Chef behind the sushi bar at Cilantro Thai & Sushi Restaurant. (PHOTO: Shane Wynn/

ABCs of Akron Eatin’: How to grub like this downtown resident, patron and restaurateur

by Elizabeth Tyran

Here are some of the hints, must-try-this tips and best-of-Akron recommendations from a woman who really knows local food, Elizabeth Tyran, co-owner of Urban Eats. Whether you want something exotic or a downhome staple, Liz has you covered in her go-to guide. – Chris Horne, Ed.

Akron Family Restaurant – They make a perfect, traditional-style French toast. Not thin or wimpy, over-cooked or stale, and not over-the-top gourmet—just fresh and soft and the perfect thickness, it’s exactly what you want when you want good French toast.

Aladdin’s – Three favorite dishes: the grilled tuna salad or the grilled lamb salad with yogurt dressing, which I blend with a little of their house hot sauce, and the flavor savor plate (again with a side of hot sauce). Everything there is good, and everything there is even better with their hot sauce.

Chin’s Place – Yellow curry tofu stir fry, or the Peking shrimp, which proves very sweet plus medium heat equals damn good.

Cilantro – If you’re downtown and need a Thai food fix, you can’t go wrong with any of their coconut curry stir-fry dishes. If you want to plan an evening out with friends make a reservation for a table on their patio, it’s a lovely little spot that a lot of people don’t even realize is there. Then really impress your guests by ordering the sushi-filled wooden boat for your party.

Crave – Hands down, my favorite burger and fries in town. If Laurie’s on the grill, you’re in awesome hands. Get it doctored to your liking—I go without the crispy onions or aioli in favor of some good ol’ ketchup, mustard, pickle, fresh onion and lettuce on because I want to really taste the burger—and while you can choose from several different cheeses, like Iron Chef Guarnaschelli once said, “Ain’t no cheese meant for a burger like American cheese.” Their steak skewer recipe just changed for the first time in years and for the better. Now they’re more tender and juicier than before.

dba – Its chic, modern decor comes complete with brocade patterned walls and chandeliers but with bold dark colors for an even more dramatic look. I also love that there are distinct areas that feel like little rooms. The contemporary-style patio features an indoor/outdoor bar and fireplace that’s equally inviting. It’s easy to feel like you’re having a glamorous night out in a bigger city when you’re here.

Frank’s Place – The dark, dive bar atmosphere is a sharp contrast with warmth and charm of its t-shirt covered walls, strings of red and green and blue Christmas lights hung overhead and the signature not-so-small toy airplane that hovers over the bar with a tiny version of Frank at the helm.

Gasoline Alley – Get a large Reuben pizza and bring some friends to help you eat it. Then you’ll also have people to talk about how good it is. They also have Bloody Marys topped with everything but the kitchen sink.

Hanini’s – Best gyro for your buck.

La Loma – I know a lot of you still need to try this little authentic Mexican gem and you’re gonna think tacos, as you should, but try the torta and always use the fresh lime with either.

Lockview – Known for grilled cheese, of course, but I know people who get the fish taco (wrap) every time they go because they love it so much. I’m also a fan of the garden burger, well-balanced with the aioli and roasted red peppers that they add and the saltiness from the burger goes really well with a side of sweet potato fries.

Michael Trecasso’s/Mary Coyle’s – On the dessert end, try Jack’s Maple Marvel Sundae. But don’t just think ice cream, think pizza too. Dare I say it, might be the best in town.

Mustard Seed Market & Café (Highland Square) – Obviously you can get food from the café upstairs but you can also buy food from their prepared foods case in the store and take it upstairs. I’m telling you this because if you didn’t already know their ginger tofu is the bomb. Rumor has it, their pizza by-the-slice is also on point.

Nuevo – I love to nibble and drink here—chips, queso fundido, salsa trio, guacs, ceviche and then there’s the bar. Try the smoked sea salt rim on your next margarita. On the entree side, I always enjoy the scallops.

Pad Thai – As the name suggests, BEST PAD THAI around and for god’s sake USE THE LIME PEOPLE! It makes the food pop.

Rasicci’s – For a movie night at home, when you want some sinful deep-dish pizza and/or fried chicken and jojo’s.

Urban Eats – The menu changes every month but keep an eye out for their fruit pies and by pies I mean pizzas, the one with apple, cheddar, and bacon for instance or strawberry, walnut and bleu cheese.

Wally Waffle – Chocolate chip pancakes with butter and maple syrup all day.

West Side Bakery – Broccoli cheddar bread.