Sweets by Maggie
You’ll never get a day-old cupcake at Sweets by Maggie, says Maggie Notley Gross, owner of the first cupcake shop to open in Lorain County. With more than 200 flavors — 8 to 12 of which are featured each day — Gross and her team bake every cupcake from scratch daily. Their record is 129 dozen on a recent Saturday. 
Here are some of the best-selling cupcakes:
Buckeye. You’ll always find this No. 1 seller in the case. It’s a chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream with a buckeye candy on top.
Red Velvet. This light cake topped with delicious cream cheese frosting is in the case three days a week. 
Salted Caramel. Think vanilla cake, caramel butter cream, topped with homemade caramel and sea salt. This combo is the best-selling cakeball (frosting and cake scooped together and dipped in chocolate) and is available every Thursday.
French Toast with Maple Bacon. Look for these treats, which feature a french toast cupcake with cinnamon and maple, maple-bacon buttercream frosting and candied bacon on top.  
7660 Leavitt Road, Amherst, 440-984-2870,

Fine Dining:
Cork’s Wine Bar & Bistro
Forget pretention at Cork’s Wine Bar & Bistro, where fine dining is designed to mean a place where you would be just as comfortable wearing shorts and a T-shirt as a Brooks Brothers suit, says Chef John Cafarelli. Menu items are approachable with a twist, such as the pan-roasted chicken paired with white truffle oil, cheddar grits and braised collard greens or Cork’s mac ‘n’ cheese, which is pumpkin-sage gnocchi in a creamy leek fondue. Wine selections are built into the menu. Cafarelli suggests using these gourmet ingredients to elevate home-cooked dishes:
Pork Belly. It’s very underused in the everyday kitchen, Cafarelli says. “People could make their own bacon very easily by using curing salts and a small smoker.” 
Foie Gras. “A little bit of foie gras goes a long way,” he says. “A little bit of it in a butter could elevate a humble steak or chicken.”
Homemade stock. A good chicken stock can transform your meals. Made from chicken bones and veggies, this go-to ingredient can be made in large batches and frozen for later use. 
209 South Main St., Amherst, 440-984-7430,

Wine Shop:

The Wine Room
There’s nothing like sharing a good bottle of wine with friends. Maureen O’Mallley, owner of The Wine Shop in Avon, provides some suggestions for the perfect wine to uncork at your next gathering, big or small.
Emeri Sparkling Pinot Grigio ($10.99) is a great way to start a party. It is low in alcohol, but not on taste. This wine is straw in color with subtle aromas of rose and lychee backed up with fresh honey. This wine displays a soft round palate and is brought to life with a little fizz.
Bogle Essentials Red Blend ($11.99) is new to the Ohio market. A compelling blend of California’s finest plantings of old vine-zinfandel, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and petite sirah, this wine surpasses expectations for enjoyment and approachability. It is juicy and silky throughout, with a finish that lingers of black licorice and spicy pipe tobacco.
Vigilance Cabernet Sauvignon ($11.99) is great for fall. It is deep garnet in color with aromas of black cherry, vanilla oak and flavors of ripe cherry, cassis and rich vanilla. It has a rich, medium body with a nice juicy finish.
35840 Chester Road, Avon, 440-937-6544,

Fish Fry:
American Slovak Club
For more than 55 impressive years, the Ladies Auxilliary of the American Slovak Club have been serving its mouthwatering fish fry every Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. year-round. “We handle the fish with a lot of tender loving care,” says Mary Ellen Kovacs, president of the Auxillary and head honcho in the kitchen. During Lent, they serve 700 to 800 pounds of fish. Dinners are $13.75 for a large, up $13 from when the fry started in 1956.
The ladies faithfully guard their secret recipe, but Kovacs offered her tips for a delicious fish fry:
• Start with a good quality, small piece of fish. Fresh fish is best,
but it can be hard to get in the winter.
• Make breading from stale bread. Grind and add in your favorite
• Coat fish with egg wash, dip in flour and dredge through 
• Shake off excess off and fry or bake.
2915 Broadway Ave., Lorain, 440-245-5146,

The Unicorn Restaurant & Pub 
With its culinary nod to traditional flavors and Irish fare, this popular Grafton restaurant offers seasonal dishes that shine. This fall enjoy favorites such as its signature Unicorn clambake, butternut squash soup, Yankee pot roast, Irish stew and pumpkin crème brulee.423 Main St., Grafton, 440-926-2621,

Casual Dining:
Ziggy’s Sports Bar & Grill
The Park Avenue pub exudes historic character with exposed brick walls and an ambitious menu that serves options from breakfast (on the weekends) to entrees and delicious items in between such as soups and salads, appetizers, grinders, paninis, burgers and pizzas. A newly remodeled second-story party room is a popular venue for showers and bachelorette parties.193 Park Ave., Amherst, 440-985-3663, 

Patio Dining:

Jackalope Lakeside
Enjoy a great steak on a Great Lake at Jackalope Lakeside, the best spot to dine and view the sun as it sets by the Lorain lighthouse. Anything goes on this casual patio that serves a full menu and fills quickly with sun lovers and boaters in swimsuits and coverups, as well as those dressed to see a show at the Palace Theatre.301 Lakeside Ave., Lorain, 440-288-2051, 

Sunday Brunch:
Oberlin Inn 
With brunch being served at such an affordable price ($11, $6 for those 12 and under), reservations are recommended for this great nosh available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday in the Inn’s Garden Restaurant. Highlights include four breakfast entrees, four luncheon entrees, a full salad bar, soups and breads and an assortment of homemade sweet desserts. “It has become one of the highlights of Sunday dining in Oberlin,” says Rex Engle, general manager of Oberlin Inn.7 N. Main St., Oberlin, 440-775-1111,

Family Dining:
Midway Oh Boy Restaurant
Midway Oh Boy is a family-owned business that has been around for nearly 60 years. The restaurant’s name stems from when original owners Mel and Nel Krugman were developing the sauce for what is now the oh boy double-decker sandwich. Mel came home from work, and Nel said “Here try this.” Mel said, “Oh boy, I think you got it.”6620 Lake Ave., Elyria, 440-324-3711,

Bar Food:
Wolfey’s Bistro & Pub
Award-winning flatbread pizzas, half-pound burgers and a best-selling baked mac ‘n’ cheese are some of the favorites at Wolfey’s. Layer a thin- or thick-crust flatbread pizza with your choice of more than 20 toppings and free crust toppers. Order a “morning glory” burger with a sunnyside-up egg and a deep-fried pickle. Or go for the cheesy combination of penne pasta, grilled chicken, bacon, a signature cheese sauce and shredded cheese, topped with bread crumbs and served with garlic toast on the side.1069 E. Broad St., Elyria, 440-365-9002, 

Cheap Eats:

Hot Dog Heaven 
For $5 or less, you can have a Sugardale hot dog grilled to order, hand-cut fries fried to order, a drink and your dog topped in one of more than 6,000 combinations. Or print a coupon off the restaurant’s website and get unlimited dollar dogs.493 Cleveland Ave., Amherst, 440-988-7404,

Strip Steak House 
Housed in a restored 1850s German Dutch barn, Strip Steak House serves only the best USDA prime angus beef in an eclectic environment. Only eight percent of the country’s beef meets Strip’s standards, while produce is sourced locally from owner Ron Larson’s Stone Eagle Farm just down the road for true farm-to-table cuisine.36840 Old Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-9900,

Fratello means “brother” in Italian, and the restaurant — aptly named by brothers and owners Ron and Craig Heldorfer — celebrate 20 years in business this year. Customers flock to this restaurant for its value, sauces made daily and a large wine list.32085 Electric Blvd., Avon Lake, 440-933-3380,

Luchita’s Mexican Restaurant
Family members prepare authentic recipes that have kept customers coming back since 1982. Tinga de pollo — pulled chicken with chipotle sauce, green sauce and chorizo — is its signature item. Save room for sopa pilla — ice cream, fried tortillas, cinnamon sugar, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.1134 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-365-0094,

Weia Teia
“We’re a local restaurant that is chef-driven and market-driven,” says owner Jia Wei. “We change our menu frequently.” The most popular dish on the menu right now, he says, is Australian barramundi fish served with sea scallops and sautéed tri-color cauliflower. The secret to its popularity, he adds, is the freshness of the fish, which is flown in directly from Hawaii via FedEx overnight delivery.9 S. Main St., Oberlin, 440-774-8880,

Bubba’s-Q World Famous BBQ
This BBQ hotspot has its ribs down to a science. It cooks them upside down in what owner and head chef Al “Bubba” Baker calls the “Cadillac of smokers.”  It takes seven hours — no more, no less. The product: Southern-looking, tender, juicy ribs.820 Center Road, Avon, 440-937-7859,

Smitty’s Place
There’s a reason this place has had the best burger in the county three years straight. At Smitty’s, the 20-year-old secret Forthofer family sauce and toasted buns keeps these burgers flipping. Plus, its building has housed various hamburger sellers since 1934.368 E. Bridge St., Elyria, 440-323-9708,

Quaker Steak & Lube
Quaker Steak & Lube’s atomic sauce is on fire, and its triple atomic sauce is nuclear. Before you can even try the 500,000-scoville-unit rated triple atomic sauce, you have to sign a waiver. If a mouth inferno isn’t for you, boneless wings and healthier options smothered in more than 20 flavors of award-winning sauces are available.4900 Transportation Drive, Sheffield Village, 440-934-WING,

Rubin’s Deli & Restaurant 
Rubin’s has been called the home of the best corned beef between Chicago and New York for a reason. For more than 20 years, it has solidified its reputation as having the best corned beef and reubens. But don’t forget to try its hummus and other Mediterranean items — the recipes have been passed down through generations.616 Leona St., Elyria, 440-324-3666,


Don Tequila Bar & Grille 
Having just celebrated its 11th year, Don Tequila has made a name for itself for its authentic Mexican food. The burritos are huge and cheap — but no quality is lost. Cooked with vegetable oil, Don Tequila keeps its cuisine healthy, fresh and affordable.2269 Kresge Drive, Amherst, 440-282-1065, 

Coleone’s Pizza
Coleone’s offers much more than your standard pepperoni pizza. Customers can choose from the new gourmet breakfast pizza — basically a pizza omelette — to a Cuban-style pizza to the popular sweet-sauce pizza. It’s also teaming up with a local baker to add a full-service bakery.2424 Ridgeland Drive, Avon, 440-937-2653,


Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery
Owner Tim Kiedrowski knows what you’re going to buy and when you’re going to buy it. The bakery, open 24 hours a day, caters its menu and supply to weather, the season, even the time of the month — and when local businesses are getting their paychecks with extra money to burn on donuts.2267 Cooper Foster Park Road, Amherst, 440-282-2700,

Move over, Starbucks. Bread-N-Brew prides itself on its personalization — any sort of coffee drink you want, its workers can make. The shop staff knows most of their customers, and most of the customers know each other, creating a homey, small-town vibe. Don’t miss its fresh-baked bread and pastries.100 S. Main St., Wellington, 440-647-0082,

Catherine’s Chocolates 
Catherine’s keeps its customers involved with offsite and onsite chocolate tastings, make-your-own truffle classes and parties for kids and adults. It also custom designs chocolates for events at no additional charge. Be sure to look for it at events for the Food Bank and the Arthritis Foundation in Avon.36718 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-4240,

Ice Cream:

Cowhaus Creamery
These masters of the art of churning cream put a local twist on their over-the-top creations. “We get all of our cream from Lorain County cows and all of our water for our sorbet recipes from down the road,” says co-owner Josef Bomback. The favorite Wabi Sabi has returned featuring ginger puree from Cleveland’s Chinatown and a fresh plum sauce swirl made with local plums. “We want to have fun, too. You can’t be serious about making ice cream,” he says.55 E. College St., Oberlin, 440-774-5425,

Your Deli 
With more than 23 years under its belt, Your Deli is constantly expanding and improving its offerings. Its signature award-winning chicken paprikash started as a family recipe and has been available at 70 local grocery stores in the last four years. Everything from its soups to fresh bread is made on site.395 Park Ave., Amherst, 440-985-3354,

Pastry Shop:
Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery
Kiedrowski’s is known for its snoogles — a Polish pastry filled with sweet cream cheese. What you may not know is now the delicious filling is trademarked, copywritten and can be shipped across the United States.2267 Cooper Foster Park Road, Amherst, 440-282-2700,


Lorain County Community College Food Service 
Many large caterers don’t work with local farms, but the fact LCCC Food Service does sets it apart. Plus, the employees put a lot of effort into presentation. The passionate chefs play with their food, creating interesting combinations such as the watermelon gazpacho shooter.1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, 1-800-995-LCCC,