I’ve learned one thing about living in Chicago and it’s that I never really can find a good spot that has decent plant-based food for an affordable price. By affordable, I mean most items on the menu are under $10. That just doesn’t happen. Another thing which seems to be non-existent… something I am always on the search for when at a coffee shop or juicery… homemade almond (or nut) milk. The other day I mentioned on my Instagram how this really affects the coffee I drink since I do not drink my coffee with regular dairy milk. Whenever store-bought almond milk is added to iced coffee, it never blends well and leaves little particles (a.k.a additives and gums) floating around to the top of my coffee. To put it simply, it is darn right nasty.
Now instead of complaining about Chicago’s lack of good nut milk, I will say it honestly is a wonderful place to live and has provided me with tons of delicious brunches, coffee outings and connections to meet foodies like myself. But being home in Cleveland this past week and a half, I have discovered how this city is rapidly developing restaurants and shops like those you might find on the west coast. So far I’ve devoured two goji berry smoothies (for a cheap $6!), two thick as ice cream açai bowls (for only $8) and the best latte in the world which I’ll get to shortly… 🙂
Today I’m going to share with you a few of the spots that I continuously come back to time and time again when I visit Cleveland. These must-have spots are a priority to come to and the new ones I just discovered within the past week WILL become future priorities.
Whenever a Cleveland restaurant is featured on the Cooking Channel or Food Network, I know it must be note-worthy. Fire has been around in the Shaker Square shopping district of Shaker Heights, Ohio for as long as I can remember. 2001 to be exact. Owned by Douglas Katz, Fire brings together food and drinks that are prepared with seasonal produce and support from local farmers. This chickpea LOVES some local support.
I ordered the vegan chickpea patty ($14) with pickled fresno chiles and a green goddess dressing, subbing the fries for fruit. It was a taaad bit on the spicy side but I could taste the fresh quality of the patty and see chickpeas bursting at the seams. No MorningStar veggie burgers here! My favorite part of the restaurant? Their homemade chai latte with housemade almond milk ($5). *Swoon* My aunt ordered their chopped cobb salad complete with avocado, chicken, bleu cheese, egg, bacon and a mustard vinaigrette ($13). She kept asking me my thoughts on how they get the lettuce so finely chopped. One may never know.
There are tons of places coming into Ohio City (the newest neighborhood for millennials and hipsters) that I’ve seen on social media these past few months that I’ve been dying to get to. The Grocery OHC (standing for OHio City) is one of them. Although I didn’t dine here yet, I loved checking it out and taking a peek inside. My brother and I even met with the owner Rachel who was such a sweetheart. The store is part grocery store, part café and despite being rather tiny, it packs a whole lot of goodies inside.
There are fridges filled with local craft beers, kombuchas, sauerkrauts and even cashew cheese spreads. If you’re not looking to grab veggies or dried goods (beet salsa was among the many things I picked up); smoothies, juices and sandwiches are available. All are priced at $6 which if you ask me is a killer deal. There isn’t a single place in Chicago that I can find a smoothie made with almond milk for that price. Bless you, The Grocery. I think I love ya. The next time I come in, I’ll be walking out with the “vegan fare” sandwich packed with a cashew spread, turmeric spread and veggies.
3. For coffee: Rising Star Coffee Roasters
When I discovered Rising Star last week I knew I discovered a hidden gem. There are three locations in Cleveland and within one week I’ve been to all of them, surprisingly. I actually think I’ve had too much of their caffeine in my bloodstream these past few days. They sell local kombucha (like The Grocery OHC), fresh baked goods including vegan options and use the same homemade almond milk as Fire Food and Drink. My favorite latte (pictured above) is the Promised Land. Honey, cinnamon, almond milk and espresso. By using homemade almond milk, the lattes are frothier than ever and I always ask for half the honey so it isn’t too sweet but just right. They sell coffee mugs, t-shirts designed by their own staff and coffee sugar scrubs. At first glance, the interior and dishware is almost identical to that of Chicago’s Intelligentsia. Along with lattes and cold brew, they’ve got a matcha latte and herbal teas – both of which I must try before I leave for Chicago on Sunday!
4. For tea: Cleveland Tea Revival
Cleveland Tea Revival came around before any of the newer shops in Ohio City/Cleveland and it’s the one I keep going back to time and time again. My brother and I formed a sort of bond over going here and always get their ginger turmeric iced tea in the summer whenever we’re together. When I stopped in the other day before a meeting, I saw their list of lattes featuring chai, matcha and GOLDEN MILK. Excuse me? What? Usually golden milk is a combination of turmeric and nut milk so I had to ask what it was. The golden milk latte was turmeric tea soaked in any milk you ask for. I ended up with a chai latte with homemade almond milk (seriously every place in Cle nowadays sells it homemade and I’m thrilled) without any sweetener and actually really enjoyed it. What I enjoyed even more, though? This lovely lady photobombing my hand-on-tea shot. I wish more people did this in my food shots.
Something that is super trendy this year? Juice bars featuring white and wooden interior with açai bowls and avocado toast on the menus. After hearing nothing but good things about Restore, I made my aunt take me there yesterday while we did our daily explore-Cleveland trip. She kept asking me if I wanted soup because I was sick as a dog but I told her instead I just wanted an açai bowl. Logical, I know. Restore sells their açai bowls for $8 and that includes 3 of the “good stuff” toppings (fruit and granola) and “best stuff” toppings (spirulina, maca powder, goji berries) are an extra 75 cents each. I chose to keep it simple with strawberry, banana and granola. The bowl took about 5 minutes for the woman behind the counter to make and as she promised me it would be thick, I noticed her spoon it out with a spatula seconds later. A SPATULA. That’s when you know it won’t be thin and liquidy. I inspired my aunt to get a smoothie and she chose the #6 packed with almond butter, cashew milk, coconut oil and banana.
Among these places I’ve listed above, my other favorite restaurants and local coffee shops in Cleveland include: Lopez on Lee, TownHall, Cowell & Hubbard, Crop Kitchen, Phoenix Coffee Company, Dewey’s Pizza, Momocho, and Blue Point Grille.