Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in Review - 10 of My Favorite Things from 2011

I got to do a lot of exploring around town this year, and I thought I'd share some of my favorite things from this year. (but I'm not Oprah, so I'm not giving anything away - you'll have to check these things out on your own!)  Here are my 10 favorite things/places/etc. for 2011. (in no particular order)

Favorite west side restaurant - Deagan's in Lakewood - Deagan's has multiple vegetarian options on the menu, a weekly vegetarian night (Wednesdays) the best Moscow Mule I've ever tasted (beats Velvet Tango Room, easily), and Deagan himself has a wicked beard.  (ok, the beard is creepy, but everything else is great)  Tuesday Taco night always has a vegan or vegetarian menu option and there are generally a couple vegetarian or vegan nightly specials throughout the week.

Favorite new vegetarian restaurant - The Root Cafe in Lakewood - My dream is to open a coffee shop or cafe some day, and when the Roxanne cafe comes to fruition, I want it to be just like this place.  Great coffee, limited alcohol selection, a mish mosh of furniture, and great vegan and vegetarian food.  (and raw food on Thursday nights!)

Favorite east side restaurant - Lopez in Cleveland Heights - I never really liked Mexican food until I discovered Lopez.  Featuring an eclectic menu and discounted margaritas during happy hour, this place makes me wanna shout "ole!"  Or at least "more chips and salsa, please!"

Favorite ethnic eats - Bowl of Pho in Woodmere - Although I just recently discovered this new eat side pho eatery, I'm a fan.  Great food in a neighborhood where I won't get killed?  Score! (many of the other pho restaurants are in neighborhoods I wouldn't go to by myself)

Favorite no frills restaurant/bar - Brennan's Colony in Cleveland Heights - This is a great vegetarian friendly bar in Cleveland Heights that my running club likes to frequent.  The drinks are good and the food is even better.

Favorite place to play bar trivia - Mulligan's in Highland Heights - My running club likes to get together on Tuesday nights to try and crush the other trivia players.  We've only been the champions once so far, but we've gotten a lot of other loot for winning individual rounds.  This is a fun neighborhood bar with good drink and food specials.

Favorite vegan bakery - Vegan Sweet Tooth in Woodmere - Located almost too close to my house (let me just loosen up my pants a bit), this vegan bakery features "I can't believe it's vegan" baked goods that would fool even the most skeptical non-vegan.  Try it, you'll like it. 

Best thing I ate this year - Melt in Cleveland Heights (and elsewhere) featured a buffalo "chicken" sandwich in September made out of tofu.  They also has buffalo tofu wings on special.  I've never eaten wings, but my meat eating friends tell me these suckers were close to the real thing.  I can only hope (and harass Melt through facebook) that these make a comeback next year!

Favorite drink of the year (besides a Moscow Mule) - The blood orange margarita at Johnny Mango.  I could drink a pitcher of them all by myself.  But then I wouldn't have enough room for the amazing black bean nachos or quesadillas and that would be sad.

Favorite new ice cream flavor - Caramel Sea Salt at Mitchell's.  Salty and sweet together?  Yes, please. As an added bonus, Mitchell's is certified Kosher, which means that there aren't any hidden meaty ingredients (like gelatin) in the ice cream. (plus they offer fruit smoothies and non dairy options annnd...try to use as many local ingredients as they can)

Do you have any favorites for 2011?

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