The 10 Best Bars In Downtown Cleveland

Photo of Eliza Jorn
9 February 2017

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 | © Edsel Little/Flickr

The Velvet Tango Room

Bar, Cocktail Bar, American, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, $$$
Rum Manhattan
Rum Manhattan | © My Aching Head/Flickr
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

Bar, Cafe, Pub Grub, $$$
Platform Beer Co
Platform Beer Co | © The Nerd Patrol/Flickr
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

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
La Cave du Vin
La Cave du Vin | © Geoff Parsons
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.

La Cave du Vin

Bar, Wine Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
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.

Leader Bar and Grill

Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
Drink. Bar and Grill
Drink. Bar and Grill | © Krista/Flickr
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.

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


Bar, Pub Grub, Beer
Market Avenue Wine Bar
Market Avenue Wine Bar | © Didricks/Flickr
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

Wine Bar, Pub Grub, Wine, $$$
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.

Rowley Inn

Bar, Pub Grub, American
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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