Need Ideas for a Romantic/Fun Cleveland, Ohio Date
October 4, 2006 9:08 PM   Subscribe

My significant other is coming to Cleveland, OH to visit. What should we do/eat to woo her to my city.

She is coming the weekend of the 20th and I actually live 1.5 hours south of Cleveland but it is the biggest city in my area. I've been to a few downtown bars which I liked (Flannerys) but I'd like to get some tips from the locals. One of my ideas was to go to Pickwick and frollick but they have no acts that weekend.

I am planning on going to Marbella Friday night. I see it is in the warehouse district, I've heard about it, but is there anyting to do there for fun?

Your help is much appreciated.
posted by mi6op to Travel & Transportation around Cleveland, OH (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm afraid I can't help you on things to do. I scour the entire region for restaurants but between meals I mostly just digest. I've been told that Cleveland has a hoppin' music scene. Hopefully, someone can enlighten us.

As far as food, I'll assume you're looking for a fine-dining establishment. I hate that phrase but I hope we understand one another. I would suggest Lola and Parker's. Call now for reservations at Lola. They just opened a couple weeks ago and it was the most anticipated opening in the city in many years. More than 10, probably. I didn't have any trouble getting a reservation but I went on a Tuesday. The meal was great so it's not just hype, if you'll trust my judgment after one visit.

Parker's was listed in Gourmet's recent "50 Best Restaurants in the US" and I'd say it was well deserved. As far as I'm aware, this is Gourmet's first list since 2001 where Parker's also placed near the middle. Sadly, they'll be closing their doors at the end of the year. I'm taking it hard.

Lola has a hip, downtown vibe. It's probably a little pricier than Mallorca (I assume you meant Mallorca. Marbella is far from the Warehouse District). Parker's is more restrained and relaxed. Also less expensive. Maybe on par with Mallorca. (I've only been to Mallorca once.) Obviously, Parker's and Lola are both far below the sticker-shock pricing you'd see at many of the restaurants on Gourmet's list. Lola is on E 4th which is a nice street(right by Pickwick and Frolic?). It's currently experiencing a revitalization which is perfect if your sweetheart is into urban planning. Parker's is in Ohio City which is a great neighborhood. Lots of history, lots of charm and some decent food.

If you're interested in brunch, try Lucky's in Tremont. May I suggest the waffles? It's a coffee house that serves brunch on the weekends. They use local ingredients where possible and they've earned a strong following for their high quality.

Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese, sandwiches... If you're looking for more casual suggestions I have some more of those, too. And I'll remember this thread. If I find something to do between eating, I'll revisit the thread. It might help if you could be a little more specific about what type of activities she (or you) are interested in. Nature? Theater? Classical music? Jazz? Comedy?

Have fun.
posted by stuart_s at 10:35 PM on October 4, 2006

Where's your friend coming from? If I was trying to sell a NYC resident on Cleveland, I'd probably emphasize the lovely and accessible parks, cheap rents and surprising pockets of cosmopolitanism. If she was from a rural area, playing up museums, ethnic dining and whatnot might be more effective.

Also, an hour and a half south? You might as well try to sell her on Columbus--it couldn't be a whole lot further, and it's also a nice town.
posted by box at 4:56 AM on October 5, 2006

Greetings. :D

I run a neigbhorhood website for one of the hip/arty areas of Cleveland. If you like galleries, fine dining and/or indie rock come to Tremont.

Coventry on the East Side is another hip but more commerical area. You'd want to stop by Big Fun [vintage toy store] for sure, and maybe grab a tasty and inexpensive lunch at Tommy's. [They have been catering to vegetarians for years, but also have meat stuff too].

Don't go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is a waste of time and money. The Great Lakes Science Center next door would be a better bet.

The best place in the city to go for a cocktail is The Velvet Tango Room. Drinks are pricy [$15] but you'll never taste anything better. They use only fresh ingredients [no mixes] make their own club soda, etc. The Ramos Gin Fizz or Bourbon Daisy will blow you away. Paulius gives every woman a thornless red rose if he's around.

You might check the other posts tagged with Cleveland as well.

modern cleveland is another great resource.

The Flats might be fun if you're into clubbing, go to the Rock Bottom Brewery, there is a comedy club located there if I'm not mistaken. For plays there is playhouse square, but I recommend going someplace like Cleveland Public Theater or The Liminis.

Cool Cleveland will also let you in on what things are going on in the city on a given week.


The Church: [DIY space, noise bands and fringe groups]
Pat's in the Flats [local Indie rock]
Grog Shop [Thee Silver Mt. Zion had a sweet show there awhile back]
Beachland Ballroom

What else would you like to know? :D
posted by sciurus at 6:07 AM on October 5, 2006

Surprised nobody recommended the Little Italy area, where you can't walk more than a few feet without stumbling into a restaurant or bakery of some sort. There's also Saravá and Fire in Shaker Square.

The Modern Cleveland site has a very strong West Side bias.

Basically: West Side (Detroit-Shoreway, Old Brooklyn, Parma, Lakewood, Rocky River, etc): bigger bar/music scene, more young professionals (mainly because of easy access to downtown), very large GBLT community, housing with "character" is quite affordable, but the area generally has more of a Catholic blue-collar feel. East Side (Shaker Square/Larchmere, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, University Heights, Beachwood, etc): more sophisticated dining, quite affluent (outside of the Cleveland city limits), the bulk of the region's colleges/universities and cultural institutions, ethnicaly diverse, population generally quite liberal, but definitely more family-oriented than the West Side. Drew Carey - West Side, Harvey Pekar - East Side.

Downtown, Tremont and Ohio City are where the two sides meet. It's really where you're going to fnd the best dining.

If your SO is Jewish, Italian or has a graduate degree, she'll feel far more comfortable settling down on the East Side. If she's Irish or comes from a more blue-collar background, go West. If your SO is of the same sex, Lakewood awaits you.
posted by elmwood at 7:37 AM on October 5, 2006

Wow, Thanks everyone for your great responses. To help clarify some things I wouldn't mind catching a comedy act or a some live music, Jazz, Blues, something classy. I am amazed with all the great sounding restaurants, mostly everything I know of is through radio advertising.

I was thinking about Little Italy, I've walked through there once, had a donut and saw all the restaurants. Any recommendations?
posted by mi6op at 8:41 AM on October 5, 2006

For Blues, you can go to Fat Fish Blue, Robert Lockwood, Jr. plays there on a weekly basis.

The VTR has live jazz every evening, the Bop Stop has jazz intermittantly.

If you can cath The Up Ensemble, I heartily recommend them. They are playing at Nighttown on the 21st.
posted by sciurus at 9:35 AM on October 5, 2006

What is the "VTR?
posted by mi6op at 6:37 PM on October 6, 2006

VTR is The Velvet Tango Room that sciurus mentioned above. He's correct when he says that they're the best place for a discerning cocktail drinker. In addition to making their own club soda they make their own root beer, they superfreeze ice cubes so that they don't dilute drinks and they mix drinks on a digital scale for the sake of consistency. They use real egg whites in whatever drinks actually call for that. "Courvoisier is only available at two locations in the US" according to their website. It's the second most expensive thing that I noticed on their drinks menu.

If, like me, none of that really means anything to you you might still consider the Velvet Tango Room because of their chocolates. I'll save you the trouble of going to their hideous website. (WHYYY!?!?)

Chocolat Fondue
For two! For me, for you!

The Champagne Collection
Truffles - The most sensuous of all chocolates. Luscious… Moist… Inviting… Soothing to the caress of your tongue. A salacious feast with Champagne, or with nothing at all!

The Cognac Collection
Fruit from the Pacific Rim. Finished in chocolate, these exotics stand up lustfully to brown liquor and cigars. Voluptuous chocolate flavors dominate earthy, tropical tones. Deep, smoldering finish.

I think this might be perfect for the sort of woman who thinks this sort of thing is romantic.

On the other hand, if Jazz is more important to you then I think you'd have to go to Nighttown. They have a great reputation for hosting notable jazz artists from far and wide. I don't see The Up Ensemble on their calendar but you can call to confirm. They have acts listed for Fri and Sun and they link samples so that you can see if the acts suit your taste.

The Improv doesn't have information up yet for their acts that weekend. Hilarities draws all the best comics from across the country. They have a special act on your weekend that isn't traditional stand-up. Who knows? Hilarities is attached to Pickwick and Frolic and it's right down the street from Lola. If she's arriving on Thu, you could try Cabaret Dada.

Finally, I hope that your significant other isn't expecting to find the ethnic diversity or the cultural institutions of New York in Cleveland. That shouldn't stop you from the proud ethnic communities that we have, which are considerable, and the fine cultural institutions that we have, which are also considerable. The Cleveland Orchestra, for instance, is as good as any in the world and they're performing in the very beautiful Severance Hall during your SO's visit. Severance Hall is in University Circle which is a great showcase for Cleveland. It's home to several museums although, unfortunately,most (all?) of the art museum is closed for renovation. There's also the beautiful park and very impressive Lakeview Cemetery. Wade Chapel was designed by Tiffany and it's just one of the attractions of the cemetery. The Garfield monument is another but the star attraction is probably the horticulture.

There's an Armenian festival this weekend. Last weekend was Polish. The Slavic Harvest Festival, the Slovenian Sausage Festival, The Feast of the Assumption, Romanian, Greek and Puerto Rican are just some that I noted in my calendar over the summer. The Cultural Gardens would be a wonderful thing to explore one afternoon. Sadly, many are in disrepair but many are still beautiful and as a whole they're unique. It has been said that in establishing the Cultural Gardens, Cleveland set an example for the rest of the nation for dealing with cultural diversity. John Bodnar, Chairman of the Department of History at Indiana University regards the Cleveland Cultural Gardens as our nation’s most powerful symbol to the ideals of universal peace and brotherhood. Another great way to give a physical reality to Cleveland's ethnic history would be to visit some of the stunning Churches in the Tremont neighborhood. (Just a hop, skip and jump from Parker's.)

Little Italy and Tremont each have art walks in October which your SO will miss them but you could call to see which galleries will be open to the public on weekends.

Larchmere is North of Shaker Square and the entire neighborhood has a historic charm. fire food and drink is on Shaker Square and Loganberry Books is a beautiful bookstore.

If you go to Nighttown for some Jazz, you'll be in the Cedar-Fairmount area which has its own antiques stores and galleries. Cleveland Heights in general has a lot to explore. The Heights Rockefeller area
has its own galleries and antique shops. I can't find anything about Clifton Bouleard but I went to the Clifton Arts and Music Festival this past summer and the neighborhood was very charming. .Lots of unique independent shops and beautiful homes. While tracking down these links I even discovered something for myself: Clifton Web.

And it's right on the lake which brings us to Cleveland's natural attractions. If I start on the Metroparks I'm afraid that I'll never be able to escape this thread. If you're interested in a nice walk through the woods or along the beach you should look into the metroparks.
posted by stuart_s at 10:07 PM on October 6, 2006 [1 favorite]
posted by stuart_s at 10:14 PM on October 6, 2006

I"m going to be in downtown staying at the Holiday Inn, what bar scenes are worth a visit?
posted by mi6op at 10:26 PM on October 19, 2006

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