Photos: The Best Bars in Cleveland, As Voted On By You
Don't forget to check out the rest of this year's Best of Cleveland winners!
Photos courtesy of Flickr and Yelp
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BEST BAR FOR SINGLES BEST BAR FOR DAY DRINKING - Townhall: TownHall stormed onto the Cleveland entertainment scene three years ago, and the place just hasn't let up. We've written plenty about this place, and we remain pleasantly mystified at how TownHall sort of takes on different identities as the clock ticks into the night. Day drinking? Yes, of course. This is the perfect spot to wet your noontide whistle. And if you're single? Well, just stick around, because the bar turns into a nightclub without actually being a nightclub. It's great! And, with a keen wit and some luck, you'll be sure to meet the lad or lassie of your dreams (or at the very least land an amusing story for your friends at brunch the next day).
1909 West 25th St., 216-344-9400, townhallohiocity.com.
BEST BAR IN THE FLATS - The Big Bang: A dueling piano bar in the newly revamped Flats East Bank? Hell yes. When the city's newest entertainment district officially "opened" last summer, you couldn't stop the crowds from heading there every night of the week. With warm weather now for the most part upon us, the place is only going to grow more popular. The Big Bang finds itself right in the heart of it all, making it a great place to snag a few drinks and some engaging listening in the midst of a Flats-based bar crawl or at the beginning of a fun night downtown.
1163 Front Ave., 216-417-6222, thebigbangbar.com.
BEST BAR PATIO - Nano Brew: How do you improve what was already one of the best bar patios in town? You go big, naturally. Nano Brew lives in the old Garage Bar site, and the Garage Bar had one of those roomy-but-cozy patios that made you linger. Last year, Sam McNulty & Co. upgraded the already dope spot, which is just one of the many ways Nano Brew has changed over its young life. Now expanded with several levels of downtown-view-tastic seating, Nano Brew's new patio took advantage of the backdoor real estate of the former Black Pig. They also added plenty of custom seating to make the most of the space, whether you're chilling in the main bar patio area or in the section devoted to table dining. It's gigantic, almost always busy, and a helluva great spot on a summer afternoon or evening.
1859 West 25th St., 216-852-6631, nanobrewcleveland.com.
BEST BAR TO WATCH THE CAVS - Tremont Tap House: What's on tap at the Tremont Taphouse? An ever-changing collection of offbeat microbrews, flights of whatever's clever, and some of the crispest HD TVs in town. With a long bar and a narrow dining area, there's no place you can sit within the chic, dimly lit space without an oblique or head-on view of the Cavs as they progress through the 2016 playoffs. Strangers will become best friends as together you sip on delicious drafts and recall your favorite Cavaliers memories. #ALLin216.
2573 Scranton Rd., 216-298-4451, tremonttaphouse.com.
BEST BAR TO WATCH THE TRIBE - Hoopple's: With the arrival of a bona fide social district in the Flats, in the Columbus Road lift bridge area, in the long shadows of the Jake, it's fitting that this west-bank staple has nabbed this year's award away from the likes of Brick & Barrel or Merwin's Wharf. At Hoopple's, as you gobble a taco or glug a cheap domestic, you're close enough to hear the fireworks and see the stadium's gleaming toothbrush lights, but you're far enough to avoid the rush of downtown traffic. Located at the bottom of Columbus Road Hill, in between Ohio City and the Flats, Hoopple's has the perfect combination of blue-collar regulars, yuppies and hipsters to appeal to just about everybody. Plus, from the patio, you can enjoy beautiful views of the Cuyahoga, even if the home runs are few and far between.
1930 Columbus Rd., 216-575-0483, hoopples.com.
BEST BAR WITH GAMES - The Side Quest: You don't have to be a nerd to enjoy Side Quest, but it doesn't hurt. The relatively young Lakewood bar filled a niche in the Cleveland bar landscape, notably as a destination for quirky, nerdy, friendly, board-game loving folks. There are trivia nights, themed nights (Star Wars, Pi Day), and a healthy batch of craft offerings. But the main draw is the selection of board games. Pick from the abundant options or bring your own. Bring some pals to play or join a game. Skip the broken Connect Four setup at your local bar and head for board game paradise instead.
17900 Detroit Ave., 216-228-1212, thesidequestbar.com.
BEST BREWERY - Great Lakes Brewing Co.: Ah, the titan of Cleveland craft brews... Great Lakes Brewing Co. is the foundation around which our city's burgeoning brew economy was built. The Ohio City stalwart is an all-around great experience: good food, a great and pleasant interior, a really cool basement (the world's best basement, Ramon Rivas II will tell ya), and a tap lineup that'll knock your socks off seven nights a week. The peak experience is the annual Christmas Ale tapping in late fall, but you're missing a Cleveland staple if you're not stopping by the bar on the reg. "Ohio City" is sort of a destination in itself, but your travels are incomplete without a pint of Great Lakes.
2516 Market Ave., 216-771-4404, greatlakesbrewing.com.
BEST CLEVELAND HEIGHTS BAR - Parnell's: Though Parnell's expanded, with much success, to Playhouse Square in 2014, the Cleveland Heights location is still Cleveland's classic Irish pub. An itty-bitty interior means it's you and the gorgeous array of whiskeys in extremely close proximity. The company's not half-bad either: It's the stomping grounds of east-side soccer fanatics, Cedar Lee pilgrims (it's right next door to the theater) and the liquored literati of Northeast Ohio. Expect your favorite Irish beers on tap and top-notch service from a genuine Irish immigrant. Cleveland Heights can be proud.
2167 Lee Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216-321-3469, facebook.com/parnellspub.
BEST COCKTAIL - The Spotted Owl: Sure, sometimes you want to sit out on a nice patio while you're guzzling a potent adult beverage. And then there are the times you want to gulp your poison in an industrial, but comfortable, basement. Lucky for us, Spotted Owl in Tremont provides the underground ambiance, in a century-old space, for serious drinking. It also serves some of the best booze concoctions in town. This speakeasy parked at the bottom of the Tremont Lofts has been in business for some time now, but owner Will Hollingsworth is always pushing the envelope, trying new things and learning. He even staged at the Dead Rabbit in New York City, roundly considered the best cocktail bar in the world, to learn how the best of the best do it. Thankfully, he brought all those tricks of the trade and more back home so we can enjoy them.
710 Jefferson Ave., 216-795-5595, spottedowlbar.com.
BEST COCKTAIL BAR - Velvet Tango Room: Maybe it's the neon sign outside, but the Velvet Tango Room exudes the confidence of a place that won't disappoint when it comes to being the best cocktail bar in town. Cleveland's known that for years, ever since the joint quietly opened up in Duck Island when basically nothing else was there. Here, cocktails aren't just another drink. Here, there's a history and a story, not to mention handmade ingredients and the kind of expertise that translates to a few-minute wait for your drink and indelible, endless memories once you take a sip. Raise another one to this Cleveland landmark, because for all the imitators and craft cocktail spots around Northeast Ohio, there's only one VTR.
2095 Columbus Rd., 216-241-8869, velvettangoroom.com.