Strangely enough, Cleveland just might be the clambake capital of the world. What we take for granted as an autumnal rite is pretty much neglected in other Midwestern cities. But here, as the leaves begin to turn and temperatures drop, clams, mussels, lobsters and other shellfish become ubiquitous.
Here are some local options:
Grumpy's CafE (2621 West 14th St., 216-241-5025, grumpys-cafe.com)
When: Every Friday and Saturday in October; Friday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 4 to 10 p.m.
What you get: One pound of clams, mesquite baked chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, Southwest corn, and homemade bread, for $18.99.
What makes it great: BYOB and no reservations required.
Graffiti: A Social Kitchen (1261 West 76th St., 216-651-6969, graffitisocialkitchen.com)
When: Every Wednesday in October, 5 to 11 p.m.
What you get: A dozen clams, a cup of clam chowder, corn, sweet potato, kielbasa and chicken. Add-ons include a 12-ounce NY strip steak, half-pound grilled Faroe Island salmon filet, or 1 pound of King Crab legs. $25.00 to 60.00.
What makes it great: A great patio on which to enjoy it, all within walking distance of the lake.
Bruno's Ristorante (2644 West 41st St., 216-961-7087, brunosristorante.net)
When: Every Friday and Saturday through Oct. 29, dinner service only.
What you get: Homemade clam chowder, a dozen middle-neck clams, choice of roasted Cornish hen ($26) or filet of beef ($33), sweet corn on the cob, sweet potato mash and white clam pasta. They'll even throw in your choice of dessert.
What makes it great: A true Italiano-style bake!
Gamekeeper's Taverne (87 West St., Chagrin Falls, 440-247-7744, gamekeepers.com)
When: Saturdays in October, and Friday, Oct. 28.
What you get: Clam chowder and mussels, a dozen clams, sweet corn, redskin potatoes, sweet potato, cole slaw and dessert with your choice of a whole Maine lobster ($69), strip steak ($60) or a half chicken ($55).
What makes it great: All-you-can-eat clam chowder and mussels.
Stone Mad Pub (1306 West 65th St., 216-281-6500)
When: Sunday, Oct. 16
What you get: One dozen clams, steak or chicken, New England clam chowder, corn on the cob, sweet potato and dessert for $35.
What makes it great: Live music from Chris Allen & the Guilty Hearts and one big party.
Don's Lighthouse (8905 Lake Ave., 216-961-6700, donslighthouse.com)
When: Every day through October
What you get: Whole lobster bake with middle-neck clams, sweet corn and red skin potatoes for $42; $10 off on Sunday and Thursday. A "regular" clambake swaps the lobster for a half chicken for $29.
What makes it great: You can eat it in a landmark.
Cleveland Clam Jam (215-221-4897, clamjamcleveland.com) takes its show on the road to destinations like Porco Lounge, cooking up seafood feasts like the "Cleveland" pot: shellfish, smoked kielbasa, beer, toasted spices and spicy chorizo lobster in a white wine broth.
Rather DIY? There are plenty of seafood retailers that can help. Seven Seas Seafood (15725 Lorain Ave., 216-941-1359), Euclid Fish Company (7839 Enterprise Dr., 440-951-6448, euclidfish.com), Lobster Bros. Seafood (26055 Detroit Rd., 440-835-0013, lobsterbrothers.com), and Catanese Classic Seafood (1600 Merwin Ave., 216-696-0080, classicseafood.com) are eager to assist.