Old Brooklyn

Taking in the view at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Taking in the view at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Photo Courtesy This is Cleveland

This westside neighborhood has seen a resurgence in recent years. Younger Clevelanders, seeking an alternative to the Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods, are turning to Old Brooklyn for more affordable living and a growing walkability scene on Pearl Road. While some stalwarts like the 80-year-old Sausage Shoppe will soon close, new places keep popping up, like the Old Brooklyn Cheese Company; Lucy, the first Ethiopian restaurant on the west side; and the soon-to-launch coffee/bike/book shop called Coffee Coffee Coffee. The neighborhood, which sits between Brookside Park, the Cuyahoga River and Brookpark and Ridge roads, has long been a haven for immigrants, evidenced by its mix of ethnic restaurants. Officially annexed by Cleveland in 1905, the spot has come a long way from its original farmland roots.

Must Eat

Cleveland has had no shortage of premium donut shops opening up in recent years, but let it be known that Jack Frost Donuts (4960 Pearl Rd.) was slinging the sweet treats well before it was a trend. Since 1937, the Old Brooklyn spot has offered up some of the best donuts in Northeast Ohio. From classic flavors to donuts topped with pretty much any sort of sugar cereal, the shop offers more than 200 flavors throughout the year. You especially can't go wrong with anything called Death by Chocolate. Plus, with serious renovations to its building in recent years, the shop is as shiny and bright as its confections are delicious.

Must Drink

If it looks like you've stepped into an old gas station, it's because you have. Yet Dina's Pizza & Pub (5701 Memphis Ave.) is as cozy as a big, family-friendly sports bar gets. The original Old Brooklyn spot on Pearl was struck by lightning, so the business moved to the former Filling Station in 2000. But folks from the neighborhood and beyond continue to flock to the spot for a pint or cocktail. If you're looking for a good bang for your buck, go with the domestics, around $2. But the whole of the extensive drink menu isn't that much more. So grab some friends, watch a game on one of their many TVs and don't forget to score some thick slices of their signature cheesy pizza.

Must See

If there's one thing Old Brooklyn is known for, it's the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (3900 Wildlife Way). Home to creatures of every shape and feather since 1882, the zoo is absolutely a must-see attraction for out of towners and locals alike. Especially since the zoo has been inundated with baby animals lately — including a rhino, otters, red foxes and a giraffe. Zoos are typically known for their family-friendly atmospheres, and this one is no different. Be sure to check out free Mondays between Memorial Day and Labor Day, available for all Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township residents.

Must Do

A surprise oasis of flowers, vegetables and fruit lies behind Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, and it's brought Old Brooklyn folks together since 1929. Yes, the largest community garden in all of Cuyahoga County, Ben Franklin Community Garden (1905 Spring Rd.), resides right here and is open May through October, weather permitting. For anyone interested in gardening, or who doesn't have a yard, or doesn't want to use their own yard, plots are available. The waiting list can be found at benfranklincommunitygarden.org. For those looking to support the garden in other ways, its Spring Fling 2018 fundraiser hits Sachsenheim Hall on April 14. Contact the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation at 216-459-1000 for more information.

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