Fantastic eats both grubby and refined that I’ve come across in my travels. A good spot to eat, in my opinion, is a place with a familial atmosphere, fun knowledgeable staff and great beer to boot. Here you’ll find a few places that rocked my socks off and found a special spot in my heart.
BIRRIFICIO LAMBRATE: Milano, Italy
This place is so legit. Looks like it was closed from the outside, and as soon as I walked in I felt like I was at home: dark wood, good mix of friendly people, crowded but not impossible to maneuver. Attracts people who are interested in spending at few hours enjoying great beer with good company and an even better aperativo spread. Incredible food that was ever-changing throughout the 2 hour window for aperativo (6pm-8pm). The music was chill in the beginning and towards the end the place won me over completely when they started playing Cypress Hill “How I could just kill a man”. Have to wait a while for a drink but they won’t forget about you. The two guys working the taps never stop moving behind the small bar getting beer, washing glasses, going out into the crowd clearing dishes and glasses, making food and replenishing the aperativo. Couldn’t have asked for a better night.
GUNES ISTANBUL: Milano, Italy
I cannot stress enough my absolute infatuation with the beauty that is a doner kebab sandwich. I realize to get the best of the best one should fly over to Turkey but money was scarce and so I settled for what I deemed the best kebab in Italy. The people here are some of the nicest people I’ve met in Milan: eager to help you with a food choice from their menu, to help you with your broken Italian and genuinely happy to see you when you come in…which I did almost every week. I took about a 20 minute ride on the subway and walked 15 minutes to this place from the station every week, luckily it was close to my friends’ apartment. I was even dubbed the kebab connessieur by my teasing friends as I insisted on comparing the kebabs around us as we traveled through Italy and other countries to this mecca of kebab in Milan.
They treated us regularly to free samples of baklava and a delicious but sweeter pancake-like dessert. They also handed out cards for a free menu item after you had purchased 10…I was one kebab away from filling 2 cards — I like to see it as a damn good excuse to go back to Milan. Besides all this, the food was awesome and cheap which is a hard thing to come by in Italy’s financial center. What made it the best was the homemade bread, extra spicy sauce, mayo, pickled red cabbage, perfectly crispy lamb, lettuce, tomato and onion all for €3.50! Oh, did I mention my delight at watching the guys take what looked like a Norelco electric razor to the lamb on the spit? Glory and wonder.
FATHEADS: Cleveland, OH
Went to lunch here on a Wednesday. Weird location situated amongst Great Clips and Deluxe Nails. A very large building with lots of bar room and sitting options. Hilarious staff hanging outside with such great updates as “my ex-girlfriend left me for her crack dealer”. Service was excellent, helpful and very friendly. Food was huge, delicious and varied so come hungry and thirsty. About 8-10 of their own brews on the list as well as about 22 guest taps. Great place, happy to find it in Ohio.
THE BEER ENGINE: Lakewood, OH
Great place in Lakewood. Very extensive bottle list with varying prices. Nice setup inside (long U shaped bar with 3 wall-mounted flat screens) and outside (patio with outdoor seating). Good amount of beer gear hanging on the walls and a nice draft list. Good crowd on a Saturday night but not so bad you couldn’t find a seat. Service was great and the food was awesome, not as spicy as Fathead’s but still top-notch burgers and fries. Free parking is a plus since most of the area is metered. They do to-go’s as well from there bottle list. 27 beers on tap the night I visited so I was not disappointed, which featured about 3 beer Buckeye Brewing Beers. Couldn’t believe my eyes and got very happy when I saw Baladin and Birrifcio Italiano listed on the bottle list as I had just come back from Italy and was familiar with these beers, only downside was the price but it was no different than the price you’d find in Italy. A great place wish it were closer to me than Lakewood.
THE BRICKSKELLER: Washington, DC
Went here over a weekend in DC for a burger and beer and was so happy when I walked in. This place is fantastically divey but not gross, very old school feel and sweet old beer gear in glass cases on the walls. According to our friendly waiter they have around 1,000 beers on their list but when I asked for any of the Russian River I had on my list she said they didn’t have the shipment in, so it’s highly unlikely that the number is accurate if they don’t keep it continually stocked. A great selection and seriously good burger with a great vibe and music. However, a bomber of Bear Republic Black Stout was a ridiculous $15.45. If I lived in DC I’d be there every night.
COCCIA HOUSE: This pizza joint holds so many childhood memories for me and I haven’t found a pizza I love more. It’s delicious and being sentimental/nostalgic makes it taste even better. The service is friendly and family oriented so you always feel welcome. I never tried the beer since I was like what 8 years old going there so can’t comment on the selection. But it still gets a stamp of approval.
WESTSIDE MARKET: The Westside Market is located in surprise surprise, Market Square near Great Lakes Brewing Co., some rare book shops and a hookah lounge. The area is lively, the market full. They might not have the set up of Barcelona’s La Boquiera and it’s not as polished but there is plenty of good stuff to go around.
Sometimes the produce can be hit or miss, this is a hit.
But the meat is fantastic and they keep the eyes in which is always fun.