In Tremont, Ohio sits one of Cleveland’s oldest family owned and operated restaurants, Sokolowski’s University Inn, a Polish dining experience that prides itself on the ability to cater to both the working man (or woman) as well as the white-collared business person. A Cleveland institution, Sokolowski’s has been serving up delicious Polish and Eastern European fare since 1923, making it a must-visit for locals and visitors alike.
Service and Atmosphere
Walking into Sokolowski’s, you’re immediately struck with a sort of Grandma’s house nostalgia: kitschy decorations are abundant, the walls are overly plastered with photos of family, friends, and celebrities, and the smell of a home cooked meal permeates the entire building. The experience is reminiscent of visiting your Grandparent’s house for a Sunday dinner.
We arrived at Sokolowski’s at prime dinner time on a Saturday evening for a birthday celebration: my Polish grandmother was turning 85. For her birthday, we couldn’t think of a better dinner location to bring a 100% Polish woman (and we were excited to review with her critical palette at our disposal). Upon entering and inspecting the long line, we thought that we had made a big mistake visiting Sokolowski’s at a peak dinner time, but we ended up being wrong. The cafeteria-style line moved quickly and the servers worked efficiently to move everyone through as fast as possible.
Sokolowski’s has a full bar stocked with a variety of beer, wine, and there’s of course plenty of vodka.
The beer selection is decent, with a few beers like Conway’s and Labatt on tap, and a variety of craft and domestic bottles to choose from as well.
The food, in a nutshell, is exactly what you would expect from a cafeteria-style Polish restaurant: heavy, comforting, and absolutely delicious. Be sure to come here hungry and save room for desert.
A week before our Sokolowski’s trip, I already knew what I wanted to eat: pierogis. I opted for an order of sautéed pierogis ($8.75) and chose corn and green beans for my two sides. My pierogis were delicious doughy pillows stuffed with thick, buttery mashed potatoes. After bathing in a pool of butter, the pierogis were a little soggier and less crispy than I was hoping for, although still perfectly tasty. The corn and green beans were both fresh, not the canned stuff I was expecting–definitely a pleasant surprise.
We also tried an order of the breaded walleye ($14.99), a large portion of deliciously battered and perfectly cooked fish that was flaky and moist–perhaps one of our favorite fish fries in the Cleveland-area. The corn and mashed potato side dishes were just as good as expected–very much homemade-like.
At Sokolowski’s, you can expect to find plenty of other Polish favorites like cabbage and noodles, sauerkraut, breaded pork chops, meatloaf, and much more. And don’t miss dessert! Be sure to grab yourself a slice of carrot cake, apple pie, or any of the other tasty-looking treats you may find.
My Polish grandmother confirmed what the rest of Cleveland has been saying: Sokolowski’s is incredibly authentic. But it’s much more than just a hearty, home style meal: it’s the experience that makes Sokolowski’s a must-visit for any local or visitor alike.
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