One of Cleveland's most historic neighborhoods was ground zero during the housing crisis, but Slavic Village is slowly but surely climbing out of the hole. It might not get the love that some of the other inner-ring neighborhoods get, but that doesn't mean there isn't a whole lot to love and discover. From the Metroparks, along with its Washington Golf Learning Center's dynamite par-3 course, to delectable (and downright cheap) Polish eats at Seven Roses, old-time sausage purveyors like R&K and some of the best action for cycling in Northeast Ohio, there's a ton to discover just minutes from downtown.
The lady butchers of Fleet Avenue opened Saucisson just last year, but the shop already feels like an institution. Melissa Khoury and Penny Barend's meat market offers a rotating selection of products like fresh-cased sausage, pates and rillettes, nitrate- and preservative-free deli meats like mortadella, and popular items like tasso, smoked chorizo, bacon, jerky, and chicharron. All are made with locally raised meat. Saucisson also offers a prepared soup, sandwich or other meal of the day. A freezer is stocked with soups and stocks, rendered lard, ground meats, soup bones and other items.
Whether it's for bowling, a clambake, a pop-up comedy show or one of the many, many other events that go down within the hallowed walls of the Slovenian National Home, no one enters the Nash without remarking what a unique and great venue it is. The 100-year-old building, one of eight Slovenian centers that once dotted the city, has emerged into a new life, thanks to Anthony Trzaska who, like many growing up in the neighborhood, attended more fish fries and community events at the center that he can count. Declining membership and maintenance issues once threatened the life of the building, but since Trzaska's broadened the Nash's vision, it has become home to an eclectic mix of events (Hannibal Buress played a show there last year) that bridge Old World and New.
Now entering its fifth year, the annual Rooms to Let exhibition in Slavic Village (usually in late spring) features art installations in vacant homes and empty lots throughout the neighborhood. It's an ongoing and interactive conversation about neighborhood and housing transformation that lets artists tackle housing issues with temporary artistic creations. The weekend-long event also features live music and performance art. "We pay homage to the people and buildings that previously occupied our community, while describing what the future may hold for Historic Neighborhoods in Legacy Cities — especially at a time when new businesses are moving to Slavic Village and homes are being renovated for new homeowners," says Christopher Alvarado, executive director of Slavic Village Development.
Sign up for beginners' classes, available for both kids and adults, at the Cleveland Velodrome, an Olympic-style bike race track in Slavic Village. Yes, there's an Olympic-style velodrome track in Slavic Village. It's free — but make sure to sign up online — and you can use one of their track bikes while you learn about fixed gear riding, stopping and starting, parts of the track, how to get on and off the track, how to ride a smooth line, what the different lines mean and basic track rules and etiquette. It's a blast, and it's the only place in the region to try it out.