Cafe Civilization

While the simple storefront at W. 11th St. & Kenilworth Ave. in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood might look simplistic — and while a curious foray onto the website of said business might take you back to the early age of the internet — Civilization Coffee is, in practice, and exceptional experience. The fresh smell of coffee grounds that greet you when you enter this restaurant. Yes, Tremont is a trendy area, but the artful simplicity of a neighborhood coffee shop is an art that has become lost in the era of uber-connectivity. And this shop seems to shy away from the gimmicks in favor of that one simple, comfortable experience. 

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Burntwood Tavern

In a remarkable sign of growth, the Burntwood Tavern opened its doors just in 2010 and has since expanded to about 10 locations throughout suburban Cleveland. “Chef driven, guest focused,” each location has a self-described “rustic” interior made principally of reclaimed wood with a menu focused heavily on wood-smoked and wood-fired dishes. Grilled meats of many types, sandwiches and more, all served up on friendly portions. There’s something to be said for this kind of modern kitchen and finding a great niche. It’s nice to see this spot grow so fast.

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Der Bake Oven

Berlin, Ohio is often thought of as the capital of Amish country, far from the beaten path in the northern part of the state and full of little shops. Bakeries. Furniture stores. Little local antique shops. Kitch decorations. It’s a place to get away from the complications of modern life and enjoy some of the old-world simplicity and hospitality. Small town America produces places like Der Bake Oven appear in towns like this and make them extra charming. Along Berlin’s main stretch and open bright and early in the morning, it’s the kind of charm you don’t want to miss.

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Boiling Seafood Crawfish

The art of the crawfish boil: in Louisiana this special kind of cookout is pretty common, but as far north as Ohio, they tend to be something of a rarity. Finding restaurants that serve this special kind of food is a real experience. And so Boiling Seafood Crawfish has attracted a following. Its first location opened in Cleveland Heights and now a second one has set up shop in Columbus, giving Ohio the chance to really experience a crawfish bake of its own. You’ll want to try the place to get a feel for it. 

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Breakfast Club

Lebanon Ohio is very much a little slice of Midwestern America, with a quaint stretch of Main Street populated by small businesses that are beloved by the locals. Of all the restaurants along that stretch, the Breakfast Club is the resident morning spot. Like many classic pancake houses, you come in, take your order lightning fast, and breakfast is served within minutes. This is classic comfort food, with the simplicity to be enjoyed.

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Remember When Tea Room

A charming pink house in Southwest Ohio’s quaint Waynesville, Remember When is a gateway to a bygone era, evoking the very friendly and all too uncommon art of the afternoon tea. Literally run out of the house of its owners, you will find every dish made by hand and every item a but of a personal touch. Once you understand how the place works you wilk find it a very pleasant place to try.

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ChikaLicious Dessert Bar

The ultra-tiny storefront along East 1oth Street in Manhattan looks like a wisp of a restaurant, but it’s a place highly in demand. Chef Chika Tillman launched this concept in 2003 with a focus on finding some very unusual and experimental dessert pieces. Yes, while a storefront across the street offers street desserts and common dishes, the small, 16-seat corner on the other side is a memorable experience. Expensive, but a worthwhile experience.

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La Colombe Coffee Roasters

There are 26 locations of La Colombe Coffee Roasters, but the Philadelphia-based chain has concentrated on the East Coast, with most locations in New York City. Often innocuous — one location is built into an old warehouse near Hudson Yards that looks almost indistinguishable from the outside. But it’s a perfect little dive to grab a cup of coffee with a friend or two and enjoy some pleasant Conversation. Unusually spacious for a coffee shop in New York City, this place has an extra allure in that they roast their own coffee here and serve it with a small menu of baked goods and other things. Easy to overlook, hard to forget.

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Green Symphony

While Manhattan is packed to the gills with greasy pizza, fatty junk food and sugary desserts, Green Symphony is a shrine to healthy foods. Featuring a convenience store of Protein bars, organic popcorn, teas and juices, kale chips and nutritional baked goods, this spot is visited by body builders, runners and altogether a fit clientele. You wouldn’t immediately notice it but the place has a menu of food beyond smoothies and chopped fruit.

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Cafe Zaiya

You see more and more hybrid food shops in New York City where there are unusual matchups of food. Not a gastropub in the real sense of the term, but more so a place where different kinds of food you might not expect can be found. And so, this Asian-themed bakery serves pastries, ice cream, sushi, sandwiches and other things all under one roof. So which thing really is the best reason to stop in to this low-key storefront near the Midtown area? Well that would be the baked goods, definitely hearkening to flavors and tastes in Asia. This is the place to go for something sweet if you don’t like things that are sweet.

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