Secret Shopper Cravings

There are several Lakewood retail businesses at which I look forward to shopping and telling you about, but I absolutely have to pay tribute the some businesses that offer my second favorite indulgence-food. There really are a lot of mouth-watering bites in Lakewood, but I want to share my favorites, the ones that become cravings. To be honest I have days when I am ambitious about eating healthy, with more vegetables and whole grains, days when I am looking for a meal under five dollars, and days when I absolutely need a comfort meal to get me through the winter or some crisis. Fortunately, there are Lakewood eateries that fit every craving.

Having went through two pregnancies while living in Lakewood, I have had my share of cravings. Even though one pregnancy I couldn’t even look at chicken, the next I craved the chicken salad sandwich from Joe's Deli, 11750 Madison Ave., (216) 521-2477. Sometimes I got it on the way to work and ate it for breakfast, it is that good. And every time we take a road trip, I stock the cooler with Joe’s sandwiches. My husband’s favorite is their corn beef, tender beyond words. Joe’s Deli also offers scrumptious breakfasts and family specialties from home-made soup, to meatloaf, to chicken and roast beef platters. A bonus is how quickly they serve you for take-out and dine in, and of course, the warm and friendly welcome from Joe, his wife, his children, and all who work there!

Another great take-out eatery is a newer business called the “Blue Onion” at 14404 Detroit (216) 221-4794. The Blue Onion specializes in home-made quiche, an entry I do not make at home so we enjoy the occasional treat of home-made crust and a variety of fillings, from vegetarian to sausage and cheese! They also offer home-made soups, as well as ready-to-go sandwiches (veggie and meat), stuffed cabbage, etc. The Blue Onion offers a catering menu as well. What really sold me on this eatery was the stuffed pumpkin they were offering at Thanksgiving! I had family coming in to town and wanting to present a Martha Stewart table without doing all the work, I ordered one of their pumpkins. I think the pumpkin was 10 pounds, stuffed with a home-made stuffing including sausage, cranberries and walnuts, that was supposed to serve 8-10 but lasted for three days. Because I loved the stuffing so much and didn’t want it to go to waste, I literally ate it the day after Thanksgiving for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I am still working that off, but it was well worth it! Try The Blue Onion for your Brunch guests or quick take out!

An even newer eatery on 13615 Detroit Avenue is La Pita Express (216) 221-9925, a Lebanese carry-out restaurant. Literally, you can get a sandwich in five minutes for $3.50. I first tried the chicken shawarma rolled up in a pita with seasoned tender chicken and the veggies of my choice. It was delicious! I then tried the falafel upon recommendation (thanks Brian) and it was to die for. I also tried the beef shawarma that my husband and children absolutely love. This beef and chicken are seasoned and slow-cooked on a rotissererie for hours. It was the best pita roll I ever had. My husband I went back several times and we enjoyed the lentil soup and my favorite, stuffed grape leaves. If you are looking for a quick lunch or a quick, fulfilling dinner, at an affordable price, try La Pita Express. Sorry no credit cards.

One last eatery I was surprisingly impressed with is the local IHOP. I first visited the IHOP right after they opened and was not impressed so I did not go back for several months. Since then, they have improved greatly. What I love about this restaurant is that it is truly family friendly. We went there with our children after dinner hour and the staff was so kind and engaging with our kids it was heart-warming. It was the holiday season and most of the staff seemed to be mothers, with kids at home while they worked late hours to provide Christmas, among other things. The menu has changed and the chicken/spinach crepe melted in my mouth! The kids loved their eggs and pancakes and my husband enjoyed a low-carb (high meat) meal, but the experience on the whole was a really nice treat. When I told my friend that I had to add them to my favorites, she surprised me by telling me she and her fiancé go once a month and that the staff there are the kindest women she ever met!

If there is a Lakewood eatery you particularly rave about, write your own review. Each issue one review will be chosen and the writer will get their meal paid for, while helping get the word out for our local hard-working restaurant owners!
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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 1:01 PM, 02.10.07