Oh, the Places You Won't Go: 12 Places I've Eaten Amid the Pandemic

Monday, April 12, 2021

Things are starting to feel a little bit more normal here, especially after Mike & I both recovered from COVID. With antibodies coursing through our veins like superpowers, we've been feeling more & more comfortable heading out into the world even going so far as to eat inside restaurants a couple of times. 

Before we contracted COVID, though, we did our best to keep supporting restaurants new & old, from places we'd long loved to new spots we hoped would succeed. Here are 12 of the best places we've eaten from lately – mostly takeout & delivery – throughout the last few months of this pandemic.

1. Good Meal Jane

Is exclusivity a marketing ploy? Hey, maybe, but it's working on Clevelanders who've been scrambling to order Good Meal Jane from the Sauce the City Food Hall in Ohio City. Ordering is only available by Instagram DM, & you have to get your order in two days before you want to pick it up because the special sourdough crust on their Detroit-style pizza needs at least 24 hours to rise. Verdict: It is wholly & 100% worth it. 

Also based in the Sauce the City Food Hall, this spot specializes in fully-loaded frappes & Caribbean fare, like the pastel√≥n above, a decadent, Puerto Rican-style lasagna made with layers of sweet plantains instead of pasta, & the yuca fries, served with a trio of flavorful sauces. They also serve a lotttt of plantain-based dishes that my tastebuds & I are dying to try. I'm a sucker for all variety of plantains! 

3. Martha on the Fly

The fact that the photo above doesn't look particularly appetizing is entirely my fault, as I pick up my order a little late & then didn't fluff it up to make it photogenic. You know what, though? It doesn't matter how it looks if it tastes good, & gotdamn did this sandwich taste good. Martha on the Fly is a new pop-up ghost kitchen out of Good Company in in Battery Park, & Mike has been talking about this sandwich ever since inhaling is. Oh, & don't skip the cornmeal fries!  

4. Rood Food and Pie

I've been a fan of this Lakewood spot since it first opened, back when its menu concept was focused around sliders & pie. They changed their menu at the start of the pandemic, though, pivoting to a biscuit menu that is out of this world. We recently picked up food for eight & met our friends on the steps at Lakewood Park to enjoy a socially distanced return to brunching. Please just look at that biscuit.

5. Proof Craft Bar-BQ & Cocktails

This BBQ spot in the bottom floor of the Crust/Visible Voice building originally opened at the start of the pandemic then pulled back for a bit, since their indoor seating space is extremely limited. They're back now, though, especially because they have an enormous back patio, & it's a good thing, too, because I love their thinly sliced brisket tacos. They also offer a variety of BBQ sauces, each one tastier than the last, to give you your BBQ fix right here in Tremont.

6. Kate's Good Fish Company

This genius little endeavor is the brainchild of the owner of the Kate's Fish stand at West Side Market and the chef behind Good Company; get the play on their names? Throughout Lent, Kate's Good Fish Company offered a menu of fish fry delights, including the hake platter that Mike & I got as our first foray back into the world following our COVID experience. It was so good, & the corn grits hushpuppies were just... *chef's kiss.* 

7. Larder Delicatessen & Bakery

Larder is another spot I've long loved, but I've leveled up during the pandemic, trying to do my part to keep my favorite spots in business. In doing so, I've explored their menu options much more thoroughly than before, trying all kinds of things I hadn't yet gotten to. One such item is this gefilte fish burger, of which I was extremely skeptical... but like everything they serve, it turned out to be truly & alarmingly delicious. 

8. Michael Angelo's Winery

This Richfield winery is the first place I ate in public mid-pandemic, meeting my mom for lunch in one of their many open-air dining spaces. It was very exciting to have hot, fresh food again, rather than just pickup, & I went for a salad & fried calamari specifically because they're two things I hadn't been able (or perhaps willing) to try carry-out. Both were delicious, & the space was great, & now that it's getting nice again, I'm sure I'll be back. 

9. Leavened

This Tremont bakery is another spot that opened mid-pandemic, after first operating solely online & regularly selling out via Instagram. While I don't love their coffee (which is actually good because there's an embarrassment of riches in my neighborhood when it comes to coffee!), I do love everything else I've tried from them, including this naked cinnamon roll & their savory handpies. Their menu changes regularly, so it's a crapshoot what will be available, but everything I've had is good. 

10. Challah at Meg

Annnnnd here's another that went live during the pandemic! Meghann Hennen, an early childhood educator who found herself teaching remotely during the shutdown, turned her love of challah-baking into a business, making a million different flavor combos & selling them via – you got it! – Instagram. We ordered her mozzarella pesto challah in the depths of winter, & it took everything within me not to eat it in one sitting. 

11. Sweet Costo

Shelby Costo is one of the first local people/places I ordered from during the pandemic, placing an order for peanut butter & jelly brownies as a special treat to my anxiety-riddled self. Since then, I've ordered chocolate chip cookies, two ho-ho cakes, & her New Year's Eve package, which included the DIY cinnamon rolls pictured above. She is a brilliant, genius human who makes the best desserts imaginable, & I will stand by that bold statement forever. 

12. Cafe Social

This Latin American coffee shop in Tremont also opened in the pandemic, though its owner, Lalo, has managed to keep things moving forward & continue to grow in popularity. He serves only coffee grown in South & Central America, plus homemade pastries Cleveland Bagel, & the occasional taco, quesadilla, or whatever else he's decided to whip up for the day. I'm looking forward to having a new go-to spot to hang indoors! 

What have you been eating during the pandemic? Discover any new restaurants you'd never tried before, or fall in love with any old ones? Where do I need to go when things feel safe?

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