Best Of 2012

Best of Cleveland 2012

Best Place to Spend a Day Shopping

Crocker Park

Cleveland's choice for high-octane retail therapy, Crocker Park is an all-day destination for strolling, dining, and — oh yeah — whipping out that Kate Spade wallet. Broad sidewalks, ample parking, and gorgeous seasonal landscaping give easy access to shops like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. There are also plentiful pit stops like 87 West Wine Bar, along with Trader Joe's, a Regal Cinema, frequent family activities, and a weekly warm-weather farmers market. Come to think of it, why would we ever leave?

25 Main St., Westlake,


Staff Pick: Crocker Park

Best Shopping Mall

Beachwood Place

Consider yourself a fashionista? Then this tony Beachwood mecca is your kind of place, filled with thousands of square feet of your favorite boutiques and department stores, including area exclusives like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. It's the East Side shopping destination that pulls guests from all corners of the region.

26300 Cedar Rd., Beachwood,


Staff Pick: Beachwood Place

Best Place to Buy Music

Music Saves

Stuffed with indie-rock records — from the latest CDs to the newest vinyl — this cool little record shop next to the Beachland Ballroom in North Collinwood's Waterloo neighborhood continues to be a hipster fave. Besides the multitudinous recordings, the spot also hosts occasional in-store performances — the better to get up close and personal with your guitar-strumming heroes.

15801 Waterloo Rd., 216-481-1875,

Staff Pick: My Mind's Eye

Best Thrift Store

Unique Thrift

Like a Magical Kingdom for treasure hunters, the Ohio City outpost of this 15-store chain offers astonishing bargains on gently used clothing, furniture, electronics, and accessories. And should you ever be in need of a Halloween costume, remember: They don't call this place "unique" for nothing. Unique's Half-Price Mondays feel like a bountiful garage sale run with military precision.

3333 Lorain Ave., 216-631-0205,

Staff Pick: Blast From the Past


Best Boutique

Banyan Tree

As in any good love affair, the offerings at this fashionable Tremont anchor continually evolve and change. These days, it seems the cutting boards and cheese knives are giving way to a wider selection of comfy-chic clothing and accessories — including jewelry, jackets, footwear, and even pretty things for tiny fashionistas-in-training. It doesn't matter. Our hearts have belonged to Banyan Tree since 2001, and that's not likely to change anytime soon.

2242 Professor Ave., 216-241-1209,

Staff Pick: Room Service

Best Vintage Store

Flower Child

Fun and funky, this West Side vintage shop is like a cool retro retail museum of 20th-century kitsch. While the collection includes items culled from the 1930s to the 1980s, Flower Child especially loves the '70s and '80s. That means that whether you're searching for a set of your childhood Star Wars sheets or a light-up Christmas-tree sweater, odds are you're going to find it here.

11508 Clifton Blvd., 216-939-9933,

Staff Pick: Sweet Lorain

Best Antiques Shop

Attenson's Antiques & Books

For those of us whose love of old things extends beyond our parents and our Star Wars collection, this Coventry Road emporium of antique artifacts fills a deeply felt void. After all, you never know when possessing a Victorian cameo, a leaded glass window, or an antique Oriental carpet could be all that stands between you and true happiness.

1771 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-2515,

Staff Pick: Martines' Antiques

Best Clothing Maker & Best Locally Owned Clothing Store

C.L.E. Clothing Co.

C-Town wears its pride on its sleeve with T-shirts, totes, ballcaps, hoodies — and even undies — from this locally owned, Cleveland-branded clothing company. Founded in 2008, C.L.E.'s two locations feature ever-evolving designs celebrating our skyline, Lake Erie, the former Coliseum, and even Dead Man's Curve. Made in America and printed right here, the goods have Cleveland's heartstrings all sewn up.

342 Euclid Ave.,216-736-8879, and

15813 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-5196,

Staff Picks: Best Clothing Maker: Rock Star Rehab; Best Clothing Store: Evie Lou

Best Bookstore

Visible Voice

A repository for the books you were looking for and those you didn't know you needed, Visible Voice is also so much more. It's a hub of culture in the heart of Tremont, where the lineup of activities runs longer than War and Peace. From film nights to musicians to author visits — and from afternoons spent relaxing on the garden patio to sipping selections from the wine bar — Visible Voice captures the Tremont vibe like no other place around.

1023 Kenilworth Ave., 216-961-0084,

Staff Pick: Loganberry Books


Best Tobacco Supply Shop

Cheap Tobacco

Seems like there aren't many places these days where smokers can find a little lovin'. But that's just what you'll get at Cheap Tobacco, where you can legally roll 200 tasty cigs of your own for less than half the cost of a name-brand carton. Besides the rolling stock, Cheap Tobacco's numerous Northeast Ohio locations also carry a full line of cigars and e-cigarettes for today's tech-savvy smoker.

Numerous locations throughout Northeast Ohio

Staff Pick: Cheap Tobacco

Best Health Food Store

Whole Foods Market

Gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, vegan? Natural, local, seasonal, organic? Whole foods, super foods, vitamins, and supplements? Yes, yes, and yes — along with eco-safe cleaning products, triple-milled soaps, and probiotic cleansing creams. No wonder our two East Side Whole Foods Markets are Cleveland's picks for good health.

13998 Cedar Rd.,University Heights, 216-932-3918; and

27249 Chagrin Blvd.,Woodmere,


Staff Pick: The Mustard Seed

Best Chocolate Shop


If you're a Clevelander, chances are the chocolate bunnies, buttercream eggs, and marshmallow peeps in your Easter basket come from Malley's, a family-owned and operated enterprise since 1935. Fortunately, with 21 Northeast Ohio locations, our next Malley's fix is never far away.

Various locations including

14822 Madison Ave., Lakewood,


Staff Pick: Lilly Handmade Chocolates

Best Bakery/Sweet Shop

A Cookie and a Cupcake

This tiny Tremont bakeshop is sweet as can be, thanks to the beautiful treats coming out of the kitchen — everything from red velvet cupcakes and oatmeal cookies to towering wedding cakes. Baker-proprietors SynDee Klingenberg and Wendy Thompson are ever-so-happy to indulge your cravings, whether it's for a quick snack to brighten up your afternoon or a gorgeous creation to brighten up your wedding day.

2173 Professor Ave., 216-344-9433,

Staff Pick: BonBon Pastry & Café


Best Florist

The Urban Orchid

If you need some flowers to brighten a day or mend a broken fence, you'll find any number of markets and shops that can adequately get the job done. If you had something significantly more spectacular in mind, the artists of the Urban Orchid are who you need to see. The output of this nascent shop in Ohio City can scarcely be called floral arrangements; they are floral art of the highest order.

2704 Bridge Ave., 216-785-3618,

Staff Pick: The Cottage of Flowers

Best Beer Store

Warehouse Beverage

If you're craving a beer, maybe you don't require the services of Warehouse Beverage. But if you're craving a particular beer, or just feel like perusing the shelves like a bookworm in a library, this is the place for you. The South Euclid alcohol emporium boasts nearly 1,000 varieties of beer, from commonplace domestics to the most exotic of oddball craft and imported brews. You won't ever drink all that Warehouse Beverage offers, but the world is a better place because you could.

4364 Mayfield Rd., South Euclid,


Staff Pick: Minotti's

Best Wine Shop


This family-owned wine store has been providing great products and friendly service since 1939. And their longevity is no surprise: The selection is mind blowing, with everything from a 10-buck jug of New Zealand white to $3,000 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Frequent tastings are a plus, and for those who can't wait to get home: A new on-site café offers wine, breads, and cheeses brought forth on the expansive front porch.

14900 Detroit Ave., Lakewood,


Staff Pick: Rozi's

Best Lawn & Garden Store

Petitti Garden Centers

From pansies in the spring to poinsettias at Christmas, this locally owned and operated chain of lawn and garden stores is stocked to the brim with blooming beauties — many of which are grown in their Madison nursery and Columbia Station greenhouses. Better still, Petitti's helpful staff is a wellspring of advice, ensuring that your green thumbs will never turn brown.

Various locations including 24964 Broadway Ave., Oakwood Village,


Staff Pick: Bremec's

Best Auto Repair

Conrad's Tire Express & Total Car Care

A happy amalgamation of the small-time and the big-time auto shop, Conrad's began in 1969 as a local business with a single location and eight employees to get the job done. It has since expanded to more than 30 Northeast Ohio locations, each one blending expertise with the best service and surroundings a stranded motorist could hope for.

Staff Pick: The Gas Station in Lakewood

Best Eco-Friendly Business

Great Lakes Brewing Company

Not that Clevelanders need a reason to drink beer: But if we did, Great Lakes provides a kegful — especially in the form of its multiple green initiatives. The most visible may be the Fatty Wagon shuttle bus, fueled by recycled kitchen oils. But in fact, owners Pat and Dan Conway recycle nearly everything that comes through their brewery and pub. Puts a whole new spin on "green beer," doesn't it?

2516 Market Ave., 216-771-4404,

Staff Pick: Great Lakes Brewing Company


Best Place to Buy Unique Gifts, Best Toy Store & Best Comic Book or Collectibles Shop

Big Fun

Cleveland's museum of nerdabilia, Big Fun is a repository of youthful icons: Transformers, Pee-wee Herman trading cards, and a herd of My Little Ponies among them. You'll also find birthday cards, T-shirts, and more gag gifts than you can shake a whoopee cushion at. With locations East and West, Big Fun brings out the kid in all of us.

1814 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-371-4386; and

11512 Clifton Blvd., 216-631-4386;

Staff Picks: Best Place to Buy Unique Gifts: Room Service; Best Toy Store: Big Fun; Best Comic Book or Collectibles Shop: Carol and John's Comic Shop

Best Place to Furnish Your Place


An anchor of the Gordon Square Arts District since 2007, DuoHome serves as the retail operation and design studio for Scott Suskowicz and Tim Kempf. A giant leap away from big-box furnishings, DuoHome's specialty is in style-forward furniture and accessories you won't find anywhere else. Why "Duo"? Because it's a partnership. Why "Home"? Because that's the goal of any well-considered design scheme, and what DuoHome achieves like few others.

6507 Detroit Ave., 216-651-4411,

Staff Pick: Arhaus Furniture

Best Adult Store


To find stuff this titillating, it used to be you had to venture into neighborhoods and cross thresholds you really didn't want to have to pass through. Thankfully, Adultmart's many locations have taken the fear out of sex shopping and taken the fun to a whole new level. With their exhaustive — and exhausting! — line of DVDs, sex toys, clothing, accessories, and gifts, all offered in a comfortable and welcoming setting, Adultmart has cornered the local market on sex.

Various locations throughout Northeast Ohio;

Staff Pick: Ambiance

Best Deli


Home of the biggest and best corned beef sandwich in town, Slyman's is a shrine to the joys of slow-cooked, thin-sliced, lean-and-tender meat — served up in softball-sized portions. The towering signature sammy even found a place on Esquire's list of America's Best. Sure, Slyman's serves other stuff too. But the corned beef is why we go.

3106 St. Clair Ave., 216-621-3760,

Staff Pick: Jack's Deli & Restaurant

Best New Store

Dredgers Union

Three cheers for Dredgers Union, clearing a channel back to retail for downtown shoppers. Beyond the home goods, gift items, and kid stuff, the artful store on East Fourth Street offers a private-label line of men's and women's clothing: designed, produced, marketed, and sold right here. Suddenly, shopping local is fun!

2043 East Fourth St., 216-357-2911,

Staff Pick: ILTHY (I Love the Hype) Workshop


Best Bicycle Shop

Joy Machines

It started with two pals — Alex Nosse and Renato Pereira-Castillo — and a dream whose time had come. Passionate about bike travel and helping spread the bug to other interested folks, the pair opened Joy Machines in the summer of 2011, helping kick-start the surge of eclectic businesses reshaping West 25th Street in Ohio City. The point is to make bicycling an engaging and affordable option for everyone, and to make Cleveland a healthier town because of it.

1836 West 25th St., 216-394-0230,

Staff Pick: Joy Machines

Best Animal Hospital

Gateway Animal Clinic

A Tremont institution since 1999 — and a rebuilt pet-care palace since 2011 — Gateway is beloved for its team of caring and compassionate professionals and its ever-reasonable prices. Centrally located just off the highway near downtown, Gateway has come to be known as the home of miracles when other pet clinics come up short.

1819 Abbey Ave., 216-771-4414,

Staff Pick: Gateway Animal Clinic

Best Discount Store


Founded in Middleburg Heights back in 1979, Marc Glassman's "grocery and deep discount" chain now numbers some 50 locations across Northeast Ohio, along with an ever-expanding empire of believers who swear by the deals tumbling off of every shelf. Most intriguing though are the closeout aisles: a jubilee of bargain-priced goods that can and often do range from emery boards to porch swings.

Locations throughout

Northeast Ohio;

Staff Pick: Value World

Best Place to Buy Groceries


Cleveland digs this local grocery chain for the homemade baked goods, freshly prepped heat & eat entrées, organic foods, and fresh produce — often sourced from local farms. Combine that with great cheeses, wine tastings, and first-class service, and no wonder Heinen's is Cleveland's favorite stop to shop.

Various locations;

Staff Pick: Heinen's

Best Tattoo Parlor

Voodoo Monkey

Artistry, professionalism, and good hygiene intersect at this popular Ohio City tattoo parlor, where links to the Cleveland culinary scene have helped forge a following. Fans of Melt Bar & Grilled can get a discount on their grilled cheese tattoos here, thereby earning a 25 percent sammie discount for life. But even ink-thinkers without culinary cred come here for one main reason: the value here goes more than skin deep.

2070 West 25th St., 216-664-5658,

Staff Pick: Atom Bomb Tattoo

Best Farmers Market

North Union Farmers Market

What started out in the mid-'90s as a humble weekly market on Shaker Square has grown into an ambitious network of seven weekly markets in five locations — including an indoor market for wintry shopping needs. Today, that network supplies folks from Westlake to Chagrin Falls with an almost endless variety of year-round staples — everything from greens and gourmet mushrooms to honey and grains — all trucked in fresh from local farmers and producers.

Staff Pick: North Union Farmers Market

Best Business at the West Side Market

Ohio City Pasta

Want to find Ohio City Pasta at the West Side Market? Just look for the crowd noodling around Stand E3, waiting to stock up on freshly made faves like butternut-squash ravioli, squid-ink fettuccini, and Spanish-saffron linguini. It's been that way since 1990, when chef Gary Thomas launched his gourmet pasta company. Twenty-two years later, Thomas and his crew are delivering thousands of pounds of pasta to restaurants and retail shops throughout the Midwest, including this popular Market outpost.

1979 West 25th St., 216-696-3388,

Staff Pick: D.W. Whitaker Pork & Poultry


Best Spa

Spa West

Treat yourself to a brief tour of this Westlake refuge of pampering, and you'll swear the guest list must be limited to foreign heads of state. Not so: All of us are welcome to bask in the almost ludicrous pleasures that abound at every turn at Spa West, from massage therapy and yoga, to spa packages and complete hair and makeup services — and the list goes on and on. Whether you're overdue for a personal pick-me-up or a day spent being doted upon with a loved one, Spa West rejuvenates the body and soul in ways you might never have known possible.

29109 Center Ridge Rd., Westlake,


Staff Pick: Sacred Hour

Best Manicure

Anthony Vince Nail Spa

Surely the most tranquil spot you'll find at bustling Crocker Park, Anthony Vince specializes in a complete line of manicure and pedicure services for adults and young ones alike. The experience revives more than just your digits, from the opulent setting to the fully-stocked bar. Settle in and whisk your worries — and unsightly cuticles — away. In summer 2011, the East Side got its Anthony Vince fix too, with a new location at Legacy Village.

276 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake,

440-899-8170,; and

25333 Cedar Rd., Lyndhurst,


Staff Pick: Revelations Salon & Spa

Best Sporting Goods Store


One of the best reasons yet why big boxes will not take over the universe, Geiger's has long prided itself on unequaled customer care. At the flagship store in Lakewood as well as their satellite location, Geiger's specialties include skiing and apparel, and their services extend from tailoring and cycle repair to racquet stringing. They've long been the go-to shop for school sports teams and rec leagues, but they're an essential stop for weekend warriors too.

14710 Detroit Ave., Lakewood,

216-521-1771; and

Geiger's Ski & Sport Haus,

Chagrin Shopping Plaza, Chagrin Falls, 440-247-4900;

Staff Pick: Geiger's

Best Hair Salon

John Robert's Spa

John and Stacy DiJulius, the folks behind John Robert's three locations, are fond of an expression that encapsulates their mission: They expect each John Robert's spa to be staffed by "day makers" — people who make their guests' experience as special as it can be. This dedication to unparalleled customer service is a key reason why John Robert's has been beloved throughout the region since they first opened their doors back in 1993. As they continue to grow, their adoring clientele grows along with them.

6727 Eastgate Dr. (EastGate Shopping Center), Mayfield Heights;

89 North Main St., Chagrin Falls; and

33705 Station St., Solon;


Staff Pick: Charles Scott Salons & Spas

Best Barbershop

Quintana's Barber & Dream Spa

Widely known as a full-service spa and bastion of comprehensive pampering, Quintana's might be best appreciated for its signature haircuts for men and children. Most land in the $20 range — slightly less for "Police & Firemen's" cuts and senior specials. But all cuts land in the realm of follicle pampering — especially the "Signature" cut, complete with hot towel facial and hot lather neck shave. It's like 25 bucks for a brand-new head, a deal most fellas should jump at without thinking.

2200 South Taylor Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-7889,

Staff Pick: The Groom Room

Best Thing Made in Cleveland

Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale

Cinnamon, honey, and a jolly 7.5 ABV help make Christmas Ale the one gift that all little hopheads crave. But drink it when you got it: The legendary brewski is available only for about 10 weeks a year — and each year it gives rise to a sort of regional holiday when the first kegs are tapped around Thanksgiving time. Beyond its seductive flavor and two-fisted punch, that enforced scarcity also plays a part in the beer's powerful allure. In recent years, snarfing down Christmas Ale has given way to an equally engaging pastime: Hoarding it by the bottle or the keg, the better to surprise and delight thirsty loved ones long after the last snows have melted. Thank you, Great Lakes, for helping us find Christmas cheer all year long.

Staff Pick: nPower PEG

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