Italian food options are abundant in our little city. So when I first heard the news last year that another Italian restaurant was opening in the former location of Iris (previously one of our favorite spots, but sadly another downtown Canton culinary casualty), I’ll admit I was skeptical. But then I started noticing a certain buzz about Lucca, specifically that they are focusing on sustainability by using local meats and ingredients, a definite first for Canton. After hearing of a slew of positive experiences, reading a fantastic review by Tom Noe of Exploring Food My Way, and later, learning that Lucca had been featured on a special “farm-to-table” Canton Food Tour, it was obvious I had been missing out. Then, a few months ago, while celebrating a friend’s birthday downtown , I found myself in Lucca’s bar, sipping on the most delicious cocktail: the Dirty Mary martini, when who should strike up a conversation with me but Josh Schory, Lucca’s owner and executive chef. While chatting, I learned (among other things) that he was a bit….miffed, shall we say, (jokingly of course) that I hadn’t been in for meal yet. I agreed I was overdue for a visit. So, a couple weeks ago, as promised, I finally discovered what all the hype was about.
There is a new Mexican restaurant in town that’s totally different than all the rest, and not just because nobody knows how to pronounce its name. Jojutlas (Ho-HOOT-las, located on Portage Street, near the intersection of Frank Road) just opened, and is bringing a little authentic Mexican food to northeast Ohio. (Don’t worry, I’m not knocking our friends at El Rincon – this is just a completely different style.) Finally, a delicious fish taco has arrived in Canton. And served on a homemade tortilla, no less!
As much as we all adore a pumpkin latte in the fall, sometimes one needs a break from Starbucks. It’s getting hard to remember what life was like before Starbucks; it’s so familiar and predictable (translation: boring and overpriced). Enter Muggswigz. In case you are one of the many Cantonians who never ventures downtown, let me be clear: if you have not had coffee at Muggswigz, you are missing out. Muggswigz is unquestionably the best place in town to get coffee. And tea, we can’t forget the tea. Of all the great downtown Canton restaurants that thrive for a minute, then quietly disappear, you might think our city’s little downtown is practically lifeless. That is, until you step into Muggs.
There are few culinary creations more satisfying than a delicious bowl of lobster bisque. It is not often that one has a chance to indulge in lobster, so lobster bisque, while still a luxury, makes the the experience a little more frequently obtainable. I give full credit to my good friend Melissa for turning me onto it some years ago. We were at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza in La Jolla, California when Melissa got noticeably excited to see lobster bisque on the menu, (a dead give-away of a true foodie: spontaneous mood change at the mere thought of certain dishes). While it turned out that Sammy’s bisque fell slightly short for Melissa (she remains partial to Bon Vie in Columbus), all was not lost, because for me, a new obsession was born. Now, like Melissa, a smile comes to my face when I see lobster bisque on the menu. And that is one of the main reasons why Mulligan’s Pub in Canton is a must try.
In the spirit of summertime, we can’t mention ice cream without paying homage to Canton tradition, Milk & Honey. Even as a relative Canton newbie, it’s apparent that Milk & Honey holds a lot of memories for a lot of people. A hybrid of restaurant, candy shop, ice cream parlor, and old fashioned soda fountain, Milk & Honey covers all the bases by satisfying almost any sweet craving.
In the category of quick weekday lunch, Mo’ Joe’s on Hills & Dales in Canton is a great little place for soup, salad, sandwiches, and coffee, as you might have guessed. It’s perfect for take-out, with reasonable prices, great quality ingredients, and a nice well-rounded menu. Thankfully Mo’ Joe’s is close enough to my office that I can go at least once a month; it’s in the regular rotation. They always have “feature” items and specials, so you can try something different every time you go. Most recently I tried the spinach quiche which was very tasty with lots of cheese and flavor. Even the crust was yummy.
There is definitely no shortage of ice cream shops in Canton Ohio. It seems every neighborhood has their own, to which residents remain loyal. Being food-obsessed as we are, we go pretty far out of our neighborhood (and way too often) to indulge in Almost Heaven on Middlebranch. It’s just the best.