Memo to Frank Jackson: Please stop screwing up my city. You almost have to make a conscious effort to run a city so poorly.
As my first non sports-related posting, I want to address a very serious issue that is near and dear to my heart: Food. This is a total fat boy post, but as a recovering fatty, I occassionally get back on the wagon and take it to bloated city. One of the things I miss about Cleveland is all of the excellent food. Most of it comes from mom and pop shops that litter the East and West Side. Living down here in Northern VA, all of the neighborhoods, shops and restaurants are all fairly new. It's an endless sea of Panera Bread, Starbucks, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Chipotle (which I am grateful for) and smoothie/juice bars. Basically, it's a yuppy paradise. When I get back home, even for the day, I always make it a point to visit one of the fine establishments that are listed below. If you have any others that you want to add to this list, please feel free to do so in the comments section.
5. Panini Brothers- Locations all over Cleveland - I only get one thing whenever I come here: The Overstuffed Pastrami Sandwich with an egg on top. The combination of a huge pile of Pastrami, a mountain of cole slaw and fries, 2 slices of Provolone cheese and a sunny-side up egg is enough to put any man into a food induced coma. I feel myself getting fatter as I type this. I know it is basically a rip-off of the Primanti Brothers sandwich in Pittsburgh, but there is one difference that makes the Panini Brothers' sandwich infinitely better: no filthy Pittsburgh fingers are used to make this sandwich. Scoreboard!
4. Slyman's Restaurant - St. Clair on the East Side- Quite possibly the perfect corned beef sandwich. They shave the beef in front of you and make it fresh daily. The beef has the perfect amount of moisture and saltiness to it and doesn't dry up in your mouth. Any other condiment aside from mustard should be a crime on this bad boy. Oh yeah, they also stack it about 5 inches high, so unless you have an unlocking jaw, you will need to eat this in sections.
3. Joe's Deli & Restaurant - Hilliard Road & Wooster Road - Everything on this menu is served in huge portions, but I am a big fan of the breakfast menu, and specifically, the pancakes. These aren't the light and fluffy kind you garnish with a rasberry puree or fruit compote. These are the kind you drown in syrup, wipe up excess egg yolk with, and then wonder how someone was able to shove a brick down your throat and lodge it perfectly in your stomach for the rest of the day. Absolutely awesome.
The ones above are definite favorites of mine, but these next two are just about the most perfect foods ever created in the history of man. You have something seriously wrong with you if you do not like either of them:
2. Frank's Bratwurst - Westside Market - Good Lord, where to start with this one. The most flavorful, mild and perfectly mixed sausage ever produced at any given moment in the history of earth. I think they use a veal mix to make this and it goes down smooth. Smother a ton of sauerkraut on top of this and put it on a bun (they use hard rolls here, but I prefer a soft one) and you have heaven in a processed meat form. These naughty little treats are to die for. I had my parents buy a dozen of these, store them in a cooler, and make the 7 hour drive down here just so I could have one. Awesome, awesome, awesome. And yes, I am a fat loser with body odor.
1. Fragapane Bakery & Deli - West Side of Cleveland (Bay Village, North Olmsted & others) - This is my personal food Mecca for one reason: their doughnuts. Anyone who tells you that Krispy Kreme makes the best doughnuts has never been near this place. There are two kinds in particular that are just out-of-this-world good: the chocolate sticks and the maple sticks. They bake all of their doughnuts fresh every morning and I think there is approximately 2 gallons of cream filling put into each chocolate and maple stick and about 3 inches of chocolate or maple frosting put on top of them to boot. I can only finish two of them before I am ready for a nap. If you are in the Cleveland area, you seriously need to go to this place and thank the Good Lord you were fortunate enough to experience this carbohydrate and cream filled blod-clot-waiting-to-happen.