Gallucci’s Italian Foods

Gust Gallucci founded Gallucci’s Italian Foods in 1912 after he came to Cleveland in the early 1900’s and discovered a large Italian population who longed for products from their homeland. The store was originally run from a cart on the west side of Cleveland and changed locations several times until it found a home on Euclid Avenue and East 66th Street near downtown Cleveland in 1988. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012 with a big centenary event, which included a dedication to the black granite monument you see at the front door. It is still family-owned and operated, now by the third and fourth generation of Galluccis.

Gallucci’s is the place to go when you are looking for specialty Italian canned foods and treats. When you walk in you see the cash registers to your left and the deli and refrigerated and freezer cases to your right. The cases are filled with cheeses, salami and assorted charcuterie, butter, all the fixings for homemade pizza including dough, sauce, crumbled sausage, pepperoni slices and shredded and shredded cheese. The freezers hold all kinds of frozen Gallucci pastas and seafood that you won’t find anywhere else as well as frozen soup, frozen meatballs (for wedding soup and for pasta dinners), and homemade gelato. The grocery aisles are filled with boxed pasta, canned tomatoes, jars of sauce, olive oils, canned sardines, boxed cookies, Italian coffee, tons of bulk spices, espresso makers, and a good selection of wine. They also have fresh pasta and their canned sauce for an easy and quick home-cooked meal. The store carries multiples of the same product at different prices, to appeal to a range of customers.

Their deli counter has all the specialties, whether it be prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, soppressata, fresh mozzarella, burrata, guanciale, braciole, olives or anything else you may need for an authentic recipe. One recent Yelper warns about their practice of switching out cheaper brands for their brand though, so keep an eye out.

The bakery counter is next to the deli counter against the right wall on the way to the Hot Lunch Counter. The bakery counter has all kinds of Italian cookies and cakes as well as a cooler full of prepared submarine sandwiches (you need to get here early because they run out). I have been known to stock up on prepared subs if a snow storm is predicted.

The olive bar is between the bakery counter and the cooler of sandwiches. You can get stuffed olives for $7.99 a pound, a mix of olives for $6.99 a pound and various other nibbles like pepperocini, giardiniera, etc.

You can also have a sub sandwich made to order at the Hot Lunch Counter against the back wall of the store. The Hot Lunch Counter is open from 11 to 2 one weekdays and offers a lot of prepared carry-out foods for a quick lunch, like their daily lunch specials, a “sangweech”of the day, Italian sausage and meatballs for subs, salads, hot pizza slices, calzones, paninis, and several different pasta specials (lasagna and pasta and meatballs are usually two of them). The pasta comes with choice of salad (tossed, potato or macaroni salad) and garlic bread. I just wish the containers didn’t leak. I damaged a library book when I accidentally pricked the styrofoam container and Italian dressing seeped out, and my shopping bag had a small island of sauce on the bottom when I got home today with my bow tie chicken pasta (see below). It had kind of congealed, so I know butter was in the sauce and it was delicious.

You can also get Gallucci’s amazing Italian wedding soup by the bowl or the quart. It contains lots of meatballs and escarole – as well as lots of flavor. Gallucci’s also offers a daily lunch special (“Coke Special”) during the week. You can get a sub sandwich, a 12 ounce pop and a bag of chips for $6.99. Make sure the sandwich looks fresh though. The last one I got was pretty dried out.

They offer frequent deals like Two Dollar Dog days during lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in honor of the Indians Home Opener on April 1st (and it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke).

Did you also know that Gallucci’s offers hosted dinners with Chef Chuck Masterpaul? I didn’t know until I checked out their website. The next scheduled one is April 24th. The hosted dinners include exclusive access to the store, wine pairing and product suggestions, and consultations with Chef Masterpaul. The cost is $50 per person.

You can subscribe to their various email lists (including the daily lunch specials) here.

Contact info:

Gallucci’s Italian Foods
6610 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44103
(216) 881-0045

Burton Fire Station Pancake Breakfast

Another weekend in March, another pancake breakfast. I had originally scheduled Burton’s American Legion Pancake Breakfast for this weekend, but my friend who was going to join me is allergic to potatoes. I had also heard rave reviews of the fire station pancake breakfast from friends who went there last weekend instead of joining us at the omelet and pancake breakfast at the high school. So I decided to check out the fire station and do the American Legion one next weekend (the last one for the year).

We decided on a later meet time to avoid a long wait (my friends were in line for 40 minutes – just as we were). Between an arrival time of noon and a freak snow storm that dropped 3-5 inches Burton was decidedly emptier this weekend.

We found a parking space that was very close to the fire station – and most importantly there was absolutely no line whatsoever. We waited a few minutes on the ground floor for a third friend to join us and then headed up the stairs to the second floor. As we were waiting a woman came in asking if there was an elevator because her mother used a walker. The firemen replied there wasn’t, but they had a chair they could transport her in. They strapped her in and carried her up the stairs.

Since there was no line we were able to go straight to the cashier table and purchase our meal. The cost was $8 for all you can eat pancakes and sausage. Extra sausage and extra beverages (water or orange juice) were $1 each. I opted for extra sausage and an extra orange juice, so my meal cost me $10. Still a bargain. We grabbed our trays, a plate, and silverware and mosied up to the window of the kitchen for a stack of pancakes. When asked what kind I wanted I asked for one of each. Somehow that turned into four pancakes – too much for me. The sausage patties were also generous, so I really regretted buying an extra order. I took them home wrapped in a napkin. I was very happy I got a second orange juice though. What is up with the tiny containers of o.j.? They seem wasteful to me and only contain a bit of juice. I do like that they use real plates and real mugs for the meal – not styrofoam like most of the other fish fries or pancake breakfasts.

We easily found seats at a table next to the window, so we enjoyed watching the snowflakes fall outside while eating our pancakes and talking. Volunteers walked around with fresh pancakes and thermoses of coffee. The pancakes on the refill plates were fresher than the ones that had been sitting in the window. I have a feeling they had prepared for a crowd that didn’t materialize due to the weather. My favorite pancake out of the three was the blueberry pancake. The blueberries were plump and plentiful. The buckwheat pancakes were my second favorite. The regular ones were just too thick and dried out (most likely from sitting in the serving trays). We used lots of butter and maple syrup to soften them up.

We sat around talking for two hours. There wasn’t a rush for us to leave since there weren’t people clamoring for seats. My one friend bought a pint of maple syrup and some maple treats to take home with her. We headed back to Cleveland driving through the winter wonderland. It was a great way to start the day. As I said, we are planning on attending the American Legion breakfast next weekend, which is the very last one for the year in Burton.

Contact info:

Burton Volunteer Fire Station
13828 Spring Street
Burton, OH 44021

Fish Fry Friday #4: Benedictine High School

I have a new rule to live by: if a fish fry is run by boys stay far away.

Benedictine High School is a private, Roman Catholic, college preparatory high school for men, located in Cleveland off Martin Luther King Boulevard. The school serves grades 9–12 and has an enrollment of just under 400 young men.

I don’t even know where to start with this disaster. OK, driving in. Apart from a sign on the road there is no indication which outbuilding houses the fish fry. I had to ask a bunch of young men who explained it was in the cafeteria, but don’t ask me where that was. I drove toward a building that said Field House and asked someone else and he explained I could park and walk under the walkway and it would be on the right. Luckily the weather was nice and the door was propped open or I wouldn’t have had a clue which door to go in. Some signage with arrows would be very helpful. Or even just someone standing in the parking lot directing people where to go. But the fish fry wasn’t all that well-attended, so that might be overkill. I should have caught the clue then.

Once I walked into the cafeteria I had to figure out what was going on. The big sign on the wall was apparently from lunch. I missed the silverware, cafeteria trays and napkins, so if you go know that it’s against the wall to your right. There were four dinners to choose from. The signs taped to a table informed me that I could have a two pieces of fried fish, one piece of baked fish, nine pieces of shrimp or eight pierogi. The dinners come with baked potato or french fries, cole slaw or applesauce, bread (grab a piece from the open bags of wheat or white bread sitting there), and coffee, tea or milk. Side orders were available for $2.50 or $3.50 depending on what you wanted. Pop was $0.50 a can. Dessert was available at a bake sale off to the side of the cafeteria. I spent $14 for my meal, sides and two cans of pop.

I was there at around 5:30 and was informed they were out of fish and it would be about 2 minutes. As I stood there they plated up a side of pierogi and a bowl of chowder and stack of crackers for me. I grabbed some condiments and my slice of bread and a pat of butter and waited. When the fish came out they started serving the people who had just walked in until one of the older men supervising noticed and had them serve me. Some of the fish had broken apart and the young man tried to give me a couple pieces parts until I pointed out to the supervisor that there were supposed to be two pieces. Awkward.

Once I paid, bought my pop and sat down I opened up the to-go box (which I requested because I knew I wouldn’t finish) and was just overwhelmed by the food service of it all. I thought I’d have a couple pierogi and chowder with a few bites of fish and pack up the rest. The chowder was the blandest, worst chowder I’ve ever had, so I popped the lid back on and will be doctoring it up tomorrow for lunch. Nothing a little dill and seasoned salt can’t fix. The pierogi did not look appetizing at all, but they weren’t as dry as they look. That was the best part of the meal. The fish was okay. It could have been moister, but it was at least edible. The cole slaw was okay. I chose the baked potato since it is easier to warm up as leftovers, although this isn’t a meal I am looking forward to eating again.

When I left at six o’clock they had run out of individual sour cream packets and had a pint of sour cream and a spoon sitting on the table with the condiments.

If you ever find yourself at this fish fry (but I wouldn’t recommend it), do yourself and order the grilled cheese. It seemed like the most popular choice.

Contact info:

Benedictine High School
2900 Martin Luther King Jr Drive
Cleveland, OH 44104

Burton-Middlefield Rotary Pancake Breakfast

Burton is known as Pancake Town USA. Every March since 1951, Burton has been serving pancakes every spring to over 20,000 guests. It became so popular that the Burton-Middlefield Rotary Club decided to officially trademark the town as “Pancake Town USA.” Today the Rotary Club, the Century Village Museum and other groups continue to serve these annual March Sunday pancake breakfasts. Downtown Burton was packed with cars yesterday (and I would imagine every Sunday in March), as everyone parked on the square and on Main Street to enjoy the pancake breakfasts at the Century Village Museum, Red Maple Inn, the fire station and the high school and visit the Burton Log Cabin. The American Legion’s pancake breakfast is tucked away on a side street across from the entrance to the high school. I went to that one a few years ago and really enjoyed the fried potatoes.

This year the pancake breakfasts at the high school and fire station are on March 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st. The American Legion and Century Village Museum will also be hosting theirs on April 7th as well.

This year I decided to try the Burton-Middlefield Rotary Pancake Breakfast because they serve omelets in addition to all you can eat pancakes and sausage. Two of my other friends opted to go to the Fire Station for their all you can eat breakfast featuring regular, blueberry and buckwheat pancakes. I’ll try it next year.

My friends and I decided to meet at 11 on the 24th because we had an event later in Orange that started at 2. I got there shortly before they did. They parked in the post office lot, while I parked down and across the street from the high school lot, which was jam-packed with cars. I drove through the entire lot and not a single spot was free. I had an inkling this would not be a quick breakfast like the last two pancake breakfasts were. We queued up once we walked in and wound our way up the stairs and through the hallways of the school. They had pins for the visitors to mark where they came from. There was a board for Geauga County residents as well as one of Ohio. One pin was from Toledo, while several others were from Pennsylvania.

About forty minutes later we found ourselves at the table to pay, where we specified what we wanted. They took credit cards, but I happily handed over my $12 for the pancakes and sausage with an upgrade of a Western omelet. My friends ordered veggie omelets. Since they are vegetarians I got their sausage patties after we sat down. We were given a print-out indicating our order and a colored cardboard piece with a number (#1 for Western, #2 for ham and cheese, and #3 for veggie – peppers, onion, mushrooms and cheese) and handed the print-out to the person at the door to the cafeteria serving area. We wound our way through that area, grabbing a tray and silverware and collecting our pancakes and sausage patties, choice of milk (regular or chocolate) and orange juice. They then assigned us a table and whisked away our trays before we even had a chance to sit down. The omelets were quickly brought to our tables, and we handed them the colored cardboard.

The omelets were huge and really delicious. They were served with little cups of salsa, but I preferred mine just as it was. The pancakes were fluffy and had a great taste to them. The sausage was well-cooked. The coffee was in big thermoses on the table as well as cream and sugar. Real maple syrup was in squeeze bottles on the table. The tables also came equipped with wooden sticks painted in yellow and red for more “cakes” and “sausage” and green and brown for more coffee. The yellow and red sticks got a lot of use. They gladly kept serving more pancakes and sausage until we couldn’t eat any more. The woman overseeing our table whisked my plate full of leftovers away (I had stacked my plates together) and brought it back in a to-go box. I had half an omelet and four sausage patties left. I hadn’t asked for any more pancakes or sausage, but did ask for more coffee and butter as we sat down since our table was running low. Once we were finished they cleaned our plates and detritus away. Once someone left the table they were immediately there wiping the spots down and putting a placemat down for the next group of diners. When we left at noon the line had died down considerably. However, as we learned from one of our fellow diners if you go a little later you may find they have run out of something – in their case a few years ago pancakes. They serve from 8:00 am – 1:30 pm.

We checked out the little craft fair in the gymnasium before leaving. I bought some kolachky, and my friends bought some jam. My leftovers made a great dinner that night.

Contact info:

Burton-Middlefield Rotary Pancakes & Omelets Breakfast
Berkshire High School
14510 N Cheshire Street
Burton, OH 44021

Goodell Farm Pancake Breakfast in Shalersville

Goodell Family Farm hosts pancake breakfasts on three Sundays in March in the Shalersville Town Hall in Ravenna. It is located at the intersection of OH-44 and Route 303. The pancake breakfast features all you can eat pancakes (regular and buckwheat), sausage and their own pure maple syrup. You also get a small glass of orange juice and all the coffee you can drink. And don’t forget to enjoy a soft serve maple ice cream cone when you are finished.

Adults pay $8.00, children (ages 4-12) are $4.00, and children 3 years of age and under are free. The pancake breakfasts this year were March 3rd, 10th, and 17th from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. I met a girlfriend, and we spent an hour and a half enjoying pancakes and sausage and catching up.

This place is a well-oiled machine. The room is not that large, but the line is not long (at least it wasn’t when we were there). You pay when you walk in and walk past a table full of Goodell Family Farm products. The gentleman at the end then finds a seat for you and your party. We were seated with another older married couple, which was a little awkward. I had already blown past them getting off the turnpike, so I wasn’t too thrilled to be seated with them. Then to add to the awkward they sat next to each other, so we then also had to sit next to each other. As their penance they had to hear my girlfriend and I talk about our lives and high five each other several times.

I opted for a combo stack of pancakes – a mix of two regular pancakes and one buckwheat pancake – and it came with three sausage links. The pancakes and sausage were delicious. I liked the regular pancakes a bit more, but the buckwheat ones were definitely great. There are people walking around the room refilling coffee cups and doling out more pancakes and sausage. I had one more of each. There are big pitchers of maple syrup and sticks of butter on the table to help yourself.

I purchased a quart of maple syrup for $17 as I left. It’s already opened and now in my fridge. Next year’s pancake breakfasts will be March 8th, 15th, and 22nd, so mark your calendars. It’s worth the drive.

Contact info:

Goodell Family Farm Pancake Breakfast
Shalersville Town Hall
9090 OH-44
Ravenna, OH 44266

Frostville Museum Pancake Breakfast

Yeah, don’t bother.

The Olmsted Historical Society holds its annual Pancake Breakfasts on three Sundays in March from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm in the Events Barn at the Frostville Museum, 24101 Cedar Point Rd (at the corner of Lewis and Cedar Point Rd. in the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation). Adults $7.00, Children 10 & under $5.00. Menu 1 includes unlimited pancakes, juice, hot beverage and sausage. Menu 2 includes scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes (no refills), juice & hot beverage. Additional sausage is 3 for $1.00, additional orange juice is $.50. Maple syrup was also extra. Syrup was on the tables, but the maple syrup was doled out in little portion cups. I upgraded to add scrambled eggs to Menu 1 and bought an extra orange juice, so I spent $10.50. The coffee was at a table in the back of the room (see above photo).

Being from Olmsted Falls and since they host a farmer’s market here I had such high hopes for this, so I arranged for my dining friends to meet here for breakfast on March 3. There were eight of us. None of us liked it. The eggs were chalky, the hash browns were food service and not cooked very well, and the pancakes were just okay. They could have at least cooked the hash browns on the flat top grill.

The money raised helps maintain the historic buildings at the museum, so at least we donated to a good cause. We did a paczki crawl afterwards and shopped at Chuppa’s in Parma. Go for the farmer’s market. Save your money on the pancake breakfast.

Contact info:

Frostville Museum
24101 Cedar Point Road
North Olmsted, OH 44070
(440) 779-0280

Fish Fry Friday #1: Arthur Treacher’s

Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips is a fast food seafood restaurant chain. At the peak of its popularity in the late 1970s, it had about 800 stores. Now, there are only four of the original old-style stores left – all in Northeast Ohio. The busiest is on Rockside Road (near the intersection wtih Turney Road) in Garfield Heights. I love going there and reliving my childhood memories of fried fish and that amazing cole slaw. I went a long time without eating there, and just one bite of the cole slaw had me realizing that it was the cole slaw I had been comparing all other cole slaws to. It is a nice, wet, mayo-ey cole slaw, which I prefer.

Things have not changed much at Arthur Treacher’s. The decor is firmly from the 1970s – as is the carpet. The food is still served on trays, and the condiments are pumped into little paper cups. You have your choice of ketchup, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. I wish they wouldn’t use so much styrofoam, but understand their business model hasn’t changed since the 1970s so why wouldn’t they.

I made the mistake of going there on Good Friday once. That is probably their busiest day of the year. The line was almost out the door and didn’t let up the whole time I was there. Business had slowed down until the Cleveland.com article in 2016 and then news of its existence also hit social media, so they are happy to report they are doing well. It’s apparently become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with people traveling there from far away to experience it again.

Chicken dinner with cole slaw

The food still stood up to my memories. It isn’t gourmet, but childhood memories rarely are. I ordered the chowder, a fish and chip combo and a side of cole slaw. I can never finish the meal here and always bring half of it home. The fish is better than some of the fish I’ve had at other fish fries – flaky with a light batter. The chips are satisfying and made my British friend happy and “more at home” than most chips. And I usually save a hush puppy as my last bite. I really enjoy the sweet flavor yet savory texture of the perfectly fried hush puppies.

Seafood combo dinner – fish, shrimp and clam strips – and a cole slaw

I ordered the fish and chicken dinner here once, and although it was okay I will continue to order the fish. It was too jarring for me. Chicken doesn’t seem to belong with all the seafood, but I guess folks who don’t like fish or seafood have to eat too. I like the fried shrimp. They are plump and well fried without drying out. I am less enamored with the clam strips. They tend to get dried out and are a little too chewy for my tastes.

I can also recommend the seafood chowder. The first time I ordered it I don’t know what happened but it had an overwhelmingly metallic taste. I gave it a second chance the other day and enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for a decent chowder.

Contact info:

Cleveland area:
12585 Rockside Road
Garfield Heights, OH
216-662-6067

Akron area:
926 E. Waterloo Road
Akron, OH
330-724-9990

1833 State Road
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
330-923-8900

Niles:
2 Youngstown Warren Road
Pinetree Square
Niles, OH
330-505-2625

Sichuan Hot Pot

Cleveland’s got a new Szechuan restaurant in town, and it’s become my friends’ new obsession. Sichuan Hot Pot quietly opened in April 2018 on Rockwell Avenue in the building that houses Emperor’s Palace. The storefront seems rather quiet and unassuming. You walk in and have to go through another door to the right. Make sure the door shuts behind you properly, because it forms a wind tunnel.

We keep meaning to order the hot pot, but we are enjoying discovering all the various entrees too much. It’s best enjoying everything as a group. When it comes to Chinese food we are a bunch of sharers, so everyone orders a different dish and we dig in. We then get the bill, add a 20% tip, and divide the total by however many people are in the group. I have a handy app for that, so it is really easy. The bill never comes out to more than $20 per person (it’s usually between $12-18).

The first time I ate at Sichuan Hot Pot (just before Christmas) there were 7 of us. We were the only non-Asian table in the place. We ordered 8 different dishes (one person ordered two because they were vegetarian items and cheap). We had the Dan Dan Noodles, Chongqing Noodles, Lamb Kebabs served with crinkle cut French fries (what??), Shredded Pork with Pickled Cabbage Noodles, Ma Po Tofu, Sour & Spicy Cucumbers, and a Roasted Eggplant appetizer with what looked like a green chili pesto on it. I chose the Crispy Ribs with Garlic Sauce (S7), which was delicious. The ribs were perfectly fried (popcorn chicken-sized) and served along with fried onions and fresh green scallions. I was very happy I ordered it and would happily order it again. However, the absolute standouts for me were the Shredded Pork and Pickled Cabbage Noodles and the Dan Dan Noodles. I have never been a fan of Dan Dan Noodles, but I really like their version. The Shredded Pork was the huge hit at the table. We ordered it on a whim, and I will never go there and not order it ever. It has a delicate flavor and has a soup-like consistency. Ordering small bowls for everyone to enjoy it would not be a bad idea. The Chongqing Noodles were also lovely. Apart from the eggplant, which everyone was saying was very hot so I avoided it, I didn’t find anything so spicy hot that I couldn’t eat it. Szechuan cooking has a nice heat to it, but if I can tolerate it anyone can. We were served a complementary Tofu fa with a smoky sauce and sesame seeds for dessert.

Spicy & Sour Cucumbers

Dan Dan Noodles

Chongqing Noodles

Shredded Pork with Pickled Cabbage Noodles

Lamb Kebabs

Crispy Ribs with Garlic Sauce (S7)

Roasted Eggplant (C5)
IMG_20181221_195949.jpg
Mid-meal

The second time I was with a different group, with only three of us having been there already. There were six of us this time. This time we were the only table in the place, but I hear it gets busy on the weekends and at night. A few tables joined us by the time we were finishing up – including a friend of one of my friends, which was a hoot. We were there on a Tuesday for lunch. I made sure to order the Shredded Pork and Pickled Cabbage Noodle again. Two of our group had already gotten there and ordered the Dan Dan Noodles because they were hungry. We also ordered Dried Beef with Spicy Sauce (C12 – which I found to be just okay, but my friend D. loves it), “Chicken with Special Sauce” (word of warning – it’s a cold poached chicken and celery dish with bones – I wasn’t a fan), Crispy Big Ribs with Garlic Sauce (S15 – whole ribs on a bed of cabbage – quite tasty if a little dry), Sour & Spicy Cucumbers, and Sliced Potatoes with Scallions (which was too American if you ask me – basically warm parsley potatoes). The Sliced Potato dish was good, so it would be a good choice for kids or less adventurous diners. I certainly didn’t expect it at an Asian restaurant. The standout dish for me this time was a different version of eggplant – the Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (M19). I could not stop eating it, and I look forward to enjoying it again this coming Friday.

Dan Dan Noodles – after mixing

Spicy & Sour Cucumbers

Dried Beef with Spicy Sauce (C12)

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (M19)

Crispy Big Ribs (S17) on a bed of Napa cabbage

Chicken with Special Sauce

Sliced Potatoes with Scallions (not shredded!! – that’s a completely different dish with green peppers)

Complementary Tofu Fa
Mid-meal

Like I said, I am going back there for lunch on Friday with some of the folks from the previous meals and a couple new people we are introducing the place to. I look forward to trying some new dishes as well as the favorites. I’m tempted by the Crispy Fish Hot & Spicy.

Crispy Fish Hot & Spicy – highly recommend!

Shrimp in hot garlic sauce – delicious
Mid-meal

Contact info:

Sichuan Hot Pot
2162 Rockwell Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 523-1188

Sabor Miami Cafe

Moving from Guatemalan to Honduran, another fun little spot in Old Brooklyn is Sabor Miami Cafe. This place is tucked in a storefront with a bodega selling propane on Broadview Road (just north of I-480), so it is very easy to drive by and not even know it exists. It is in the old location of Pupaseria Katarina, but it looks completely different. Pupaseria Katarina was rather austere, whereas Cafe Sabor Miami is bright and filled with vibrant artwork. The charming tropical cafe run by Honduran native Mariela Paz opened in 2015 and has been quietly feeding residents ever since. Paz lived in Miami for more than a decade and oversees a menu that ranges from Cuban to Honduran as well as Peruvian and Mexican featuring savory and sweet breakfast and lunch choices. I always say I am going to order some of her sweet pancakes, but the savory side of the menu keeps calling me.

First, I must say that I have never been disappointed by the coffee choices here. Apparently Paz’s family have a coffee plantation, so she is well-versed in coffee. She offers lots of standard choices as well as some rare finds, such as Cuban Colada espresso, Oreo Mocha, Mojito Latte, Rose coffee, Cortaditos (cafe con leche with espresso), and Mayan Mocha, as well as smoothies and hot and cold tumeric beverages.

As I’ve said, I love the savory side of the menu. The Tropichop is my favorite thing on the menu so far. The Tropichop is a rice-based dish with Latin flair. Yellow rice is piled with pulled chicken or pork, black beans, pico de gallo and curry sauce. The flavors meld really well together, and I love the light curry sauce, which is not overpowering at all. I have ordered it several times now.

I also love her empanadas. Each empanada is under $3 and is stuffed with filling and perfectly fried. My favorite is the La Hawaiana, which is a ham, cheese and pineapple empanada, but the La Cubana (a Cuban sandwich in an empanada) is also quite delicious. One day I’m just going to order one of each and decide which are the best.

Her pancakes like her plain or pecan or specialties like cinnamon bun pancakes, pineapple upside down pancakes, Caribbean Love (with lots of fruit), or Key West Lime pancakes are so tempting, but as a savory breakfast fan I tend to order savory. I ordered the Bistec a Caballo, which is a Cuban steak with eggs, onions, and home fries, the last time. I was absolutely blown away by the Cuban toast. It doesn’t look like much, but it packs a crisp and buttery taste that I fell in love with. Mariela does a great Cuban toast! It has its own section on the menu, and you can order it with butter, mozzarella cheese or cream cheese and guava.

Mariela and her staff are always so happy to see you when you walk in. I felt like a regular on my first visit. The place is bright and cheerful, filled with lots of Mariela’s artwork and taste. If I had to choose between Cafe Sabor Miami and El Rinconcito Chapin I would choose this place, but its limited breakfast and lunch hours ensure Chapin will also get some love from me. But Cafe Sabor Miami is one that should absolutely not be missed!

Contact info:

Sabor Miami Cafe
4848 Broadview Rd
Cleveland, OH 44109
(440) 714-0202

El Rinconcito Chapin

I’m back! I haven’t really been gone. I’ve just been too busy to write up posts for the blog. I’ve gone out to eat less in the past few months, but I have a few new posts up my sleeve. I appreciate one fan reaching out asking if I had quit blogging. I apologize. I didn’t quit. I was busy with work and my national conference in New Orleans, and then catching up with work when I returned. After conference is always busy following up with potential new clients and catching up with jobs I missed while I was gone.

I have been sitting on a post for El Rinconcito Chapin for a while now. El Rinconcito Chapin is an authentic Guatemalan restaurant in Old Brooklyn. My dining out group first visited them about a week before they were closing at their old location on Pearl Road. It was not a good location, with very little parking and smack in the middle of road repaving. Nevertheless we managed to meet there and have a lovely meal that was graciously served by the owner. He even gave us free flan and tres leches cake, which were absolutely amazing. We were so impressed that we swore we would visit again at their new location (we rarely repeat visits to places). They reopened on Broadview Road in the old Coney Company building near the corner of Broadview and Pearl, but it took me a while to schedule a visit. You can also access it from Pearl – just ignore the drive-thru signs, which as far as I know they aren’t using. The sign on the road is not visible – look at the building. In addition to offering a larger dining room, the new site also has its own; parking lot, which is always a plus for some of our less mobile members.

On our first visit I ordered a chuchito (similar to a tamale) and chiles rellanos (pictured below). The chiles rellanos is beef stuffed poblanos that are dipped in an egg batter and fried. I was not all that thrilled with either choice (I’m just not a fan of masa – I find it to dry) and prefer the Mexican version of the chile rellanos over the Guatemalan version.

The Chapin sampler was a huge hit, which allows you to try several different dishes like pupusas, tamales, yuca fries, dobladitos and plantains. I’m a big fan of a lot of these things on the plate, so everyone really enjoyed this.

We all fell in love with their Licuado, which is a smoothie-like beverage. I had ordered the Jarito soda on my first visit and only got a taste of the Licuado, so I made sure to order it on the second visit. You can choose between the mango and the strawberry. I ordered the strawberry and almost ordered a second one! It is very refreshing.

On our second visit we ordered chips and guacamole as well as dobladitos as appetizers. Dobladitos are an empanada-like turnover made of corn masa and stuffed with chicken, a spicy cabbage slaw and red salsa. They were really delicious, and I would order them again. The guacamole and chips were good, but nothing to write home about.

The enchilades are nothing like the Mexican version of enchiladas. They are a flat tortilla piled with fresh slaw, meat and egg. They are delicious (if messy) to eat) and are quite beautiful to look at.

On my second visit I intended to order the churrasco skirt steak, but overheard one customer say the Pepian was their favorite dish. The customer had been raving about the Tofu Pepian, but I was in the mood for some meat. The “regular” Pepian consists of chicken cooked in a spiced tomatillo sauce. It came with rice and refried black beans and some green beans atop the chicken. It was extremely flavorful.

Unfortunately they were out of the flan when we visited the second time. We all split the tres leches cake, which was moist and delicious. The food was very authentic, with many Guatemalans eating there that night. The service is friendly, and we enjoyed exploring the menu. The prices are also very affordable.

Contact info:

El Rinconcito Chapin
3330 Broadview Road
Cleveland, OH 44109
(216) 795-5776