Thursday, May 20, 2010

I ♥ Cleveland - Part 1 - Steve's Lunch

I'm glad I was finally able to give OkiHwn and his wonderful blog a long due mention last week. Another favorite of mine that I've been following for about a year now is the Food-related ramblings from an oft-traveled engineer - Offbeat Eats. This blog focuses around (but not restricted to) my favorite subject of hole in walls with a lot of character and comfort dishes with regional local twists from around the nation. In fact I find Offbeat Mr. Kaszeta's personal take on places much more entertaining than some of the narrated shows on the FoodNetwork. Always refreshingly concise and nicely written (as opposed to my long ramblings) with wonderful photographs to match. You should definitely check it out! :)

For me business related flight trips had been pretty much non-existent in the last two years but I had the opportunity to visit Cleveland again very recently. My work day as usual started bright and early and was nonstop with only a quick lunch on site. So this meant visiting West Side Market or Seti's Polish Boys (introduced to me by Iron Chef Michael Symon on The Best Thing I Ever Ate..) would have to wait for another time. Darn. The light research I then did in my hotel room the evening I managed to find Freddie's Southern Style Rib House near downtown.. Address in hand I ran out as quickly as possible into my rental knowing if I didn't I'd soon be crashing into a deep jet lag fortified coma for the rest of the evening.

Not sure if FSSRH is only open during lunch hours or because it was a Monday...

But I found them closed. Bwaa..! :_(

Freddie's Southern Style Rib House, 1431 Saint Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

Bummed and wet from the rain, I simply switched focus to fun photo opportunities around town. I semi-aimlessly drove around with the comfort of knowing my trusty portable GPS would find my way back to the hotel no fuss at a given notice. I somehow ended up on Lorain Ave not too far from West Side Market after crossing a pretty bridge. Pulled over here and there for a few snaps, and a couple more blocks down I ran into Steve's Lunch.

I absolutely loved the look of the place and had to stop in. It was quite busy when I entered but by the time I had ordered I was one of two customers left after the crowd.

I found out Steve's was a 24-hour joint loved by the local community with a lot of meals named after police officer regulars. You can pretty much get any diner fare breakfast or lunch but I went for the Polish Boy ($3.75).

The version here was on what looked like a larger rectangular dog bun (New England style?) that was toasted, with a split grilled polish sausage, piping hot fries, some tangy BBQ sauce and a generous amount of sweet Coleslaw (or with choice of Kraut instead if you prefer).

My first Polish Boy.. Wow! :) I'd say the experience is pretty much what it looks like here but the whole somehow greater than the sum of all the parts.. The slaw, fries, and BBQ sauce.... A fork is provided as to hint at how things will end. A wonderful tasty mess! :)

Truth be told I was in love with Steve's atmosphere so much that I didn't want to leave. So I convinced myself that I had a light lunch the day and had room left for a regular hot dog..

The 'Works' ($1.50) comes with Mustard, Onions and Chili.

Pretty basic but wonderful stuff the combination. The chili had a meaty consistency without any bean texture like some styles you'd find in So. Cal. - Pink's or Tommy's. I did end up dowsing it with some ketchup near the end. I enjoy the extra sweetness with the savory chili and hot mustard and next time I'd probably order it with some slaw as I did with my Polish Boy. Although at Pink's I felt the (first experience with the) coleslaw was strange, here at Steve's I'd say would be a perfect match.

I ♥ you Steve's. If I ever married a Clevelander I would love to have my wedding reception here.

And oh, I am so not kidding!

Steve's Lunch, 5004 Lorain Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44102


caninecologne said...

hi dennis
very cool post. sometimes the best places to go are the hole in the wall-type places. looking forward to hearing more about your cleveland trip.

word ver:

Darlene said...

I heart Cleveland too! My brother lives there and I had the best food. Can't wait to read about more food adventures.

Anonymous said...

What a great find Dennis! And those dogs look awesome! The bun on the polish boy does look NE style, my fav! Boy, I hope I'm invited to your wedding reception!

Anonymous said...

I just looked at the bun again and I don't think it's NE style but rather a side-split bun. Either way, that dog looks so good.

Dennis K. said...

Hi CC! I always find a friendly atmosphere the best secret spice there is.. The people here were super cool.

Hi Darlene! That's really cool that you have relatives there. I always enjoy Cleveland when I visit.

Hi CAB! I noticed the bun was side split too but wasn't sure.. Haha, I imagine it'd be a long while but I hope to invite all my blogger friends to my wedding one day.. The food will be good! ;)

kaszeta said...

Hey, thanks for the kind words.

And even more thanks for the writeup on Steve's Lunch. Two trips to Cleveland I saw that place (a large fraction of the good places I've found have been simply from driving by and seeing the place. Good offbeat places have "The look") and it's been on my "Hit List" ever since, but I haven't had the spare time mid-day during a Cleveland trip to pull it off.

(My current hit list is here, btw: , although for some reason it's labeled "Hot Dog Ltd")

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Haha. From the title, I kept wondering who's Steve and why are you posting pictures of his lunch? :P

caninecologne said...

hi dennis (again)

omg, you are so cool! i love that you'd consider having your wedding reception here! right on dude!!!!

K and S said...

sounds interesting with the coleslaw, messy but good!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kaszeta!! Steve's Lunch is 24hrs so maybe you can hit them up next time. Great list! The wet fries at The Hat fed me cheap throughout the college days. I just posted on Old Fashion Hot Dogs, super adorable place. These spots (not to mention the hobby) helps finding a place to eat when traveling alone less awkward. I just can't do the fancy restaurant thing without company... Anyway please keep up the great work! :)

Hi WC, I never noticed but but you're right, and I have posted on another person's lunch in the past so.. haha.

Hi CC, banquettes are way overrated haha. ;)

Hi K&S! I think the key is a sweeter coleslaw so it complements the salty.