Best Restaurant

A crowd on the first floor of Ray’s Place in Kent on April 8, 2017. FILE.

Dylan Reynolds

Best of Kent 2019

Winner: Ray’s Place

What did you expect? Ray’s Place has won the Best Restaurant category five of the past six years, and it shows no signs of giving up its spot. Founded in 1937, the restaurant and bar has been attracting a loyal crowd of college students and local residents for generations.

“I think we have something for everybody,” said owner Charlie Thomas. “If you want something to drink, well, we’ve got 64 beers on draft. Nobody’s got close to that around here. They’re changing all the time. We have a full wine menu. We have a full liquor repertoire.”

That’s in addition to the diverse food menu, including the famous burgers celebrity chef Michael Symon once hailed as the best he’d ever eaten (more on that in the Best Burger category). Thomas said Ray’s Place is a “fresh-oriented” restaurant where “there’s very few things on the menu that do not sell. Very few if any.”

Situated downtown on Franklin Avenue, Ray’s has long been a cornerstone of the community and a place where Kent State alumni love to gather. But it all starts with the restaurant’s appeal to students.

“Students feel when they come here, they get a good deal,” Thomas said. “And I hope they feel like they got treated fairly, and I hope they feel like they’re treated good.”

Second: Bricco

As one of the high-end restaurants in Kent, Bricco is sure to impress anyone looking for fine dining close to campus. The downtown establishment offers a wide selection of food options including dinner classics like sirloin steak, shrimp, pizzas and many more.

Opened in 2014, Bricco is based on the business’ original Akron location and features a heated patio and party room. One Best of Kent voter said they like Bricco because “we can go dressed up or dressed down and always great food.” 

Third: Belleria and Bistro on Main (TIE)

Tied for third place are Acorn Alley Italian restaurant Belleria and Bistro on Main. Belleria is known for its pizzas and pasta, but not everyone knows it offers a full Italian menu including pastas, calzones and eggplant parmesan. Bistro on Main boasts that it can “handle your culinary cravings, from hand-tossed pizza, fresh wild caught seafood, fresh pasta, great burgers and sandwiches, to our handcrafted cocktails and great appetizer selection.”