Best Of 2013

Best reason to stay in Cleveland

The people

Come for the most non-existent potential for a sports success story, stay for the people. It's a motto that most everyone in Cleveland takes to heart. The people - the masses, the unrelenting horde—enliven this town and give us all a reason to stash our dreams of greener grass in the closet for the time being. We don't take life terribly seriously (except when doing 95 on I-480) and we're pretty humble overall. There is that nasty and mostly pointless East Side/West Side dichotomy that tends to rip our population apart and galvanize the residents into some sort of booze-fueled civil war, but beyond our geographic prejudices we are are pretty laid-back people.

Best Apartment


Tremont Place Lofts

Once a college – or at least one of the buildings was – and the setting for a massive religious printing production, the cavernous Tremont Lofts are a testament to rebuilding what the city has standing already. Trendy, spacious, and with all the amenities of city living—close to bars, restaurants, public transit, and all that historic Tremont has to offer—the Tremont Lofts are where many young professionals choose to live and for good reason. More than 100 apartments and 20 hotel-style rooms have something for every budget and every lifestyle. 710 Jefferson Ave., 216-274-0866,

Best Place to Buy or Lease a Car


It's hard enough buying a car without some weasely salesman handing off a clunker for a jacked-up sticker price. Car salesmen have a reputation for a reason. At Ganley, however, you'll find courteous, honest help in searching for your next automobile. Offering the best new and used Chevrolet, Ford, Volkswagen, Nissan or Subaru models, Ganley's multiple locations are here to make buying a new car something more reasonable than you would think, and for that we're

Best Auto Customer Service

Jay Honda

Need new wheels? Look no further than the glittering Bedford Auto Mile and the friendly folks at Jay Honda on Broadway Avenue. With over 300 ratings on the industry aggregator DealerRater, Jay Honda has a stratospheric 4.9/5 score in Customer Service, Friendliness and Overall Experience. Deals on Hondas are a sure thing, but the quality of the salesmanship and personal interactions should make Jay one of your top-tier destinations when looking for a new or used vehicle. They'll help you finance a new car and make sure you get top-dollar on your trade-in. With insanely low APR financing and deals on 2013 models, there's no reason

not to head down to Jay today.

Best Reason to Come Downtown

East 4th St.

Michael Symon moved Lola from Tremont to East 4th and thus began the transformation from wayward street to downtown hotspot. Now, count Greenhouse Tavern, Corner Alley, Zocalo, Wonder Bar, Pickwick & Frolic, House of Blues and more among the dining and entertainment options that have all of Northeast Ohio congregating on one street. But hold on, it's not just for the tourists. East 4th is also a destination for living, sporting dozens of chic apartments. With several new additions lined up for this year, the transformation shows no signs of slowing down.

Best Local Radio Station

87.7Cleveland's Sound

Though its signal isn't particularly strong, this locally run radio station takes an old school approach to its formatting and lets local DJs pick the tunes they want to play. So on Sunday nights, Pat the Producer spins local tunes on his long-running Inner Sanctum show and Melt Bar and Grilled owner Matt Fish plays whatever the hell he wants for an hour. The station has also promoted and sponsored local events like the Thank Hank roast/toast that took place at the Agora last month.

Best radio personality

Best radio show

The Alan Cox Show

Are you ready for showtime? From 3 to 7 p.m. each day, the rantings and ravings of Cleveland transplant Alan Cox fill many a Honda Civic throughout Northeast Ohio and beyond. His worldview pairs well with Erika Lauren's delightful chimings-in ("Oh yaaahh...") and newly christened co-host Bill Squire's laid-back fart observations. The vibe on the show is conversational and confident, brimming with insight and inside jokes. The show is truly a community, emblematic of the notion of the journey being destination. Hell, in those quick four hours, you can pick up amateur mouse-hunting lessons, learn the ins and outs of tampon-sucking and convert to the Church of Literotica. For all that—and much, much more—Cleveland is happy to continue wearing out our favorite phrase: "Hate the show!"

Best TV Personality

Dick Goddard

What is left to say about the iconic TV personality? He's delivered the weather to us for years, smiled and made our day brighter, maintained a better sense of humor than most, and led the Woolly Bear Parade and celebration. If he's not a machine or an alien, we're not entirely sure how he's made it this long. Dick Goddard was here before us, and he'll be here long after we're gone. Here's to the silver fox's reign never ending.


Best TV News Team

Fox 8 in the Morning

It's easy to make a bad morning TV news show. Throw some recipes and manufactured, caffeine-driven smiles toward the camera and... well, not much else is going to happen. Kristi Capel, Wayne Dawson and Stefani Schaefer (and who can forget Kenny Crumpton) make the morning TV slog more than palatable, enjoyable even. Offering a balanced mix of entertainment and news, the Fox 8 crew catches you up on everything you need to know for the day without that too-happy attitude that can be grating before the sun comes up.

Best Local Resident


Lolita is a Tremont institution. Lola is the shimmering magnet and axis around which East 4th street revolves. The B Spot has possibly the most sinful happy hour in Cleveland's deeper suburbs. Chef and local hero Symon's a prince of a guy, employees testify. He makes regular appearances at his restaurants and doles out extravagant tips. This year, Symon spearheaded a campaign to support the vendors at the West Side Market after the January fire whereby businesses donated a percentage of their earnings through Symon's foundation. Foodie-wise, Symon published his ode to meat in October, 2012: "Carnivore: 120 Recipes for Meat Lovers" co-written by Scene's own Doug Trattner. We're lucky to have him.  

Best local entrepreneur

Matt Fish

The godfather of grilled cheese is both a savvy businessman and a local phenomenon. In pairing Gen-X nostalgia with the most scrumtrulescent sandwich offer ings, Fish tapped into a delicious market that seems to swell by the season. His reach is now extending into Columbus, but it's his Cleveland footprint that we hold so close to our hearts. We're all well aware of the long wait times that accompany this joint's dinner rush, but that doesn't mean we still don't stumble in half-dazed with pierogi-bratwurst dreams at 8:30 each night. The bar, however, with it's comprehensively awesome beer selection, covers the bases and ensures that happy times await the casual Melt-goer.

Best Local to follow on twitter

Melissa Reid (Fox 8)

@MelissaReidFox8 loves news, sports and sarcasm, says her Twitter profile, which means that in Cleveland, she fits right in. This TV reporter is one of the first people on the scene for all of Cleveland's biggest stories. She's got an eye to the headlines and a finger to the pulse. And she's not above a good joke or two. She's the ideal Cleveland personality to follow if you want proper doses of serious and not-so-serious. Sometimes, a little candor goes a long way: "I just don't think the #projectrunway designers are that good this season," she tweeted recently. Four thousand people already have access to Melissa Reid. If you're not one of them, you should be.

Best Local Sustainability Champ


So Alchemy Hour has been pretty transcendent, yeah? In addition to cranking out brew after brew after glorious brew, the Great Lakes Brewing Company on Cleveland's near West Side is a continuous advocate and participant in green business practices. In addition to their recycling and vegetable-oil trucks, they've got worms in a basement to compost waste and turn it into fertilizer. They've got walls stuffed with straw insulation. They even use the grease from their fryer to fuel a shuttle bus downtown, appropriately dubbed the "Fatty Wagon." Its exhaust reportedly smells like french fries. GLBC has in fact concretized a certain image of the craft-beer-loving sustainability promoter in the region. They created the mold to which we all aspire as we farm and get drunk. 2516 Market Ave.,


Best politician

Dennis Kucinich

Less of a politician these days and more of a novel force of nature, DENNIS! Kucinich has lifted this region onto his shoulders for decades. His legacy is emblazoned on campaign signs that still litter (read: decorate) more than a few front yards in and around Cleveland. His career has been nothing short of divisive and entertaining (entertainingly divisive?). But with his days in office behind him for the time being, there's a cavity in our hearts. And you know, with local wunderkind like Zack Reed and David Bentkowski on the beat, it's no wonder that Kucinich is still picking up votes from his fawning following. And that smile! Dude's a charmer as Cleveland is and always will be painfully aware.

Best Local Nonprofit /Charity

Cleveland AnimaL Protective League

Committed to 100% placement for its furry denizens, this no-kill shelter and animal advocacy organization has been rescuing animals and supplying Cleveland residents with four-legged friends since 1913 (actually, 2-legged, too—they have birds! And adorably crippled cats!). Adoption fees include spay/neuter surgery, initial vaccines, worm and flea treatment, and a post-adoption veterinary exam. The APL's cruelty investigators field about 18,000 calls a year, while their friendly in-house staff are on hand to help with pooch and kitty match-making. Screw OkCupid—with the APL's updated online database of adorable adoptables, it's easier than ever to snag your soul mate for the price of a few cocktails. 1729 Willey Ave.,


Best Local Comedian

Best Local Author


The man with a last name that sounds like a verb specific to Facebook flirtation has done it! Not only has he captured the imagination of Clevelanders with his viral YouTube videos, stand-up comedy and sketch group Last Call Cleveland, he's now your pick for Best Local Author. This Rust Belt comedy potentate has now turned to prose. In "Damn Right I'm From Cleveland: Your Guide to Makin' It in America's 47th Biggest City," Polk brings with him the familiar arsenal of satire and wit. He lampoons Cleveland in the way only natives can, noting in particular our eternal obsession with basement-dwelling sports franchises and our constant struggles to reinvent our civic image.  

Best Local Filmmaker

Robert Banks

Famous for his short films that will occasionally get a showing at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, Robert Banks makes his movies out of "buyback," "expired" or "short-end film stock." He's shown his films at Sundance and in 2001 he was declared Filmmaker of the Year at the Midwest Filmmakers Conference. New York's Museum of Modern Art has shown his work, and he's been honored as a guest artist at the BBC British Short Film Festival. His most famous film, X: The Baby Cinema, serves as a commentary on the commercializing of Malcolm X.

Best Local Neighborhood


In an historic coup, Ohio City overtook Tremont to be this year's winner. We're guessing the revamped West 25th Street is playing an important role with voters. With new bars like Nano Brew and Market Garden and steadfast social anchors like ABC Tavern and the Old Angle, it's the newest and most diversified nightlife in town. But the neighborhood is more than a single street: Add to the recipe gorgeous Victorian homes, St. Ignatius High School, St. Patrick's Church and major institutional anchors. Don't forget about new commercial enterprises and, of course, the West Side Market. The people are friendly and the Great Lakes Brewing Company is close at hand. What more could you ask for?


Best Local Bartender



Shannon Smith, drizzling maple syrup into a martini glass at Light Bistro on Bridge Avenue, says the key ingredient to successful bartending is the ability to talk to people. "I'm throwing a party for everybody every night," says the Youngstown native. "It's giving people space when they want it, and inviting them into conversation when they need it." Smith is a cocktail experimentalist and craft-beer connoisseur. He learned his brews at Vintage Estate Wine & Beer in Boardman, and after getting his Masters in acting, doing the "cliché actor thing" in New York and Chicago, and—miraculously—serving as a butler for the Forbes family, he's now crafting unique drinks and peddling his personality gratis in Ohio City. He whips up something with Bulleit Bourbon, cognac, rum, Agostura bitters and simple syrup, smokes the whole thing and pours it into the maple-glazed glass. It tastes like camping and pancakes.

2801 Bridge Ave., 216-771-7130,

Best Place to Work

Cleveland Clinic

Sure, you can't smoke if you work there, but you shouldn't be smoking anyway. The Cleveland Clinic far outpaced other entries in this category because... well, it's the Clinic! It's a world-class institution right here in Cleveland that has a mindful eye on making it a worthy place for you to seek employment. They treat their people right because, after all, it's the first step in making sure the patients are treated right.

Best "Over-Exposed" Local Celebrity

Tim Misny

It'd be bad enough with the TV commercials, but that bald head and catchphrase come at Clevelanders through every other media, too. He's got a web reality show, he pops up with Mike Polk, he makes the radio rounds, he's friends with this guy and that guy and... yeah, he'll make you pay. We love him even though we can't escape him. And damn straight he'd be the first guy we call if we ever needed to sue someone, because while he might be annoying, you know he'll be on your side.

Best tourist attraction

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Ah, the Louvre of Lake Erie. The pinnacle of tourist attractions in Cleveland remains a unique nod to our city's rock 'n' spirit. But even for residents, the Rock Hall is a must-visit tower to musical legacies. Exhibits rotate regularly and there are always new lectures and programs being rolled out. The cavernous tribute to the legends of yesteryear makes for a great day trip for us all. Plus, the Rock Hall induction ceremonies and nominees always make for good bar debates. We can put the Rush madness to bed now (hopefully), and renew our anger over the oft-repeated KISS snub and the fact that New York is still working its puppet-string magic behind the scenes. Ah, well. It's still fun to spend a day. 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., 216-781-7625,

Best New Attraction

Horseshoe Casino

The casino. It might be a divisive issue around town, but you can be sure as all slotty hell that it is a major draw. Bustling from morning to night and well beyond, the Horseshoe offers Clevelanders (and the entire region) world-class gaming right here in downtown. The renovation of the historic Higbee Building has new life emerging on Public Square at just the right time. 100 Public Square,


Best suburb


It's the suburb that most readily disavows the term "suburb." Lakewood, which combines the best elements of inner-ring amenities, historic architecture, lakeshore life and wet-your-whistle availabilities, is a terrific city. Known in some circles as the City of Houses and/or the City of Trees, Lakewood offers the best of both. Its homes are homing in on 100 years of mostly vibrancy (just pardon the slanting floors) and the city is taking great care to ensure another century of residential resiliency. As an overview, the city works hard to promote the best sides of residential and commercial life and the two often intermingle along Detroit Avenue's main corridor. If you haven't visited downtown Lakewood lately, do yourself a favor and check out what's brewing over there.

Best Park

Rocky River Reservation

Spanning six cities, this substantial, many-faceted gem in the Emerald Necklace has something for everyone. Whether you're steelhead fishing in the river, biking on the multipurpose trails, picnicking in the meadows, communing with red foxes and coyotes in the cottonwood copses, skipping shale slabs in the river, or sparking up a spliff on Indian burial grounds, you could, like many Clevelanders, spend years exploring the Metroparks' crown jewel and never tire of its wonders, including majestic shale cliffs and sandstone ledges, sycamore groves, and cascading waterfalls. The abundant navigation signs, information plaques, historic Frostville museum, and hands-on visitor center make it a family friendly day trip, while avid naturalists can plot more challenging hikes and wildlife-watching junkets. 216-635-3286,


Best Spot to Take Wedding Photos

Cultural Gardens

The cultural gardens have been the city's premier site for wedding photos since the 1930s, and it's little wonder: The convergence of exquisite landscaping and folk heritage render it more than just a pretty photo op. It's the ideal destination for commemorating family traditions while celebrating pan-cultural unions. While the in-laws may squabble over the old klezmer-vs.-polka wedding-music debate, you can sate both parties with scenic pics from the Star of David-adorned "wisdom fountain" at the Hebrew garden before moseying on down to the Polish garden to pose with Chopin's regal bust. Some favorites are the lavish Renaissance-style Italian monument (if you don't mind the Mussolini-gifted Virgil statue), the stately wrought-iron gateway at the Hungarian plot, the "greenest" garden of all (that would be Irish), and the Doric columns and reflecting pool at the Greek garden. 750 E. 88th St., 216-664-2484,


Best place for people watching

West Side Market

You'll see it all at the West Side Market on any given day. (Even when it's closed. Hang out by the produce stands late at night for any number of surprises.) But the West Side Market is famous for bringing together a congregation of Cleveland's finest. The beautiful thing about the West Side Market is that there's no real target audience. From the destitute to the yuppies of suburbia to those simply in need of a coupla cucumbers, all walks of Cleveland life find their way into the building. It's also known to attract an element of celebrity, spanning the gamut from President Barack Obama to Anthony Bourdain.

1979 W. 25th St., 216-664-3387,

Best Place for a Family Outing

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Not too big, not too small, this place is a just-right sweet spot of animal kingdom outings, a manageable half-day trip for the lazy or child-burdened, or a full-day trip if you come armed with resolve, decent arch support, and an abiding passion for watching elephants. It's easy for spoiled Cleveland natives to take the zoo for granted and forget that most urban enclaves are ghastly spectacles of animal and parental suffering. But know that zoos this navigable, lovingly tended and well-manicured are rare. With 183 acres of award-winning gardens, fauna isn't the only attraction here. And the zoo's a year-round attraction—the soothing mists of the indoor Rainforest exhibit are the perfect antidote to Clevo midwinter blues and a pretty cheap spa alternative to boot. Mondays are free to residents and tolerable if you don't mind crowds.

3900 Wildlife Way, 216-661-6500,

Best school district


Repeatedly winning awards from the state, as well as concerned taxpayers' public comments during board meetings, Lakewood City Schools do a great job ushering the leaders of tomorrow into the world of today. Thousands of students fill the hallways of the district's renowned elementary and middle schools, as well as the massive Lakewood High School. Civic and school pride are important characteristics found throughout the community. School events, like football games and the collaborative H2O outings, are well attended by all. The Ranger Cafe, for one thing, is an education-fueled experiment in deliciousness. Stop by for soup and a sandwich to get a taste of what's cooking in the classrooms these days.

Best Place For a First Date

Little Italy

With rustic cobbled roads and romantic eateries galore, you don't have to be Italian to impress a date in this cozy 'hood. Whether you're doing the Lady and the Tramp pasta slurp at Valerio's, waxing rhapsodic about each other's eyes/asses/penchant for Pasolini over espresso at Presti's, mouthing sweet nothings and sharing manicotti under lambent lighting at Etna, or groping each other in the alley next to the smoke shop, there are venues to indulge all manner of first-date proclivities in this throwback enclave. And if you don't want to seem like a sappy tryhard or are just trying to cut to the chase, there's always takeout thin-crust 'za at Valentino's. And dude? Lay off the Axe body spray.

Best Local Site for Cleveland Info



Blush blush. is pleased as punch to provide engaged Clevelanders with not only the unique, in-depth content from our print publication, but a continuous stream of news, arts and entertainment and event coverage with a voice all its own. is updated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, bringing you all the important stuff and a lot of not-so important stuff too. If the Scene 'n Heard news blog isn't bookmarked on your computer, shame on you! We've got so many jokes and snarky comments that you'll probably get really animated about Cleveland goings-on that you had no idea were going on. Our writers are top-notch and our content is informative, entertaining, and humongously profound.

Best Local University


Never mind the dorm policies that have likened CSU administrators to prison wardens. At this point, it's worth celebrating that CSU has a legitimate "dorm life" to regulate. President Ron Berkman has pumped dollars and energy into the Campus District and has revitalized the school as not only a worthy commuter school but a kick-butt college with solid academics and active student life to recommend it. The area around campus has improved so much that a development organization now exists for the "neighborhood." Enrollment is up and the buildings have never looked shinier. And that basketball program is an exciting local calling card. 2121 Euclid Ave.,


Best Local Blogger


"Unmiserable Cleveland loves Boston cream pie, and plans to spark the 2012 revolution that changes its name," reads the caption underneath the icon for this Cleveland lover's blog. It's 2013, but the Cleveland love is strong as ever. After Forbes named us the most miserable city in America in 2010, Unmiserable Cleveland provided some pushback. Your glorious puppet master and content creator is a web developer and tech wiz by the name of Gina Prodan. She tells us what to do on the weekends and gives us the juicy details about development in Cleveland's neighborhoods, not to mention shares with us exciting research about food, entertainment and shopping. Boosterism has a mascot and preacher.  

Best local comeback

West Side Market

It's probably the one time this year that we'll be able to whip out the ol' "rising like a phoenix from the ashes" metaphor and not sound like utterly pedestrian writers, so... Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of this year's tragic fire, the West Side Market is rocking the comeback of a lifetime. With the locally grown centennial celebrations still ringing in recent memory, the PR on Cleveland's most storied market is at an all-time high. Lately, crowds have been so thick that a morning at the market is more like a mosh pit at a strangely sedate Slayer show. Nonetheless, there's nothing else like it anywhere in the region. 1979 W. 25th St.,


Best Hair Salon

Zen Metro Spa

Complimentary booze and awesome massages are just two of the cushy amenities offered at Ohio City's hippest joint for getting yer coif did. Zen's expert stylists and colorists will treat both you and your hair right, making you look and feel as pretty as the appropriately zen digs, a blissful, pimped-out oasis of retro accent lighting, exposed brick, mahogany floors, and sumptuous leather chairs. Not the cheapest cut around, but the attentive stylists and plush ambience are worth it.1870 W. 25th St., 216-939-1760,

Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.