When we were planning our recent visit to the Ohio Lake Erie/Sandusky/Cleveland region, my son made me promise we would go in search of a Man vs Food challenge, you know the Travel Channel show where the guy eats ridiculous crazy things that local restaurants dream up. I’ll be honest. I was looking forward to lots of things on our trip, the Kalahari Resort Waterpark, island hopping to Put In Bay and Kelleys Island, seeing the lighthouse, and seeing the migration of the world famous warblers at BWIAB. I really hadn’t given much thought to the food aspect of the trip but I’m always down for a foodie adventure. The food exceeded expectations. Here’s a recap of the best places to eat on Lake Erie Ohio (in no particular order).
1. Local Food Truck
When you visit the Lake Erie region you will see one item on just about every menu. Lake Erie Perch rules up in these parts. You can get it fried, in fish tacos, or in a sandwich. We ate perch several times during our trip. We had fried perch from a local food truck set up during the Biggest Week in American Birding festivities. When I heard some of the birders talking about lunch plans I decided to tag along and see how Ohio does a fish fry.
2. The Boathouse on Put-In-Bay
I had a Lake Erie Perch Po’boy style served on a fresh baguette. They also had good sweet potato fries.
3. Village Pump – Kelleys Island*
I thought I had had my fill of perch but then we visited this local gem on Kelleys Island, The Village Pump. Anytime I visit a local spot and they claim to be known for a dish, I feel obligated to try it. So I ordered another perch sandwich. It was so fresh and flaky and the batter was perfect. I hate to choose favorites but they were my favorite perch of the trip. Not only was the food amazing, but the owners Gary and Jackie are some of the nicest, most welcoming people you will ever meet. Gary even brought around fresh perch strips fresh out of the fryer which my son readily devoured. I was stuffed. I couldn’t eat another bite. The teenager declared that this was actually his favorite meal of the trip. Since we’ve been back home he’s been asking me if there’s a way he can get Lake Erie perch down here in Florida.
If you’re in the area, check out Groupon Pages for possible deals. You can also find directions, tips, and information on average prices.
The Village Pump is also known for a drink called the Brandy Alexander. It’s a frozen alcoholic cup of deliciousness. It’s similar to a mudslide but better. It contains, brandy, creme de cocoa, vanilla ice cream and nutmeg. It was to die for! Gary was so sweet to bring me one on the house. It packs a subtle punch so it’s a good thing I wasn’t driving.
I had to make good on my deal with the teenager so we took a little drive over to Cleveland to pay a visit to Melt, home of one of the Man vs. Food challenges. After he read that the challenge consisted of a mammoth grilled cheese featuring 13 different cheeses, 3 slices of grilled bread and a pile of hand-cut fries & slaw he quickly chickened out. Seeing as how our hotel was built in the 1800s…we both thought putting those old pipes through such a rigorous test would not be a good idea.
I had the “Mighty Macaroni”, fried mac n cheese with cheese sauce and layers of your cheese of choice. I chose gouda. This sandwich was unlike anything I’ve ever had. I tackled 1/4 of it and I was done for. It was a cheesy, gooey, dream on toast.
The teenager had the Wake & Bacon grilled cheese — bacon, eggs, and melted cheese. He inhaled all of it and then ate 1/4 of my sandwich too!
I left with a full on food coma. It’s a fun place to try, a friendly staff and really cool decor. My favorite part was the menus adhered to the back of old classic vinyl album covers. We can’t wait to visit again on our next visit to the Cleveland area.
3. 1812 Food & Spirits*
One of the hotels that provided accommodations during our stay was the Island House in Port Clinton. One of the restaurants in the hotel called 1812 Food and Spirits. It’s the nicer fare dining that is offered. The scallops were cooked to perfection. If you’re up for a nicer dinner while you’re in the Port Clinton area this is definitely a great option. The owner come by our table to say hello and the staff was extremely friendly.
4. Pasquale’s – Put In Bay
I had my first fried clam Po’boy. It was topped with homemade cole slaw. I would definitely eat that again. The fries are to die for!
5. Bar North Bistro *
The Thunderbird Hills Golf Course in Huron is home to the Bar North Bistro. On our first day in the region we met with Jill, our awesome Lake Erie Shores and Island trip coordinator.
We were able to try another local favorite, walleye, another local fish. The walleye was served in deep fried nugget bites. It’s a mild white fish. It was pretty good but not better than the Lake Erie perch.
I ordered a yummy mexican chorizo flatbread pizza. My son had a burger with bacon jam, my new foodie obsession. If I see bacon jam on the menu I’m probably going to order it. Now that I’ve learned about it I’m hooked.
6. Kalahari Resort – Sandusky, OH
The Kalahari Resort has several dining options. We had a late night sweet tooth so my son and I decided to get one of the desserts from the bakery/coffee stand. Oh my gawsh! There were so many choices. They didn’t really have labels so it was kind of a guess as to what you were ordering. My son picked this Resses peanut butter chocolate dome of decadence. I don’t even know what was inside because the teenager swallowed it immediately. He ate it soooo fast!
I had a white chocolate cookies and cream tower with a dark chocolate center. My my my! It was really good.
**Our Ohio trip was sponosred by Lake Erie Shores Islands. Part of that sponsorship included complimentary meals. Those meals are indicated with an asterisk. Other meals not marked with an asterisk were not sponsored in any way. All opinons are my own regardless of sponsorship. Full disclosure.
Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™
“Adventure is a lifestyle!”