At first glance, you might think that Cleveland has all the action when it comes to farm-to-table, locally-sourced dining. We, to the south, are quick to admit we have a slight complex about CLE’s many culinary superstars. However, Akron/Canton has its own growing “crop” of chefs committed to local sustainability and preparing fresh-from-the-farm food.
As a North Canton gal, this is great news; as much as I love exploring CLE’s restaurant scene, I’m even more excited about the surge of talented chefs planting roots in my neighborhood with food produced by my neighbors.
Here are a few of my faves:
First up, Akron. My hands down favorite spot is The Blue Door, a fabulous breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot in Cuyahoga Falls with a menu that changes weekly. You’ll find seasonal features like Ohio peaches and blackberries on croissant french toast or housemade spaetzle with Brunty Farms sausage and a lemon fontina sauce. YUM. They don’t stop there. Coffee is from Akron-based Angel Falls, wild-caught fish is flown in from sustainable fisheries, and to-die-for breads and pastries are made in-house. Oh, one thing- there’s no sign outside; just look for the full parking lot and…a blue door.
Another fave is The Rail, a gourmet burger joint at Summit Mall in Fairlawn. Restaurateur and chef, Mike Mariola, is a longtime champion of locally-sourced products and brings that vision to the humble hamburger. The Rail serves up source-verified Ohio beef (custom ground from Cleveland’s Blue Ribbon Meats) as well a variety of Ohio handcrafted brews from Lagerhead’s, Great Lakes, Rockmill, and more. Go all-Ohio with the Local Yokel burger, topped with Swiss, Ohio thick-cut bacon and a fried local egg. Chase it with a Nutella crunch milkshake, and you’ve consumed some ridiculously delicious calories.
For something a bit (*ahem*) healthier, try one of Ms. Julie’s Kitchen’s for vegan, organic, and locally-grown options such as spicy black bean burgers, edamame burger salad, and kale chips. They’re tasty, good for you, and Ms. Julie even grows veggies in her own urban garden. Don’t leave without a chocolate peanut butter goo ball, the best “power bomb” you’ll ever eat.
Downtown Canton is part of the local food movement too (yep, you read that right!). There’s Deli Ohio, and as the name implies, they source high quality products from Ohio to ensure the freshest ingredients. Their Great Lakes Burning River bacon is some of the best bacon I’ve had. Try it on one of their sandwiches made using Hazel Artisan bread, a European style bakery around the corner from my home. The inside of Deli Ohio is pretty, too – sleek and modern with a reclaimed wood wall built by the owners themselves.
While you’re downtown, try Lucca for modern Italian and the historic Canton Club for upscale American. These restaurants feature talented chefs who know how to make the most of the heirloom farms on our city’s outskirts, like Breezy Hill in Alliance. In fact, Kent Welsh at the Canton Club is the second youngest Certified Master Chef in the country. His grass-fed Juicy Lucy burger is already legendary in this area.
You can try Lucca, Canton Club, and Deli Ohio on a Canton Food Tour, which I highly recommend. You’ll eat great food, explore our emerging arts community, and learn about Canton’s history. Read the stop-by-stop guide here.
Whether you’re in Akron/Canton like me, or elsewhere in Northeast Ohio, there are plenty of opportunities to support local chefs and local growers. Get out and enjoy Ohio’s bounty!
By day, Collyn Floyd is a content marketing strategist at a digital agency in North Canton. She also stays busy with her hubby and three boys, exploring Northeast Ohio, and co-authoring her locally-focused blog, Two Amused Bouches.