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.
Address & phone number: 2095 Columbus Rd, Cleveland, OH, (216) 241-8869
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.
Address & phone number: 1219 Main Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113 (216) 241-3232
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!
Address & phone number: 4125 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH, (216) 202-1386
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.
Address & phone number: 2527 W. 25th St, Cleveland, OH, (212) 802-9222
La Cave du Vin
La Cave du Vin is a hidden gem – literally. Walk through a long hallway adjacent to the Grog Shop and head down the stairs to this cozy cellar bar. There is a four-paneled wall of refrigerated craft beer and a seating area surrounded by wooden wine racks. The wine bar is modern but not haughty, the atmosphere is relaxed and the bartenders are knowledgeable about all things wine and beer. Artisanal cheese plates with wine pairings give the guests a real local flavor.
Address & phone number: 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd, Cleveland, OH, (216) 932-6411
Leader Bar and Grill
Leader Bar and Grill is a traditional American sports bar that does the classic beer and burger combo right. The interior is spacious with high ceilings, two stories, and enough flatscreens to ensure that nobody will miss their favorite game. The atmosphere is friendly and casual while the staff retains a high standard of service. This is a great place to come with friends or coworkers to put the ‘happy’ in Happy Hour – without breaking the bank.
Address & phone number: 526 W. Superior Ave, Cleveland, OH, (216) 574-2222
Drink. Bar and Grill
Drink. Bar and Grill is an unexpected gem in the Old Brooklyn area of Cleveland. Although the majority of upscale bars reside in Tremont, Drink. gives them all a run for their money. This spot has a distinctly romantic ambiance, with red and black decor, dim lighting, and a square wrap-around bar that encourages a bit of mingling with fellow bar-goers. There is table seating available, but for those who prefer a more comfortable stay there are also couches hidden away in various corners of the bar.
Address & phone number: 4250 Pearl Rd, Cleveland, OH, (216) 661-7543
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.
Address & phone number: 1762 E. 18th St, Cleveland, OH, (216) 621-0055
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.
Address & phone number: 2521 Market Ave, Cleveland, OH, (216) 696-9463
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.
Address & phone number: 1104 Rowley Ave, Cleveland, OH, (216) 795-5345