If you’re looking for some of the best places to get food in Cleveland, who better to ask than the experts themselves? Where CLE Eats invites local chefs, bartenders, butchers, and other food industry professionals to share where they go to eat and what makes those businesses so special.
Who’s going to eat?
Eric Ho is the owner/operator at LBM, Lakewood’s preeminent Viking-themed cocktail bar and kitchen located. LBM, located at 12301 Madison Ave., is well known for loud music, delicious dishes, and wonderful adult beverages.
Since LBM reopened for dine-in during the summer of 2020, Ho and the rest of the LBM crew have enchanted customers with different pop-up menus every few months, including the current Ghosts of Devil Swamp theme focusing on Bayou-driven foods and tasty tiki drinks. While Ho is used to trying out new and exciting menus at LBM, he has a couple local spots that have become his go-to dinner destinations.
Where do they suggest?
Why do they go there?
According to Ho, there are really only two places that he’ll dine in these days – Salt+ and Deagan’s. Ho specifically calls out Salt+’s upgraded HVAC system and Deagan’s massive bar as major positives for reach location, while both establishments strive to provide ample spacing between parties.
Of course, the food is also a major reason why Ho recommends both restaurants. Like LBM, Salt+ regularly rotates its menu to offer new and exciting dishes from two-time James Beard nominee Jill Vedaa. Ho specifically called out menu 22 as one of the restaurant’s best yet.
“They do food really, really well, if not one of the best in Cleveland,” Ho explains. “There are numerous dishes that are just slurp worthy. They had a mushroom trifecta small dish where it’s mushroom ricotta dumplings with a mushroom consomme and a mushroom jam. It’s a huge umami bomb and it’s fabulous. I’m not that fancy either, and I would just take the whole bowl and slurp it all down.”
While Salt+ unveiled a new menu in March, that just means more exciting dishes to try. He also cites Salt+ as having one of the better cocktail programs for restaurants in the Cleveland area (which is quite a compliment from the owner/operator of LBM). Salt+ offers both a classic cocktail menu and a rotating list of more creative drinks. Ho cites Salt+’s use of quality Ohio-based spirits and out-of-the-box thinking makes their cocktails both intriguing and extremely enjoyable.
While Salt+ has impressed since opening in 2016, Ho’s connection with Deagan’s goes back even further. Before LBM opened up, the LBM crew worked at Melt, so Deagan’s became their go-to lunch spot before they worked their shifts.
“Deagan’s is just my comfort place,” Ho says. “It’s like Cheers over there – we know everybody and everybody knows us and it’s a really nice, comforting feeling.”
Even after opening LBM, Ho regularly makes the (slightly farther) trek to Deagan’s. These days, Ho goes to Deagan’s on Thursday’s for burger night and a nice, cold beverage. While Ho tends to try out new dishes at Salt+, his go-to at Deagan’s is whatever Executive Chef Kyle Nagy has planned for his special of the day. Add in a wonderful beer selection and Ho is plenty happy to go and support Deagan’s.
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Managing editor, fan of all things fluffy. Alex Bieler was born a large child in Parma Heights and grew up to be a large, bearded man who occasionally words good. Before he joined PressureLife, Alex was an arts and culture editor for the Erie Reader, an alternative publication in, well, Erie, Pennsylvania. Some of his more notable accomplishments including editing a book in the Library of Congress and getting butt dialed by Bill Nye the Science Guy.