Cleveland has evolved from a Midwestern fly-over city into a metropolis full of cutting-edge restaurants and bustling shopping centers. Although this has always been a hotspot for sports bars and craft beer, upscale gastropubs and modern cocktail bars have been cropping up all over the Downtown area. Read on to discover the 10 best bars in Downtown Cleveland.
The Velvet Tango Room
The Velvet Tango Room is a classic cocktail bar. It has a low-lit romantic atmosphere and cozy velveteen couches – it is perhaps the closest thing to an authentic 1920s speakeasy in Cleveland. The bartenders agonize over detail while preparing their signature cocktails, all made with with house-made cordials and other proprietary ingredients. The private back area is hidden behind a false mirror, which can be reserved as long as the party calls ahead, and leads to an outdoor patio surrounded by ivy-covered walls. Live jazz music plays on weekdays and various charcuterie is available at the bar.
The Harbor Inn
The Harbor Inn is a local favorite, with a generous selection at affordable prices. Located on the West Bank of the Flats near the shipyards this spot used to cater to dockworkers between shifts, today it is welcome to all those who don’t mind a dive bar atmosphere and cold beer. Exposed brick walls are littered with nautical decorations, and the back area has classic bar games and an old-school photobooth. Head to the Harbor Inn for an extensive collection of craft beer and tasty light nibbles.
Platform Beer Co.
Although Platform Brewing Co. faces some fierce competition in the world of Ohio craft beers, owner Paul Benner has taken this brewery to the next level. Beers on tap are rotated seasonally, and range from light citrus flavors in the Portside Forager Saison to the more dense Roebling Porter. Food from local vendors is also available, and choices change daily. Aspiring brewers can register for a class in the ‘Incubator’ where they are instructed in maintenance and basic brewing technique – their original brews are even put on the tap in the bar. The best part is the program is completely free!
Porco Lounge and Tiki Room
Porco Lounge and Tiki Bar has colorful ceramic Easter Island figurines cluttering the shelves above booth seating and a bamboo curtain leads to a dazzlingly lit outdoor patio. Although the cocktails are a tad on the expensive side, the bartenders are very generous with the measures and mix with fresh fruit juices. Be sure to check out the bar nibbles to soak up your next cocktail.
Largely unknown, except to Cleveland State students and locals, is Becky’s near Playhouse Square. Although it may be a dive bar, it’s a dive bar with fantastic food, beer, and company. It is a cozy small space with a full bar, over which hangs a wrap-around chalkboard featuring specials, draft lists, and drawings done by staff and locals alike. Becky’s offers trivia every Thursday, a DJ and dance floor on weekends, and karaoke nights. This is a fun and casual place to gather with friends or colleagues for an affordable night on the town.
Market Avenue Wine Bar
On the outskirts of the Downtown area in Ohio City is the Market Avenue Wine Bar. The interior is spacious, but still cozy and welcoming – it consists of exposed brick walls, low-hanging chandeliers, an oakwood bar, and seating both indoors and outdoors on the patio. Over 400 wines are available by the bottle and over 70 by the glass, as well as craft beers and a cocktail list. Mediterranean-influenced appetizers and charcuterie can be ordered at the bar.
The Rowley Inn is a simple bar setting with beer on tap for less than $3 and delicious American food at knock-out prices. The atmosphere is entirely unpretentious, and the owners know most of the locals by name. There is a collection of retro games like pinball, a jukebox, and karaoke on the weekends. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds and drink on the cheap, then Rowley’s is the perfect place.
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