Pura Vida – Purely Cool in Cleveland

I took a roadtrip to Cleveland recently for a wedding. Never having been to the Midwest, I was expecting cornfields, shopping malls, and nice people.
I had no idea that the food would be exceptional.
Pura Vidais a sophisticated restaurant in the heart of Cleveland. It is the brainchild of Brandt Evans, a native of Ohio, who uses Ohio-produced ingredients in inventive ways.

The decor is modern and a little bit club-like, with sexy music, colored lights, and a hip vibe. This would be a great spot for girls night out.


Nachos with Smoked Duck Confit, Wisconsin Cheddar Queso, Pickled Chili, and Scallions
These were so delicious. Crispy corn chips topped with sweet, barely smoky duck confit. It was so delicate in flavor that it tasted almost like pork. The cheese was sharp, the chilies were spicy and tangy, and the fresh scallions provided respite from the heaviness of the rest of the dish. It was a perfect bite.
Well, luckily there were enough chips to make it a perfect 3 bites.

Lamb Sliders with Taleggio and Fig Jam

So THIS is what lamb is supposed to taste like! Not the lean, mild meat I have so often had. This burger was robust, grassy, and incredibly moist. It was crispy on the outside and so juicy within that it required two napkins. The fig jam, which would have been overly sweet with the anemic lamb I have been eating my whole life, tamed the strong, earthy flavor of the lamb and contrasted with the funky taleggio. On a soft bun, it was fantastic.

Crispy Pig Ears with Smoked Blue Cheese and Sriracha Buffalo Sauce

These pig’s ears were among the best I have ever had. Thin slices of chips were crispy but not hard, softened a bit by the spicy, garlicky Sriracha buffalo sauce. The sauce had that unmistakably vinegary tang of sriracha, but was much richer and rounder, probably by the addition of butter. The blue cheese was mild on the funk, but high on the smoke, giving the delicate pig ears a bacon-y taste. The blue cheese with the acidic sauce was really a winner, and I ended up using bread to sop up the remaining sauce long after the ears were devoured. The ears were crispy in some parts and chewy in others, with no fat or gristle. If you like bacon, you will really like pig’s ears.This was a great meal for an AMAZINGLY reasonable price. Food this caliber would be at least 3 times as much in NYC. And who would think I could find this food in Cleveland?! It was sophisticated and delicious, and the atmosphere was great. If you visit Cleveland, you must hit up Pura Vida.


  1. I first visited Cleveland when I was 19. My dad and I went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and then we ate at… Hooters! It was the first time either of us had been to one and we both thought the food was just awful. (Plus our waitress was having a horrible day which made us both feel like a-holes.)

    I am stealing that Srircacha-buffalo sauce.

  2. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Justin-oh no! Cleveland had some totally kick ass food. You will probably need to go back…and I expect to see that sauce on your blog verryyyy soon!

  3. Crystal @EatDrinkClev says:

    Pura Vida is so sexy and delicious! Cleveland is a true foodie destination – hope you come back and sample some more of our gems.