Cleveland Ohio has a great restaurant scene with choices in all price ranges, tastes and neighborhoods. But after spending several days in Cleveland, focusing in large part on stories on independent restaurants that make this city soar, here are two lesser known but totally fabulous little breakfast spots that made my list.
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Brewnuts in Cleveland Ohio
— a place for the Homer Simpson in all of us —
Located in the very fun Gordon Square Arts District, Brewnuts is part bar —serving local brews on tap as well as cocktails, and milk and coffee — and part donut shop offering up creative treats that the donut-loving world has come to expect: bacon and chocolate chips and Fruit Loops and other weird stuff.
Cleveland Beer and Donuts for Breakfast
Cleveland takes its beer quite seriously as home to one of the country’s most ambitious craft brew markets. Brewnuts owners John and Shelley Pippen are fans of most of those beers and they are also fans of donuts. So it made sense to combine their two passions in a business they love.
Beer is used in all of the glazes and sometimes, in the dough. “Beer as yeast makes a heavier cake-style donut and is just a little tricky to work with at times, so we don’t mess with it when the weather is weird,” says John.
What weird weather is in Cleveland has yet to be determined.
But donuts are not just for breakfast in Cleveland. My friends and I obtained our sugar high/beer buzz at 4 p.m.
From a big cozy couch that offers a view into the kitchen, we watched the bakers mix a couple of cans of Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Dortmunder Lager into the powdered sugar glaze. Wouldn’t it be great to lick the spatula from that mix — a sugar high/beer buzz combined!
Brewnuts is a fun place to hang out with friends. Big, cozy leather couches and board games, old commercial whisks as light fixtures are a lot of fun. Repurposed diner stools and a bakery case from one of Cleveland’s Slovenian neighborhoods celebrate the local flavor.
But my favorite part of the décor is the custom artwork for Brewnuts featuring Jesse Pinkman and Walter White in full cook mode, but their hazmat masks are, naturally, donuts.
About once a month, Brewnuts does a beer and donut pairing, using seasonal beers, donuts and other treats.
John and Shelley plan to add a few more munchies to the menu – maybe a fried chicken sandwich or something where they can also use beer in the batter. And why not!
A Bagel Empire in Cleveland, Ohio
The bagels at Cleveland Bagel Co., they told me, are the best bagels I would ever eat. Yeah, yeah, everyone always says that about the products in their community.
But Holy Cow!
These are the Best Bagels I’ve ever eaten.
They are not too doughy, not too heavy, with a light, crisp exterior that is just perfect. I ordered a Cinnamon Cranberry bagel with a brie/honey/walnut spread — or schmear, according to Cleveland lingo — and it was PERFECT!
The Cleveland Bagel Co. and Cleveland Hustles
To really appreciate how great these bagels are, you’ve got to watch a couple of episodes of a show called “Cleveland Hustles” that aired for just one season on CNBC. Produced by Cleveland’s favorite child, LeBron James, “Cleveland Hustles” showcased a handful of promising entrepreneurs and awarded them some significant start-up funds based their ability to meet some fresh challenges.
Dan Herbst and Geoff Hardman started the business in their apartment. They first sold their bagels at farmers markets and and to a few restaurants around Cleveland. But their dream was to create the best bagels ever and eventually a bagel empire in Cleveland. So they signed up for LeBron James’ show and showed us all how tough it is to follow your dream.
Spoiler Alert: They won the competition and $100,000 to open a storefront in the Gordon Square Arts District, once a challenged neighborhood in Cleveland that is coming back strong.
There’s a lot to love about the Cleveland Bagel Company besides two talented guys making a great product. For example, they have 15 employees that they pay more than twice the minimum wage. Some would call it a “livable wage.”
These are hard working people who get up really early in the morning to make the dough, hand twist the bagels and serve breakfast to the rest of us grumpy, sleepy people with a smile and a product that they’re really proud of.
But if you’re really into bagels, you might want to plan another road trip to Montreal. The bagels there are pretty darned good as well.