Best Of 2006

This tree-lined patch of shops and restaurants captures the quaint feel of a 1950s town square. Children enjoy ice-cream cones from Cold Stone Creamery while their parents listen to live music in the middle of the grassy quad. Specialty stores include Abigail & Annie's, which sells housewares and knickknacks, and the Land of Make Believe, which offers classic board games like Candyland.
Mexico, Lebanon, Italy, Germany, Cambodia -- the names read like a World Cup semifinals bracket, and you'll find them all on a half-mile stretch of Lorain Avenue, where some of the city's most adventurous kitchens work elbow-to-elbow. Beginning with the authentic Mexican cuisine of Luchita's at West 117th and meandering westward, this culinary crawl unfolds like an Olympic Village cookbook: There's the foul medames of the Sahara, freshly crafted cannoli at Caffé Roma, barmaids bearing schnitzel at Der Braumeister, and what might be the city's best pad thai at Phnom Penh.
While it's invariably described by nonresidents as "quaint," Medina's Square has actually evolved into a pretty hip place. At the heart of the square is the town's famous gazebo, a favorite spot for weddings during spring and summer. The surrounding period buildings house an eclectic array of shops, where you can find everything from military surplus gear to musical instruments. And there are plenty of good places to grab a bite to eat, whether you're hungry for hot dogs or sushi.
Lofts are cool and arty, but most are way overpriced. $400,000 for a little concrete box with no yard? In Cleveland? C'mon. But the developers of the Mueller Lofts know this town. They've turned a former factory into 45 loft condos with high ceilings and massive windows. They've got the amenities that new homebuyers look for, including granite countertops and cool-looking bamboo floors. And they've priced them right, with units starting at $140,000 and topping out at $260,000 for a penthouse suite with a downtown view.
Why settle for a room with one view? These newly constructed condominiums along the West Bank of the Flats offer a whole panorama. The corner units are shaped like a slice of pie, with the mighty Cuyahoga River as its crust. The bathrooms feature black granite floors and a spalike walk-in shower. The kitchens offer acres of counter space, and you can barely see to the end of the hallways. Condos run in the mid-$100s for a one-bedroom. Two bedrooms start in the high $100s.
Every Fourth of July, Edgewater Park is jam-packed with families trying to see the fireworks. What most people don't know is that a better view is just a few hundred yards west. Cliff Drive is only a block long, but this cliff along Lake Erie is even higher than the one at Edgewater. You can still see the fireworks in downtown Cleveland and Euclid, only here, there's actually room to sit down. And unlike at Edgewater, you can look to the left and watch Lakewood's show at the same time.
We'll call him Mike, because we think that's his name. At least, that's what he told us. Either way, if you're looking for a game-day ticket for the Tribe, he's your man. These seats are so good, they're within sniffing distance of Grady's stirrups. Mike's also reliable: You'll find him perched near the corner of Ontario and Huron, clutching his signature neon sign and megaphone, before every home game.
In a town with plenty of worthy contenders, Melinda Urick grabs the crown with her hustle and consistency. She shows up at all of Cleveland's best parties, whether it's the opening of a posh new bar, a charity bachelor auction, or a crowded Tribe pre-game. And she brings a 100-watt smile, plenty of sass, and a cadre of wing-girls. Shots? She's having one. A dance floor? She's rocking it. A bull? She's riding it. Then, to top it off, she writes it all down. Urick's blog, "Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Your Boyfriend," chronicles her life as a single gal in Cleveland, complete with photos. Think Sex and the City meets Panini's.
This summer, Superman flew back into the spotlight with a lively new movie, and once again, our city giddily went with him. Yes, Superman grew up in Smallville and became the protector of Metropolis, but he was born in Cleveland. His creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were just a couple of scrappy kids when they met in 1930 at Glenville High School, where they both worked on the school newspaper. The rest is history.
The competition for best TV investigator was tougher than ever this year. But at the 11th hour, Carl Monday of WKYC swept in and stole the prize with his seething exposé of the library masturbator. After using a hidden camera to catch a kid pleasuring himself at the Berea library, Monday tracked him down at his parent's house, where the boy's dad decided to invoke some of his old training from 'Nam. Luckily, Monday's car has power windows that roll up really fast.
GMC's happy family began to crumble in December, when beloved meteorologist Stephanie Roberts moved to Florida. Months later, morning anchor Adam Shapiro left the station after 18 years. Utility anchor Danita Harris has been the rock of the broadcast, splitting duties between the morning show and the noon broadcast. The show has been buoyed by the addition of two lively morning anchors: fresh-faced up-and-comer Michelle Releford and autumn-lion Jack "Air" Marschall.
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