Reclaiming a Space: A Culinary Tour of Berea, Ohio

Our white leather couch was well-loved. I remember taking pictures of friends with my low-quality webcam on that couch, skyping Semester at Sea friends, and kissing my crush. Our cats tore it up, peed on it, and once, they brought a squirrel into the house we thought was dead, but it ran under that white leather couch and stayed put until we chased it out with a broom. That couch was also the place where my long-term boyfriend broke up with me.

When we moved, we threw the couch away. Nostalgia is both heartbreak and happiness.

My ex lived in Berea, which was a far drive, even for a small-town woman who’s used to driving long distances to the city. And for almost two years after he broke up with me, I avoided Berea. I didn’t go to my favorite burrito spot, I avoided the best bookstore in Cleveland (besides Mac’s Backs), I canceled plans with friends that brought me close to Berea, and I refused to go to the Cuyahoga County Fair.

I’ve built a career on never taking no for an answer, but I let this irrational fear hold me back. Then, I met this badass woman on Twitter: Ashlee Ammons. And her tech startup, Mixtroz, brought me back to Berea, to Baldwin Wallace University.

In addition to being an incredible day filled with inspiring anecdotes and an impromptu babysitting job with Ashlee’s cousin, I walked around Berea again, and I reclaimed my space.

There’s something ethereal about reclaiming a space: you walk more confidently, you can’t help but smile at everyone, and you create new memories. This small act of visiting Berea allowed me to truly forgive my ex, and without that negative energy, I can move forward as a more confident, more positive person … who can enjoy Boca Loca again.

Here are my restaurant recommendations if you’re visiting Berea before a flight out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, stopping by to visit a student at Baldwin Wallace, visiting the IX Center, or if you just want to hit up a part of Cleveland you’ve never been before.

Breakfast

Perk Cup Cafe & Grille
561 W. Bagley Rd, Berea, OH 44017

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not much of a mocha person, but I am if there’s Ghirardelli chocolate involved. I think any of their specialty coffees are a good choice. Stay for breakfast and grab a breakfast baker. Perk Cup is also open for lunch and dinner on most days, but the breakfast menu, which is served until 3 p.m., is really the way to go.

Lunch & Dinner

Delta Blue Seafood & Barbeque
819 N Rocky River Dr, Berea, OH 44017

I used to daydream about their mac & cheese. The problem with Delta Blue is that they don’t really have a set time when they’re open. I’ve been there during times when they’re supposed to be open and they’re not, and vice versa. At one point, they were closed for what seemed like a month. Berea is just under six square miles, so it’s worth a drive-by. It’s in a small shopping strip next to Circle K.

Sweet Mango
54 Front St, Berea, OH 44017

Worth trying if you’re in the area, especially if you’re into bubble tea. Reasonably-priced lunch and dinner menu items with a solid pad thai (my basis for judging all Thai restaurants).

Maya
368 West Bagley Rd, Berea, OH 44017

I have so much love for this place. Pretty much everything on the menu is delicious. The food comes out quickly. The drinks are great. Plus, it’s right next to a liquor store, in case you didn’t have enough margaritas for dinner.

Boca Loca Burrito Factory
1 Berea Commons #1, Berea, OH 44017

I can’t believe I avoided Berea for two years because I missed out on burritos from this place. In addition to having bomb burritos, they also have a chill vibe with a hip hop playlist that 90s babies’ dreams are made of. Right around when Boca Loca first opened, I got to talk to the co-owner, Heather Doeberling, who turned her food truck into a full-blown restaurant with the help of Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures).

Drinks
The Cornerstone Brewing Company
58 Front Street, Berea, OH 44017

Great beer selection with decent food offerings. The location is awesome because you can easily access the heart of Berea with stores like The Shoppe and Kidforce Collectibles.

La Crepe Bakery & Cafe
2 Berea Commons, Suite 3, Berea, OH, 44017

Sweet cafe that’s tucked away near the Berea Triangle. If you’re standing in front of Domino’s, you haven’t gone far enough; if you see Seminary Street and Campus Grille, you’ve gone too far. Grab a coffee and relax by the water fountain, or take a stroll to Coe Lake.

Dessert

Igloo Frozen Yogurt and Treats
44 Front Street Berea, OH 44017

Menchie’s has nothing on Igloo. They have 15 flavors of frozen yogurt and 60 toppings. Their cups are also cute af. At least, I hope they still are. They also used to have cup separators in case you wanted to mix it up and try two different combos.

What are your favorite restaurants in Berea? Comment below!

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