We visited Cleveland, Ohio, this weekend for Labor Day, and I knew it’d be a great opportunity to eat some local food. And what better place to have our first meal than at a Northern-Ohio staple restaurant?
Established in 1983, the original Winking Lizard was opened in Bedford Heights just south of Cleveland’s East Side.
While most of the locations can be found in Cleveland, the North Canton and Columbus areas house two and three restaurants respectively. The Winking Lizard currently has 21 locations in Ohio, with more surely on their way.
Now, onto the food.
Cleveland’s staple foods are largely influenced by Poland, but also have influences from Hungary and Germany. Of course, take this with a grain of salt, as any city’s food culture has complexities that deserve more description than just a few sentences. But I’m trying to keep this short and sweet.
To begin, I got two orders of boneless chicken wings in the Goldfinger (mustard, cayenne peppers, and apple cider vinegar) and Caribbean (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, and honey) sauces. The Winking Lizard actually has 17 sauces to choose from, the hottest of which features Trinidad scorpion peppers (hotter than the ghost pepper). This is notable because it is RARE to find a place where you can get truly spicy wings. Well done, Winking Lizard.
Here’s a shot of my Caribbean wings:
For the main course, I got the “spicy” Hungarian banana peppers which were stuffed with sausage, tomato sauce, zucchini, and mozzarella cheese. They were super tasty. The acid from the pepper and tomato sauce lent something great to the chewy sausage and cheese.
The location we went to was the Gateway location located in the western side of downtown Cleveland (right near Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians), but I imagine the menus are similar regardless of which location you visit. If you’re in the area, you’ve got to check it out!