The most frequent question I get from friends, family and co-workers is, “Did you really eat that whole pizza yourself”? The second most frequent question I get is, “Where should we eat in Cleveland”?
Where to start?
The options can be overwhelming now that the city has become a foodie destination, so I’ve put together 5 itinerary options for your next night out. All stops on an itinerary are within walking distance, and all establishments are wheelchair accessible unless otherwise noted.
|$||Casual||A laid back and affordable night on the town.|
|$$||High End Hipster||Trendy spots that will impress your date, but won't break the bank.|
|$$$||Special Occasion||An elevated experience perfect for celebrating anniversaries and birthdays (or to say sorry for forgetting anniversaries or birthdays).|
ITINERARY #1 – GORDON SQUARE ARTS DISTRICT – $
Special instructions – Il Rione Pizzeria does not take reservations. Put your name in first, then walk across the street to Stone Mad Pub for drinks while you wait.
Parking – Free street parking. Also, Stone Mad has a small parking lot, if you’re lucky enough to snag a spot.
Pre Dinner Drinks – Stone Mad Pub – (Hours: Sun-Thurs 11a-10p, Fri & Sat 11a-midnight) – Lively traditional Irish pub, with an elaborate stone patio.
HOT TIP – if you’re impressed with the patio, wait until you see the basement bathrooms!
Dinner – Il Rione Pizzeria – (Hours: Tues-Thurs 4p-10p, Fri & Sat 4p-11p, Closed Sun & Mon) The quintessential neighborhood pizzeria, with a romantic flair. In the summer, bistro lights illuminate the quaint patio.
Dessert – Sweet Moses – (Hours: Sun-Thur Noon-10p, Fri & Sat noon-midnight) An old fashioned soda shop that will kick your diabetes into high gear!
Post Dinner Drinks – Flight – (Hours: Tues-Thurs 3p-10p, Friday 3p-11p, Sat noon-11p, Sun 12p-6p, Closed Mon) A travel themed wine shop and bar. If you’re feeling dangerous, ask for a Cham-bong and take your champagne to the face like the French intended!
HOT TIP – there is a menu option called “try my nuts”, and you should do just that. One of the bartenders makes this chewy/crunchy sweet/spicy nut concoction that will have you saying, “I’m so glad I put that man’s nuts in my mouth”!
ITINERARY #2 – OHIO CITY – $$
Parking – There are many parking options in this area that include valet, metered and unmetered street parking, and pay lots. The first destination on the itinerary map is the Market Ave Lot, located at 1958 W 26th St. The Daily Max is $3, but can run between $5-$15 for special events. Check out this map for additional parking lot options.
Pre Dinner Drinks – Great Lakes Brewing Company (Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30a-midnight, Fri 11:30a-1am, Sat 11am-1am, Closed Sun) The King of Cleveland breweries. Head downstairs and grab a booth in the cozy Irish pub. I feel like I’m back in Ireland every time we visit.
Dinner – The Flying Fig – (Hours: Sun & Mon 5p-9p, Closed Tues, Weds & Thurs 5p-10p, Fri & Sat 5p-11p) This restaurant has a little bit of everything and can satisfy both the pickiest of eaters and the snobbiest of foodies. Every time we walk out of this place I think, “I haven’t had a meal that good in a long time”.
My husband is normally a good food sharer but he refused to give me a bite of his burger because it was TOO good to share. He’s been paying for that decision ever since. Make a reservation here.
Dessert – Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream – (Hours: Sun-Thur 11a-10p, Fri & Sat 11a-11p) I don’t like to exaggerate but this is THE BEST ICE CREAM ON THE PLANET. Lactose intolerance sufferers rejoice! Even their vegan ice cream is fantastic. The vegan salted caramel pecan is my favorite.
HOT TIP – head upstairs for a birds eye view of ice cream making in action.
Post Dinner Drinks Option 1 – Crop Bistro – (Hours: Mon-Thurs 5p-9:30p, Fri & Sat 5p-11p, Sun 9a-3p) Finish off the evening with drinks in a historic bank turned restaurant. If you’re a bourbon fan, my husband says the “Mr. Figgy” is the best cocktail in Cleveland. It comes topped off with a piece of carmelized bacon.
Post Dinner Drinks Option 2 – Velvet Tango Room – (Hours: Mon-Fri 4:30p-1a, Saturday 6p-1a, Closed Sunday) This may be a “speak easy”, but it will be hard to speak after a few of their cocktails (ba dun dun). The mysterious bar is located in a nondescript building, giving no hint of the mafia-esque elegance waiting inside.
Sticker Shock Warning:
The cocktails are made from scratch, but they come at a price. Drinks start at $18 and run as high as your first born child. Despite the sticker shock, it truly lives up to all the hype, and is a place everyone needs to experience at least once.
HOT TIP –If you really want to impress your date, there’s an exclusive back room accessible via reservation only, and requires a 2 drink minimum per person.
ITINERARY #3 – DOWNTOWN (GATEWAY DISTRICT)- $$$
Parking – Valet parking at Marble Room is $15. There are numerous parking garages in this area that will typically run between $7-$10 for the evening. Special events can range from $20-$50. Given the proximity to the sports arenas, concert halls, and Play House Square, special event pricing is more common than not.
Pre Dinner Drinks – Marble Room Steaks and Raw Bar – (Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-10p, Fri 11:30a-11p, Sat 4:30p-11p) An opulent old bank has been transformed into the upscale steak and raw bar. If the music reverberating through the building makes you feel as if a saxophonist is right behind you, it’s because he is. Both a saxophonist and violist walk around the restaurant serenading patrons. The bar seating is usually full, but I prefer to sit in the lounge at the front of the restaurant.
Dinner – Red The Steakhouse – (Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30am-10p, Fri 11:30a-11p, Sat 4p-12a) There’s always a hot debate about the best steak house in Cleveland, but sometimes you just have to stand up for what you believe in. Red is the best steak house in town, and if you don’t believe me, treat me to dinner and I’ll prove it to you.
Dessert – Lola – (Hours: Mon-Thurs 5p-10p, Fri and Sat 5p-11p, Sun 5p-10p) The popular Micheal Symon restaurant was the first to turn the “red light district” of Cleveland, into a foodie mecca. Order the “6am Special” made up of brioche french toast, maple-bacon ice cream, caramelized apple.
Post Dinner Drinks – Bar 32 – (Hours: Tues-Sun 5p-“close”) Enjoy a cocktail while taking in the best views of the city from the 32nd floor of the Hilton Downtown. If you’re lucky, you may even see a handsome couple getting their wedding photos taken on the balcony (Yep that’s me in the picture below, moments before my veil flew off my head in the 40mp winds. Dope picture though, right?).
HOT TIP – Bar 32 is a 12 minute walk from Lola. If you’re wearing stilettos, I’d recommend taking an Uber.
ITINERARY #4 – TREMONT – $$$
Parking – While there is street parking all over Tremont, it can be hard to find. We’ve spent a lot of time cruising the streets to find somewhere to park. If you can’t find a spot on the street, I’d recommend valeting at Dante.
Pre Dinner Drinks – Spotted Owl (Hours: 5p-“last call” 7 days a week) This unique cocktail bar is located in a building that was originally a bible factory in the pre-civil war days, over 160 year ago. You can just feel the history in the dark and intimate bar. Or is that the buzz from the cocktails? Either way, both the history nerd and the drunk in me are both satisfied.
Dinner and Dessert – Dante – (Hours: Mon-Thurs 4:30p-10p, Fri and Sat 4:30p-midnight) Michelin Star Chef Dante Boccuzzi has turned a vacant bank into a modern American-Italian fusion restaurant. Make sure to secure your booking a few weeks in advance.
HOT TIP – aside from the regular dining room, there are also two other special seating options. The bank’s vault tucked into the back of the restaurant has seating for 4 diners. The chef’s table, located in the kitchen, seats 4 to 10 diners. If you’re lucky, Dante himself will be there to serve and explain each course on the tasting menu, and may even play you a tune on his infamous guitar.
Post Dinner Drinks – Bourbon Street Barrel Room – (Mon-Thurs 4:30p-11p, Fri 4:30p-1am, Sat noon-1am, Sun 10am-9p) Walk through the front doors and you’re instantly transported to the French Quarter in New Orleans. Word to the wise: you cannot pay for drinks the same way you “pay” for your beads. I know from experience.
ITINERARY #5 – THE EAST BANK OF THE FLATS – $
Parking – There are several parking options in The Flats, but the most convenient and accessible are the $10 self park lots scattered throughout the area. The most central being the lot at 1016 Main Ave, across the street from Beer Head and Punch Bowl Social Club.
Pre Dinner Drinks – Collision Bend Brewery – (Hours: Mon-Thurs 3p-10p, Fri 3p-11p, Sat noon-11p, Sun noon-9p) Sit on the outdoor or enclosed patio and watch the giant barges navigate the crooked river. This is my favorite patio in Cleveland. It’s good for a date night, day date, and even a fun day with the kiddos! My nephews love watching the boats pass by.
Dinner Option 1 – Lago – (Hours: 11a-2:30a 7 days a week) – If you haven’t tried Lago’s Salerno Family Meatballs, then you don’t know the true meaning of happiness. In the few seconds between each bite, my mouth actually misses it. There’s probably a less creepy way to describe that dish, but that would take a more talented writer than myself.
Dinner Option 2 – Alley Cat Oyster Bar – (Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30a-10p, Fri and Sat 11:30a-11p, Sun 11:30a-8p) Come for the oysters, clams, and cockels, but stay for the open-air dining with an expansive view of the river. If you’re like me, and aren’t a seafood person, they have a diverse menu that suits all tastes. It’s a great lunch spot at well.
Dessert – I have yet to find a dessert option in The Flats that I feel is worthy of a recommendation. Get that extra glass of wine instead.
Post Dinner Drinks – Lindey’s Lake House – (Hours: Sun-Thurs 11a-10p, Fri and Sat 11a-midnight) Cornhole and fire pits give Lindey’s Lake House that back yard BBQ feel. During the winter months (aka September through May), you can warm up by the cozy stone fire place inside. It can get pretty rowdy in the late night hours, so if that’s not your jam, walk 30 feet in any direction and you’ll find yourself in another bar.
Enjoy your night out in Believeland!
To learn more about me, and why I felt compelled to start this blog, check out this post!