Cleveland bars and restaurants are celebrating the season with a wealth of special dinners, tastings, parties, and customer appreciation nights. Here’s a quick guide to some of the best. —Jason Beudert and Nikki Hunt
Thursday, November 29
Washington Place Bistro and Inn
Consider it a late Thanksgiving dinner that you don't have to cook. This month's Wine Dinner at Washington Place features five courses paired with five different wines, starting with an Incognito White Blend served with seared scallop, farro risotto, blistered chili pepper, and a citrus-soy vinaigrette, and ending with an Earthquake Zin served with a surprise chocolate dessert. The dinner costs $60 and starts at 6:30.
2203 Cornell Rd., Cleveland, washingtonplacelittleitaly.com
Friday, November 30
Sip Into the Holidays
"Happy Christmahanukwanzaa!" Once again, community diversity is the theme of this wine and art event benefiting the Lakewood Foundation, which provides services and support for Lakewood's senior citizens. This year it takes place at the Wobblefoot Gallery, where wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served, and a Chinese raffle will feature themed baskets, glassware by local artists, and holiday-themed items. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and for an extra $10 you can buy a chance to win an "Instant Wine Cellar" – 20 different bottles of wine perfect for starting (or adding to) a collection. The fun starts at 7 p.m.
1662 Mars Ave., Lakewood, wobblefoot.com
Saturday, December 1
The Fine Wine & Tobacco shop in Westlake kicks off the month in style with its annual Champagne and Dessert Wine tasting. For $25, you'll have a chance to sample 30 different Champagnes and other sparklers, sweet dessert wines, and various fortified wines from around the world. If your taste runs more to wines for dinner and entertaining, check out the shop's Christmas tasting on Saturday, Dec. 15, which will also feature a global menu. The $25 price includes food.
26179 Detroit Rd., Westlake, 440-892-7096.
Saturday, December 8
In the best spirit of this fabled neighborhood, the restaurants are joining forces with the retail shops to stage a one-day Shopper's Delight. You can cap a day of shopping at the neighborhood's charming boutiques and galleries with dinner for two at participating restaurants for just $25. Take advantage of the specialty menus prepared by some favorites: Gusto, Etna, Mia Bella, Anthony's, La Dolce Vita, Guarino's, and Primo Vino are all honoring this promotion until 9 p.m. Check with each participating restaurant for details, or the website below. And don't forget a cannoli on the way home!
One of the city's most popular and well-stocked wine shops, Cedar Green Wine and Cheese, is finishing off the year with a special holiday tasting featuring 50 of its best wines, sparkling wines, and beers, along with holiday treats. The tasting begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and space is limited, so make a reservation if you are planning to attend.
2179 South Green Rd., University Heights, 216-381-5350.
Tuesday, December 11
Adding to the glitter at Crocker Park this time of year, 87 West is throwing a Sparkling Wine Dinner. Starting at 6:30 p.m., this five-course meal will feature sparkling wines with a Spanish influence. Along with the bubbly, guests will enjoy unique food pairings such as spiced shrimp and potato frittata, and frisée salad with pinot noir vinaigrette. Rounding out the courses is a chocolate-covered strawberry and sparking wine pairing. Reservations are required for this $60 per person event.
287 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake, 440-250-2334, 87west2.com
The owners of three of the hippest bars in town — the ABC and XYZ Taverns and Ontario Street Café — are making sure their customers have a cheerful holiday season with a trio of appreciation parties. At ABC on Dec. 11, XYZ on Dec. 17, and Ontario Street Café on Dec. 18, there will be lots of complimentary food and killer drink specials. If you have not been to these places yet, this would be a good time to find out what makes them so popular.
ABC the Tavern, 1872 West 25th St., Cleveland, 216-861-3857, abcthetavern.com
XYZ the Tavern, 6419 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-706-1104, xyzthetavern.com
Ontario Street Café, 2053 Ontario St., Cleveland, 216-861-6446
Saturday, December 15
We've all been brought up with the traditional wisdom that Santa loves cookies and milk left for him on Christmas Eve. Turns out he's a hot dog lover, too. In fact, he likes them so much that for the third year in a row, he's dropping by early, at Happy Dog's Breakfast with Santa. Kids get free pancakes and sausage, while their parents pay a modest $5 for breakfast. And yes, Happy Dog's famous gourmet hot dog menu will also be available. The breakfast — a brunch, really — runs from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
5801 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-691-9474, happydogcleveland.com
Sunday, December 16
Is there anything more hideous around the holidays than an ugly sweater? If you don't have one, fish one out of your grandpa's closet for the Treehouse Pub's annual Ugly Sweater Party. To go with the finery, the Treehouse will be serving up some house-made hot apple cider. This warm treat starts with a combo of Captain Morgan rum and Absolut pear vodka, and is finished off with whipped cream and nutmeg. Be sure not to spill any on that ridiculous sweater as you belt out some of your Christmas classics with the Ohio City Singers. The fun starts at 8 p.m.
820 College Ave., Cleveland, 216-696-2505, treehousecleveland.com
If you're dreaming of an Irish Christmas, this is place to be. The pub's annual customer appreciation holiday party kicks off at 6 p.m., and will not disappoint. Along with a complimentary spread of food and drink specials, you can expect lusty Irish lads belting out seasonal songs while award-winning Irish dancers stomp their feet. You might even catch a glimpse of the Grinch sipping on some Jameson to keep him warm.
17119 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, 216-941-9311, pjmcintyres.com
Thursday, December 20
Find it hard to be nice, even during the holidays? Then Speakeasy's "Naughty Claus" dinner is for you. Chef Adam Lambert will serve up five delectable courses, accompanied by holiday drinks and songs. The dress code requires jackets for men and bans ugly Christmas sweaters. Festivities start at 8 p.m., and tickets are $65.
1948 West 25 St., Cleveland, 216-274-1010, speakeasy216.com
Tuesday, December 25
Christmas night can only mean one thing. No, not a ham hangover, but the Beachland Ballroom's Fifth Annual Matzoh Ball and Holiday Latke Party. Starting at 8 p.m., tap your feet to the music of Blue Lunch while noshing on some authentic latkes, matzoh ball soup, and other traditional Hanukkah food. Or dip into the usual menu and full bar offerings. The folks from the Beachland are promising special guests, and assure us that the proceeds will benefit a local charity. At only $12 a ticket, the price is a gift as well.
15711 Waterloo Rd., Cleveland, 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com
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