Who’s going to eat? Jeremy Umansky, co-owner of Larder Delicatessen and Bakery, a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant located at 1455 W. 29th St. in Ohio City.
Where does he suggest? Sokolowski’s University Inn, located at 1201 University Road in Tremont, and Han Chinese Kabob & Grill, located at 3710 Payne Ave in Cleveland.
Why does he go to them? “We have a lot of our colleagues and other chefs come in from other cities and spend a little time with us learning and working in our kitchen,” Umansky says. “[Sokolowski’s] is one of two places in Cleveland that we always take visiting chefs when we want to showcase the best of what’s in the city and what Cleveland food is.
Umansky attributes his appreciation for Sokolowski to a combination of factors. First, he admires the restaurant’s ability to survive the loss of its original clientele – steel workers – and turn out quality food for decades, including Umansky’s go-to beer-battered perch and chicken paprikash. Add in a fun, cafeteria-style layout, interesting decor, and reasonable prices and you have a prime place to treat out-of-towners looking for a taste of the city.
Umansky’s second destination, Han Chinese Kabob & Grill, is located just a few miles east in Asiatown. He highlights a few dishes, including the mapo tofu, fish ball kabobs, and various celery dishes that he describes as “almost as satisfying as eating a meat dish.” For Umansky, a big part of what makes the food this destination is so special is the mindset behind the meals.
“They’re cooking for their own palettes, which I find absolutely wonderful and refreshing,” Umansky says. “On top of that, the food that they do is beautifully executed and good every time.”