The Local’s Guide To Cleveland: Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Special Issue
Take Drew Carey out of the punchline, and you might be surprised by what you find. Cleveland, Ohio, beyond what people think they know, is a pretty amazing city. Beyond live music, the food is delicious, the parks are lovely and the people are awesome.
So rather than eating at the obvious downtown chains and expensive restaurants, here are some places to help you see CLE like a native. Yes, there’s awesome live music at the Agora, the House of Blues, the Grog Shop, the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern. We know you know how to find the great live spots, but what about the local jewels? Here’s your field guide.
And the best part? Almost everything on this list is a 10-minute cab ride from most downtown hotels.
West Side Market/W. 25th
The West Side Market has every nationality, every kind of meat, cheese, pasta and bakery item you can imagine. There’s a grill if you want that counter at the diner experience; but better to hit a bunch of the different stalls to chat up the old school butchers, mongers and bakers for a mix’n’match experience that’ll make that fancy charcuterie platter you ordered in WeHo or SoHo look like Lunchables.
The Old Angle, 1848 W. 25th Street
Located in the city’s first pharmacy, there’s always a game on, pretty decent pub grub and the best pint of Guinness in Cleveland. If you like Irish bars, chatty bartenders who can also leave you alone and the kind of dark wood hole in the wall – though this one also has big windows up front – this is the cave for you.
Gordon Square Arts District/Detroit-Shoreway
There’s a reclamation going on in what was once a very working class near West Side neighborhood. Now a walking area of art galleries, bars, stores, restaurants and residential, Gordon Square is also home to Cleveland Public Theater, Near West Theatre which focuses on youth and community theater, indie HausFrau record store and the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.
Happy Dog, 5801 Detroit Ave
Dogs, kielbasi, burgers, vegan options, tots and fries – and plenty of live music. What makes the dogs so happy: myriad toppings, from meat and cheese to savory and fresh, kimchi to white beercheese fondue, Chupacabra hot sauce to Habanero pickled red onions.
Little Italy/Murray Hill
Like time melted, you hit cobblestone streets where the storefronts are on the street level and window boxes for people’s apartments are above. Art galleries mingle with pizza shops, cannoli stands and old school Italian restaurants. The great debate of the Hill’s Mama Sante’s Pizza versus Geraci’s on Warrensville Center Road in University Heights rages on…
Presti’s Bakery. 12101 Mayfield Rd
Cookies? Cakes? Gelato? Pastry? Biscotti? Coffee drinks? They’ve got it all, and they’ve got it good! Eat inside or on the sidewalk, pack a box to take with you. Plus, their daily menu of calzones, pasta, vegetables and salads will soothe any kind of hunger for not very much money.
Cleveland Museum of Art/University Circle
The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the greatest unheralded art museums in America. Whatever you like – sculpture, American modern, Japanese, ancient, Impressionist – you will find it in the recently redone CMA. There is a focus on pottery, sculpture, Edwardian and religious artifacts, as well as the Cleveland Botanical Gardens across the street.
L’Albatros, 11401 Bellflower Rd.
Originally a carriage house, weather-permitting the patio is an outdoor dining solution. With focus on classic French cooking, more for the soul than the froufrou, it’s a destination spot for foodies, Case Western Reserve professors, date nights for doctors from the Cleveland Clinic. An excellent, but not outrageous wine list, as well as creative cocktails. But the real treat: a cheese monger with a tableside presentation that’s jaw-dropping.
The Emerald Necklace/Cleveland’s MetroParks
While steel money built the city, someone was wise enough to protect the greenspace long before it was environmentally responsible. Whether Kirtland’s Holden Arboretum with its 3500 acres of woodlands and 200 acres of cultivated gardens, the various reservations across Cuyahoga County or the Metrozoo, the hiking, biking, kayaking and nature – especially the trees – are good for the soul.
Sleepy Hollow Public Golf Course, 9445 Brecksville Rd.
One of seven courses in the Emerald Necklace, the Stanley Thompson-designed 6893 yards from the tips 18 holer is considered one of the most beautiful layouts in Ohio. Par 71, Golfweek’s Top 5 Municipal Courses in the state has hosted various USGA qualifying events and works to maintain a 4 ½ hour round of golf.
Chagrin Falls/Chagrin Falls
Upscale quaintness gives Chagrin Falls its charm, but the people who live there are what makes it so welcoming. Longtime home to Belkin Productions, you can stroll the Square and shop, stop at Jeni’s Ice Cream for the most local frozen confections, visit bespoke suitmaker and high end sportswear boutique Cuffs, one of America’s only Hermes concessionaires, or drop into Fireside Books to browse for your next read. But the real attraction are the actual falls and the river that feeds them; sit on the bank and watch the ducks and water roll by, or cross Main Street and walk down the stairs to the foot of a local wonder.
The Popcorn Shop, 53 N. Main Street
Fresh popcorn. Frozen custard. Euclid Beach Taffy, made from the old amusement park’s recipe. Coffee drinks. A wall of sweets. For many kids growing up over the last 70 years, after dinner, it was a drive in the country and a small chocolate cone while walking down to the Falls.
Once home to the city’s academic elite, there is literally a Literary Avenue and Professor Street. With plenty of old world churches, homes that have been preserved, it’s a wonderful way to see homes – and not mansions –built in the early 1900s. Visible Voices Books, well-curated and offering light bites and wine, is a great place to while away an hour.
Prosperity Inn, 1109 Starkweather Ave
Originally operated at Dembrowski’s Oasis Tavern, starting in 1938, this is a shot’n’a beer joint that serves up stuffed cabbage, cabbage and noodles with kielbasa, potato pierogies, and the once Friday night, but now always beer battered fish fry. Being more modern, they also have vegan/glutin-free vegetable curry, Prosperity bowls, vegan “chicken” wings and mix-in your own mac’n’cheese. They say “The Clevelandest Bar in Cleveland” for a reason.
Sunday, Bloody Sunday/Cleveland Stadium
Cleveland Browns v the Pittsburgh Steelers
Witness one of the greatest rivalries in the NFL! See the infamous Dog Pound in action! Understand why Rust Belt sports has an aggression that’s all its own!
A lifetime of opposition, this match-up is one you’d never fly to Cleveland for. But since you’re here, why not get hooked up with some tickets – and watch neighbors and adversaries duke it out. In Cleveland, where the teams tend to be something you root for as an act of faith, there’s a special mojo that comes out of the players for this game.
And as J.D. Souther has said, “Best ballpark mustard in the country’s in Cleveland.”