This former sports bar offers a twist on the typical diner: a long wood bar with TVs that now serves as the perfect perch for breakfast. The restaurant, which has been a part of the community since 1993, still offers beer and wine, but the focus is definitely on family, says co-owner Tom Khalaf.
“We’re known for really good home-cooking,” says Khalaf. “We’re also known for our homemade potato pancakes — that recipe came from an old German lady I used to know. They’re very nostalgic for people who had them as children, had a grandmother who was European.” Diners can order them as a side dish, by themselves as a meal or as part of a potato-pancake Reuben. 34900 Center Ridge Road, North Ridgeville, 440-327-3898, gocitydiner.com
Kim’s Family Restaurant
This family spot has been a part of North Ridgeville for 34 years. “We have had the pleasure of serving grandparents, parents, children,” says co-owner Tom Asimou. “We have a lot of family servers.”
The expansive restaurant still manages to feel cozy thanks to lots of booths, mellow lighting and strategically placed plants. Diners dig in to all the classics, including smaller portions (with smaller prices) on dishes such as chipped sirloin, meatloaf and perch for the senior set.
“Just the other day, someone came in and told me, ‘You guys are a landmark,’ ” Asimou says. 37863 Center Ridge Road, North Ridgeville, 440-327-5445
Sal & Al’s Diner
Sal & Al’s features the best of the ’60s-style diner: a rock ‘n’ roll theme (featuring guitars on the walls), fantastic burgers and an ice cream cooler. Owner Dan George brought the business back to life a couple of years ago after his brother shut it down in the mid-’90s, and locals have flocked back to the fun, laid-back locale.
“The diner that we originally built in the ‘90s was such a staple in Amherst,” he remembers. “Everybody knew it as the place to go.” These days, says George, the big draw is the homemade chicken paprikash created by his cook, Theresa, who’s been with the business since it opened.
But there’s an unexpected element to this local stop: Syrian food. “I’m Syrian,” George explains. “The recipes are passed down from our grandparents.” Look for Syrian bread, spinach pies and other Lebanese specialties on the menu. 2261 Cooperfoster Park Road, Amherst, 440-989-3663
This small diner, open since 2000, is so quintessential the New York Times profiled it as part of a larger documentary on classic Midwestern life. “It’s crazy in here,” says owner Donna Dove. “When you come in, if you don’t know anybody, by the time you walk out the door you’re going to know somebody.”
As a little girl, Dove would play waitress, and she always imagined she’d open her own restaurant some day. “It’s the American dream to have your own business,” she explains. She does most of the cooking, alongside a single line cook, using recipes she’s created over the years with no professional training. Her homemade meatloaf is one of the diner’s most popular dishes — it’s a classic, down to the Ritz crackers, but without the sage (because Donna doesn’t like it and, hey, it’s her place).
Since the NYT article was published, Dove’s served visitors from as far away as Japan and Australia, but emphasizes that it’s still just a regular spot where the locals hang out. 148 Middle Ave., Elyria, 440-322-3221