This spring I decided I wanted to drive across the country. Sure my car was a lemon that was almost as much rust as metal, that didn’t stop me from thinking it was a good idea. What did stop me was my car not passing inspection, being told it wasn’t worth fixing and buying a new car. So ultimately I decided on a compromise, I would go to Cleveland. As it turns out Cleveland isn’t a place that many people choose to go for vacation. In fact it seems so few people choose to go there that no one I tell understands why that would be my choice destination still to this day. But it had several restaurants I wanted to go to and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and lake Erie, and I’m sure some other stuff but I didn’t have time to see any of that. It’s important to note I didn’t only go to Cleveland, I also stopped and spent time in exotic locations such as Syracuse and Rochester New York. I really like to go all out when I go on vacation. The day I started my trip I worked 6am-1pm and planned to leave directly from work, after a little difficulty getting away (I think my boss was afraid I wasn’t coming back) I was on my way.
It’s always important to stop at a liquor store before you begin a long road trip, so I made sure to do so shortly after starting my quest. This was the first stop on my journey, and this trip also marked the first time I’ve been to this liquor store and haven’t been ID’d (a huge personal accomplishment since I’m often told how young-looking I am, and the same lady ID’s me at the grocery store almost every week). The remainder of the first portion of my trip was relatively uneventful, and I strangely experienced much less road rage than what is typical for me during a long drive. I spent the following day at my grandmother’s house in Syracuse before continuing on to Buffalo New York and my first attempt to eat in a diner on the trip. (I ate at Burger King the first night, a huge failure on what was supposed to be a diners, drive-ins and dives tour of America).
This is Sophia’s in Buffalo New York, I didn’t get to eat there. The line was out the door and down the sidewalk, but I plan to be back someday. After leaving Sophia’s I got back in the car and continued on my quest to Cleveland. My gps decided to take this opportunity to take an extremely creative route back to the interstate that included driving along Lake Erie and underneath the Peace Bridge (a very high bridge between the United States and Canada that used to torment me as child every summer when we crossed it, and something I still have bad feelings about now). Finally I got back on the highway and was Cleveland bound once again. This section of driving was once again fairly uneventful, although I do highly recommend the truck stop in Kingsville Ohio for anyone making a trip this way. It had a very nice bathroom, a store with a huge selection of random stuff and another Burger King (at this point Burger King was up 2-0 against diners on my trip and I was feeling like sort of a failure but don’t worry it gets better). The detour in Buffalo made the trip to Cleveland slightly longer than I would have liked, but I finally made it to my beautiful hotel, which was conveniently located between the highway, a train station and an airport:
This was the view out my window, I’m sure everyone is feeling very jealous now that they’ve seen this picture.
My first night in Cleveland I went to Melt Bar and Grilled
I was lucky enough to go on a Sunday following a Cleveland Browns home loss (to Buffalo no less), and got to sit next to a very depressed guy in a Brandon Weeden jersey. The food was very good, I got a ‘big popper,’ which had jalapeno peppers and cheddar and cream cheeses and was deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar. The only real draw backs to Melt were the bummed out Browns fans, and the fact that I’d eaten a whopper a few hours before I went and couldn’t eat as much as I wanted, but all in all the first stop in Cleveland was a success.
The next day I continued my explorations of Cleveland at West Side Market:
The unfortunate draw back of this stop was that I waited to go until later in the afternoon and many of the stands selling food had closed already for the day. Also while leaving the market I may have stolen a newspaper from a homeless person. After I got in the car I saw the newspaper he had handed me said it cost $1.25. However it said to only pay distributors with an official badge which I wasn’t sure he had, and he also said ‘god bless you’ when I walked away so ultimately I decided I was ok.
After leaving West Side Market I went to Bac restaurant in the Tremont area of Cleveland for dinner. This was my favorite stop a made on my journey. The dumplings I had for an appetizer were only ok, but the yellow mango curry I had for dinner was amazing, and they had many other dishes that sounded great, I would highly recommend it to any fan of asian food.
The following day (Tuesday for those keeping track) I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then went to Momocho for dinner. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was interesting but I made the mistake of failing to realize just how many floors there were, and ended up rushing through the last 4 or so to get out before closing. After leaving the hall of fame I headed out to Momocho for dinner.
I know I included this video in an earlier post but here it is again in case anyone missed out. It was definitely good, I don’t know if I thought it was as good as they make it out to be on the show, but on the other hand I make really good mexican food myself so I can be a little hard to impress. The hibiscus flower margarita was delicious until the midway point of my second drink when the sour mix cramps hit my stomach and I thought I might need to ask to lie down somewhere until they passed. I may have also liked Momocho better if I liked guacamole, since that is one of their signature items, but overall it was still very good if not amazing. My day at the hall of fame and Momocho rounded out my time in Cleveland, the next morning I headed to lovely Rochester New York to visit family and do more eating.
While in Rochester we went out for several wonderful meals, but one food in particular really captured my heart. Poutine:
This Poutine truck was at the farmers market we went to on multiple occasions, and was always a welcome sight when we got there. For anyone who doesn’t know poutine is french fries with gravy and cheese curds, and after eating it I had to wonder where this delicious food had been all my life. I highly recommend finding somewhere that sells poutine (it seems to be turning up on quite a few menus) and giving it a try if you haven’t before, you won’t be disappointed.
Originally I had planned to detail all the restaurants we went to in Rochester and some restaurants I have been to since I got home in this post, but at this point I’m starting to get tired, and I think there’s a good chance you are too. So I think I’ll leave this post here and say the rest of my journey will have to be left as a ‘to be continued.’ Overall my trip to Cleveland was a success, and while I had hoped to get somewhere exciting like Indiana or maybe even Iowa, that will have to wait until my next trip (and a time where I have more money). Finally there were a few times (mostly while being stuck in the car for longer than I would like) that I wasn’t totally enjoying my adventure. During those times I kept this clip from National Lampoons Vacation in mind, and everything was right with the world again: