Cleveland muralist, educator Bob Peck shares his favorite vibrant dining flavors: 5 for Friday


CLEVELAND, Ohio—Cleveland mural artist Bob Peck began his art career as a fan of graffiti art and its subculture during his formative years on the West Side.

He sought out local graffiti “writers” in his area and began learning from them. Soon, he was a part of what some called the “vandal” crowd.

By his late teens, his participation and interest in “illegal art” was becoming increasingly entrepreneurial: his work was being commissioned for local musicians and DJs and bands.

In the Fall of 2000, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came calling, asking him to present on graffiti as part of teaching hip-hop’s cultural impact. He’d go on to work with Progressive Arts Alliance, doing residencies at inner-city schools, teaching students how to create art with a graffiti flair.

These days, Peck is working with corporate clients and local businesses alike and is one of six artists who have been tapped for a Destination Cleveland mural project.

With his “Murals Across the City” installation, Peck will use the tools of his trade—spray paint, markers, and acrylics—to fortify one of the private non-profit convention and visitors’ bureau’s taglines.

“I think my wall is going to be in old Brooklyn,” Peck said in an interview with and The Plain Dealer. “I’ll be doing one of my abstract designs on a 50-foot by 20-foot wall in a real prominent main street area. That’s gonna be an exciting one.”

Related: New ‘Murals Across the City’ promises Instaworthy art scenes in six Cleveland neighborhoods (photos)

As soon as the cold weather breaks, “probably April knowing Cleveland,” Peck will be out there working.

He will also be curating gallery shows at Graffiti Heart, trying to also do two shows a year there. The spring freeform show coming up there is called “Doowutchyalike,” named for a Digital Underground song.

“I think everybody here is just so appreciative of public art, especially those who remember it as a classic Rust Belt city — lots of browns, grays, drab colors everywhere. Once people started putting colorful art in public spaces, it didn’t matter who you were, blue-collar worker or businessman,” Peck said.

“Everybody gets behind it. With large-scale projects, I’ve had nothing but positive feedback. It’s a great feeling, even when [passersby] don’t fully understand the concept of the art at the time.”

Much like his art, Peck’s favorite CLE eats list has a little bit of everything — all of it zesty and vibrant. He shared his five favorite culinary masterpieces around town, in his own words:

Caribe Bake Shop: I’m not like a fancy restaurant guy by any stretch, so I eat at a lot of like small little restaurants. It’s kind of like a cafeteria-style place. You pick what you want and put it all together as a meal. Everything there is amazing, but they do a chicken stew with big hunks of potato and carrot and cook it all day. They serve it up with like Spanish rice and any other sides that you want. For 12 bucks, they give you this mountain of food. It’s two meals, easily. Maybe three. So, that’s definitely my No. 1 favorite in town. 2906 Fulton Rd., Cleveland. 216-281-8194.

Angie’s Soul Café: Um, so I love oxtail. I have a friend whose wife is Jamaican and she got me turned on to the dish a couple of years ago. People hear the name and get kind of freaked out, but to me, it’s one of the tastiest cuts of meat you can get. Angie’s is one of the places around town that does oxtail. There are those smothered pork chops there, which are amazing, too But oxtail there? Top notch. 7815 Carnegie Ave., Cleveland. 216-426-8890.

Wonton Gourmet & BBQ: Over on Payne Avenue, that place is very authentic. And what I mean by that is like, you know you can get Kung Pao chicken, Szechuan chicken — but they a ton of dishes that you’re not gonna find anywhere else. They do a lot of meals that cater to the Asian community, but also for those who want to try something a little different. My favorite dish there is the hot and spicy beef, real nice cuts of a flank steak or something, then covered in like hot chili peppers. Definitely not for the timid. Me, I love spicy, man. The spicier the better. I grow my own ghost peppers, scorpion peppers, make my own hot sauces. So, yeah, hotter the better for me. 3211 Payne Ave., Cleveland. 216-875-7000.

Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar: Nuevo downtown does like a Mexican-American fusion. I love this carnitas dish, I think it’s a slow-roasted pork shoulder or something. Fall-off-the-bone. They do various twists on guacamole, where they infuse it with a bunch of different variations. One has bacon, candied pecan and a maple-chipotle glaze, another has cured salmon with goat cheese… I can’t even think of ‘em all, but if you go, get that. And whatever they have that week as a special, definitely give that a try. It’s amazing. 1000 E. 9th St., Cleveland. 216-737-1000.

India Garden: Same as Wonton in that they have a lot of traditional Indian dishes, but they have, they have some really unique stuff, too. I love their lunch buffet, where you can go in and sample a little of everything. I like to hit that when I can and enjoy a bunch of just different flavors. It was my birthday recently, and when my group asked where I wanted to go eat, I was like, ‘We’re gonna India Garden it up. Here we go!’ I love that place. 18405 Detroit Ave., Lakewood. 216-221-0676.

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