Food, drink and sights to see in Cleveland
March 11, 2019 10:29 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Cleveland for a conference in mid-April and am looking for some restaurant and bar suggestions in the area around my hotel and the convention center, and maybe some nearby sights I can check out quickly.

I'll be staying near the Quicken Loans Arena and doing conference work during the day at the Huntington Convention Center. I have some downtime activities further afield planned, but am hoping to find some good food/drink and hopefully some interesting sights I can quickly check out near or between these two points, too. I'll mostly be on foot, it looks like.

No restrictions food-wise, but I prefer older/dive-type bars and cheap-to-mid price, non-chain, unpretentious restaurants. If the place has a single word name in lower case lettering and $18 burgers, it's probably not my speed.

Casting a wide net sights-wise, but local history, music/the arts, architecture/gardens related recommendations will be especially appreciated.
posted by ryanshepard to Travel & Transportation around Cleveland, OH (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: SOKOLOWSKI'S. So. Amazingly. Good. Make sure you check the website for their hours; they only open for dinner twice weekly but are open for lunch Monday-Friday.

If you go for dinner, you will wait in line, no matter what time you go. I can't speak to the lunch line but I bet there is one.

I sincerely hope, for your sake, that they have Chicken Paprikash on the day you go. Also get pierogi. OMG.
posted by cooker girl at 10:46 AM on March 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you do range further afield and can get a car, University Circle and Coventry are both excellent trips.

All the museums in University Circle are great. The Art museum is worth a dedicated trip and the botanical gardens are excellent.

tommy's is an institution in Coventry and has lots of vegan dishes. There's a great used bookstore next door called Mac's Backs Books. Down the street is the Grog Shop which brings in lots of local bands.
posted by graxe at 10:57 AM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you decide that you're up for springing for a pricier meal, I can't recommend the Greenhouse Tavern enough
posted by nuclear_soup at 10:58 AM on March 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: If you do range further afield and can get a car, University Circle and Coventry are both excellent trips.

I am planning to go to University Circle to hit the art museum. Lunch recommendations nearby will also be greatly appreciated!
posted by ryanshepard at 10:59 AM on March 11, 2019

Seconding the Greenhouse Tavern. The food there is outrageous. If possible, try to get the chicken wings. Oh my god, the chicken wings. I thought about them for days afterwards.
posted by holborne at 11:00 AM on March 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ontario Street Cafe

Dive bar where the beer prices ($2 buds "raised since the World Series") and great, actually diverse/mixed clientele make it one of my favorite bars I've ever been. Looks like they got food but I didn't get it.
posted by sandmanwv at 11:05 AM on March 11, 2019

A good friend of mine is the owner/chef at The Black Pig.
posted by terrapin at 11:09 AM on March 11, 2019

The restaurants in the downtown tend to be either more expensive, or not very good. I would hop on the Red Line subway at Tower City, head one stop west (toward the airport), and check out the area around the historic West Side Market building. The Cleveland equivalent of Les Halles, there's a lot of history, and a lot of delicious food. There's an inexpensive restaurant inside that's open for lunch, West Side Market Cafe. If you can only make dinner, the Market Garden Brewery has creative pierogies, though at slightly higher prices than you may be looking for. Just down the street is Cleveland's renowed Great Lakes Brewing. Sokolowski's is supposed to be good as well, but there's not much around there.

There's a lot to see and do in Cleveland. The downtown public library always has neat exhibits, and the symphony and art museum are shockingly good for a city of Cleveland's size. The inertia of wealth is strong; most people associate John D. Rockefeller with New York but he made his fortune in Cleveland. Playhouse Square and the indoor "gallerias" show a lot of that wealth in their ornate decor.

It's not downtown, the botanical garden to the east of Cleveland is very nice. If you're into history and greenery, there are a series of little-known "cultural gardens" lining the winding Rockefeller Park, the end of which is the botanical garden. Probably you need a car unless you are really into walking, but if you've ever wondered what a garden that commemerates Hungarian immigrants looks like, this is your place.
posted by wnissen at 11:13 AM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm not a resident, and it's not downtown, but I had a stunning meal at Carnicero when I was there.

Also, if you're into mountain biking, check out Ray's Indoor MTB park. You can rent a bike there - tons of fun.
posted by Vhanudux at 11:19 AM on March 11, 2019

Best answer: Do we need a librarians of MF meetup at ACRL?
posted by kbuxton at 11:38 AM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Do we need a librarians of MF meetup at ACRL?

posted by ryanshepard at 11:46 AM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Any thoughts on how to reach out to any other MF Librarians who might not see this thread? My schedule is still pretty open (and I've only been to ACRL once so can't quite remember what all gets scheduled around it).
posted by kbuxton at 12:34 PM on March 11, 2019

Response by poster: Any thoughts on how to reach out to any other MF Librarians who might not see this thread? My schedule is still pretty open (and I've only been to ACRL once so can't quite remember what all gets scheduled around it).

Posting on IRL is the traditional method.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:39 PM on March 11, 2019

Best answer: As per a just-organized IRL event: OH!, Ontario Street is apparently cash-only, just as a heads-up.

Downtown: I would hope even a research and college library conference would include a stop at the downtown branch of our Public Library, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. But if not, it's worth a visit.

You'll be in walking distance of Public Square (which just got a massive facelift) which includes the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and Terminal Tower. You can also walk to the Free Stamp and the Rock Hall. Jack Casino is also in walking distance of your routes, if that's your thing.

East 4th Street is sort of the social hub closest to your routes. It includes the House of Blues concert club, Hilarities comedy club, and the Corner Alley for bowling. Also a branch of the CLE Clothing Company for your souvenir needs. Plus a bunch of other bars/restaurants in the general area.

On the pricier end of the food line, there's Lola and Mabel's BBQ, the brainchildren of our celebrity chef Michael Symon. For cheaper local food in the E. 4th area I'd go for Barrio Tacos and Otani Noodle.

There's the architecturally significant Cleveland Arcade, worth a wander through on your travels - it's mostly a hotel these days, the shopping and dining is not so much, but it does have a branch of the best coffee in Cleveland, Rising Star. Also the 5th St. Arcades (formerly known as the Colonial & Euclid Arcades), which on the Euclid side can satisfy your sweet tooth with Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop or Colossal Cupcakes.

University Circle: Quick note on the art museum - general admission is free, some of the special exhibits do require a paid ticket, and some of those are popular enough that they basically require you buy your tickets ahead of time and may have scheduled viewing times, so plan accordingly.

The Botanical Gardens, Museum of Natural History, Western Reserve Historical Museum and Severance Hall are literally right next to the art museum. A short walk away is the area we're apparently now calling "Uptown" (although that website is slightly out of date), which houses the Museum of Contemporary Art, and some bars and restaurants. On your walk you can pass by the Frank Gehry-designed Peter B. Lewis Building.

Food and drink, there's The Jolly Scholar, a brewpub on the campus of Case Western Reserve University (I'm not much of a beer drinker, but people I trust say the beer is usually good, and their food is (IMO) better-than-average burgers & bar food), ABC the Tavern, another branch of Otani Noodle in case you missed the one downtown, Inchin Bamboo Garden (pan-asian fusion) and Chapati Indian Grill (sort of an Indian version of the Chipotle build-your-own-bowl idea). And for dessert you can't pass by Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:33 AM on March 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding (and thirding) all of the above. The main branch of the Cleveland Public Library is indeed excellent as is the Cleveland (aka Euclid aka Old) Arcade (the pride of 1890). The Ontario Street Cafe has $2 draft beers.

I'd strongly recommend going to W.25th to visit the West Side Market (try a Maha's falafel and sit on the balcony overlooking all the vendors). If you like Cambodian/Vietnamese food, Phnom Penh right next door can't be beat. There are plenty of bars in the area, ABC the Tavern probably qualifies as the closest to a dive.

If you decide to visit Sokolowski's keep in mind you will gain 10 pounds and be unable to move afterward. Near there (the Tremont area) there are a number of other great bars/restaurants, such as Fat Cats, Edison's (dive bar with truly amazing and decadent pizza), and the Lava Lounge.

Also throwing in for Tommy's as being one of the best cheap places to eat in the University Circle area.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 8:20 AM on March 12, 2019

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