Like many local neighborhoods, Detroit-Shoreway grew and evolved as immigrants moved into the area. Although settlers of Irish and German descent arrived first in the 1880s, a later influx of Italian immigrants had an even bigger impact. That heritage still has a strong influence in Detroit-Shoreway — the annual Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church Italian Festival is wildly popular — today the neighborhood is an eclectic melting pot with thriving art, restaurant, theater and entrepreneurship communities.
By now, it's a cliche to say that a restaurant operates as a farm-to-table establishment. However, many of the ingredients for Spice Kitchen & Bar's (5800 Detroit Ave.) dishes quite literally come from owner Ben Bebenroth's 13-acre sustainable family farm, Spice Acres, or from other small family farms near Cleveland. That direct pipeline ensures that Spice's food and cocktail menus are always being refreshed as soon as veggies, fruits and herbs come into season, making each visit a new and adventurous experience.
The Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Ave.) is known for its loaded-to-the-gills hot dogs, which can sometimes obscure the glorious diversity of its beer list. As with every bar in Cleveland, there's an extensive draft list full of rotating seasonal faves. But the Happy Dog's bottled options are equally impressive, what with the solid craft beer selections, an (appropriately priced) throwback beer section offering up retro brews such as Schlitz, Blatz and Strohs, and even a non-alcoholic beer option. Best of all, the bar's prices won't drain your wallet, leaving you with enough change left over for an order of booze-absorbing tater tots.
Although Cleveland Public Theatre (6415 Detroit Ave.) is committed to supporting home-grown artists and professionals alike, its dedication to fostering conversation and communication within the community at large is just as impressive. The theater's programming is diverse and thought provoking, and aims to illuminate and examine pressing social issues, while its youth-geared programs offer cultural and personal enrichment. CPT's ability to launch promising works by upstart playwrights is an asset that enriches (and emboldens) the local cultural scene.
Back in the '80s, video game arcades were the hippest places in which to hang, as they were communal gathering places as much as they were gaming emporiums. That's the vibe of Superelectric Pinball Parlor (6500 Detroit Ave.), whose rows of flashing machines brighten the corner of West 65th and Detroit. In a nod to the owners' reverence for pinball's history and evolution, simpler older models — all of which have been lovingly restored to their original colorful glory — are as common as sleek new games.
Chilling out at Toast (1365 West 65th St.) is a lot like kicking back in your living room. That's partly because the wine bar is in a warm, inviting brick building that resembles an actual house, and partly because everything on the menu — from the shareable snacks to the pastas and bigger plates — feels like a satisfying home-cooked meal. Don't miss Toast's brunch, either, which boasts hangover-fighting small plates (gravy fries! overstuffed French toast!), and lighter offerings.
On its website, the Daily Press (6604 Detroit Ave.) clarifies that it's "more than a juicery; it is a reflection of a lifestyle." That's truth in advertising: The menu hews toward healthy and delicious, what with its avocado toast, salad and panini options, as well as smoothies that mix fortifying ingredients with sneaky pops of sweetness. Of course, Daily Press' array of organic cold pressed juices (which boast clever names such as the Spin Dr. and Kaleing Me Softly) are the real stars here.
Tucked away at the back of the second floor of the 78th Street Studios is one of the best record stores in America. Think this is hyperbole? Think again: Bent Crayon (1305 West 80th St.) stocks vinyl and CDs from the creme de la creme of experimental and independent labels and acts from around the world. Best of all, musical discovery is a snap here; chances are, you'll walk out of each Bent Crayon visit with a great record (or two) from a new-to-you act.
Some restaurants try to have a little something on the menu to please everyone. Banter (7320 Detroit Ave.) is not one of those places. The sleek spot has a very specific food focus — namely, poutine and sausage — and concentrates on developing robust variations on each. Banter's obsession with unique craft beer and wine is also to our benefit, as the space also offers some of the best imbibing options around.
It's difficult to find authentic Puerto Rican restaurants in Cleveland. Thankfully, Rincon Criollo (6504 Detroit Ave.) dishes up a well-curated menu of traditional fare, especially mofongo, a dish based around a heaping helping of fried plantains; and the restaurant's famous jibarito sandwich, steak tips between fried plantains. And, of course, flan for dessert.
The creative soul behind iLTHY (6602 Detroit Ave.), Glen Infante, is responsible for the gigantic Prince mural that greets people heading to the Flats West Bank. However, the owner of this self-proclaimed art company (the name stands for "I love the hype") also keeps busy with his brick-and-mortar establishment in Gordon Square, which sells tees, hoodies, caps, bags and other ephemera inspired by pop culture and sports.
Combining beer and donuts is such a brilliant idea, it's hard to believe this fusion wasn't a thing until Brewnuts (6501 Detroit Ave.) came along. In recent months, the company has stepped out of the kitchen and opened up a bona fide corner bar that sells their sugary wares along with coffee and tasty local brews. The concept is so Cleveland, it should come with a complimentary snow shovel.
Late last year, Janet Jackson was spotted dining at Luxe (6605 Detroit Ave.) before her Cleveland show. If that's not a ringing endorsement of the convivial Gordon Square bistro, we're not sure what is — although it doesn't hurt that the establishment's extensive menu contains an abundance of indulgent Mediterranean-Italian fare. During the summer, Luxe's lush private patio bursts with the sounds of local musicians or DJs, giving the space a relaxing vibe like what you might find on a tropical vacation.
Many coffee shops get antsy when people hang around for hours studying or chatting with friends. Not Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. (6425 Detroit Ave.), a friendly face at the West 65th and Detroit intersection. As its name implies, this corner storefront is a coffee shop with soul-warming soups and sandwiches, along with tantalizing desserts and baked goods. Charming little flourishes, such as cheerful monthly drink specials, go even further to make Gypsy Beans a Gordon Square treasure.
Going to a movie at the Capitol Theatre (1390 West 65th St.) feels like stepping through a portal to the past. Sure, the theater sells drinks, and the seats are cushy and comfortable, but the curling staircase and fancy decor give a hint of vintage Hollywood glamor. The Capitol programs a solid mix of blockbusters and indie films, while its late-night retro flicks (and Melt-associated sandwiches) are a nostalgic delight.
The sister bar to Ohio City's ABC the Tavern (get it?), XYZ (6419 Detroit Ave.) offers the best late-night noshing on the west side, as its kitchen is open until 2 a.m. (Added bonus: Their midnight grub menu includes gigantic slices of New York-style pizza.) Throw in more than 20 draft beers, a staggering array of whiskeys and bourbons, and some of the most underrated barbecue in town, and XYZ is an ideal destination any time of day.
Try to explain Dyngus Day to most people outside of Cleveland. (Go on; we'll wait.) In a nutshell, it's an annual Polish celebration that takes place the Monday after Easter (this year, April 2), that aims to help people blow off steam after Lent. For Clevelanders, it's become a beloved local tradition centered at Detroit Avenue and West 58th Street (or "Cleveland Dyngus Headquarters," as the official site says) that features beer, polka music and plenty of bacchanalia.
Stone Mad (1306 West 65th St.) certainly echoes authentic Irish pubs. Exhibit A: the ornate, wood-paneled restaurant's selection of Guinness-based pints and concoctions. (Try a snakebite or black velvet, and thank us later.) However, Stone Mad has much more in common with modern American gastropubs, in the way that the restaurant prioritizes quality scratch-made food with eclectic influences, and rousing entertainment. Expect sets from local artists, a killer overhead music mix, and room for the rowdy to blow off steam at the Italian bocce ball court.
Build up a healthy appetite before visiting the old-fashioned dessert emporium Sweet Moses (6800 Detroit Ave.). The parlor offers up authentic pharmacy-era soda fountain drinks, phosphates, milkshakes, of course, homemade ice cream. (Don't miss the list of specialty sundaes, most of which are drizzled with kettle-cooked hot fudge!) Plus, in the sneakiest move of all, patrons have to enter and exit right next to a display case full of mouth-watering chocolate delights, making the chances of an impulse on the way out a good bet.
Near West Theatre's (6702 Detroit Ave.) mission is to "build loving relationships and engage diverse people in strengthening their sense of identity, passion, and purpose, individually and in community, through transformational theatre arts experiences." In practice, that means the theater produces intergenerational musicals and plays (as well as ones featuring casts of kids and teens), and uses these productions to instill and reiterate core values (e.g., inclusion, activism, integrity) that will help make the world a better place.
The Black Market (5407 Detroit Ave.) lives up to its name — and that's great news for us all. First and foremost, the store carries a well-curated selection of edgier ephemera: taxidermy, jewelry, music (cassettes, vinyl and CDs), art, apparel and books. However, the Black Market's steady slate of decidedly alternative exercise classes adds a welcome, darker dimension to Cleveland's activity landscape. There's punk yoga; guided meditation classes sound-tracked by doom metal and drone; and even goth yoga done by candlelight.
One of the newer kids on the Cleveland brewery block, Terrestrial Brewing Company (7524 Father Frascati Blvd.) opened in 2017 in the converted powerhouse building next to the now-departed Cha. Brewer Ralph Sgro formerly worked at Platform Beer, which no doubt explains why Terrestrial's concept is rooted in irreverent high-quality beer. After all, how many places decide to name a Scotch ale after the rock band Ween? That would be the Ween Heavy, with its tagline, "Paint the town brown. Sweet and toasty, with a blast of chocolate."