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Updated by Juliet Abram on Apr 29, 2020
Headline for Top 12 Cleveland Places: The Wild West Side
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Top 12 Cleveland Places: The Wild West Side

Cleveland, Ohio has many hidden gems from fine dining to hip dive bars, art that wows you to entertainment that rocks you. If you're planning a vacation or want to impress your next out-of-town guest you're sure to find these places are a must. Be sure to check out my previous list: Top 12 Reasons for a Cleveland Vacation (and More!) which showcased many attractions on the eastern side of the city. This time, we're exploring the wild west side. Keep in mind, places on this list are not in any order except geographically.

Astoria Cafe-Market-Spirits

Astoria is like a slice of NYC right smack in the middle of bustling west side of Cleveland in the heart of Gordon Square (or what I like to call a gentrified version of downtown Lorain, Ohio which is much farther west but also has Flinger's Market which boasts Ohio's largest meat counter and a raging rock music scene by the Black River- don't believe me? Click this link). Astoria is named after the neighborhood in Queens, New York, further proving its established NYC'esque urban-café vibe. Astoria nails it on chic-corner-store hip while also functioning as an eatery, which reminds me of how awesome Eataly is: Eataly is not in Cleveland but it should be. Eatily is, however, in NYC, Boston, LA, Japan, Instabul, Italy, and other cities. But Astoria is befitting of an eatery you'd find inside of an Eataly, so I digress, let's focus on Astoria: which has a full market, deli, bar and café and decidedly Greek (not Italian). Fast menu facts: Their Sunday-Only brunch features a tasty Gyro Omelette, savory Souvlaki & Eggs, and a filling creative Breakfast Burger (A generous half pound of house blended lamb and beef short ribs on a toasted Stirata bun, Arugula, beefsteak tomato, red onion, bacon and fried egg). Astoria's lunch and dinner menus will quell your hunger pains, try a Horiatiki Salata, a Greek salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, Kalamata olives, red onion, cucumbers and feta cheese. Also available as a Vegan option. Highly recommend a classic Pizza Margherita. This place is perfect to sit down and enjoy a glass of your favorite wine and any one of their tantalizing Charcuterie & Cheese boards. While you're in the area, enjoy a movie at the historic Capitol Theater.

Location: 5417 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102




Some say hole in the wall, others say dive bar, a few say pool hall, a bunch insist karaoke bar, still others believe concert venue: We call it Iggy's, a real locals' local bar. There you'll find escape from the usual sit and sip corner which describe many bars in Lakewood, the closest western suburb of Cleveland. There's even a blog called "Every Bar in Lakewood" because there's literally over a 100 bars at the least. There's smokies and chips but no kitchen at Iggy's, but that's ok, because you grab a gyro down the street at The Greek Village or dine at Angelo's before your evening out. They've got a *great deal *on drafts and pitchers, and a regular open jam night every Wednesday. Last time out they're currently still closed on Sundays but hopefully that may change, and of course, plenty of other bars to choose from as previously mentioned. Look out for charity nights and artwork for sale, *the walls are a virtual gallery. * At Iggy's, for a buck you can prove how much of a tough guy or gal you are (or aren't) with the punching bag machine located in the back right corner. Iggy's truly is a little something for everybody, which makes it unique and deserves to be on this list.

Location: 13405 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107

Superelectric Pinball Parlor

Superelectric Pinball Parlor has games from the 1950s up to now, located in Gordon Square which attracts a diverse crowd looking for elegant dining, coffee and pastry, and maybe a little nostalgia that's seen a major resurgence in popularity in the 2010s. Superelectric attracts all ages and skill-levels because it's right by the movie theater (Cleveland Cinema's Capitol Theater) in the Arts District which is also home to live theater (Cleveland Public Theater). Come in to play (of discover) your favorites, join a league, or attend a special event. Current games include: The Getaway, Williams 1992; Dragon, Inter Flip 1977; and Flash Gordon, Bally 1980. There's also a vintage** Super Chexx** which proudly sits near the window, beckoning passersby to drop in and drop some quarters.

Location: 6500 Detroit Rd, Cleveland, OH 44102

Corky's Place

A true Clevelander frequenting the West Side has probably heard these magic words before: "Corky's Karaoke, 7 Days a Week." Corky's Place is a Lakewood, Ohio, classic neighborhood bar, and whether you are a regular or not instantly you feel welcomed by the friendly bartenders, and (usually) promptly around 7 pm each night it's always karaoke night. Popcorn is free, but there's also pizza going for $6 each with fan favorites like BBQ Chicken, Bacon Cheeseburger, Chicken Bacon Ranch, Buffalo Chicken, Meat Lovers, Hot & Spicy, and also the House Special (ask about it). In the winter in Cleveland, Corky's becomes the place to catch all the Browns games (sometimes, it's just better to watch them lose when you're together with friends and a cold drink in your hand). Every day from 6 pm to 7 pm is "Power Hour," where cans of PBR and other domestics run you only a buck, lots of well liquor shots are also a buck or two; Power Hour marks the end of a rather generously long Happy Hour going from 3 pm to 7 pm, where drinks are $1.50 on up. Corky's Place has a great selection of draft beer and a very expansive selection of liquors. Every month drink specials change, usually to match up with the season or holiday that is just around the corner. FYI: They make super yummy Apple Pie shots. Mainly Corky's claim to fame still is karaoke, with not one, but 2 screens with lyrics to refer to should you miss a word or if the crowd wants to sing-a-long. Corky's Place also has a very hi-tech system to put in your song, all you have to do is sign up (or sign into) the touch screen devices located in the rear right hand corner of the bar area. The DJ helping to get the party going will gladly help you navigate the screen should you need their help. 10 years ago, the Cleveland Scene named Corky's Place the** Best Karaoke for Rookies**: "At Corky's Place, even the drunkest and most vocally challenged are rewarded with a hearty round of applause. Maybe it's because everyone else is just as drunk as you, or maybe the down-and-out atmosphere of this shot-and-a-beer dive makes your eyes-closed hatchet job of "Highway to the Danger Zone" seem right at home." There's also a pool table, and they like to switch out their pinball machine and arcade game once in awhile so it's worth repeat visits to see what's new. This is the place you're sure to return to and show off to your friends, so what are you waiting for, head on over and sing your heart out at Corky's Place, it's a Cleveland tradition.

*Location: * 13302 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44107

Mikey's Pizza (Crocker Park)

Mikey's Pizza has a 4 star rating on Yelp but it should have 5, easily. Best slice of pizza for your money this side of NYC (and yes I like to compare Cleveland to other major cities to highlight how strong the #CLE food game is here). The crust is not thick, and it's not too crisp, not too chewy, it's got a touch of buttery flavor, a sauce that's a hint of sweet and not majorly salty, cheese that has mastered the art of melting, and there's all the traditional and not-so-traditional toppings to choose from: Pepperoni, sausage, grilled chicken, Philly steak, jalapeños, roasted garlic and more. For a buck you can add a drizzle to your build-your-own pizza, choosing from Sriracha, ranch, buffalo sauce or balsamic reduction. Also check out the "Signature Whole Pies" featuring The General Tso (breaded chicken, broccoli, General Tso sauce, roasted garlic oil, Mozzarella blend) and Chicken & Waffles (breaded chicken, Belgian waffles, roasted garlic oil, smoked Gouda, maple syrup drizzle, Sriracha drizzle). Try a Mikey's Combo for lunch: a huge slice of Pepperoni, sausage or Signature with soda for $6, or a plain cheese and soda for $5.5. An even better deal? If it's your first time at Mikey's or you're a regular, the 2 slices of plain cheese for $5 can't be beat and it's a lot of bang for your buck. Mikey's Pizza is tucked away in Crocker Park in the outdoor kiosks, you can order for pick-up online, too. Certainly hope this eatery expands into a concrete storefront but for now it's a seasonal slice of deliciousness. Head down to Westlake, Ohio's spectacular outdoor mall and entertainment district, Crocker Park, and get discover a pizza so good you'll want to eat the entire pie yourself. Note: They're also locally sourced ingredients whenever possible so you're supporting the Greater Cleveland community as well, so it doesn't just taste good it feels good, too.

Location: 185 Crocker Park Blvd, Westlake, OH 44145

Slyman's Restaurant & Slyman's Tavern

Before nitpicking that Slyman's is not "technically"** west side, let's just use this as a "starter" point. Can't really talk about #CLE without mentioning Slyman's. Famous for it's so-good it shouldn't be legal **corned beef, piled mile high on rye, served with fries and a pickle. Get it straight up as the original, or get a lighter sized version, either way you're going to be in "sammich" heaven. Their selection extends beyond their signature best corned beef, with everything from pastrami, roast beef, turkey, ham, and other deli-style finds like egg or tuna salad. Going in a group? Everyone's sure to find something, even the pickiest eaters, because Slyman's also has hot dogs, burgers, and grilled cheese (so the kids won't go hungry either but your kids should be eating the corned beef sliders at least, if you ask me). Slyman's has a location in Cleveland proper downtown but there's also 2 Slyman Tavern locations, one in Independence and one in Orange. Lots of great beers on tap, full drink list, plenty of sports playing on flat-screen TVs. You can go to just any sports bar to catch a game, but Slyman's has the bonus factor of bar food because nowhere else will you get served up a corned beef sandwich better than theirs. Pro Tip: Get sauerkraut, horseradish and stadium mustard on the side, although they do have mad-awesome Reubens made to order, this way is more fun.

Location: 3106 St Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114

Barrio- Tacos + Tequila + Whiskey

Tacos + Tequila + Whiskey? It all adds up to fun. Barrio is not your typical taqueria in terms of pedestrian tacos that pack no bite, heat, or much flavor (not going to name names, but surely we've all suffered taco regret one time or another). Here, go ahead, tell them what you want by crafting your own taco. (View the build your own menu here.) You've got your mainstay hard corn shell or soft flour tortilla to start, but you can upgrade your basic $3 dollar taco for a buck with the popular Stoner option (both hard & soft, queso & chorizo) or try the Green Goddess (same as Stoner except no Chorizo and guacamole instead). Most all additional toppings are included in your $3-$4 base shell, so going from there if you want to kickoff your Barrio experience splurge another buck and get the eye-roll to the back of your head good Coca-Cola marinated steak. Fillings are all phenomenal so it's worth trying a different one each time you visit. Suggestions: Thai Chili Tofu, Thick Cut Bacon, Pulled Pork, Shrimp with Garlic Cream, or House Made Chorizo. After you pick your protein, pick your cheese (Chihuahua, Queso Fresco, or Western Reserve Smoked Cheddar). From there, add on veggies (definitely worth getting the Apple Jamica Slaw). Conveniently, the salsas and sauces are rated for spice and heat, from mild like Pineapple Salsa or Cilantro Pesto to the hotter Barrio Secret Sauce or extremely hotter Carolina Reaper. From experience, these sauces are not through-the-roof crazy-hot and are easily toned down and complimented by a sweeter salsa, your choice of cheese, or a generous $1 side-cup of sour cream. Must have: The chips and queso and salsa. Their Queso Fresco is addictive af (you know what I mean). Look out for the food truck, Barrio is a taste of #CLE you can't let slip away. Four locations: Downtown (Gateway District), Tremont, Lakewood, and Cleveland Heights.

*Location: * 503 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Rocky River Park

#ThisisCLE not too far west, just past Lakewood the next town over in Rocky River, Ohio. A walking path, small quaint and quiet beach, a spectacular view of Lake Erie. There's a children's playground tucked away near a pavilion and the lush shade of tall trees (I admittedly am not talented at identifying trees but I can guess some are types of pines, maybe oaks, maybe elms). There's a stairway to an extended western-branch of the walking path with another stunning view of the lake as well. Although many out-of-towners flock to bigger, busier Edgewater Beach, a better spot to park a picnic blanket and chill out in relative peace is Rocky River Park. Bring a book or your headphones and take in the Lake Erie coast like you live here. While you're here, take a drive down to Old Detroit Road in Downtown Rocky River where there's plenty of shops and dining to enjoy.

Location: 20250 Beach Cliff Blvd, Rocky River, OH 44116


#CLE (or more specifically, the Ohio City neighborhood) is home to TownHall, a bar on W. 25th a short walk north from the West Side Market. TownHall is not just a bar, it serves up a niche lifestyle movement we can all get behind: Making America Healthy Again. Focused on total wellness as well as some of the best IPAs, lagers, and domestic beers in town, TownHall fills in the gap of lack of yummy vegetarian and vegan bar food in Cleveland. It's all non-GMO, and because of all this, TownHall has been recognized by NPR, MTV, and Esquire magazine among many others. In 2017, the show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" filmed a scene here (because Khloe Kardash herself is currently dating CAVS player Tristan Thompson. Some serious snacking considerations include: Sikil Pak Pepita Dip (pumpkin seed, cilantro, garlic, jalapeños, lime, Indian mango, orange zest, carrot sticks with tortilla chips) and Wild Mushroom Chimichangas (mix of shrooms, vegan cheese, red sauce and lemon vegan aioli) AND_emphasized text_ both of those options are TOTALLY VEGAN. There are several meat options as well. On the Share menu get a plate of lettuce wraps, which are gluten free, with your choice of chicken or tofu. Need something more for the carnivore in your life? The Grass-Fed Burger hits the spot, and the rosemary aioli adds an unexpected gourmet flare to an American sandwich-staple. Grab an Sunshine Daydream (a Session IPA) from Cleveland area brewery Fat Head's, it's brewed locally so it's shipped fresh.

*Location: * 1909 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113

E11even 2 Gallery (78th Street Studios)

E11even 2 defines itself as a contemporary art gallery, located in what's now called the 78th Street Studios in the former American Greetings' Creative Studios (the famous card company's world headquarters are now west of Cleveland in Crocker Park). What's very unique about the home for E11even 2 is the building dates back to 1905, the year it was built, when it was Baker Electric Motor Vehicle Company which made automobiles for the commercial market; the old factory still has original hardwood floors, freight elevators for the vehicles leading to loading docks, and metal track doors before it became home to the creative studios for American Greetings up through the 1980s. At a whopping 170,000 square feet, 78th Street Studios houses many galleries, artist studios, performance space, and recording studios. You can find E11even 2 every Third Friday, the monthly event taking place- you guessed it- every 3rd Friday from 5-9 pm. Come to enjoy complimentary music, buy a snack from a food truck outside or find numerous more food and drink options indoors. E11even 2 is immediately eye-catching, hosting a variety of group shows as well as featuring local artists in their own shows. Bring your pop culture knowledge, curiosity in fresh and bold patterns, and desire to immerse yourself in what is one of the most innovative galleries at 78th Street Studios. Usually, on Third Fridays, you'll find the curators of the gallery happily chatting up art lovers of all ages, giving away free beer-can cozies, and directing you to the works of well-known local artists as well as introducing you to up-and-comers who often get their start showing at E11even 2. The diversity of mediums is one of the first things you'll notice, from collages on found objects, metal sculptures to hang on your wall, unique graffiti pieces, amazing portrait art, several different styles of abstract, tattoo-styled drawings, paintings inspired by film and music or even childhood toys, and many small prints available making buying art at E11even 2 affordable at every price point. Your walls look naked, so head on down to E11even 2, they'll even tell you which other galleries at 78th Street Studios to check out because these aren't just artists, they're friends who are more like a family.

Location:1305 West 80th Street, Suite 112, Cleveland, OH 44102‎

Richland Cafe

A great bar just west of #CLE is the Richland Cafe (no acute accent mark needed). This place reminds of a lot of NYC or Chicago, a great Old World charm of a wooden bar, wooden bar stools, just pure Pub delight here. The kind of place where you're tempted to request an Old Fashioned neat, but you'll cowboy-up for a Jameson straight. Of all the beers on tap, for some reason the Miller Lite just tastes better here, served proper in a pint glass. There's plenty of cozy booths to choose from when you and your crew get together to complain about your jobs and dream up big plans for that artist commune or movie you'll never make. The Richland Cafe inspires like that. One minute you're outside a nondescript avenue of brick and concrete, the next you're taken away to a Manhattan-style brewpub. The bar is divided into two areas, open concept, where a stage resides in the room adjacent to the room with the actual serving bar. There, enjoy the occasional burlesque show (yes, they host burlesque nights here, featuring The Red Hot Heathens) or work up the nerve to sing karaoke when it's karaoke night (usually every Sunday). Look out for other unique performance events, "like" them on Facebook, but keep in mind: A bar this suave does not need a website. When they start knowing you by name, it's not because you're the town drunk, it's because they actually like you. Probably the best bar for a who's who of the Cleveland social scene, from service workers in the bar biz, to blue collar types, to musicians, artists, comedians, and sideshow freaks. Even if you lack a specific talent, the fact you chose to spend your time and money here shows you have chutzpah.

Location: 14027 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107

Ironwood Cafe

Ironwood Cafe advertises itself as "The Westside's Favorite Hangout!" and there are so many reasons why they can claim that fame. First of all, it's pretty much the first bar you'll get to leaving Bay Village going south on Dover Center Road, or, alternately, your last stop before entering mostly "dry town" Bay Village (sure, you can buy alcohol in Bay but not really a bar town, a history lesson for another day). Here at the Ironwood you may actually meet a west sider who actually owns a boat. The clientele is a bit more upscale, in that they don't pay Keno. Their HDTV screens play all the Cleveland sports and there's a Sunday Fun Day Brunch featuring an Eggs Benedict Du Jour (ooh la la). But you can also get classic sausage and gravy or a dandy pastrami hash so don't think it's all snobbery here just because you're in the affluent west side suburb of Westlake. This is decidedly NOT Crocker Park, a bit off the beaten path so to speak. Here you can kick back a plate of tater tots that go down so smooth you won't really need to dip 'em in sauce. Last time I was here I had the Porkos, basically a twist on nachos consisting of house smoked pulled pork, perfectly salted kettle chips, jalapenos, house made cheese sauce, and scallions. Next time I'm here I'm going to test their skills on a Gin and Tonic because I think it will pair well with their killer chicken wings (try the Spicy Garlic which I'm guessing is a garlicked up version of their Medium which to me has the perfect punch of heat). The Ironwood is also a place you can bring the kids to and dine in. Sunday is draft beer happy hour ALL DAY and Monday thru Friday there's ALWAYS a special. Here, you can wear beat up jeans and a ratty old t-shirt or pleated khakis and a polo AND still be treated like royalty. You are truly their guest. Ooh la la indeed. And Go Tribe! Kitchen is open LATE which is a bonus for getting the munchies sometime after the 2nd Great Lakes Dortmunder kicks in. For just $13 on a Saturday get a WHOLE fire roasted beer can chicken- feeds 2-3 people, sides extra.

Location: 688 Dover Center Rd, Westlake, OH 44145