216 Wonderful responses to “No Rez Cleveland”

  • Frances

    Well, now that you mention it, that Skyline chile looked like something that had already been run through “the mill” once and was not very kind to the mill along the way.

    I’ve come to expect Tony to show the soft white underbelly of a place. The parts tourists usually stay away from out of fear. Or places that make most people avert their gaze and move on. I also see a point in it all. I found it all to be very compelling.

    I see Cleveland as a metaphor for all the old cities in this country, victims of sprawl, and the next best thing. They may be down, but they are not out. I would love to see the trollie system restored. Everywhere.

    In my line of work, I could live anywhere. I could easily work from Cleveland. Well, I could if it wasn’t for those pesky stalking laws.

  • Tana

    It was my favorite NR ever, and I thought them brave to film in the winter. The market looked great, and I hope to visit one day.

  • Lisse

    Last night’s show had a completely different feel from most of NR, maybe the friendship, maybe the comics, maybe the weather. My husband and I laughed all the way through.

    Sewage surfing aside, I wasn’t put off by Cleveland. That kind of stuff happened all over the country, and I thought that part of the point was that people make a life for themselves (food, family, friendship) in spite of it.

  • Mer

    Pekar is priceless. That deadpan delivery, twisted reality – a true Midwestern character in the best sense, complete with plaid flannel shirt.

    AB – that Buford shot was perfection in it’s target and delivery. You need to freeze frame MR’s face and frame it – his initial expression still has me laughing out loud.

    And you went to the Sausage Shoppe but couldn’t make it to Raddell’s for their Slovenian blood sausage rings? You went to Cleveland and didn’t eat the rice sausage? I’m aghast.

  • Patricia Pawlak

    Mr. Ruhlman, I’ll keep this pithy. with friends likeAnthony Bor-ing who needs enemies? The Plain Dealer’s comparing him to Mick jagger. Please. Poor Cleveland can’t get no satisfaction. What a horrible depiction of a great city. Wish your friend well, tell him to enjoy China! Hope he eats plenty of seafood, stocks up on pet food, buys tons of toothpaste and spluges on lots of Fisher Price toys for all the tots in his life.

  • Susan

    I just wanted to say that I loved the episode. The part where Bourdain chastised your potty mouth had me laughing myself to tears. It was great. Never been to Cleveland, but it looks amazing.

    Also, as a vegetarian who has silently lurked here for some time, I was glad you guys took it easy on ol’ Mr. Pekar. 😉 We’re not all so bad, really!

  • Ohiogirl

    I’m an ex-Clevelander living in Los Angeles – and your show did my heart good.

    True, it did show the sorrow of the town, the streets and streets of abandoned factories that even my husband recognized from his visits. But it also showed the strength and heart of the town. The ironic sense of humor that keeps folks smiling through the winters, with or without sewage surfing. The amazing architecture.

    Instead of the drag race, I wish you could have shown Presti’s Bakery, that still hand twists their special loaves. The Middle East bakery on Carnegie, with fresh pita that makes you sing. Or all the ethnic food festivals that let you be greek, italian, or hungarian for a day.

    But you showed Harvey Pekar, a true gem, the Westide Market – a place of joy even on overcast days, and you got Tony to admit that maybe Cleveland isn’t so bad.

    So I guess I can’t complain. Much.

  • Kansas City rube

    Great episode. I think Ruhlman should get his own Travel Channel show where he explores other cultural hotspots in the US such as Flint and East St. Louis.

  • stephanie

    Well, I loved every minute of it.

    Personal favorite quote?

    “And the Bottom Line is, if you were really stoned? You’d like this. I’d eat this cold, in the morning.”

  • Chris

    Hell, I loved the episode, but I’m biased, because I’ve been to nearly all those places; I’ve shopped at Zubal’s, I’m a regular at the Sausage Shoppe, I’ve stood in the same spot at the steel mill that Tony
    stood in, and I’ve even eaten a Polish Boy. So I think the show really captures the real Cleveland, but I’m biased. Guess what, we’re a gritty city. We do have a lot of abandoned factories. We do have our problems, but no city is perfect. If you want the “get happy” view of the convention and visitors bureau, you aren’t going to like the show …
    but that grittiness gives us our character, makes us who we are, makes us real, and hopefully without a lot of pretention. So it was a delightful episode.

    That said, a few things were inaccurate … A Polish Boy doesn’t use a hotdog (or shouldn’t), it’s supposed to be a kielbasa in there with the BBQ sauce, fries and coleslaw … hence the “Polish” part. Also, Bourdain should know to NEVER twirl Skyline Chili … the proper way to eat it is “the forklift,” where you cut up the dish, slide your fork under, and lift up, so that you get pasta, chili, and cheese in one bite. Too bad Ruhlman’s such an elitist, because Skyline Chili is a great guilty pleasure! Also, maybe I’m wrong Ruhlman, but I think Zubal’s is primarily an internet store, and they don’t often welcome browsers. I was last there buying books for the Historical Society, so I definitely got in and browsed, but I don’t know if I could do that anymore.

    But I do honestly hope the show gives more business to Sokolowski’s (food of the gods there … oddly enough, a good friend of mine was eating lunch that very day, and wondered aloud to me later why there were people filming “these four guys” while he was eating lunch)
    and The Sausage Shoppe, though I fear that a lot of suburbanites won’t make the trek to Tremont or Brooklyn, because it gets them out of their “safe” zip codes and gated communities. Too bad … after having
    one of the sublime brats or ungodly-delicious hot dogs from the Sausage Shoppe, how could anyone ever eat a Johnsonville Brat or Oscar Meyer wiener? The flavor of the hot dogs alone is something that must be experienced. I do hope that Norm and his family get a
    lot more business at the Sausage Shoppe … though I hope the place doesn’t get too crowded! Anyone going there, you’ve got to get the hot dogs, but also try the honey garlic brats, they’re amazing!

    And I’m sure that the grittiness in the show will probably scare some people away from visiting the city in general, but that’s too bad, because Cleveland is a really great area, and there are some very quaint and cutsy areas to visit that any tourist would enjoy. I just entertained an old friend from Maryland and her folks who were in town for a day, and took them to University Circle, the cultural center of Cleveland … and they were blown away by the sheer number of museums and institutions in one small area, providing a critical mass of culture and creativity like no other place has. She kept going on and on about all the neat stuff she found here that she hasn’t seen on
    her travels elsewhere. Cleveland’s got some great aspects to it, and it’s worth a visit … and p.s., we have some awesome food here.

    Though personally, I still think you should have taken Bourdain to
    Slyman’s for killer corned beef! But every Clevelander who responds to your blog will have a list of their favorites that you didn’t go to!

    I’m also shocked Michael, that you really did follow my drag race suggestion!!! Hey, if Bourdain’s ever in town and you’d like a tour guide who was actually a paid historian with the local Historical Society, and who’s written a book on part of Cleveland’s industrial heritage (the steel industry), just give me a call!

    Now if only the Travel Channel would sell copies of the show … this one would be a keeper!

  • Kate

    I say, at least Tony had the balls to do a show from Cleveland. When was the last time a nationally televised hour-long show was done in Cleveland? The show portrayed the city as it actually is– economically struggling, frigid, and home to countless amazing restaurants and enthusiastic people. Tony presented a Cleveland that those of who live here recognize and love.
    I believe that Cleveland can and will recover from the economic downfall that Tony and Ruhlman talked about and even an hour-long cable show might help Cleveland “rise up” out of its slump (please excuse that aweful pun). At least people from all over the US are talking about Cleveland and not mocking our sports teams or calling it the “mistake on the lake”. Hopefully, its a start down the long road to come. Go Tribe and Browns!

  • Kate

    Oh and, I whole heartedly agree with Stephanie about Slyman’s. I disagree about Skyline though. I go to school in Cincinnati and will only eat it when it’s given to me for free (that’s a college student for you). I personally don’t think it should have been on a show about Cleveland. I still love and respect Tony though, no hard feelings.

  • Sorcha

    T-scape, I agree about the tunnels thing. There’s so much else going on here. Chuck shoulda taken Tony to Darcelle’s or at least to Powell’s.

  • bonnibella

    “szg- Syracuse is in fact more depressing than Cleveland. I have lived in both places. At least Cleveland has the RR hall of fame. But I laughed heartily at the comment. That and “Ruhlman’s Hot”. I would certainly boing Bourdain first. (only cause he reminds me of my high school crush on Steven Tyler) But Niether one of them are on my “to do” list.”

    Big Red, you’re hilarious. 🙂

  • Jay Shnoogins

    Mikey –
    (my boom box in the background)

    clevelands cold

    cleveland sucks

    cleveland sucks sucks sucks sucks sucks sucks sucks

    Pekars weird, he is whack

    his crazy friend is smoking crack

    Chili on spaghetti

    Chili on spaghetti

    Cassoulet made it right

    Tony boy put up a fight

    the toilet

    ooh ooh

    the toilet


  • Jay Shnoogins

    Shut the fuck up lunchbox!


    I’m gonna name my first kid Cassoohlay

  • met0813

    I’d been waiting for this episode (and telling people about it) since I saw the article in the Plain Dealer last winter. I thought it was great. I have to say that I’m embarrassed that I’d never heard of Zubal books before last night! As one whose heart is in Cleveland (but whose body is now in Texas), the episode made me smile. Thanks for doing it!

  • bob

    And I’m sure there aren’t half this many comments on Bufords blog……….oh, you get the punchline!

  • Doodad

    Ok, when will it be repeated? I missed half from laughing and half from the cable being whacked. When Tony, when?

    Ok, fine. Just get the DVD out pronto so I can continue to contribute to your (and Ruhlman’s) financial wellbeing. I had to watch the Vegas DVD last night for a second helping.

    Oh, and I made your onion soup, blanquette and clafoutis (although peach) last weekend. Thanks.

  • JaxieWaxieWoo

    As a born and bred NJ girl, I have to snicker at the thin skins of some CLEEEEEEEEVelanders (do you all say it like that?) whining because the city looked a tad Day Afterish in that one episode. Come on, we’ve got a whole state that gets bashed on a regular basis!

    Go ahead and say what you want about New Jersey. We know you’re all just jealous of our pork roll. 🙂

  • kathrynsossen

    Loved the show. Spent grad school at CWRU- loved Cleveland… have many fond memories of the
    West Side Market. Am so glad to know it’s still there. Will make it back someday.

  • Big Red

    Thank you Bonnibella, but the fact that they compared Syracuse to Cleveland is so…I don’t even have a word for it. Cleveland far surpasses Syracuse. Cleveland had a hay-day at one time. They were booming and prosperous. Syracuse only pretended and then when what little prosperity they had went, well, they wined about it. Most upstate cities are like that. Buffalo seems to be making a come back but it only does well as a stop off for people coming to and from Toronto Canada. A chance to sober up and wipe the lipstick of your collar before you go home to Maude and the kids. I live in between the two…in Rotten-chester (Rochester for the laymen) This city has one thing wrong with it, and if there are any rochestarians in the audience keep it to yourself, but that is KODAK! Another example of the down turn of the manufacturing community as Kodak went digital. So now half the city is unemployed and the government then spent a half billion on the ill-fated fast ferry that we ended up selling to Russia because the tarriffs between Canada and here made it unfeasible to do. Did anyone think about this b4 hand? NO!!

    But back to Cleveland. To think about it, I like Cleveland. There is something untangible about it that makes it interesting. It may be the fact that despite the sewers leaking into the lake people still surf there, even though the surfing was not all that great to begin with. It was a great metaphor for the city, “Covered in Shit, but still surfing. And loving it!” It is that undeniable spirit in the face of inconquerable despair. But that is always the beginning of a great story, no? Maybe that is it, Maybe it is a beginning of a new great american novel.

    Ok, now I have become the Chamber of Commerce brain that Tony refered to in the episode. But he is just as guilty about NYC. To be honest, I have a hard time stomaching NYC. It is too much all at once. But it too has it’s charm. See I suppose that is the point. Be as snarky as you want to. But there are gems of greatness everwhere, you just have to find them.

  • mada

    Lola’s…. REALLY?? Good going for pimping out your guy Michael Symon there. Sheesh. I have a feeling it could have… just sub par and it still would have been received as if it were an orgasm on a plate.

    And the “FREE” stamp? Clevelander’s aren’t freakin’ proud of the “FREE” stamp. Are you sure you are from here? Yea I know…. the producers made you/AB/whatever.

    Hot Sauce Williams though… I give kudos for that one.

  • artnlit

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry after reading these “ALL HAIL CLEVELAND” posts. I guess where you live is what you love, and Ruhlman showed that, in a good way (from his obvious passion) and in a bad way (far too much emphasis on the decline/decay of the city.) I cringed initially when the show began, for it so easily could have been Pittsburgh – the old steel mills, the frigid weather, the polish influence (which is a positive actually). While I appreciate the concern that Ruhlman has for his city, I would not have gone this route. That does not mean that he should have ignored it, but I sure as hell wouldn’t invite anyone to check out Pittsburgh in the middle of January by focusing on looking at the run down factories and walking the dingy grey streets! That really is in the past. As for surfing the lake – either THAT is dedication or insanity. I feel a “Clevelanders surf the sh*t” joke coming on. However, this aside, I did enjoy the various places he and Tony visited, the interaction between them that really (despite editing) smacked of truth, and the overall vibe. However, the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce and Visitation must be REALLY pissed at you now! LOL.
    Cheers, artnlit (your neighbor next door in Pgh)
    PS. The Browns still suck; go STEELERS!!

  • Mama Bacon

    T-Scape, I have to disagree. I’m a former Clevelander who lives in D.C. now. Although I’ve had some great meals here, this town is quite soulless when it comes to food. I’ll give you the Ethiopian food, and even throw in some half-decent Salvadoran, but otherwise, D.C. is pretty boring when it comes to dining.

  • Cleveland Bob

    D’oh! I missed the NR episode on Cleveland. Anybody know when it is going to re-broadcast? Travel Channel has barely a mention and no listing for a re-run.

  • InyamoRian

    I have to say that I absolutely loved the Cleavland episode. I started new medicine recently and I fell asleep about a third of the way through the Tahiti episode of NR. I was excited to see MR and TB together – hurling barbs and snarky comments back and forth. At no point did I feel the pull of drowsiness brought on my medication – mostly due to the enormous amount of laughter the episode caused.

    The episode made me want to visit Cleavland. It also made me homesick for Louisville, KY. I want to show TB around Louisville – teach him to pronounce it correctly, rant about the repairs and traffic on the Kennedy Bridge, tour the neighborhoods near Churchill Downs, take him to the Louisville Slugger Bat Museum to see any NY Yankees paraphernalia, and visit every dive bar in the whole county. Most of the sites I would choose would not be what the Chamber of Commerce would want to be shown on a TV show – but that is what makes the show wonderful!

    To get a glimpse of the soul of a city. To see why people who live there love their town. No one featured on the episode said they hated Cleavland and could not wait to land a job in another town so they could move. They all extolled what they loved about the show while at the same time admitted the obvious problems that exist with the city. Who can’t name a city in their state experiencing some of the same if not the same problems. I am currently living in Michigan and can think of over a dozen that are experiencing very similar problems. We need to be reminded that these problems exist.

    Now about Skyline – even though I am not from nor have I ever lived in Ohio – I recognize it as a Cincinnati landmark (having lived within 75 minutes of Cinic for most of my life) and having some franchises spread from Ohio to the Louisville, KY area. I proudly have never had to eat or even go into one of their places. However I have friends that swear by it and look forward to going to Cinci for the real stuff.

    I can’t imagine it is any worse than the chili I grew up on. The chili my mother made while growing up didn’t even have chili beans in it – they would be too spicy. It had canned pinto beans in it! There was never chili powder or red pepper flakes added! Adding a diced onion was as risky as it got. Often there was spoonful of instant coffee added for color. There was always some brown sugar added for sweetness. It was never served over spaghetti – the spaghetti was cooked right into it. I am shuddering and almost gagging just thinking about it. Thank goodness I learned how to make a much better pot of chili since moving out of my mother’s kitchen.

    Thank you so much for showing us Cleavland, opening your home to the show, as well as making me a little homesick for my hometown with all of its glory and with all of its problems.

  • Jeff

    DVR’d the show and watched it last night. I loved the eposide. I really liked the way the show was put together with the Pekar narrative and illustrations. I thought it gave a nice glimpse into Cleveland, a City that I have visited only a handful of times. Bourdain’s job is not to produce a show ready for the Chamber of Commerce as some people posting here seem to think. His job is first and foremost to entertain the viewers. None of his shows focus solely on the finest restaurants in the City. He visits places that the locals love to get a taste of the City. Then he usually eats at the home of a family or a village gathering place, just like in this one.

    As a midwesterner myself (I am from Milwaukee) I think the show captured the real essence of the midwest in the stark, cold dead of winter. The scenes in the restaurants and in Michael’s home gave a great feeling of warmth in contrast to the outdoor scenes. If that Cassoulet tastes anything like the one served at Les Halles, I am very jealous.

    Oh, and any show with Marky Ramone is a-ok in my book.

  • rockandroller

    Locals don’t love Skyline Chili, at least nobody that I’ve met, and I’ve lived here since 1992. I’ve never met anyone that likes it or eats it. Certainly there must be some people, but it’s not exactly a city favorite such that it made sense to feature it in the show.

    People fall on different sides on Sokolowski’s, but generally lifelong Clevelanders who ate there when they were younger seem to like it because of the memories and feeling it imparts, but I don’t know anyone who is a transplant to the city (like I am) who thinks their food is very good. I’ve been there 4 times and haven’t liked anything I’ve eaten there.

    Just my opinion of course, I just think those choices, given the number of other places they could have gone, were strange.

  • Sven Torgelson

    Michael — I’ve never seen more sour faces than the ones on your children as they forced down Tony’s cassoulet. I know he explained this away as a product of their uneducated/underdeveloped palates (I don’t recall his exact words). Would you agree? Was his dish truly for the sophisticated palate–a perfect marriage of quality ingredients and quality execution? Or were your kids completely justified in their grimaces–did his cassoulet blow goats?

  • Uncle Hulka

    My only “beef” with the episode was that self-proclaimed Punk Rock Maven Anthony Bourdain made no reference whatsoever to the greatest Cleveland Punk band ever, the Dead Boys.

    Stiv Bators must be steaming (in a hot water bath, of course) in his grave.

  • t-scape

    Mama Bacon, that wasn’t me. I live in Portland 🙂

    I’m on the fence about this episode. I don’t mind seeing the down and dirty parts of a city. But I agree that doing it in January, when the gray skies don’t exactly help the landscape, kind of brought me down. I liked the interaction between Michael and Tony, and I loved the Pekarized graphics. And when you guys went to the food market, I remembered my own hometown market and made me wish we had one like that in Portland (which I read, precisely the day after the episode, is in the works!) But I feel like I still don’t know much about Cleveland, foodwise.

    Although I used to be a Twinkie apologist (because I kinda like them, okay?) but after seeing the Jurassic-era Twinkie slime….urgh.

  • artnlit

    I need a second viewing to digest it all. How ironic that the Sausage Shop website is where I found it the rerun for this episode! According to them:
    FRIDAY, AUGUST 31st, AT 8 PM AND 11 PM et. See you then…

  • Sorcha

    Uncle Hulka, if it helps any, the Dead Boys make something of an appearance in Tony’s Bobby Gold stories – on a t-shirt, true, but they’re there.

  • Shatangi

    I was disappointed that the show did nothing but emphasize the stereotypes of Cleveland cuisine. There are so many great restaurants in town. Michael Symon is a great chef but we’ve seen his food time and time again. The show featured all the rundown aspects of Cleveland without showing any of the more interesting spots like Coventry, Little Italy, Ohio City, the old Arcade etc. Starting with Skyline chili and ending with pulled pork and Wonder bread was a bit of a letdown for me as well.

  • Jim Norton

    I thought the show was horrible. It was quite entertaining, the Marky Ramone thing, and Pekar, and you … Ruhlman. But it was Bourdain’s best. Cleveland as an eating destination???? What the hell was that spaghetti/”chili”/cheese crap????? WTF? Thought the show was kinda lame. You may have a soft spot for Cleveland, but DEFINITELY doesn’t want to make me visit. ick.

  • Jen

    Hey – I may be one of the few, but I actually like Skyline Chili! ‘Course, I grew up in Cinci, so that may have something to do with it. And Bourdain is right, it is great late night drunk food (or day after hang over food…).

  • Doodad

    Travel Channel does not show a repeat on Friday. Even at the link provided by The Sausage Shop.

  • Rainman

    Skyline is great. I almost spewed my drink when Bourdain said it was great stoner food, since that was how I ate Skyline during much of the time I lived in Cincinnati during college. Maybe he was at the Skyline at the corner of Clifton and Ludlow one time and I missed him.

  • artnlit

    Doodad is correct – I checked the Travel Channel daily listing and some show on the strangest McDonalds is being shown at those times! Go figure. Don’t know where the Sausage Shop got their info. So who knows; perhaps they’ll run it again prior to next Monday’s new show.

  • Vinnie

    Well, now I’m confused about when the episode will re-air.

    I posted the Friday date and time on The Sausage Shoppe Web site because that was what was being listed earlier in the week from a number of sources:

    * The Travel Channel’s program guide
    * Zap2It’s program guide
    *’s program guide
    * The TV Guide print magazine
    * My own DirecTV program guide (well, as of last night it still said that)

    Now, they all list that Friday at 8:00 p.m. they’re going to air a show about the “most unique McDonald’s”. I’ll leave the cracks about McDonald’s to Tony.

    I’ve taken the Friday notes down off the Web site and instead replaced them with the note that was in the Plain Dealer last week, that they will re-air the episode on October 22.

    It looks like there will be a No Reservations marathon on Labor Day Monday, but no Cleveland ep as part of that.

  • cusinare52

    The NR new season is superb..wondered how they would do a show in Cleveland..well i loved it ..starting out with that chili place and tony’s comment..perfect stoner food… I felt stoned watching the whole’d they do that?

  • Shannon G

    Both of my parents were raised near Cleveland. Neither of them ever told me that there was a Twinkie factory. They also never told me that the world’s largest bookstore was there. Forget, the family, I have to come visit for the books.

  • Tags

    cusinare52 – I think that’s called a contact high. They even have an entry for it on wikipedia.

  • FoodPuta

    Face it, NR was designed by a stoner, for stoners. I personally think that Bourdain should have and episode in Amsterdam, where he reviews the varied supplies of hashish. He could meet with local dealers to discus the history and culture between Sativa and Sensimilla.

  • Shiksappeal

    “I thought the show was horrible. It was quite entertaining, the Marky Ramone thing, and Pekar, and you … Ruhlman. But it was Bourdain’s best. Cleveland as an eating destination???? What the hell was that spaghetti/”chili”/cheese crap????? WTF? Thought the show was kinda lame. You may have a soft spot for Cleveland, but DEFINITELY doesn’t want to make me visit. ick.”

    I don’t think you got the joke. At all.

  • John Dyer

    Thank you Michael for getting NR to come to Cleveland.
    I am the Dyer who dropped by right after you started the House remodel. As a hippie who heard the siren call of the west coast and left Cleveland Hts at the end of the 60s I did not witness the decline of the town until I came thru in 1990 and then last in 2001. The economic wasteland that I saw on Euclid from the Square to 9th was really hard to take. I truly enjoyed the illustrations of the House as well. Early in the show is a shot from the porch looking thru the arches across the street. Having grown up in that house in the 50s, it was a total shocker. What I could see of the kitchen and dining room really made it clear you have done a beautiful thing there. Being a exPortlander as wellI really had to wonder about the “worlds largest used book store” title of Zubals. As one known to haunt the aisles of Powells I can’t see it given the size of the structure. Neither Zubals or Powells post a total book count, but Powells is an entire city block.

    You did Cleveland a good thing

  • NancyH

    Michael – after reading way too much about this show – between this blog, EGullet (starting here: and the Food & Wine Forum (I obviously need to get a life), something is nagging at me that perhaps you can clear up, regarding the inclusion of Skyline Chili in a Cleveland show:

    I recall that there was a wager involving Skyline and the outcome of the drag race. I forgot what the stakes were for Tony (and I guess that’s academic) – but is that correct? You lost the race and then had to eat at Skyline as payoff, even though the episode presented Skyline as Tony’s first stop with you (ah, the magic of the editing room)?

    Silly question, but inquiring minds want to know!

  • Sara

    Mama Bacon —

    That was me who posted about DC (the names come under the posts, not above), and I totally disagree. Aside from the numerous fine dining establishments of note in DC — Cintronelle, Gerard’s Place, Georgia Brown’s and especially, *especially* Komi (under the incredible control of Johnny Monis, a delicious genius) — there are tons and tons of quality mid-range dining and street food to die for. Ben’s Chili Bowl, DC Cafe, Amsterdam Falafel and SoHo Tea and Coffee are all DC institutions (although SoHo more for its late nights and coffee than its food), and if you travel ever so slightly out of the city into Montgomery County, you can find incredible ethnic food — Afghani, Chinese, Japanese, and Lebanese in Bethesda (along with about 3000 other restaurants, including fabulous seafood at places like Black’s Bar and Kitchen), the best Chinese food ever in Wheaton, Max’s Kosher Market and Deli in Wheaton as well, El Pollo Rico, etc. etc. Northern Virginia is another great place, with some incredible food in Arlington and Fall’s Church.

    If you think food in DC is mediocre, you’re not going to the right places and — more likely — you’re not leaving the city. You HAVE to go the DC Metro Area for eats… there’s a reason they ran the lines through it, y’know.

    This is probably a conversation for another comments. Sorry all you Cleavlanders.

  • BR Beau

    Enjoyable episode all around for this Southerner, despite the lack of Pere Ubu references and the complete absence of scenes of George Steinbrenner’s boyhood home.

    Richard Hell and the Voidoids – nice

    Television – yah

  • Sorcha

    John Dyer –

    I wondered that too. I mean, Powell’s is frickin’ huge. Not that it really matters either way, I suppose – they’re not close enough to comparison shop. *G*

  • Tags

    Is there a big star shining over Cleveland now? First, Bourdain comes there, then the Plain Dealer’s Connie Schultz is on Charlie Rose tonight.

    Something’s in the air.

  • bob

    Oddly, I think that every book of your that I own, has come from Powells, but Zubals just seemed awe-striking, with an emphasis on the oldies. If it’s stoner food Tony needs, it’s really all about the garbage plate of Rochester, NY….

  • Jimmy

    So why did the re-airing of the Cleveland episode get pulled? Do you think The Travel Channel got too many complaints and yanked it?

  • brandon_w

    Not sure if this ok to mention or not, but surely the show is available for download by now for those who missed it. You can probably find a torrent for it at

    If it was out of line to suggest downloading it, please feel free to delete this post.

  • Cris

    I really thought the episode did a fantastic job of portraying Cleveland. When I first heard NR was coming to Ohio, I hoped they wouldn’t just stay in the relatively sterile downtown. The people who are so upset about the dismal portrayal of Cleveland do just that. You can WALK downtown Cleveland in a few hours, but driving through the endless neighborhoods like Harvey’s, and the endless sea of abandoned factories, could take a lifetime. You gotta face it, the ep showed Cleveland for what it is, and not necessarily what everyone wants it to be.

    Having grown up in northeast Ohio, I didn’t realize how absolutely surrounded I was by culture and ethnic diversity until I left the area and returned. Who knew the whole country wasn’t eating good pizza, sausage and pierogies? Just sad.

    About the Skyline chili – sure it started in Cincinnati, but is he really gonna go anywhere else in Ohio anytime soon? This was really an “Ohio” ep. He never accused it of being a Cleveland dish. Besides, who in Ohio really hasn’t had it on a hot dog at least once? And who outside of Ohio has? I think that pretty much says it all.

    There were some things that got missed though. A lot of “Italian-American” dishes started here, as immigrants adapted the tastes they longed for to the local produce that was available. And pizza… you gotta admit its hard to find a good slice of pizza outside of northeast Ohio, Chicago or NY. We can hope for a sequel, though I’m just thrilled he came once. Maybe he can hit Youngstown next time! That would be something to see..

    Either way, Ruhlman deserves some major points for dragging Tony out here. Some people may love the ep (me) and some people may hate it (elected officials), but you can’t argue that a whole lot more people were talking about Cleveland on Tuesday morning than on Monday afternoon.

  • Aaron

    Mr. Ruhlman,

    I grew up in north central Ohio, lived in Cleveland right off of W. 130th between Brookpark Rd and W. 150th. My wife I have been in the south (Atlanta) for 3 years now, and I have missed Ohio (although I don’t miss winter there).

    There is an honesty, stark realism, and an attitude of “we’re all in this together” to Cleveland that can be hard to find elsewhere. The people work hard for what they want and have. They find happiness in a place that many people might not think it is possible to be happy.

    Great episode.

  • Joel

    Jeez, what a couple a chuckleheads. And why, if you love the city so much did you do everything cinematically possible to make it look as drab and dreary as any city could be? There are some beautiful areas to C too. Holy cow, if I used your show as the sole basis of whether to come to Cleveland or not, it would be decidedly NOT. (maybe that was your plan after all, to keep people away.)

    And this Ruhlman, while we can never count on Bourdain to look beyond the depraved and the gutter, I know for a fact that you know what great culture there is in Cleveland. Hello, the Cleveland Orchestra, one of the best f-ing symphonies in the world? How a bout a little balance? Cleveland has many sides to it and you skipped over a huge one, in lieu of a loony drag race. Sheesh.

  • Jeff

    Joel, do you think that anyone who watches No Reservations cares about the Cleveland Orchestra? That is not what the show is about. Its not supposed to be some stupid “yoo-rah-rah Cleveland” thing touting the great museums, high end restaurants, and world class orchestras and ballets. Leave that to the Cleveland Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Is supposed to be a look at different aspects of the City, such as the bookstore, or Lola which takes the food cultures and traditions of the midwest and presents them in a new, upscale way.

  • Joel

    Well, yah Jeff, actually I do think some No Res viewers care about the CO. Why must there be distinctions between Harvey Pekar, amazing sausage, incredible book stores and world class music? If you love good stuff, just because it is mind-blowingly good, then there is no high or low art. And in the spirit of the show, my post was meant as good natured ribbing. I already know that Ruhlman is a fan of the CO. As to Bourdain’s musical prowess, well anyone who hates Abba as much as he does, has to have good ears.

    Excellence is excellence, no matter where you find it, concert hall or dive bar. And there is some serious playing going on in Cleveleand. (not only classical, but R&B and obviously rock.) No shame at all in the fact that when you mention Cleveland around the world, the first thing many think of is the CO.

  • Sera F

    when is the episode going to reach canada?

    I grew up in the cleveland suburbs and I moved to canada 3 years ago so hearing about this is making me homesick!

    and what beats ruhlman’s and bourdain’s bs?!!!

    can’t wait to see the episode…

    and for all you cleveland bashers and others who say it’s bad that we do it….it’s cleveland!!! it’s a love hate relationship for those of us who live or have lived there!!!

  • FoodPuta

    I personally like Orchestra, but would be almost offended if that would have been part of this episode.

    I want to see Bourdain snorting twinkie juice. Not critiquing a violin solo

    Watch Al Roker for that stuff.

  • Aaron


    I think the places you’re talking about are places like Beachwood, Lakewood, Strongsville, Solon, and the other burbs. Beautiful places yes, but not Cleveland, and the show was about Cleveland. The city itself. Not the “metro area”.

    And The City of Cleveland is drab and dreary. It’s a town that in spite of going through some very tough times. Still manages to stay alive. To me it’s a city that proves that the people who live in a place are one thousand times more important than the buildings and roads that comprise the city.


  • mary j.

    It appears you have to spend some time in Cincinnati to appreciate Skyline. It’s an acquired taste. After eating there, the odor somehow oozes from your pores for several days. Still, now that I live in Michigan, I’d kill for a”four-way” at the Skyline on Ludlow and Clifton, followed by a walk down the street to Graeter’s ice cream.

  • mary j.

    It appears you have to spend some time in Cincinnati to appreciate Skyline. It’s an acquired taste. After eating there, the odor somehow oozes from your pores for several days. Still, now that I live in Michigan, I’d kill for a”four-way” at the Skyline on Ludlow and Clifton, followed by a walk down the street to Graeter’s ice cream.

  • InyamoRian

    Ohhhh Now I want to drive home for some Greater’s ice cream! No wait my family is coming up to visit next weekend. I bet a cooler of dry ice could keep it safe for the trip up.

  • Paula

    What’s this about “depressing” and “drab”? I’m a SoCal girl so I admit that this thing you Midwesters talk of — “cold” — and ooooh, endless endless pork dishes that would probably be looked upon with fear in some of our vegetarianist quarters — still manages to be as unfamiliar as Sao Paolo and therefore exotic.

    But still, it seemed to match the tone of American Splendor the movie that was the obvious source material: celebratory and mournful, comedic and elegaic all at the same time. All these elements made it such a loving and appreciative mini-portrait, cliched as it was. They stayed true to the NR structure of showing both enjoyable and disagreeable aspects of a place and its cuisine. Ruhlman’s boosterism and Pekar’s ruminations (like Nori’s love for Korea)tied it together and made it much more personal than the average show. All in all, beautiful and uplifting if not exactly the same kind of kooky drunken fun that we usually have with Bourdain. I was actually more depressed by the sight of Tony eating that cheese sandwich in NJ.

    But I have to say I’m shocked by AB’s oversight of Pere Ubu.

  • Carol Martucci

    Not sure how much the comedy and foodie crowd intersects, but you all (including Ruhlman) might get a kick out of 30 Rock’s “Cleveland” episode. NBC re-ran it last night.

    You can watch it on NBC’s site here:
    (Scroll to the second to last episode)

    Or just the highlights on youtube:

    It features Alec Baldwin uttering the brilliant line “We’d all like to flee to the Cleve” if that’s a draw for anyone.

  • Benedict

    Hey, can we get the recipe for that amazing looking cassoulet tony? I’d kill for it. Literally. Like, if you want Ruhlman gone…..

  • Misreall

    Just as a late comment, I loved the episode, and filming it in the dead of winter was perfectly appropriate. As an life-long Midwestern city folk should know you only love your city as much as you love it at its worst. Chicago, my home, is both dreadful and weirdly beautiful in the harshest part of the year, and it seems that Cleveland is the same.
    In fact, AB and MR sold me and my husband, and we are planning a trip as soon as we can.

  • Jimbo

    Artnlit, Thanks for not being the only Steeler fan who has scorn for the mistake by the lake.

    I will concur that I did enjoy the NR Cleveland episodes, especially the Harvey Pekar and the Bookstore segments. Even Donna looks fine, even though she’s married to that “filthy beast.” Even seeing Bourdain with one of the Ramones was a classic moment.

    However, if Bourdain ever comes across Pittsburgh, a true jewel by the three rivers, he should try the Primanti Brothers sandwich. Now that’s far better than that stupid chili that Bourdain puts on spaghetti. ICK!

    Hey Ruhlman, come to Pittsburgh and we’ll show you what a real food city is all about.

  • Steph

    Mr. Ruhlman –
    First of all, I want to say that I’ve read your “Chef” books over and over again and enjoy them more with each reading. In fact, one of my friends started school at the CIA a few months back, and as a going away present I gave him the trio. You should be proud – he actually called me to tell me how inspiring he found them. So.. kudos to you.

    Secondly — I thought this episode was AWESOME! The animation was very well played, the food looked fantastic. Well.. except for that cheese/chili stuff. Even as a vegetarian I can appreciate the deconstruction of the pig, the making of the pate, any sort of confit, etc… but the stuff at the Skyline freaked me out.

    You have a gorgeous home and a beautiful family. Thank you for sharing them with us. Even though Tony made you fake crashing your car.

    – S

    PS to Bourdain if he ever reads this: This is the girl who asked you to sign her chef’s coat at the event last year — after telling you I was a vegetarian, you told me “PIG FAT! YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT!” Best. Day. Ever. And “Kitchen Confidential” was the book that made me want to go to culinary school in the first place. Congratulations on the new addition to your family; is the fuzzy-unicorn-candy-rainbow stage over yet?

  • rl

    Cleveland is so rich in ethnic diversity. It is a beautiful city from the rolling greens of the Metro Parks to the lovely architecture of Severence Hall, not to mention the history at Lakeview Cemetery. The quaint areas of Coventry and Little Italy–there is so much! I wish this saw this, and also tasted some of the foods beyond pork! Also Skyline Chili, Cleveland cannot claim ownership of that! Have always enjoyed Michael’s books, as well as Tony’s show–but this one left me flat. Come back to Cleveland in the fall, spend some time on the East side

  • Jonathan

    Show with bourdain was top notch. Loved it! i was disappointed to read in the PD this morning that actually some people were distressed over the tribute to the city focusing on the negative. What other places did you and Bourdain hit while he was in town that did not make the tape?

  • I_miss_Cleveland

    I just moved away from Cleveland a few weeks ago for a job, but this episode really made me miss my old home. It captured the way that you can love a place for its imperfections and struggles as much as its hidden treasures. Sure, Cleveland is prettier in the spring and summer. So what? I think some people were hoping for a picture perfect postcard, while this was more of a tongue in cheek (but heartfelt) love letter.

  • gc

    I was depressed after watching the first 5 mins of the show. I’m a lifelong Clevelander, from family raised in Collinwood to currently living in Tremont. I’ve lived in Geauga County and the suburbs. I live and die with our beloved sports teams and had all my schooling in Ohio. I’ve also traveled the world. I love the Food Network and look forward to visiting cities and cultures highlighted by it. After watching this episode of ‘No Reservations’ I can’t imagine anyone wanting to visit Cleveland…ever. There was so much more that could have been done, for starters, how about visiting in the Summer or Fall? Sure, anyone from Cleveland would watch the show and say, ‘yup, that’s our city…abandoned warehouses and fat food.” With our snow, struggling Browns, and “poorest big city in America” tag, couldn’t you have tried to be more positive? At least get AB back in town for a change of season and check out the great places on the east/west side and downtown.

  • julie

    What a jolt Cleveland was–especiallyafter the warmth and sensuality of French Polynesia. I liked the Pekar stylings, the making of the cassoulet and some other moments, but I have to agree–this “No Reservations” wasn’t the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce’s dream come true.

    Ruhlman and Bourdain together is always an interesting puzzle. Bourdain seems so authentic and personable while Ruhlman (whom AB obviously adores and has a blast with) comes across so stiffly, as a bit of a yuppie tool. The “man of the people” moments–and snarky comments re: AB–just don’t ring true (at least not on camera).

    If you really love Cleveland for God’s sake, why not whole-heartedly show it? A little passion would be a good contrast to AB’s more droll enthusiasms. Just a suggestion–in the case of future adventures. (Buddy movies thrive on character and contrast, after all….)

  • Sara

    You know, after coming back to check these comments for a few days, I’d like to respond to all the Clevelanders who are convinced no one will ever want to go to their city now.

    Yeah, it looked dirty and dingy in parts, but that’s winter, and that’s urban life. Part of Cleveland’s American legacy is its role in our industrial growth, and the city will always bear those scars. Start being proud of them! Londoners (and I know, I know, London is much larger and much more “relevant,” I guess, than Cleveland, but bear with me) are proud of the parts of their city that are still pockmarked and crumbling from wars and industrial expansion — own it, Cleveland! And no one will hold winter against you… have you ever seen New York City after 3 feet of snow being left on the sidewalks for two weeks? Disgusting.

    And what’s wrong with the food we saw? When it’s cold you don’t want to be served dollops of caviar on top of mango… sor- panna- well, I’m not a chef, but somethin’ all fancy-like. You want home cooking; hot and hearty food with flavor and tradition. And Cleveland clearly has a lot of that. And the rest of country did get to see at least one example of Cleveland’s haute cuisine, and a very good example at that.

    I don’t think your city came off as bad as you thought it did. If anything it came off as quintessentially American, which is really something you should be proud of.

  • Tags

    You locals better stop complaining about how bad your city looks – or celebrities will start showing up and adopting your children.

  • Janet

    Knowing nothing about Cleveland before watching the show, I was pleasantly surprised. NR doesn’t sugarcoat Cleveland but it also brings out a lot of the great qualities of the city. You and Tony are a riot together and I hope you continue to make episodes together. It always seems much more fun and genuine when he’s with friends. Open invitation to come to Houston- my much maligned hometown-we may not have much in the way of “culture” but we make up for it in the rapidly growing ethnic diversity in terms of food. Our New Chinatown continues to grow and grow at an alarming pace, Little India is alive and well, Mx food flourishes, etc etc. I’m sure NR could do justice to it. Looking forward to Hong Kong today. Keep up the great work!

  • nina

    c’mon – tony went to red hook, queens and brighton beach for the nyc episode and no one’s nose got out of joint. and, the new frontier for artists, musicians and foodies in nyc is bushwick! none of the really young, interesting, creative people can afford to eat at the 4-star restaurants but they find fabulous authentic food and create authentic community. it’s all part of being a traveler, not a tourist, even in one’s own city or town.

  • Ms.Anthrope

    I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said (and probably more eloquently) in defense of Celveland.
    If any of us were lucky enough to have cameras turned on our hometown, I am sure there would be a shopping list of things they could have/should have featured or left out. If you want nothing but the pretty stuff, perhaps Giada’s Weekend Getaways would have been a better choice.
    Urban decay is what it is. Some will see it as an ugly testament to what WAS instead of looking beyond it to see the beauty of grey concrete and steel against a cold, grey backdrop.
    I will admit, I don’t get the “FREE” stamp as art but it certainly is a curiosity.
    And surfers are so charmingly weird, they will surf just about anywhere they can find a wave. Granted, I think I would prefer a shark bite scar to a nasty staph infection…but on bad day in the Pacific, I could get both!

  • Badger

    Another NE OH transplant here (born and raised in Stark County, now living in Austin, TX) chiming in way late to say this episode made me terribly homesick, even though it was filmed at my LEAST favorite time to visit the old homestead.

    There’s not much I miss about Ohio EXCEPT the food. There’s stuff up there that you truly can’t find anywhere else. Forget Skyline Chili — why can I not find broasted chicken anywhere outside of Ohio? Do you know how thrilled I was to find a Hungarian restaurant (in Pflugerville, TX of all places) serving chicken paprikas and rouladen and cabbage rolls down here?

    That’s my comfort food — the food of my childhood. While I absolutely adore the southern cooking (and interior Mexican, yum!) of my adopted home, when I’m cooking for just myself, it’s pork, cabbage and potatoes all the way. Very few restaurants down here serve that kind of food.

    As for depressing/gritty, hello, ALL of NE OH looks like that in the winter. You want pretty, try Holmes County in early October. I was perversely thrilled to learn this episode filmed in January. The buckeye state has many facets, and this is one of them. And while I may not miss it, I’m still sort of in love with it.

  • Deacon

    One of the best No Reservations, in my opinion. I am sure that I liked it more because I frequent this blog.

    I am not a fan of fast food/chain restaurants to say the least, but I cannot miss a chance to eat Skyline when in the Cincy area. I won’t touch that cheese, but I do enjoy the other ingredients.

  • michelle v

    Next time Bordain e-mails you, tell him not everyone hated thos show. With the exception of Skyline and a not very clear explanation of the stamp, I loved it! Thanks for getting him here.

  • Frances

    The larger than life stuff is great. We used to see a giant apple every Summer when we passed through Winchester, VA on our way to WV. We kids loved it. What kid wouldn’t love a giant apple (peach, gorilla, roller skate…). I remember the debate about what the apple would taste like if we took a bite. The general concensus was “rusty.” But kids love this stuff.

    The “FREE” stamp is something that kids who live in Cleveland, or who are just passing through, will always remember. Because it’s big. And I’ll bet it has sparked many a debate among the 5 to 12 year-old set. I found some links while I was looking for the apple.

  • Ms.Anthrope

    Cool! The Wasp has a Starship Troopers-ish look about it and the Jesus is just a bit, ummm, scary.
    Thanks for passing it on Frances.

  • Susan MS


    Totally into the NR Austin idea. I have thought of places in both Abilene and Austin, kind of a bbq-trail. (Joe Allens, perini’s, east Austin, and probably some cabrito in there somewhere, then the salt lick) I love the P’ville resturant, we go often.

    I have an outsiders view of the Cleveland episode. Really makes me want to visit, when it has never crossed my mind before.

    Being from TX and a chili girl, what in the world are they putting in that stuff to give everyone the runs?

  • Badger

    Rumor has it that Bourdain will be at the Paramount in Austin on October 20 this year. Whether he’s going to film an ep of NR in conjunction with that, I don’t know. I mean, he’s gotta eat while he’s here anyway, right? Might as well bring a camera.

    I thought we had a solid rep as a foodie town, so I don’t know why he’s never done a show here. Instead we get Rachael Ray. Fucking travesty, if you ask me.

  • Claudia


    The cassoulet recipe is in the Les Halles cookbook. I think you can also get it on-line (taken from the book). Tony distributed cheat sheets with the recipe on it at a talk/cooking demo he gave last October, so I’ve been using that one.

    BTW, even though I’m not a big cassoulet fan, his was gorgeous. Beautifully redolent of thyme, unctuous and (believe it or not) – light. And, yes, the bowlful I got had a chunk of duck confit and saucisson de Toulouse in it. A “light” bowl of cassoulet? Man, that takes skill . . .