Saturday, August 19, 2017

11 of My Favorite Food & Drink Spots in Cuyahoga Falls


When I was growing up in Cuyahoga Falls, there wasn't a whole lot going on. That's not to say it was a bad place to live - I loved it then, & I still do now - but there weren't many activity options. My friends & I spent a lot of time at the bowling alley & the local Applebee's (which probably explains why my diet consisted largely of mozzarella sticks & chicken fingers until age 22).

These days, though, Cuyahoga Falls has become a bit of a hotspot. I'm always surprised when I meet people who work in Cleveland but live there for the fairly easy commute & the low property taxes; it seems like every other Lyft driver I chat with lives in the Falls, noting its inexpensive prices & close proximity to both Cleveland & Akron. In addition to - or perhaps because of - those qualities, the Falls has seen a recent boom in business. These days, its home to restaurants & bars I never would've imagined during its more podunk years.

I'm proud of Cuyahoga Falls (except for its heavily Republican voting record) &, having recently tried a few of its new spots, I wanted to show it off a bit. Here are a few of my favorite places to eat & drink in my hometown, spots that I hope you'll check out if you find yourself in the area or want to take a nearby day trip. The Falls just isn't what it used to be - in the best way possible!


The Blue Door Cafe & Bakery

Named to nearly all of Cleveland's "Best Of" lists, this spot is actually about a 45-minute drive from the CLE. Lucky for me, I visit CF often - & this is always my top request, especially when it comes to weekend brunch. Their menu changes regularly, but a few staples remain, including their massive, homemade pastries (I die for those croissants) - & everything is creative & unique, food you won't find anyplace else. Last time I was there, for example, I had freaking breakfast spaetzle. I'm always blown away by the fact that this restaurant exists in Cuyahoga Falls, of all places. (1970 State Rd.)


Burntwood Tavern

The CF franchise of this local chain has the best location in town, situated right on the Cuyahoga River in the former powerhouse of a river dam. From their patio & balconies, you can hear the falls rushing behind you (drowning out the sound of the highway on the other side...) & the original gears that moved the dam's doors now decorate the bar area. Their happy hour prices can't be beat: I'm a sucker for their margherita flatbread or their massive "tavern tots" with a Jack & Jill (blueberry infused vodka, muddled blueberries, & lemon juice) on the side. (2291 Riverfront Parkway)

The Cashmere Cricket

This little cocktail spot, located on Front Street, is so darn cute. Sure, the drinks are a little expensive - but they're also better than you're going to get anyplace else in the Falls. For awhile, they didn't really do food - but now they've got a robust menu of small plates that includes ricotta gnocchi, sauteed shrimp & chorizo, mushroom flatbread., & other tasty options. In warm weather, their patio can't be beat - & in colder climes, retreat to their cozy indoor couches. (2235 Front St.)

Craft Beer Bar

Though its name may not be the most creative, this place was, in my opinion, one of the first to begin to revitalize & invigorate the recent Cuyahoga Falls "craft" boom, in terms of both drinks and food. This small, local public house serves 30 craft beers on tap at any given time, rotating regularly with special events to boot, & their menu is simple but elevated (think poutine, flatbreads, cured meats, & even meatloaf). They're nearly always packed, so secure a reservation ahead of time. (1846 Front St.)
  

Crave Cantina

The Falls welcomed Latin fare to its local food scene with the recent opening of Crave Cantina, owned by the same folks who run Crave in Akron. Their taco-centric menu features unusual combos, like a flank steak banh mi taco & a coffee barbacoa duck confit taco, & they've even got two tasty vegan options: a Nashville hot tofu taco & a Chinese BBQ jackfruit option, both of which I love. They've got plenty of beer & margarita options, but my mom & I are thrilled to have Peruvian-inspired Pisco sours & chicha moradas just a couple miles from home. (2097 Front St.)


Darby's on Fifty-Nine

Formerly a biker bar of sorts called Frankie's, Darby's is now one of the hidden gems of the Falls, a tiny spot located at the edge of Route 59. It only has about 10 tables (plus a huge bar & a beautiful outdoor patio space), so you may have to wait - but it'll be worth it. Where else can you get scallop sliders & filet mignon tacos? (The answer, in the Falls, is nowhere.) My mom & I like to meet here for lunch, when their menu is similar but their prices are lower & the wait is shorter. (2764 Rt. 59/Front St.)

Flury's Cafe

This breakfast & lunch spot has limited hours & only takes cash, so plan ahead & bring your appetite with you. This is as close as Cuyahoga Falls gets to a Jersey-style diner, but it's done with simple elegance & none of those gross accents. This is the sort of place where you feel like a regular, even if it's your first time visiting - & you're treated like one, too. Try their breakfast quesadilla or their chorizo scramble. Or anything, really. (2202 Front St.)
  

Hibachi Japan

I actually haven't been to the new Hibachi, which recently relocated to a brand new building on the Riverfront. I have, however, had my fair share of meals at their original spot, just down the street, & I've heard that their food has only gotten better since then - which is a tall order, since it was stellar to begin with. Unrelated to the local chain of the same name, the CF Hibachi is beloved as a local prom dinner spot, date night option, & family meal locale all in one. (1803 Front St.)


HiHo Brewing Co.

A brewery in the Falls? A brewery in the Falls! Their new, industrial location is both spacious & gorgeous, & their homemade beer menu changes regularly. When they've got it, I love the SMASH German Pils, perfect for summer - & they've got a view of the river out back! Their food menu is limited mostly to snacks - charcuterie, hummus, hot pretzels - but everything's tasty, inexpensive, & enough to keep you satiated while you drink. Bonus: It's connected to The Social Dept., a hand-printed apparel company owned by two dudes I knew in high school. (1707 Front St.)


Moe's Restaurant

I haven't been to Moe's for ages, but I still think of it fondly because it's the first place where I ever ate crème brûlée, thus making the world a more delicious place to live. It's in a bit of a weird spot, nestled among car dealerships, but it's one of the Falls' best let's-get-fancy-tonight spots, with an ever-changing menu that ranges from elevated standard fare (grilled lamb with bacon jam, fig risotto, & heirloom carrots) to the regionally indulgent (potato pierogis with lobster & shiitake mushrooms). Leave room (& budget) for drinks, as their cocktail options are a thing of beauty. (2385 Front Street)

River City Bar & Grill

I couldn't leave my favorite dive bar off the list, could I? My college boyfriend was a bartender here back in the day, & I still freaking love this place, even after all these years. They have super-cheap drink specials (drinks on me, y'all!), & they actually have great food, too; try the wimpies, which are basically just sliders. Bonus: It's less than a mile from my mom's house, & it's next door to a 24-hour donut shop that lets you walk through the drive-thru. (2621 Bailey Rd.)

If you've been to Cuyahoga Falls, what's your favorite spot in town? Where should I try in your Northeast Ohio 'hood?

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