, tasty tomato sauce, topped with Provolone and Romano cheese, sprinkled with herbs and crushed red peppers and is served Hot. I went through a phase where I tried meatball subs everywhere, and this was my favorite next to Crust’s meatball sub. And #18 – Dave’s Famous Italian Sausage™ sandwich is also awesome. It’s topped with pretty much the same things and is a little easier to get your mouth around than the meatballs.

I live within walking distance of the Dave’s on Coventry, so I treat myself occasionally. I’ve also been to the original shop in Chagrin Falls as well as in Hudson and University Heights. I haven’t made it to the Dave’s in the old Barking Spider location on Juniper yet, but I want to check it out. I usually grab a soda and a bag of chips when I am there. I loved that they served Arizona Mandarin Orange Green Tea. It was the only place I could find it, but now they don’t sell it anymore. The chips they serve now are made locally and cooked in peanut oil. The flavors include Maui Onion Chips, Sea Salt and Vinegar, Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt, Funk Fusion, Mesquite BBQ, Sea Salted, Sour Cream and Onion, Jalapeño, and Sriracha Honey. The Maui Onion is fantastic. If you’ve had the Hawaii Five-Oh at Gourmand’s that is the chip they use to top it. They also offer soup, but they microwave it. I can do that at home.

Contact info:

Dave’s Cosmic Subs

Click to find a location near you

Landmark Restaurant on St. Clair

The Landmark Restaurant is a laid-back eatery off of St. Clair Avenue that locals can’t get enough of. You should not confuse it with the Landmark in Lakewood – that is a flashy BBQ place. The Landmark on St. Clair is an old-fashioned ‘mom and pop’ diner-style breakfast and lunch place, which is growing ever rarer on the American landscape. We all love this homestyle cookin’, but these types of businesses are often overshadowed by new destinations with flashy surroundings. I’ve been focusing on diners for the last few months because they give me comfort.

I parked to the left of the building in their small parking lot, but I could have parked along the street as well. The Landmark is open five days a week from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Yes, the website and Google says 5 a.m., but there is a sign in the window when you walk in warning you otherwise. Covid seems to have changed quite a few practices here. I tried to come at around noon or one p.m., but I’ve been told I need to get there earlier if I want the clam chowder. When you walk in you immediately see a counter in front of you and a cash register to your left. They seem to do a lot of carry-out business. The dining room is to the left and you can sit wherever you would like.

Obviously, the first thing I do when I enter a new place is to ask the waitress what are the most popular items. Her response was “the Hungry Man, the Crazy Omelette, and the Fisherman’s Platter.” Since I wasn’t hungry enough for the Hungry Man (three eggs any style, three hotcakes or three slices of french toast, three slices of bacon, and three sausage links), I decided to order “Two eggs any style,” which comes with a short stack of pancakes or two slices of French toast and two slices of bacon, ham or sausage. I decided to go for scrambled eggs, bacon and upgraded the pancakes to blueberry pancakes. It certainly hit the spot. The blueberry pancakes contained a good amount of blueberries, and the scrambled eggs came out topped with cheese, which was a nice surprise. That was a lot of food for only $6. I splurged on a cappuccino and orange juice. The cappuccino was definitely from a packet, but they both hit the spot.

Landmark has the coolest syrup dispensers. I’ve never seen anything quite like them. While some places serve their syrup in syrup bottles with the lid hanging almost off (Diner on 55th) or in metal jugs (Original Pancake House, Mama D’s), the Landmark has this cool plastic dispenser with a hole at the top. There is very little chance of dripping or overflow. And the squeeze bottle fits perfectly in my hand and allowed me to dispense exactly the amount I wanted.

The Crazy Omelette was actually a bit much. I arrived there starving, having looked forward to ordering a Shipwreck at Lucky’s but not wanting/being able to stand and wait 30 minutes, and I got full after eating half of it. The Crazy Omelette contains onions, green peppers, mushrooms, ham, bacon, sausage & cheese. I ordered the home fries and an English muffin. When they say there is an “upcharge” they mean they will charge you for the entire cost of the English muffin or cinnamon swirl toast, so order a normal toast (white, wheat or rye) and then order the English muffin or whatever as a side.

I usually order lunch on my second visit. When I heard they served hot open-faced sandwiches I knew I would be back to order one of them soon (see below), but I wanted to try their clam chowder so I visited on a Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, they only serve clam chowder every other week, so the soup of the day was supposed to be cream of broccoli, which I also enjoy. But they had run out so I was served a chicken and rice soup that was quite tasty instead. I still haven’t been able to try it, but the broccoli soup is also nice.

I asked what came on the Fisherman’s Platter and was told it came with perch, white fish, and fried shrimp. The Fisherman’s Platter is usually $8.50 on the regular menu and comes with soup, choice of potato and choice of vegetable and a roll and butter, but it’s only $8.00 on Friday. The Friday special comes with a cup of soup, mac n cheese, and choice of vegetable. I chose the mac n cheese and corn. I definitely didn’t miss the roll and butter.

It was a TON of food for $8.00 – two planks of perch, a square of whitefish, and a bunch of fried shrimp. It was served with a side of tartar sauce and a side of cocktail sauce. I could tell it was food service fish, but most church fish fries also serve food service fish and I’m okay with that. With the special and an iced tea, my bill came to $9.99. I walked out of there absolutely stuffed and didn’t forget my leftovers!

On my third visit, I wasn’t sure if I wanted breakfast or lunch, but decided the siren call of a hot open-faced roast beef sandwich was too tempting to ignore. It isn’t as good as Jack’s Deli’s open-faced brisket, but it is a good roast beef sandwich. I’m not sure what I think of the mashed potatoes. I don’t think they were real mashers. But the sandwich and mashed potatoes hit the Comfort spot.

They don’t serve soda from a fountain, they sell it by the can. I ordered two cans of ginger ale because that’s how I roll, and I sipped the second one on my drive home. The cabbage soup that was the soup of the day that Monday also hit the spot. I love navy bean, cabbage soup, and stuffed pepper soup, so I would have been happy with any of them. But I have recently been on a cabbage kick, so the soup was really tasty.

Contact info:

Landmark Restaurant
5380 St Clair Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44103
(216) 881-5372 and 216-971-1318

Mr. Chicken

Mr. Chicken is a local fried chicken chain and family-owned business with eight locations that has been operating in Cleveland since 1968. It was started by the Simens family in Euclid in 1968. I was first introduced to Mr. Chicken by my dad, who loves treating himself by eating there every once in a while. I would stop at the Mr. Chicken in Parma (Pearl and Ridge), Northfield (on Northfield Road) or Twinsburg (just south of the Square on 91/SOM Center Road) when the mood struck me, but the chain recently opened its eighth location in South Euclid (on Green just north of Mayfield), and I have become a regular.

The Kids Meal features a chicken tender, mac n cheese, a cookie. and a small fountain drink (not a Capri Sun in the photo on the ordering board)

The original owners’ son is now heading the Mr. Chicken chain. He explained their business focus to cleveland.com by saying, “We are about family meals and dinners. The majority of our business is serving families. Our average customer is 35 and up who are buying for two or more people. We aren’t interested in high traffic, small transactions or a late-night crowd. We’re a family business.” When it opened, the South Euclid location opened without indoor seating. Orders are taken via a double drive-thru or by ordering in the lobby. Mr. Simens explained, “We feel that, after COVID, drive-thru will be the predominant way most people do transactions with us,” he said, noting that many customers prefer to eat with their families at home rather than in the restaurant.”

I usually order the three-piece, all-white-meat chicken dinner (there’s an upcharge but I’m willing to pay it). I’ve tried and I just prefer white meat, especially when it is fried. They serve this crazy side piece that is almost boneless that I really enjoy (see photo to the left). They claim to use farm fresh chickens and to make everything in-house. I definitely prefer it over KFC. It may not be V’s or gas station chicken (Krunchy Krunchy), but I really enjoy a good piece of fried chicken and this definitely meets my expectations.

I ordered the Chicken Bowl once, which is their version of the KFC Bowl, but I have to say I prefer the KFC Bowl. First of all, the Chicken Bowl is massive – almost too much. They start with a huge portion of mashed potatoes and top it with three chicken tenders, corn, gravy and cheese. I love a good chicken tender, but the bowl format lends itself to popcorn chicken, which KFC offers and Mr. Chicken does not. It’s awkward to eat, and there was something about the taste that I just didn’t love.

The Farm Fresh Chicken Sandwich is a great chicken sandwich. It uses a thick chicken breast that is lightly breaded and fried. Instead of mayo, it uses a delicious honey mustard sauce that is drizzled over a generous helping of lettuce and tomato. If you’d prefer you can also get the chicken sandwich with bacon and barbecue sauce. You can order the sandwich alone or as a meal with french fries and a medium drink. Unfortunately, they don’t serve jojos in South Euclid.

The BBQ Bacon Chicken Sandwich features a thick chicken breast, romaine lettuce, crispy onions, cheddar cheese, 2 pieces of bacon, and hickory smoke BBQ sauce on a brioche bun. I found it to be incredibly salty. I’m not even sure what was causing the salt overload, but it could have been the BBQ sauce, bacon or cheese. I loved the crispy onions on it. It gave it a nice crunch.

As for the various sides, I can highly recommend the Corn Nuggets (listed under Southern Favorites, they are worth the higher price). They take corn and add it into a batter of flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, milk, eggs and melted butter, then scoop them out into little balls and deep fry them.

The corn and green beans are good sides, and the mac n cheese is a basic mac n cheese that is bland enough for kids to enjoy. The cole slaw is chopped and prepared daily and has a nice moistness to it. I usually get the mashed potatoes and gravy and cole slaw with my chicken dinner. The biscuits have a hint of butter to them but are lacking a hint of honey like Popeyes has. But they are good slathered with butter and jelly or honey at home.

Last but not least, I would be remiss not to mention one of my favorite things on their menu – the Funnel Fries. They’re a delicious funnel cake that is shaped like fries and liberally doused in powdered sugar. The fries are best served fresh and warm. I usually eat them in the car while driving home, because the scent is irresistible. Who says you can’t start with dessert first? They also sell chocolate chip cookies (see Kids Meal photo above) and an Apple Churro.

Mr. Chicken’s typical store hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. weekdays (hours below taken from Mr. Chicken’s Locations page on 2/21/2022).

Contact info:

Mr. Chicken


South Euclid – Mr. Chicken
1415 Green Road
South Euclid, Ohio, 44121
(216) 848-0001
10:30 AM – 10:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Maple Heights – Mr. Chicken
5515 Warrensville Center Road
Maple Heights, Ohio, 44137
(216) 662-2100
10:30 AM – 11:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Northfield Village – Mr. Chicken
10710 Northfield Road
Northfield, Ohio 44067
(330) 468-2250
10:30 AM – 10:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Parma Pearl – Mr. Chicken
5451 Pearl Road
Parma, Ohio 44129
(440) 886-2880
10:30 AM – 10:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Twinsburg – Mr. Chicken
9010 Darrow Road
Twinsburg, Ohio 44087
(330) 425-4455
10:30 AM – 09:00 PM, Mon thru Sun


Willoughby – Mr. Chicken
35901 Euclid Avenue
Willoughby, Ohio 44094
(440) 951-1020
10:30 AM – 09:00 PM, Mon thru Sun

Fish Fry Friday 2022 #4 – St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church

St.Sava was an interesting fish fry. There were some good parts and some bad parts – like any fish fry. I somehow had it mixed up in my mind with St. Francis DeSales when it came to the location. I drove down Broadview and did a u-turn once I hit the Seven Hills border. I had been concentrating on finding it on my left side when it was on the right. Luckily I hadn’t gone far at all, and I was able to almost immediately pull onto W. Ridgewood and then into the parking lot. I followed another diner to the Hall entrance on the left side of the building and then followed the signs down the hall to the fish fry.

I got there at about 4:15 or so to beat the crowd. I got in line, where I was greeted by a friendly lady in Serbian and then in English. There were two dinner choices – fish and some Serbian dish called Bakalar. She explained to me that Bakalar is a dried cod served with potatoes and lots of garlic. I wasn’t feeling that adventurous, so I paid for a fish dinner, took my receipt, and sat down at a table. There were plenty of seats to choose from. I sat with a very nice couple from Parma. Apparently, there is also a fish fry at St. Sava Hall on Wallings Road that offers a bit more selection (fried shrimp, pierogi, more sides than just fries and cole slaw). The food runner greeted me at the table and grabbed my receipt to get my food. I bevvied up to the bar, thinking I could get a soda. Nope! I had to buy a ticket at the cash table. That was not clear at all. Everything runs through the cash table. I spent $12 on the dinner, $1 on the apple strudel, and $1 on a can of soda.

Once I sorted out my beverage situation, I came back to my table to find a vegetable soup and a bread roll waiting. Here is where the first hiccups started. The soup was awful. There was NO seasoning in it – not even salt and pepper. I asked one of the runners for some butter, and he informed me they had no butter because it was Lent. What? Not even margarine. So bring your own butter to slather that delicious roll with.

Onto the main dinner. The fish was a thing of beauty – definitely the best piece of fish I’ve had this season. It is a 6 oz piece of cod that is battered and baked, and the fish inside was flaky and moist. I enjoyed a nice sizeable forkful each bite. The fries were quite good as well – nicely fried with a crisp outside and a soft inside. The only con from the dinner was the cole slaw. It was a vinegar-based cole slaw, but it didn’t even taste like vinegar. I added salt and pepper to it from the table, and it didn’t help. I ate two bites and left the rest.

The pièce de résistance of the meal, however, was the apple strudel. I ordered it on a whim for an extra $1.00. That strudel was divine. It is wrapped up like a burrito and seems like it was flash-fried. The strudel pastry shattered with each bite, and the filling was delicious. It tasted like a cross between strudel and baklava. I swear it had honey in it. I would come back again just for the strudel. If they improve the soup and the cole slaw by adding seasoning they would have a solid fish fry. Don’t be shy. A little seasoning goes a long way.

Contact info:

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church
6306 Broadview Road
Cleveland, OH 44134
(216) 749-0064

Fish Fry Friday 2022 #2 – Greater Sokol Cleveland

Sokol Greater Cleveland hosted two fish fries this year – on March 4 and March 11. The dinners are served in the basement of the historic Bohemian National Hall. Park in the parking lot in the back, walk down the hall and follow the voices to the ticket table. After you have your ticket and number stand, walk down the hall to the stairs or take the elevator to the basement. I took the elevator down with the evening’s musical entertainment, Anthony Culkar. Nice guy. He started playing at 5:30.

Reservations are recommended for big groups, but I was only one person. They were serving from 5-8 and I got there at 5:10. It was easy to find a seat at a table that didn’t have the chairs up indicating they were reserved. They serve fried or baked fish dinners, shrimp dinners, and pierogi dinners, either dine-in or take-out. The fish, shrimp and combo dinners are $12. The half fish and pierogi dinners are $8. The dinners come with tater tots, cole slaw, a slice of bread, coffee and dessert. I also got a small serving of apple sauce. It might have come with the pierogi. You also pay a $1 temporary membership at the door for the Full Cash Bar. My total came to $17 – $12 plus $4 for two pierogi and the membership.

I chose my seat and shared the table with a nice group of three. I sat for a bit to get my bearings and as I decided to get up to go to the bar my food arrived. My tablemates weren’t as lucky. They were served shortly before I left. There was an advantage to only being one person. Anyway, I hit the cash bar and ordered a Primator Premium Lager (a Czech beer) and a ginger ale ($6 total).

I arranged my meal and drinks and enjoyed m Combination Dinner, which had fried fish and fried shrimp, and two add-on pierogi with sauteed onions. I somehow got two pieces of fish instead of one. It was palatable, but I especially enjoyed the fried shrimp. If I had known butter and ketchup were available if I asked I would have probably enjoyed the tater tots and slice of bread more. In the end, I just left them unfinished. The cole slaw and apple sauce were a nice little treat, and the pierogi were delectable. I took my dessert (choice of yellow or chocolate cake) home in a small to-go box and hobbled back into the snowy night with a full belly. I was going to go grocery shopping, but decided to do it tomorrow instead. I just wanted to go home, put on some comfy pajamas and cuddle up with a book and a cup of tea in this weather.

BTW, they also serve a Sunday Supper from 1-2:30 on the last Sunday of every other month. The next one is chicken paprikash and dumplings on April 24th. Reservations are required by the Wednesday beforehand. The dumplings are usually the flat Czech dumplings, so it’s a total treat. Happy Lent, everyone! Where did you go?

Contact info:

Sokol Greater Cleveland
(at Bohemian National Hall)
4939 Broadway Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44127
(216) 883-0675

The Diner on 55th

You can’t miss the Diner on 55th. Just look for the shiny, old-timey diner car at the corner of E. 55th and St. Clair (pro tip: enter from E. 55th once you cross St. Clair – the driveway on St. Clair is exit only). It’s right off the E. 55th exit on I-90. If the sun is shining you may need sunglasses, but you definitely can’t miss it!

Since it opened in 2001, the Diner on 55th has been the epitome of a “classic small town diner,” but in the big city. If you’re a fan of old-school dining and comfort food, you’re sure to fall in love with this classically-inspired 1950s-style diner with checkerboard tablecloths. They specialize in all-American comforts like breakfast foods, chili, burgers, and onion rings. The Diner on 55th is open 6 days a week from 6 am to 3 pm (Saturday and Sunday from 7 am to 2 pm). It is closed on Mondays and holidays.

The diner car is surprisingly roomy inside. Booths line the windows and walls, and tables are lined up down the middle to be fit together as needed. There is a counter down the middle with comfortable-looking stools as well. The clientele was a mix of regulars and first-timers. I don’t know our local athletes, but one particularly tall gentleman may or may not play for the Cavs. He had to duck his head when he left. Being 5’2″ I didn’t have that problem. Whether they were regulars or a newbie like me, everyone was cheerfully greeted and treated well. The servers were very friendly and accommodating.

As for the food, it was by far one of the best breakfasts I have enjoyed in a long time!!! I ordered the Full Belly Breakfast, which comes with two eggs, two pancakes or two slices of French toast, and home fries or grits (or half and half). You can also order it with your choice of bacon, sausage, ham steak, or “ranch steak”, so I ordered bacon. When the server put the plate in front of me I was taken aback by how good it smelled. Well, it tasted even better. I don’t know what they put in the pancakes, but they were delicious. I think I only left a couple bites behind. As good as the pancakes were, the star of the show were the scrambled eggs. They were firm yet fluffy and every bite was a buttery delight. I savored every single eggy bite. The bacon was perfectly crisp. I walked out of here happy and looking forward to my next visit.

An omelet hit the spot one early Saturday morning. I decided to give it a chance even though it was 11 o’clock, and I was surprised that there were still a few tables available as well as the counter. People used the counter to sit until a table could be cleared. Once I sat down I ordered coffee and the Lorraine omelet, a three-egg omelet made with bacon, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese. I chose the home fries instead of grits and rye toast. There was a big table that had spun the kitchen into the weeds, but I was in no hurry. I had a book on my phone and was happy to chill and drink some coffee.

Since I have really enjoyed the breakfasts I ordered another Full Belly Breakfast, but this time I was in the mood for French toast. I figured I would be taking half home with me, but it was so good I cleaned the plate. The French toast was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. They are generous with the butter. The scrambled eggs were once again delicious, the home fries featured some crispy bits and soft potato bits, and the bacon was perfectly crisp. I ordered coffee and two orange juices because I was thirsty. Since I know how to deal with the sugar dispenser now, the coffee was perfect.

Once it came out and I managed to wrangle up some jelly, ketchup, and an ice water, my breakfast was complete. I savored every bite of my breakfast – from the buttery omelet with chunks of bacon and mushroom and a pillow of Swiss and home fries with a liberal dousing of ketchup to the jelly-slathered and generously buttered rye toast. I walked out of there full and happy, which is how you want to be when you leave a diner.

Both breakfast and lunch are served all day. I saw stuffed cabbage on special one day and headed out (after digging my car out from a snowstorm). I got there shortly after one and they had unfortunately run out. When I asked the waitress when they usually start running out of things she suggested I get there a little before noon next time. So keep that in mind. I ordered the Roast Beef and Cheddar on a Bun off the Specials Board. She explained that they make the roast beef there, shave it and top it with cheddar cheese. In fact, from listening to the talk between the servers and the regulars at the counter they make just about everything (including the salad dressings) there.

I wasn’t all that impressed with the sandwich itself. Once I removed a couple pieces with gristle I enjoyed it more, but I was blown away by the onion rings. The special sandwich came with my choice of side, and when I asked her she recommended the onion rings. Talk about a great choice! They are definitely made there. The breading is light and crisp, and the entire thing is just tasty. One of the best orders of onion rings I’ve ever enjoyed. They don’t serve a lot of them, but it’s definitely quality over quantity. If you want more, order a second side.

The Lunch Specials also come with a complimentary soup. The soup of the day that day was Manhattan Clam Chowder (see above). I did notice a few clams in it, but honestly, it was more of a tasty tomato-based vegetable soup. I really didn’t miss the clams at all. On another visit, the soup of the day was cream of asparagus. I loved it. It was a lighter soup with not much cream and had some rice to give it some bulk. The soup was also brightened up by lemon juice. It was definitely a Greek take on asparagus soup combined with avgolemono soup (Greek chicken soup prepared with eggs and lemon and a bit of rice).

I ordered a Patty Melt with onion rings during a recent visit. The waitress, unfortunately, wrote it down wrong, but immediately rectified it by returning the plate to the kitchen and asking for onion rings. She then brought the burger back to me, and I enjoyed the perfectly medium rare burger while waiting for the onion rings, which were once again absolute perfection. The waitresses have also started greeting me like a regular.

Club sandwiches are also a great way to judge a diner. I also ordered the Diner Club sandwich to go. It was also perfection – a triple layer of white bread layered with ham, turkey (that are seasoned with what may be caraway?), bacon, cheese lettuce, and tomato. I asked for a side of 1000 Island dressing to slather on it. My perfect addition. I learned of this hack when I worked at Bakers Square. It was a bit difficult to eat, because it is so tall and fell apart pretty easily. But it sure was tasty! I ate the second half the next day, and it stayed together much better because it had all chilled together overnight.

The owner (a cute little older Greek guy named “Jimmy”) was either at the register or sitting/standing at the counter (the guy in the plaid shirt in the photo with the counter) the whole time I was there. He warmly cashes people out and thanks them for coming. On my first visit, I wondered how soon is too soon to return. Turns out every couple of days is just fine.

Contact info:

The Diner on 55th
1328 East 55th Street (at the corner of E. 55th and St. Clair Ave.)
Cleveland, Ohio
(216) 417-8001

Charlie’s Dog House Diner

I have been fascinated with Charlie’s Dog House Diner my entire life. The building sparked my imagination for years. To my young eyes, it looked like a little fairy tale diner guarded by two snoopy dogs. My grandparents lived on W. Schaaf off Broadview in Old Brooklyn, so we would frequently pass the diner, which marks the border between Cleveland and Parma. The kitschy roadside attraction has been in the exact same spot since 1952, when it began life as the Dog House, part of a national chain of shops that offered walk-up service to customers who ordered hot dogs and hamburgers through a window. When my father heard I ate here he made fun of me. Apparently, it was never quite taken seriously by him and his friends. Their loss.

The menu was expanded to include breakfast and lunch when a new owner took over 10 years ago, but they “updated” it during the pandemic (June 2020). It still contains all of the breakfast and lunch favorites. There is not a lot of seating. If you time it right, you can walk right in and grab a seat at one of the twelve red-topped stools at the L-shaped counter. It is open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., which means I have to get motivated to make it there.

The building features a doghouse-like façade and two painted hound dogs that look out in either direction from the front door, just beneath a classic Coca-Cola sign, neon lights promising Chicago-style Vienna hot dogs and Charlie’s original waffles, and a marquee that reads “Charlie’s Restaurant.” It can seat 12 people. Obviously, I can’t say how busy it is in the morning. I would imagine it is busy enough that it is still in business all these years later.

These days, the clientele is still solidly working class, the burgers and pancakes still sizzle on the flat top and, though heavily remodeled throughout the decades, the space still features numerous retro throwbacks. Children’s artwork, a Specials board, lotto scratch-off dispensers, and photos of Liam Neeson (see below) decorate the area behind the counter. The operation still runs much like it would have back in the 1950s, with the owner on the grill and one of the employees tending the counter. Everything is made to order. You can still get full for less than $10.

The eggs Benedicts and breakfast burritos are well-loved. A list of skillets and omelets, pancakes, burgers, sandwiches, and, of course, those famous hot dogs are also on the menu; however, most people here are regulars and just ask for “the usual.” Since I am not a regular, I chose to go with one of their “specialty omelets” – the Dog House Omelet – along with hash browns and rye toast. The Dog House Omelet is stuffed with bacon, sausage, onions, mushrooms, and cheese. It was almost too much. A good omelet has two or three ingredients. This one seemed like it was trying too hard. As you can see by the photo it was more mix-in than egg.

also wanted to try their waffle but knew it was a lot of food. The waitress suggested I order half a waffle (yes, it’s possible!), so I splurged and added strawberry and blueberry toppings to it. The waffle was light and crispy and luscious inside. Adding the fruit toppings was an inspired choice. I really enjoyed the fruit with the carby goodness of the waffle. I ate half of everything and then took the leftovers home. I made the day of a guy begging at the side of the exit ramp onto Carnegie when I gave him my leftovers.

I heard the Ashlee Burrito is not to be missed, so I ordered that the next time I was there. Talk about filling! The tortilla wrap is stuffed with eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, and cheddar cheese and topped with sausage gravy. They also drop a bottle of hot sauce, so you can spice it up. It is a little bland, so the hot sauce was a nice added bonus. I obviously could only eat half, and saved half for the next day’s breakfast. I know I already said it, but “Talk about filling!”

I ordered a breakfast bagel sandwich to go just to see what it was like. For $3.99 I got a deliciously soft bagel filled with bacon, a well-fried egg (no yolk splooge on me this time), cheese and hash browns. It was a decent breakfast sandwich and was a total bargain. I can’t wait to try the croissant sandwiches, but I would definitely get this one again too.

They have several hot dogs on the menu. Since we aren’t in Chicago I decided not to order the Chicago Dog. I just can’t picture any place in Cleveland doing it right. Instead, I ordered the Cleveland Dog, because that is the way God intended hot dogs to be served 🙂 . It is a delicious Vienna hot dog, so it had some heft to it. They topped it with chopped onions and Stadium mustard. Absolutely divine. Someone ordered a trio of dogs the other day when I was there. It looked amazing.

I’ve tried to order a Patty Melt from every diner I have eaten at recently to compare them. This was definitely a decent Patty Melt. First off, they used rye bread, so bonus points. The burger was cooked medium and the cheese was perfectly melted to hold in the grilled onions. A squirt of yellow mustard made it complete. The onion rings were also decent. The onion stayed inside the batter when I bit into it. They stood up nicely to the ketchup.

I look forward to continuing to explore the menu. Maybe I’ll have a Monte Cristo, Charlie’s Mess or one of the benedicts next. This place definitely deserves our love. Did you know it was featured in a recent movie with Liam Neeson called The Marksman? Apparently, Charlie’s is a steakhouse in Arizona. 🙂

Photo of Charlie's Restaurant - Cleveland, OH, United States
How could a kid not be fascinated by this? Photo from Yelp user Chas M.

Contact info:

Charlie’s Dog House Diner
2102 Brookpark Road
Cleveland, OH 44134
216-661-4873

Big Al’s Diner

Big Al’s is about as “greasy spoon diner” as it gets. The 25-year-old diner is not flashy, it’s not fancy, it’s not big, it’s just a small diner. The staff is friendly, hard-working, and attentive. You walk in, sit where you want, and one of the servers will come ask you if you want coffee and take your order. The bill is dropped with your meal, and when you are done they cash you out or you pay the bill at the register. The diner is open Wednesday thru Sunday from 7:00 am to 1:30 pm, and breakfast is served the entire time.

It’s not a place to come if you are watching calories. The portions are big, and the food is fresh and delicious. If you are like me, you will be taking food home with you. The home fries are available with pepper and onions, and the prices are affordable. It has all the comforting favorites, like fluffy eggs, large, buttery pancakes and waffles, several kinds of sausage, sausage gravy to die for, thick, steaming soups, homemade mashed potatoes with gravy, burgers, and layer cake for dessert. But the corned beef hash is the star of the show – it was featured on the Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate by Michael Symon.

Obviously, I had to order breakfast the first time I visited. Since I am not a fan of corned beef I left the hash for the fans. I chose #8 – “On the Lighter Side Combo” – 2 eggs, 1 pancake or 1/2 a French toast, and bacon, ham or sausage. I added fresh blueberries to the pancake for an additional 50 cents. It was the perfect amount of food. The eggs were scrambled just as I like it and I could add cheese to them, the bacon was crisp and the blueberry pancake hit the spot. And best of all, my coffee cup was never empty for long.

I usually visit diners during the week to avoid crowds and waitings for a table. However, craving diner food on a recent rainy Sunday morning I headed to Big Al’s for a waffle. I had to wait about 5-10 minutes for a table at 12:45 (they close at 1:30). The two tables in front of me got seated right away, so it was just bad timing on my part. They seated one table after me and took the phone off the hook to cut off to-go orders. The #10 hit the spot – a waffle, 2 eggs, and choice of bacon, ham or sausage. I opted for scrambled and sausage (patties or links? turkey or pork?) patties. I ordered a large orange juice ($3.25) that was worth every penny because the serving was large. Most of the time you order a large orange juice and you are lucky to get a medium juice glass as the “large.” I wasn’t quite able to finish it, but I didn’t have enough to warrant a box. I left sated and happy at 1:35 pm.

Another visit had me trying the sausage gravy. Since I didn’t want a huge portion of sausage gravy I chose the country fried steak combo (#13) with two eggs, home fries, country fried steak, and toast. I chose over easy eggs so that I could mix the yolks in with the loaded home fries (always get them loaded with grilled onions and green peppers) and rye toast. Everything was very tasty, but the sausage gravy-covered country fried steak was exceptional. Screw the corned beef hash – get the sausage gravy! It was a filling breakfast, and I ended up taking half the home fries and steak home with me for a light supper. I ordered cranberry juice and coffee this time around, and the medium cranberry juice was perfect in addition to ice water.

I, of course, had to try their lunch items as well and decided on the Patty Melt. This was a great Patty Melt. The cheese was melty, the onions were nicely grilled and caramelized, and the burger was cooked to my specification (medium rare). The hand cut fries were delicious.

They are doing a booming carry-out business in the time of COVID, but they also clean and sterilize the tables before seating diners, the booths and tables in the middle of the room are separated by plastic partitions, and there is a bottle of hand sanitizer on each table. Silverware is rolled and sealed with a band.

Contact info:

Big Al’s Diner
12600 Larchmere Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 791-8550

Mama D’s Diner

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and one of my greatest pleasures is enjoying it in a small diner. I’ve discovered Mama D’s Diner in the past year. I noticed it in a small strip mall on Mayfield Road. I asked my Facebook food forum about it, but no one could tell me anything about it, so I decided to check it out for myself. I am so glad I did! It’s a definite find!

It’s a small space with four booths, one booth in the front window, and a couple chairs along the counter. Once COVID hit they hung plastic panels between the booths and discourage sitting at the counter. Silverware comes served in an envelope. There have been two people working whenever I have been there – Mama D and the kitchen cook. They greet and joke with their regulars. They were teasing a retiree because he arrived after 3 the last time I was there, and I got into a nice discussion with a fellow diner about the weather and my car as she was leaving. I usually bring a book to entertain myself, but an occasional brief conversation is always welcome.

My first visit was after noon, but they serve breakfast all day. I had had enough coffee by then, so I ordered a Mountain Dew instead. I decided to order Rob’s Famous Breakfast Bowl, which was featured on the chalkboard. It features loaded homefries topped with two eggs, 2 bacon strips, 2 sausage patties, and a slice of Texas toast. I chose scrambled eggs, and the loaded homefries were an absolute home run! They contained grilled onions and peppers. It was really tasty.

The second time I came in Mama D recognized me and asked if I wanted a Mountain Dew. I was stunned she remembered me. I felt so welcomed. Since it was earlier in the day I instead chose coffee and a sweet breakfast. I was intrigued by the Chunky Monkey French Toast. Chunky Monkey is a great Ben & Jerry’s flavor, and this French toast also does the name justice. It features three slices of French toast topped with maple syrup bananas and chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, and vanilla whipped topping. It was a work of art and delicious as well!

Another breakfast favorite I ordered Mama D’s Philly Egg Sandwich, which features shaved prime rib with peppers & onions, two eggs, and cheese on a toasted hoagie. It was a little too much bread, but the prime rib, egg and cheese combo was great. I tore off the excess bread and gave it a good shake of A1 sauce. A side of thick-cut bacon was the perfect accompaniment.

Now I love Eat at Joe’s, but I haven’t been as enthused by the lunch options as I am about the breakfasts there. I can’t say that here. The soups here are great. I ordered a cup of chili with the Philly Egg Sandwich. I know it’s a weird dichotomy, but I had a craving. It’s a good chili. It has a bit of heat to it, but it also has a nice balance of meat and tomatoes with just a few kidney beans (I’m not the biggest fan of kidney beans, so I appreciated it). I’ve also enjoyed the clam chowder and beef noodle soup. The clam chowder had a nice flavor to it and lots of good bites of clam and potato. The noodles in the beef noodle soup were intact, which isn’t always the case in noodle soups that sit. I can tell they add the noodles just before serving. A nice detail that is appreciated.

I decided to switch it up and try Lou’s Patty Melt. Mama D’s serves an excellent Patty Melt. I need to keep trying new things, but the Patty Melt keeps calling to me. I’ve enjoyed it with the housemade potato chips and dip as well as house-cut fries. And you can tell they are cut in-house because I have never, ever seen fries cut like this before.

The Sloppy Joe was on special the last time I was there. It is probably one of the best sloppy joes I have ever eaten. It didn’t have any discernible peppers or onions, but it was a great tasting sandwich all the same. I knew better than to eat it with my hands. I would have ended up wearing it. If you see it on the menu, order it. I’m wondering if the specials are the same every day. I’ll have to stop by again next Thursday and see. But then again I may order the Beef Stew, which also sounded good.

There are plenty of other things on the menu that I want to try, like the various breakfast sandwiches and one of the smashburgers. It’s a small menu, so the goal of trying everything is definitely a doable one. And I will continue to be a regular there – although I try to go during off-hours when they aren’t as busy. Mama D’s is open Wednesday to Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm.

Contact info:

Mama D’s Diner
5416 Mayfield Road
Lyndhurst, OH 44124
440-421-9500

EDWINS Butcher Shop

EDWINS Butcher Shop opened up in December 2018 and has filled a void in the Buckeye neighborhood. It is part of the EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute and shares the building with EDWINS Patisserie, Bakery and Diner.  Its logo is a pig that flies, which makes me smile. The EDWINS program trains people who were previously incarcerated in restaurant skills (cooking, hosting, and serving). Now, they’ve opened an additional program at the butcher shop where students can learn butchery.

The Butcher Shop was the first to open. It sells various meats in the meat case as well as prepared foods like fried chicken and shrimp, hot dogs and sausages, burgers, and sandwiches. They also sell a range of specialty items like Cleveland Ketchup, jams, mustards and spices. They have several coolers filled with prepared soups and salads, beverages (including rare sodas like Cheerwine), and prepared desserts like banana pudding.

They have a great fish fry during Lent and serve a great fried shrimp dinner as well. The shrimp was plump and tender, and the fries are really good. I went one Friday in April for the fish fry. Even though it looks overcooked it wasn’t. The fish inside the breading was moist and tender. I chose JoJos (wedge potatoes) and mac n cheese as my sides. The mac n cheese is really creamy and delicious. The

They also serve a great burger. I ordered in medium rare, and it came out medium. Color me surprised. It’s hard to find a place that makes a medium rare burger. The burger itself was still quite tasty, despite the patty being quite firm.

They also serve dinners that come with 2 sides and a roll. These dinners include 1/2 a chicken, 6 oz of brisket, a half slab of ribs, fried chicken and pulled pork – and special dinners like corned beef on Saint Patrick’s Day. The sides are also available individually. They are all only $2 and are good sized portions.

PDF of the Butcher Shop menu

Contact info:


EDWINS Butcher Shop
13024 Buckeye Road
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 417-1100