Lembo’s | Akron, Ohio

In my old stomping grounds, a part of East Akron called Ellet, you’re definitely limited on worthwhile restaurants.  But Ellet happens to be a great meeting place between Canton and Akron, wherein lies Lembo’s.  Lembo’s is primarily an Italian restaurant that’s been around for years.  Apart from the Italian dishes, another draw is their salad bar, which is much more than salad.  I mean, who even has a salad bar anymore?  Well if this is your bag, Lembo’s is worth checking out, because after all, who can make a better salad for you than you?!

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Ido Bar & Grille | Akron, Ohio

A long-standing South Akron tradition is Ido on South Main Street.  Sitting in an inconspicuous little building just down the block from Bridgestone America’s brand new (nearly complete) Akron Technical Center, Ido has been serving burgers in Firestone Park since 1943.  Today, this neighborhood burger joint’s menu has expanded to salads, sandwiches, steaks, prime rib, a variety of “comfort food” favorites, and seafood.

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BAM | North Canton, Ohio

If you think a typical menu in the midwest consists of meat-and-potatoes, fried foods, and homestyle cookin’, you’re sort of right.  But luckily there are some exceptions like BAM Healthy Cuisine in North Canton.  BAM is one of the only restaurants of its kind in this area – a locally owned, made-to-order, all things fresh, often organic, health food cafe. Continue reading

John’s Grille | Canton, Ohio

A long-standing establishment serving All-American bar food classics, for breakfast, lunch and dinner is John’s Grille on Cleveland Avenue, not too far from downtown Canton.  While the interior of the restaurant appears that it hasn’t been updated since circa 1970, it still has that certain something.  When you walk in, you feel comfortable, people are smiling, welcoming, friendly, and you want to stay.  Not to mention the fact that on a Friday night, it’s wall-to-wall crowded, both bar and restaurant side.  The bar kid of reminds me of the set of cheers – dark, heavy finishes and big wood furniture.  But still, everyone is happy to be there.  And so am I.

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Caffe Gelato | North Canton, Ohio UPDATE: CLOSED

It’s not often that on a random Tuesday evening I discover a hidden gem like this one. Cafe Gelato sits on Main Street in North Canton and has a little downtown storefront kind of look, despite the fact that it’s located in what looks like a large old house.  The only reason I mention this is because I’ve literally driven by the place dozens, maybe hundreds of times, thinking ‘oh yeah, I need to stop there sometime’ – but it just never materialized.  Well, never judge a book by its cover, because if you did you would miss out on this adorable spot.   Continue reading

Sugar Fixe Patisserie | Oak Park, Illinois

In the darling “downtown” of Oak Park lies an apparently new bakery called Sugar Fixe.  An inviting sign and storefront enticed me to come in for a quick dessert before I headed back to the airport.  And boy am I glad I stopped.  Inside was a case half full of eye candy: croissants, cupcakes and cookies mostly.  A cupcake seemed like it would really hit the spot, so I checked out the options, which at the time were only vanilla creme, chocolate, and coconut.  Of course I went for the coconut.  I got it packaged and headed back to Prairie Bread to have a sandwich and kill some time.

At first I was thinking okay, three bucks for a cupcake, this place might be a little pretentious and possibly a little full of themselves.  I also questioned the frosting – it looked like a bit much for the size of the cupcake.  Well if I had known what my tastebuds were about to experience, I would have bought the whole tray of cupcakes.  This was the most delicious, moist, not-too-sweet wonderful lightly coconut flavored cake I’ve ever tasted, and the frosting was light, fluffy, again not too sweet, and such a wondeful coconut undertone, I thought I had died and gone too cupcake heaven.  No joke.

I am a lover of cupcakes and made sure to visit Magnolia Bakery in our last visit to NYC. It was nothing short of amazing – we tried the carrot cupcake and devils food cupcake and they were both divine, as was enjoying them in the middle of Grand Central Station.  This coconut cupcake from Sugar Fixe could easily slide into the mix at Magnolia and fit right in.  What a treat!

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Metropolis Popcorn | Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

You always know summer has officially arrived when the outdoor festivals begin.  Tonight we were faced with the decision of Blues Festival in downtown Canton or the Irish Festival at the Riverfront in C-Falls.  We ended up choosing the Irish festival, partially because the kids don’t dig sitting in one place all night watching blues bands, and partially because Irish fest was bound to have some delicious eats!  We were right, but not the Irish fare that we expected.  For the most part, it was a collection of typical fair food carts, which don’t get me wrong, I love it all – stromboli, corn dogs, cotton candy, etc. but I was hoping for something at least a little Irish-authentic.  Is that too much to ask?

We ended up settling on a german cart (ironic) but were pretty pleased with the result, which included potato pancakes, pirogies, and a polish sausage smothered in sauerkraut and mustard.  Pretty tasty.

The highlight however was a trip to one of my favorite stops in the Riverfront “strip”, Metropolis Popcorn.  This little place is small and funky, but offers an unbelievable forty-two varieties of popcorn in three “categories” (seasoned, candied, and deluxe) with flavors including Loaded Baked Potato, Caramel Apple, Cookies-n-Cream, and Peanut Butter Cup, to name a few.  The kids opted for Rice Krispy Treat, very buttery and marshmallowy, a hit with all of us.  The adults went for the Super 3 Cheese (a mix of cheddar, white cheddar, and nacho cheese) because I can’t resist cheese-corn and this seemed to cover all the bases.  The standout was definitely the nacho, with just a hint of jalapeno-ish spice.

We also went for a sweet bag (of course) and chose a combo (not mixed) of Smores and Caramel Cashew.   The Caramel Cashew was very buttery, with a plentiful supply of whole cashews.  But the star of the night, and possibly my week, was the Smores……..Oh.  My.  This popcorn has just the right mix of chocolate (not too much), marshmallow, and crumbled graham crackers.  Oooooohhhhhhhh.  This one in a must try, and get the big bag because you’ll want to share the love.  Bottom line, you’ve GOT to get up to Metropolis Popcorn and try some of these…and just a tip, they are very generous with the pre-purchase samples.  Now, back to my popcorn.  Be gone, scavengers!