Clevelanders love themselves a good pub crawl. Maybe it’s the gray skies, chilly night air, or the fact that their pro sports teams always find a way to blow it—locals here spend a lot of time in bars.
Cleveland is blessed with old-fashioned neighborhoods, the kind with a Main Street densely populated with pubs, taverns, saloons, and corner bars. One of the best ways to experience the local color is by working one’s way down the block, popping into every single drinking establishment along the way. Better yet, just pick a few that look inviting.
A great way to get to know Tremont is from the inside of a bar. People come from all over to soak up this district’s café culture, hitting a procession of galleries, bistros, and bars. Start your trek at Edison’s Pub (2373 Professor Ave., 216/522-0006), a cozy den serving great imported beers. Friendly folks, knowledgeable bartenders, and decent pizza make this place a must-crawl. Next up is the Flying Monkey Pub (819 Jefferson Ave., 216/861-6659), a handsome tavern filled with handcrafted wood furnishings. The only gimmick here is the monkey mascot that pops out of his hidey-hole late at night. Dive-bar fans will swoon over Hotz Café (2529 W. 10th St., 216/771-7004), an old-school Cleveland bar that’s been around since 1919. One block west is Prosperity Social Club (1109 Starkweather Ave., 216/937-1938), a retro saloon popular with every demographic. Folks here take seats at the 1930s bar or, on cold nights, around the blazing wood-burning stove.
What’s the sense in paying one’s tab and heading to an identical bar down the block? Diversity is precisely what makes Ohio City the pinnacle of pub crawl locales. Start at Crop Bistro (2537 Loraine Ave., 216/696-CROP) for cocktails with a view. Set in a former bank lobby, the restaurant very likely is the most dramatic in town, and the bartenders seem to work harder because of it. Beer aficionados have the one-two punch of Great Lakes Brewing Co. (2516 Market Ave., 216/771-4404) and McNulty’s Bier Markt (1948 W. 25th St., 216/274-1010). The former brews and serves matchless American suds in a woodsy pub setting. The latter specializes in Belgian and Belgian-style ales on tap and in bottles. Down the block, ABC the Tavern (1872 W. 25th St., 216/861-3857) is an old-school saloon with new-school craft beer and an old-timey bowling machine. The later it gets, the wilder this place seems to get. If a contemporary Irish bar sounds tempting, pop into Old Angle (1848 W. 25th St., 216/681-5643). Set in a renovated hardware store, this pub is not your typical shamrock shack.
Lee Road in Cleveland Heights is a pub crawler’s dream. Packed into a short 1,500-foot strip is a wide array of welcoming watering holes. Start at the intersection of Cedar and Lee Roads, near the glowing movie marquee, and work your way south. Parnell’s Pub (2167 Lee Rd., 216/321-3469) is an Irish-themed sports pub with Guinness on tap, darts in back, and a map of Europe that conspicuously omits England. If it’s Tuesday or Thursday, cross the street and head to Lopez (2196 Lee Rd., 216/932-9000), a trendy Southwestern restaurant. Thanks to half-price margaritas and tequila drinks, this place fills up fast. On the same side of the street a little farther south is Tavern Co. (2260 Lee Rd., 216/321-6001). This place changes from family-friendly tavern to locals-only bar as the night progresses. Cap off the night at Brennan’s Colony (2299 Lee Rd., 216/371-1010), a neighborhood institution that has attracted crowds for decades. On warm nights, make sure to check out the secluded courtyard and bar.