Best Of 2013

Shops & Wares

Best Place to Spend a Day Shopping

Best Place to Buy Meat

Best Place to Buy Produce

Best Farmers Marker

West Side Market

There's nothing quite like ambling around Cleveland's century-old landmark whether you're toting a grocery list or not. From fresh produce to some of the most delicious pierogies this side of the Atlantic, from sausages of every shape and flavor to more cheese than you could ever eat in a lifetime, the West Side Market has just what you're looking for, and a whole lot more you didn't even know you wanted. Grab a gyro or pizza bagel or falafel as you stroll through the endless vendors, commiserating, nibbling and buying just as your fellow Clevelanders have for over 100 years. Cleveland is a food town, and the West Side Market is the epicenter.1979

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

Best Place to Buy Music

The Exchange

Sustainable music collecting meets vast selection at the Exchange's many locations around Northeast Ohio. The trick to a good Exchange visit is going in with no particular expectations. You'll often find the albums you've been craving, but take some time to wander the aisles and seek out something fresh. The discount CD racks - with albums going for $1, $2.50, $5 - often boast some really killer pick-ups. Who knew you wanted Michael Stanley's oft-forsaken debut album Rocky River Fever? Yes, it's there; keep looking. And do ya need vinyl, movies or video games? The Exchange also has you covered there. Various locations

Best Thrift Store


If you suck it up and get over the scuzz, Unique is a treasure trove of vintage knits, sassy flats, perfect flannel, retro housewares, and bizarre tchotchkes (tittie-shaped mug or jar of "Canadian air," anyone?). Also suspicious stains, a rotating roster of crazies, and awkward public displays of advanced undress (there are no changing rooms), but it's all part of Unique's charm. You may have to dig, but you'll inevitably walk out with a one-of-a-kind steal your friends will envy you for. Half-price Mondays are a complete feeding frenzy, but if you go early to snag the good stuff, the deals can't be beat.

3333 Lorain Ave., 216-631-0205,

Best Vintage Store

Best Antique Shop

Best place to furnish your home

Flower Child

Flower Child is a cornucopia of mid-century finds, with pin-up posters, cigarette holders, and diaphanous boudoir dainties for the ladies and bachelor pad staples—vintage neon beer signs, Copa Cabana figurines, Tiki grotto gear, and a prodigious assortment of vintage Playboys—for the dudes. Attracting casual tattooed homesteaders and cutthroat antique hunters alike, the 15-some rooms of unique novelty items and pedigreed home décor brands mostly draw on mod and kitsch staples, from ironic Jesus miscellany to lurid velvet paintings to "Mad Men" cocktail accoutrements to Georges Briard glassware. For nostalgic Gen-Xers, there's also oodles of "Alf", Star Wars, and New Kids on the Block memorabilia, in addition to lacquered clock radios, retro landline handsets, and sock monkeys.

11508 Clifton Blvd., 216-939-9933,

Best Consignment Shop

Avalon Exchange

With one location on Coventry and a new spot in Lakewood, Avalon Exchange offers the most generous gently used clothing deals around, as well as bargains on this season's designer threads. Cleaner and better organized than your standard-issue funky thrift store, this is your best bet to find coveted brands like Paige denim and cool-kid staples like Members Only jackets. It might not have the worn-in cachet of less upscale shops, but "character" isn't really a priority when what you want is on-trend classics.

1798 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216-320-9775,


Best Local Clothing Brand

CLE Clothing Company

Clevelanders like to wear their hearts and pride on their sleeves, and since 2008, they have been doing so by putting on threads from CLE Clothing. It's easy enough to slap some city nostalgia on apparel, but CLE has perfected the funky inside jokes and references, and dynamic design that elevate the Cleveland pride to everyday wears. Whether it's capturing old Municipal Stadium, Dead Man's Curve, or the city's undying love for its teams, CLE has been making Cleveland look good for five years and shows no signs of stopping. Browse portions of their selection at the downtown store on East 4th or at Native on Waterloo Road.

Best Boutique

Banyan Tree

Named after a ficus breed that grows nowhere near here, this independent boutique nevertheless offers a glut of local and/or eco-savvy clothing, accessories, and home accents, the go-to destination for that last-minute "oh, shit!" birthday or anniversary present—pretty much everything in here is gorgeous and tasteful, so guys, you probably can't go wrong getting your picky gf a gift here. With Cleveland designer Brian Jajinski's adorable print cardigans, chunky bracelets and necklaces from a slew of local artists, whimsical clip-on bowties for soigné tots, and cleverly scented candles from local artisan Sweet Dish & Darling currently in stock, the ever-evolving merchandise has only one constant: It's always drool-worthy. 2242 Professor Ave., 216-241-1209,

Best Local Store

Best Comics/Collectibles Shop

Big Fun

Playboy has called Big Fun one of the "coolest stores" in America, and who are Clevelanders to disagree? Since the 1980s on Coventry, Big Fun has been providing locals with that unique brand of childlike nostalgia found only in an old-timey toy store. It's a trip down memory lane for those born in the 40s or 50s and a journey to an unknown past for the millennials. Locally owned and operated by Steve Presser, this bastion of fun now has a west-side location on Clifton to complement the original store on Coventry. It's got all the toys and collectibles you'd ever conceivably want or need, and has a name which is the exact thing you feel as you walk in.  1814 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-371-4386 and 11512 Clifton Blvd.,


Best Bookstore

Half Price Books

Though its beloved Rocky River location closed at the beginning of this year, HPB's North Olmsted, Mentor and Mayfield Heights outposts are worth the trek. With assiduous, upbeat staff who won't cool-guy you when you ask where the Nicholas Sparks section is, a dizzying, well-organized stock of new, gently used, and "old and interesting" rare books—as well as comics, current magazines, software, games, vinyl, and gift-y diversions for the illiterate—the Dallas-based company may be a chain, but its stores abound with local bibliophile character. So come on down with your bug-infested boxes of last year's Harlequin series and trade them in for cash money, which you should then use to buy more books. You know, so bookstores don't keep going out of business. Various locations,

Best Smoke Shop

Daystar Boutique

It all starts with that seemingly benign gateway drug, nag champa incense. Next thing you know, you're jonesing for hemp necklaces, Grateful Dead tapestries, tribal bone ear plugs, beaded curtains, lava lamps, and the nefarious hacky sack, your life's meaning dictated by where you're gonna score your next tie-dye sock fix. Don't do drugs, kids, but if you must, this is your classic neighborhood head shop—nothing groundbreaking, just good, old-fashioned dorm-ready knickknacks and "tobacco" paraphernalia, with good prices, better-than-average pieces, and an enthusiastic staff. And dude, dig this: it's like, a star. During the day. It's always out there, you know?

17102 Detroit Ave., Lakewood 216-228-4522, and 15798 Lorain Ave., 216-941-4144,

Best chocolate /candy shop


Take a trip back to the chocolate-laden past and dip into one of Malley's many local stores. The magic all started in Lakewood, which features the classic pastel backdrop and boasts enough sweet-tooth fixings for a lifetime. The ice cream parlor vibe alone is enough to warrant several family trips to the local Malley's each week. You only live once, after all. We heartily endorse the Malley Ohs, which are, of course, Oreos drenched in the chocolatier's absolutely divine, velvety concoction. When we die, dear readers, please ensure that a comically large pile of Malley Ohs is tossed in the casket for our trip across the River Styx.

Various locations,


Best Bakery


This Italian bakery is a Cleveland institution, a meeting place and people-watching destination — where Italian-American grandmas rub shoulders with UH residents and Case students — as much as a world-class bakery and the Platonic ideal of a quick lunch spot. Whether you're seeking an authentic finale to your Little Italy dinner date, a quick cuppa joe and a snack with friends, or a diverse array of sweet treats for a family of picky eaters, Presti's has what you need. From nonpareil adaptations of classic Italian desserts (cannoli, cassata, pignoli, tiramisu and panettone) to old-fashioned comfort food (apple tart, donuts and pepperoni bread) Presti's is well worth the confusing ordering system and hectic midday rush. 12101 Mayfield Rd., 216-421-3060,

Best Deli


There are sandwiches and then there are Sandwiches. Slyman's specializes in the latter. The Cleveland institution has been slicing up and serving the best corned beef in the city since the '60s and nothing much has changed. Simplicity is beautiful for a reason. Just a mile-high pile of corned beef served on rye with cheese or mustard if you want. That's it. Slyman's also dishes up fantastic pastrami, roast beef and just about any other traditional deli offering you can imagine with gusto and quality to match the corned beef masterpiece. But you're going to want the masterpiece, trust us. 3106 St. Clair Ave., 216-621-3760,

Best Wine Store

Minotti's wine & spirits

Located in five locations across Cleveland's West Side (not to mention the palatial haunt in Parma), Minotti's has been providing quality wines and spirits and kick-ass service since the 1980s. Their selection is extensive and they offer the state minimum in cost -- with no sin tax! So continue to sin and continue to purchase from a company with longstanding local roots, great prices, and incredible customer service.

Best Beer Store

Warehouse Beverage

"Warehouse" is a bit of a misnomer—this beloved hole-in-the-wall boozer sanctuary is barely the size of a convenience store. While there may be larger and more centrally located beer stores, you're gonna go to a beige South Euclid shopping plaza with a ragtime-meets-70s script logo if what you want is craft beer at good prices. Why? The impressive selection and the knowledgeable and non-judgmental fraternal owners, who seem like gee-whiz regular guys until you realize they're superhuman brew gurus. With a diverse stock of local brewery selections, mix-and-match singles, and far-flung exotic picks—aged lambics, Belgian sour beer, raspberry kombucha beer, Hitachino Nest red rice ale, French farmhouse ciders, German doppelbocks—even West Side beer enthusiasts will find Warehouse Beverage worth the pilgrimage.

4364 Mayfield Rd., South Euclid,


Best Eco-Friendly Business


Basically everything the Great Lakes Brewing Company does is eco-friendly. You've probably heard about their trucks which run on vegetable oils — saving them nearly 50 percent in fuel costs - and about their preference for local foods, which means fresher produce and money back to the local economy; But you may not know this flagship Ohio City brewpub is a fiendish recycler. All the napkins, beer cartons and business cards are from recycled fiber. Also, the b-products created when they brew their delicious beers are shuttled off to local farms and used for feed. The company's goal is to produce zero waste...which is what most of us tend to produce after buying a GLBC variety pack. 2516 Market Ave., 216-771-4404,

Best Adult Store

Adult Mart

Good choice, voters. Helmed by the inimitable Rondee Kamins, Adult Mart is the commercial incarnation of a pornography industry that started and rose to prominence in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. This isn't some low-class store for the "raincoat crowd." No no. Kamins and Co. have redesigned their shops to create a more "boutique-style" shopping experience. You don't feel dirty in Adult Mart. You almost feel downright classy. Their attendants are exceedingly knowledgeable and their inventory is vast.  "We've got toys for every fantasy," said the CEO in a Scene interview. "We're all about selling fantasies to people, and I think our products are reflective of that." And it's not just toys. They've got DVDs and apparel and accoutrements as well. No one is turned away from Adult Mart...except, you know, children. Various locations,


Best Tattoo Parlor

Voodoo Monkey

This Ohio City ink shop claims to be the city's only "certified" tattoo joint, which is already persuasive enough. Professional but relaxed and fun, Voodoo Monkey is ideal for nail-biting tattoo virgins and Sailor Jerry veterans alike. With seven tattoo artists specializing in a variety of styles—from traditional Japanese Irezumi designs to Tom Waits tributes to dia de los muertos sugar skulls to classic stars and anchors to punk rock minimalism to ill-advised irony — Voodoo Monkey has you covered. Literally. In awesome tats. And for those who opted for drunken stick 'n poke hijinks or permanent skin memorials to psycho exes back in the day, they do cover-ups like no other.

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

Best Spa/Salon

Dino Palmieri

With eight damn locations, local chain Dino Palmieri makes it easier than ever to plan a self-pampering girls day out, whether you're with a pack of well-heeled Beachwood moms or a gaggle of mousy Ohio City hipsters. With luxe formulas to suit every skin type, their customized Darphin facials, antioxidant peels, cleavage treatments, botanical Brazilians, aromatherapeutic massages, and, uh, "back facials" for pesky bacne will have you and your girls blissed out and beautiful. They even offer a "just for men" package with a foot treatment, facial, and a Swedish massage with "long, even strokes." Heh.

Various locations,

Best Barbershop /Men's Salon

Crazy Mullets

Crazy Mullets is even better known for crazy-cheap prices. How low can a punk get? You can score this season's trendy fascist cut for as little as 18 bucks, but you'll look like a million with rad stylists at two locations. While some may balk at the salon's punk rock pedigree and trashy titular 'do, the chatty staff will make you feel right at home. Peroxided co-owner Ed Maddox has even been known to don a mullet wig while getting to work on your scuzzy locks. With a whimsical attitude and fingers solidly on the pulse of trendy tresses, Crazy Mullets is the go-to refuge for thrifty dudes who've been humiliated one too many times by "Best" Cuts and DIY grooming abominations.

1830 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-320-9891 and 14807 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-712-7733,

Best bicycle shop

Century Cycles

You've spent a long, cold winter in public safety committee meetings in your local town, listening to hyped-up cyclists drone on and on about the need for bike paths and bike accommodations and bike signage and bike-based citizen action groups and bike-shaped statues of Ferdinand Magellan. Now, the weather's kinda warming up and it's time to actually hit the streets on your bitchin' 10-speed. Don't have a bitchin' 10-speed? Then Century Cycles will surely take care of you. The staff members are friendly and knowledgeable about the fine art of cycling. They'll even tip you off to some of the better riding routes in Northeast Ohio. (Hint: NOT West 6th Street.)

Various locations,

Best locally made product

Great Lakes beer

Living in Cleveland means never having to say, "I wish they served Great Lakes here!" In fact, they say you're not really a Clevelander until you spend a winter extolling the virtues, in a half-understandable slur, of Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale. But what's even better than blathering on about its mystical properties is drinking the damn stuff. Great Lakes' brew is indeed a heady delight - and it comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Stock up on sixers when you're out and about, but know that you'd be remiss if you didn't stop by the brewery from time to time to taste the latest on-tap only recipes.

2516 Market Ave., 216-771-4404,

Best New Business

The Cleveland Brew Shop

As the homebrewing trend exploded around town, there were plenty of folks doing it, talking about it, drinking the rewards, and heading to places like the Brew Kettle to make their own beer. The problem? Not really that many places to buy the equipment and supplies locally. Paul Benner decided to solve that problem in 2012 when he moved back to Cleveland to open the Cleveland Brew Shop in Tremont. Sporting all the malts and equipment you need to brew up something on your own in your kitchen, Benner also comes stocked with knowledge and tips on how to have that fermenting delight come out tasting delicious. Know nothing or not enough? They also have classes to help you along. 2681 W. 14th St., 216-574-2271,

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