Don't let those bulging calf muscles fool you: For most of our hiking and biking buds, a workout on the Towpath Trail is as much an excuse to toss back a few cold ones and load up on carbs as it is about fitness. Until recently, though, the choice of accessible and appropriate eateries for trail-heads has been limited to a few vintage watering holes and a couple of chains. But all that has changed with the recent opening of Park City Diner (8111 Rockside Road, Valley View; 216-328-0575), an upscale but spandex-friendly trailside restaurant in Thornburg Station.
The newest project for restaurateur Frank Sinito (owner of nearby Lockkeepers), the diner is shaping up to be the final word in fresh-air swank. The physical space is a gas, laid out like a 1940s diner and decorated in a perky palette of orange, black, and silver. And the big menu, the province of Executive Chef Keoko Turner, is a mouthwatering read, with dishes ranging from burgers and dogs to citrus-glazed salmon, egg rolls, and Thai-style chicken wings. (Chef's own recent adventures have taken him not down the towpath, but through the kitchens of the most excellent Vivo and Alexandria's on Main.) And these guys clearly know their intended audience: Besides the eats, there's also a major menu of beer, wine, and cocktails.
The diner is open Monday through Saturday for lunch, dinner, and after-dark noshes. Sunday hours and breakfast service should debut this fall.
Everyone's an expert . . . Whether you just want to decipher a wine list or are gunning for a spot among the local elite, there's a place for you in one of the city's burgeoning crop of wine programs. For casual quaffers, wine guru Todd Thompson's series of laid-back tastings at Grady's Fine Wines (20253 Lake Road, Rocky River; 440-333-3106) promises to be friendly fun. The Thursday-night events will be held August 7 through 28, beginning at 7:30; preregistration and prepayment are required. Visit www.ttwine.com for details.
And for would-be connoisseurs, Cleveland Wine School events are pleasurable and loaded with serious insights. Coming up on August 12 is "Learning Italy: One Grape at a Time," a 6 p.m. tutored tasting at the Hilton Cleveland-South in Independence. The $50 event is a benefit for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, in memory of the late John Unger, a native Clevelander and Master Sommelier who died last January of leukemia. For more info, or to register, contact Marianne Frantz at 216-295-9583, or visit www.clevelandwineschool.com.