Last updated on October 6th, 2023 at 03:28 am
5 Best Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in Cleveland
These five best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland stand out as some of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the city. From the nostalgic charm of Big Al’s Diner to the patriotic flavors of Mission BBQ, the savory barbecue of Landmark Smokehouse, the comforting offerings at Happy’s Pizza, and the authentic Polish delights of Seti’s Polish Boys, each restaurant presents a unique journey through flavors and experiences.
These hidden gems offer more than just food; they provide a glimpse into the heart of Cleveland’s local culture, family traditions, and diverse culinary heritage. As you explore the city’s gastronomic landscape, keep in mind that these five hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland are just the beginning. There are countless other hole-in-the-wall treasures awaiting discovery, each with its own stories to tell and flavors to share. This is why these are some of the popular hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland that are waiting for you to discover them. This list is in no particular order.
A lot of great options are in these posts!
5 Best Cleveland BBQ Restaurants
1) Big Al’s Diner
Big Al’s Diner is undeniably one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. Nestled within the vibrant streets of the Tremont neighborhood, this unassuming gem is a popular family-owned establishment that has been serving the community for decades. With its unpretentious ambiance and genuine warmth, Big Al’s Diner is a testament to the enduring charm of small, local eateries.
The cornerstone of Big Al’s Diner is undoubtedly their renowned “Classic Blue Plate Special.” This dish pays homage to traditional American diner fare with a modern twist. A succulent slice of meatloaf, made from a popular family recipe, takes center stage on the plate. Accompanied by velvety mashed potatoes and buttery green beans, all smothered in rich homemade gravy, it’s a symphony of flavors that transports diners to a simpler, more comforting era.
Main Menu Items:
1. Big Al’s Breakfast Platter: This hearty breakfast is a favorite among regulars. Fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and a stack of golden pancakes drizzled with maple syrup come together to create the perfect morning indulgence.
2. Tremont Burger Melt: Sink your teeth into the iconic Tremont Burger Melt, a juicy burger patty nestled between slices of toasted rye bread with melted Swiss cheese, sautéed onions, and a tangy house-made sauce. Served with a side of seasoned shoestring fries, it’s a mouthwatering delight.
3. Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie: The Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie is the epitome of comfort food. A flaky, golden crust encases a luscious filling of tender chicken, hearty vegetables, and a velvety cream sauce. Every spoonful is a taste of home-cooked goodness.
“Big Al’s Diner captures the essence of a true hole-in-the-wall gem. The Classic Blue Plate Special took me back to my grandma’s kitchen. It’s an experience every food enthusiast should have.”
“The Tremont Burger Melt is a culinary masterpiece. The flavors and textures meld together perfectly, and the friendly staff make the dining experience even better.”
“I can’t resist the Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie whenever I visit. It’s like a warm hug on a chilly day. Big Al’s Diner is a hidden treasure.”
Nestled within Tremont, Big Al’s Diner stands proudly as one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. As a popular family-owned establishment, it offers a nostalgic dining experience that transports patrons to a simpler time. From the popular Classic Blue Plate Special to the Tremont Burger Melt and the comforting Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie, the menu is a celebration of comfort and flavor.
They are one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. With heartfelt customer reviews attesting to its charm, Big Al’s Diner continues to be a popular destination for those seeking authentic, soul-soothing cuisine. They rank high among the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland for good reasons.
2) Mission BBQ
Mission BBQ, located in the heart of the city, unquestionably stands out as one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. Situated in a charming corner of the Ohio City neighborhood, this unassuming gem boasts a vibrant, patriotic ambiance that reflects its dedication to honoring the nation’s heroes. As a family-owned and operated establishment, Mission BBQ is a testament to the values of community, service, and exceptional food.
A cornerstone of Mission BBQ’s menu is their renowned “Brisket Sandwich.” This dish encapsulates the essence of authentic barbecue with a modern twist. Tender, smoked-to-perfection brisket is piled high on a fresh bun, adorned with the choice of sweet or spicy barbecue sauce. The result is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that pay homage to the art of true American barbecue.
Main Menu Items:
1. Pulled Pork Platter: Savor the tender goodness of slow-cooked pulled pork with Mission BBQ’s Pulled Pork Platter. Generous portions of hickory-smoked pulled pork are accompanied by a choice of classic Southern sides, creating a soul-satisfying meal that embodies comfort and flavor.
2. Smokehouse Turkey Melt: For a twist on traditional barbecue, the Smokehouse Turkey Melt is a standout option. Thinly sliced smoked turkey is layered with melted Swiss cheese, crispy bacon, and a zesty chipotle mayo, all between two slices of toasted artisan bread. Served with a side of seasoned waffle fries, it’s a delightful fusion of flavors.
3. Ribs and Chicken Combo: Dive into a carnivore’s dream with the Ribs and Chicken Combo. A duo of tender baby back ribs and succulent smoked chicken is expertly seasoned and slathered with Mission BBQ’s signature sauces. Served alongside cornbread and a choice of two sides, it’s a feast that embodies the heart of American barbecue.
“Mission BBQ is more than a restaurant; it’s a tribute to our nation’s heroes. The Brisket Sandwich left me speechless—tender, flavorful, and paired with sauces that hit the spot.”
“The Smokehouse Turkey Melt was a surprising twist on classic barbecue, and the waffle fries were a crispy delight. The atmosphere and mission behind the place make it a truly special experience.”
“The Ribs and Chicken Combo exceeded my expectations. The meats were cooked to perfection, and the sauces elevated every bite. Mission BBQ truly lives up to its reputation.”
In the heart of Ohio City, Mission BBQ stands tall as one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. As a family-owned establishment with a passion for honoring heroes, it offers an authentic barbecue experience that resonates with both flavor and purpose. From the iconic Brisket Sandwich to innovative offerings like the Smokehouse Turkey Melt, Mission BBQ’s menu captures the essence of American barbecue.
They are one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. Glowing customer reviews reaffirm its place as a popular destination that seamlessly combines exceptional food with a meaningful mission. They stand out among the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland.
3) Happy’s Pizza
Happy’s Pizza, nestled in the city, unquestionably stands out as one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. Located in the vibrant neighborhood of University Circle, this unassuming gem radiates a welcoming atmosphere that embodies its commitment to delivering affordable, hearty meals. As a family-owned and operated establishment, Happy’s Pizza reflects the passion and dedication of its founders in providing comfort food to the community.
A cornerstone of Happy’s Pizza’s menu is their renowned “Happy’s Special Pizza.” This dish is a testament to their mastery of creating indulgent, mouthwatering pizzas. Laden with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and black olives, all layered atop a generous blanket of gooey mozzarella cheese, the Happy’s Special Pizza is a symphony of flavors that captures the essence of comfort food.
Main Menu Items:
1. BBQ Chicken Sub: Savor the tangy sweetness of barbecue with the BBQ Chicken Sub. Tender strips of grilled chicken are smothered in rich barbecue sauce and topped with melted cheddar cheese, all nestled within a freshly baked sub roll. It’s a savory treat that satisfies the craving for bold flavors.
2. Jumbo Shrimp Dinner: Delight in a taste of the sea with the Jumbo Shrimp Dinner. Crispy, golden-fried jumbo shrimp are served with a side of seasoned French fries and tangy cocktail sauce. This dish showcases Happy’s ability to deliver seafood perfection alongside their classic comfort fare.
3. Happy’s Famous Chicken: Indulge in the legendary Happy’s Famous Chicken, which lives up to its name. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, this fried chicken is seasoned to perfection and served with a choice of sides. It’s a classic comfort food that never goes out of style.
“Happy’s Pizza truly embodies the spirit of a hole-in-the-wall gem. The Happy’s Special Pizza is a delightful explosion of flavors, and the relaxed atmosphere makes it a must-visit spot.”
“The BBQ Chicken Sub is a flavor-packed journey, and the Jumbo Shrimp Dinner was a pleasant surprise—crunchy shrimp done just right.”
“Happy’s Famous Chicken lives up to its fame. Crispy, juicy, and satisfying. This place is a hidden treasure in Cleveland.”
Nestled within University Circle, Happy’s Pizza stands as one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. With a commitment to providing hearty, affordable meals, this family-owned establishment offers an inviting atmosphere that embraces comfort and flavor. From the iconic Happy’s Special Pizza to the BBQ Chicken Sub and the timeless Happy’s Famous Chicken, the menu captures the essence of satisfying comfort food.
They are another of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. Glowing customer reviews reaffirm Happy’s Pizza’s status as a popular destination that masterfully combines authentic flavors with a warm, welcoming ambiance. They deserve to be ranked high among the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland.
4) Landmark Smokehouse
Landmark Smokehouse, nestled in the city, stands out as one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. Situated in the vibrant Gordon Square Arts District, this unassuming gem exudes a rustic charm that perfectly complements its dedication to delivering exceptional smoked barbecue. As a popular family-owned and operated establishment, Landmark Smokehouse embodies the spirit of community and mouthwatering cuisine.
The cornerstone of Landmark Smokehouse’s menu is their renowned “Smoked Brisket Platter.” This dish is a testament to their mastery of slow-cooked, flavorful barbecue. Succulent slices of perfectly smoked brisket take center stage on the plate, accompanied by a choice of classic sides. The result is a harmonious blend of tender meat and rich, smoky flavor that captures the essence of authentic barbecue.
Main Menu Items:
1. St. Louis Ribs: Indulge in the finger-licking goodness of St. Louis Ribs. These tender ribs are seasoned with a proprietary blend of spices and smoked to perfection. Served with Landmark Smokehouse’s signature barbecue sauce and a choice of sides, it’s a true barbecue feast.
2. Pulled Pork Sandwich: Savor the comfort of Landmark’s Pulled Pork Sandwich. Piled high with succulent pulled pork, this sandwich is complemented by tangy coleslaw and a drizzle of house-made barbecue sauce, all nestled within a soft bun. It’s a delightful balance of textures and flavors.
3. Smokehouse Mac & Cheese: Elevate your side dish game with the Smokehouse Mac & Cheese. Creamy macaroni and cheese is taken to new heights with the addition of smoky bacon and a breadcrumb topping. This side dish serves as a perfect accompaniment to the rich barbecue offerings.
“Landmark Smokehouse is the embodiment of a hidden gem. The Smoked Brisket Platter blew me away—the tenderness and smokiness were second to none.”
“The St. Louis Ribs were a revelation. Juicy, flavorful, and perfectly cooked. The cozy atmosphere adds to the experience.”
“The Pulled Pork Sandwich was a delightful mess of flavors. The Smokehouse Mac & Cheese was a pleasant surprise—I could eat it all day.”
Nestled in the Gordon Square Arts District, Landmark Smokehouse proudly stands as one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. As a family-owned establishment, it combines rustic charm with exceptional smoked barbecue. From the iconic Smoked Brisket Platter to the mouthwatering St. Louis Ribs and innovative sides like Smokehouse Mac & Cheese, Landmark Smokehouse’s menu captures the essence of authentic barbecue.
They are one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. Glowing customer reviews reaffirm its status as a popular destination where community, flavor, and comfort seamlessly come together. They have earned the rank of being one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland.
5) Seti’s Polish Boys
Seti’s Polish Boys, located in the city, is undoubtedly one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. Nestled in the heart of the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood, this unassuming gem captures the essence of authentic Cleveland cuisine. As a popular family-owned and operated establishment, Seti’s Polish Boys radiates a warm and welcoming atmosphere that invites locals and visitors alike to savor a taste of Cleveland’s culinary heritage.
A cornerstone of Seti’s Polish Boys’ menu is their renowned “Polish Boy Sandwich.” This dish is a true representation of Cleveland’s culinary identity. A hearty kielbasa sausage is nestled in a soft bun, topped with a layer of flavorful coleslaw, and generously smothered in tangy barbecue sauce. The result is a satisfying blend of textures and flavors that pays homage to the city’s vibrant food culture.
Main Menu Items:
1. Cleveland Polish Boy: Dive into the iconic Cleveland Polish Boy, a symphony of flavors. A grilled kielbasa sausage is placed on a fresh bun, topped with a layer of hand-cut french fries, and drizzled with zesty hot sauce. The combination of savory, crispy, and spicy makes this sandwich a local favorite.
2. Pierogi Platter: Experience the comfort of traditional Eastern European cuisine with the Pierogi Platter. Soft, doughy pierogies are stuffed with a variety of fillings, from cheese and potato to savory meat. Served with sautéed onions and a dollop of sour cream, it’s a heartwarming dish that resonates with both locals and those seeking an authentic taste.
3. Kielbasa Dinner: Delight in the simplicity and richness of the Kielbasa Dinner. Grilled kielbasa sausages, known for their smoky flavor, are served with a side of sauerkraut and a slice of rye bread. This dish encapsulates the essence of traditional Polish cuisine.
“Seti’s Polish Boys is a true gem in Cleveland. The Polish Boy Sandwich was a flavor explosion, and the cozy atmosphere made me feel like part of the family.”
“I can’t get enough of the Pierogi Platter. The pierogies are like little pockets of heaven. Seti’s captures the essence of comfort food.”
“The Kielbasa Dinner took me back to my grandmother’s kitchen. It’s authentic and delicious. One of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland.”
Situated in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood, Seti’s Polish Boys shines as one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. With its dedication to local culinary heritage and family-operated ambiance, it offers an inviting space to enjoy authentic Cleveland cuisine. From the popular Polish Boy Sandwich to the comforting Pierogi Platter and the nostalgic Kielbasa Dinner, Seti’s Polish Boys’ menu embodies the heart and soul of Cleveland’s food scene.
They are one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland. Glowing customer reviews reaffirm its status as a popular destination that captures the essence of Cleveland’s culinary traditions. They deserve to be ranked among the top hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland.
Now you know why these are some of the popular hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland just waiting for you to discover them. However, it’s important to let you know that this is not an exhaustive list of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland and that this list is in no particular order.
So, venture beyond the mainstream, step into these unassuming eateries, and immerse yourself in the warmth of family-owned atmospheres and the deliciousness of carefully crafted dishes. Whether you’re savoring Grandma’s Meatloaf Surprise, embracing the spirit of American barbecue, relishing in authentic Polish flavors, or indulging in comfort food classics, these best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland offer a rich tapestry of tastes that can only be found in Cleveland.
In your quest to unearth the city’s culinary treasures, remember that behind every corner, in every neighborhood, there are more hidden culinary gems waiting to be uncovered. Embark on your own gastronomic adventure, and let Cleveland’s hole-in-the-wall restaurants continue to surprise and delight you, one delectable dish at a time. As you savor the unique flavors of these unassuming establishments, you’ll discover that the essence of “one of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Cleveland” is a journey worth savoring, with countless more culinary discoveries waiting to be made.
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