Cleveland’s dining scene has been heating up in recent years. There are a host of interesting restaurants to explore, and an expanding roster of talented chefs for the city that is widely known as home to Iron Chef Michael Symon. This is good news for the thousands of people who will descend on Cleveland for the Republican National Convention in 2016. From my perspective, however, this increases the level of difficulty in making dining decisions when I visit my sister and her family.
Michael Symon’s Guide to Cleveland appeared recently on Andrew Zimmern’s website. This leads us to self-described “mod Mex” Momocho. Chef/owner Eric Williams is a two-time James Beard Award nominee. His restaurant has an edgy feel, and a menu that incorporates creative twists into familiar Mexican dishes.
You don’t have to look further than guacamole to spot innovation. We choose one that incorporates jicama, pineapple, chile habanero and mint. But sheeps milk gouda, roasted garlic and Ohio honey is another fine choice. As is guacamole with smoked trout, bacon, and chile poblano. The good news is that Momocho has a sampler, so it’s possible to indulge in all three iterations.
Momocho offers an impressive array of fish and vegetarian taquitos. Avocado leaf crusted tuna taquitos with candied jalapeno-blood orange marmalada attracts my attention. Just as compelling are taquitos with artichokes, goat cheese and pico de gallo or roasted beets, spinach, spiced peanuts, queso fresco and pico de gallo. Meat eaters can chow down on a plentiful portion of adobo braised wild boar with pickled jalapeno. Soft tortillas are on the side, so you can build your own taquitos, and incorporate sauces to suit your own taste.
I am bowled over by one of the items on the antojitos portion of the menu, which translates to “little cravings.” Smoked gouda tamale dumplings with corn, shallots, and a mole sauce, explode with flavor. No wonder our server nods approvingly when I order. I suggest Momocho add a section to the menu called “big cravings,” featuring these dumplings.
The menu also features an appealing selection of small plate bocaditos and full size entradas. But we are saving room for dessert. Ginger snap and candied jalapeno bread pudding with burnt sugar and whipped cream is a hit. So is fried ice cream. It’s peanut and cornflake crusted with chocolate sauce and Ohio honey. Rich and decadent? Yes, but worth at least a few bites. I post a photo of the fried ice cream on Instagram* and within moments Chef Williams comments that it is beer battered. He also invites me to email him if I want the recipe for the capirotada (bread pudding). Thanks Chef, but I much prefer to leave dessert-making to those with the talent for it.
We leave Momocho impressed with the cooking, affable service, and unconventional approach to Mexican cuisine. It’s perfect for a city that’s about to prepare for a convention.
Momocho Mod Mex, 1835 Fulton Road, Cleveland, OH
The Braiser, list by Mariella Mosthof: “The Top 10 Chefs To Know in Cleveland”