Loco Leprechaun demonstrates a passion for good food

Executive Chef Joe Morales and assistant chef Rachel Sutton serve up a variety of dishes. Photo by Eric Eakin

Combine an Irish restaurant owner with a passion for Mexican food, some Hungarian menu specialties and a chef skilled in preparing upscale fare and you have the recipe for Loco Leprechaun.

When Mike Ollick, who is half Irish in ancestry, decided to open a restaurant in Westlake nine years ago, he thought about featuring his favorite Mexican cuisine. But, he also knew how to make great corned beef. The Loco Leprechaun Irish Cantina was born. A former chef added his grandmother’s homemade chicken paprikash and spaetzle to the menu.

Chef Joe Morales took over the kitchen at Loco Leprechaun three years ago. “He has a lot of passion for his work,” Ollick pointed out. “Joe loves to interact with our customers and to get their feedback.” In addition to the regular menu, Morales creates numerous daily specials, including homemade soups.

“I eat out a lot and I am often disappointed in the food that I find elsewhere,” Ollick noted. “Our burgers are the best and our prices are more than reasonable. It’s not everywhere where you can get a burger ordered to temperature. We also have excellent wings and our soups are made from scratch.”

Morales, a veteran chef who has worked at James Dominic’s, Red Tail Country Club and a private yacht club, demonstrates his creativity in preparing dishes like Thai lettuce wraps with cashew chicken; marinated Daikon radish and peanut sauce ($7.95); and lightly breaded, wild-caught calamari steak flash fried and served with house-made marinara sauce ($8.95). Rice bowls include macceca, which is cilantro and lime flavored rice, sautéed red peppers, caramelized onions and shrimp poached in creamy coconut milk ($9.95). Corned beef, purchased from the same supplier that serves Cleveland’s well-known Slyman’s corned beef restaurant, is moist and flavorful.

Mexican fare includes seven-layer nachos with ground beef, guacamole, black beans and corn salsa ($8.95), fish or chicken tacos with cilantro lime dressing ($7.95), and ground beef or chicken burritos wrapped in your choice of flour, wheat or tomato basil tortilla topped with fresh salsa and shredded Cheddar Jack cheese ($6.95).

Burger lovers will enjoy the Guinness barbecue burger with Guinness barbecue sauce, potato pancake, sautéed onions, portabella mushrooms, and melted Swiss cheese ($8.95). The Reuben burger is garnished with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut or cole slaw and Thousand Island dressing ($7.95). All burgers are made with Angus beef and served with a choice of side, like house-made potato chips.

The regular menu also includes pasta dishes like black and bleu penne pasta with blackened chicken breast in creamy bleu cheese sauce ($9.95), and chili mac with three-cheese sauce and homemade chili ($9.95). Pizza is available with toppings like Guinness barbecued chicken and spinach and artichokes ($7.95). The house fish fry, served all year long, features Lake Erie perch. Ollick’s business partner, Rose, also operated a coffee shop, so fresh-ground Berardi’s coffee is featured.

Loco Leprechaun is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. The kitchen serves food until closing. The focal point of the 120-seat restaurant is an antique tiger oak bar Ollick purchased in Blacksburg, Virginia. The craft draft list includes 12 beers on tap and 70 beers available by the bottle.

Daily specials include $1.75 beef tacos and $2.50 chicken or fish tacos, as well as Chef Morales’ chicken habanero soup on Mexican Mondays. Patrons can get a $5 classic burger or $7 gourmet burger on Tuesday. Chicken paprikash is $5.99 for lunch and $7.99 for dinner on Wednesday. Thursday is wing day with 49 cent boneless wings and 59 cent jumbo wings. A $12.95 fish fry is featured on Friday and pasta specials are served on Saturday. 

Loco Leprechaun is at 24545 Center Ridge Road. Phone 440-250-5626 or visit www.locoleprechaun.com. Catering and gift cards are available.

To suggest a restaurant for consideration in the Restaurant Spotlight feature, email Cynthia Eakin at case915@aol.com.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:27 AM, 06.16.2015