Wilbert’s mixes local acts with touring artists trying to get a toehold in town. Blues, rock, folk, indie, reggae, and jam bands all mingle here, so you’re never quite sure what you’ll hear.
The South Side doesn’t quite overload all the senses, but it stimulates them with exposed brick walls, a winding granite bar, local artwork that changes monthly, and four big plasma screens equipped with surround sound. After the kitchen closes, an upscale-casual crowd gather in the bar.
No pricey destination restaurant, Clifton attracts crowds with simple, appealing American fare, much of it served in large, sharable portions, along with craft beers, creative martinis, and fine wines.
Noisy and fun-loving, this 100-seat restaurant is part of the Corner Alley complex, a high-energy hangout featuring 16 lanes of bowling and a fashionable martini bar. With cheese here, bacon there, and deep-fried goodness nearly everywhere, spa cuisine this is not. But thanks to zesty flavors and often-imaginative preparation, the offerings still beat the standard bowling-alley lineup by a long shot.
The two-story guitar outside the Hard Rock is a beacon for music lovers, who pack the place every weekend to feast on mammoth burgers and music videos. The dining area is sometimes cleared for concerts, which typically feature rockers on the rise.
An Irish bar on steroids, the Harp isn’t just your corner joint with a few shamrocks on the wall. It boasts a large Irish-influenced menu and a spacious patio with a view of the lake. The music’s as likely to be rootsy rock or blues as Irish.
Heading into its fourth decade, this charming Ohio City café remains a reliable, if non-trendy, refuge for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch, best enjoyed in the airy garden room, a mug of cinnamon-scented coffee at hand. While gourmet burgers are the specialty of the house, other options abound, including salads, wraps, steaks, and pastas.
Riding high from the success of two popular food trucks — not to mention a Food Network reality show appearance — Chris Hodgson landed his first bricks-and-mortar restaurant. Teaming up with the experienced Scott Kuhn, Hodge delivers exciting, approachable dishes with broad appeal. Who can resist lobster corn dogs, flaky goat-cheese tarts, and light-as-air gnudi? For the mains, dig into a pasta version of French onion soup, pitch-perfect duck breast, and luxurious braised lamb shank.
Cops, lawyers, secretaries, hipsters, football fans, and neighborhood residents sooner or later, everyone ends up at Karls, for the good food, well-stocked bar, and unpretentious vibe. A one-pound corned-beef sandwich is the house specialty; other good bets include the Friday-night fish fry and the well-dressed Snuggery Burger.
A laid-back alternative to the Warehouse District's pricey haute spots, this nautically themed tavern specializes in fish, seafood, and plenty of beer, in bottles and on tap. One of downtown's best happy hours.
Veteran chef Brandt Evans' Public Square restaurant is a breath of fresh air for downtowners, with a spare decor, an urbane vibe, and rustically refined menus built from local, sustainable ingredients. A stickler for details, Evans pays equal attention to every element of a dish. He does, however, leave room for whimsy, as evidenced by the occasional odd ingredient and deconstructed arrangement. Full bar.
Giant deck, tremendous view of the mouth of the Cuyahoga, and warm-weather weekend parties that run all day and all night.
Short for Southern hospitality, SoHo serves fresh takes on Low Country, Cajun, and Creole cuisine. On the snappy and cohesive menu are classic Southern staples like shrimp and grits, catfish Po' Boys, and chicken and waffles, all dressed up for a more demanding modern audience. Even the cocktails scream Deep South, with bourbon, rye and moonshine-fueled bevies going down like sweet tea on a sticky summer day.
Approachable, seasonal, and expertly crafted, the food at chef Ben Bebenroth's restaurant is a locavore's dream, with the concise menu getting frequent tweaks. Polenta fries combine the crunch of a fry with the creaminess of soft polenta; flatbread is layered with house-smoked trout; soups swing from potato and sunchoke to chilled beet and pickled squash. While treatments change, diners can count on dishes built around flavorful local pork, chicken, and beef.
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