By now you've likely been besieged with tips and guides on what to eat and where to drink while visiting The Championship City. But since most of those suggestions have been put forth by outside media or inside boosters, please take them with the shaker of salt they deserve.
Below you'll find not only a listing of worthwhile spots to sip and snack like a local, but also one that doesn't include places that are closed for private events or located inside that pesky security perimeter.
Bar Cento (1948 West 25th St., 216-274-1010, barcento.com) is open every single day of the year until 2:30 in the morning, so they're not about to mess things up now. Swing by this laid-back wine bar for amazing meat and cheese boards, killer frites served with an array of sauces, and smart, seasonal entrees brimming with local ingredients. But most people come to this 10-year-old enoteca for the fly pies, a roster of a dozen thin, crisp and shrewdly topped platters that are served, you guessed it, every day of the year until 2:30 in the morning.
Jack Flaps (3900 Lorain Ave., 216-961-5199, jack-flaps.com) serves the funkiest breakfast in town on the edge of town. This diminutive diner specializes in sweet and savory breakfast items like waffles, flap jacks and french toast, but none of it is conventional. The Fat Elvis caps a waffle with banana, whipped peanut butter and bacon praline, while the Benedicto Mexicano is like biscuits and gravy dragged kicking and screaming across the border. Here, "bacon" is Mexican Coke-glazed pork belly. And you should get it.
Johnny Mango (3120 Bridge Ave., 216-575-1919, jmango.com) is like that wonderful little lunch spot you wandered into on vacation when you didn't know where you'd wind up. It's bright and beachy, with festive artwork shellacking most of the interior. The drinks are equally cheerful, with margaritas, sangrias and Long Island iced teas at the ready. Even the food is an escape from the everyday, with a curated menu of inexpensive dishes plucked from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Far East. Most people dig the black bean quesadillas, the shrimp pad Thai, and the spicy jerk chicken.
Old Angle (1848 West 25th St., 216-861-5643) is where the locals drink whiskey and watch sports, mainly soccer, but also baseball, basketball, football and golf. The grub here leans to Irish comfort foods like pot pies, shepherd's pie, fish sandwiches, burgers and fries. The drink leans to draft and bottled beer and the aforementioned brown booze. This convivial tavern predates most of the bars and restaurants on the main Ohio City drag, earning it a loyal following among longtime neighborhood residents.
The Tremont Tap House (2572 Scranton Rd., 216-298-4451, tremonttaphouse.com) is an oasis of craft beer and gourmet grub in an overlooked section of otherwise bustling Tremont. From dozens of taps flow some of the best brews available locally, including many brewed right here in Cleveland. Knock those beers back on the roomy patio or inside the snug gastropub, where upscale bar food keeps regulars coming back for more. On the plates are fat German pretzels, pork belly nachos, and blackened salmon BLTs. Sunday brunch here is tops.
Fat Cats (2061 West 10th St., 216-579-0200, coolplacestoeat.com) was cool before Tremont was cool, with this hip bistro approaching 20 years in the business of pleasing neighbors. Settle in at the petite bar, beneath a fading pressed-tin ceiling, and take in the view, which includes funky local art and views of the city skyline through the picture window. The hearty but progressive Mediterranean menu goes big on flavor, with items like grilled octopus, pan-roasted salmon and the overlooked bavette steak. The chef-owner knows his way around both a bouillabaisse and a wine list.
- Photo by Emanuel Wallace
Bac (2661 West 14th St., 216-938-8960, bactremont.com) is a one-off that attracts the lunch, happy hour and dinner crowds thanks to original, contemporary pan-Asian food. This laid-back neighborhood bistro is going on seven years thanks to a menu of delicious and different Asian American eats like green papaya salad, pork-filled steam buns, mango curry and Vietnamese crepes. Hit the bar, dining room or patio for a true Cleveland experience.
Edison's Pub (2373 Professor Ave., 216- 522-0006, edisonspub.com) wears its "dive bar" status like a rusty crown. This is the place where neighbors, dogs and in-the-know visitors cohabitate in tipsy harmony to live music, rowdy trivia or the soothing sound of popcorn popping. A good-enough beer selection is served up by personality-rich bartenders operating with limited space. Open til 2:30 every night, Edison's is often that last stop for locals before they call it a night. Before you call it a night, order a pizza from the adjacent shop.