Best Atmosphere


This rambling restaurant in Cleveland Heights -- one part Irish pub, one part museum, and another part music showcase -- has a little shrine to James Joyce in the dining room. It's fitting: After all, Nighttown was named after the red-light district in Joyce's Ulysses. Owner Brendan Ring's immense collection of vintage posters, oil paintings, and photographs crowd nearly every inch of available wall space. There's also a funky bar in the back room and an incongruously luxurious women's restroom, which Ring personally ripped out of the former Classics on Euclid Avenue and installed in his own establishment. And let's not forget the menu selections, ranging from common "bangers and mash" (juicy grilled English sausage piled on a bed of mashed potatoes and cabbage) to the la-di-da Dublin Lawyer (sautéed lobster with mushrooms and scallions with Irish whiskey and cream). And finally, there is the live music provided by local talent as well as national artists, ranging from jazz icon Ahmad Jamal to acoustic guitar virtuoso Adrian Legg, seven nights a week. Put them all together, and you get one of the most visually interesting and authentically evocative restaurants around.