Here's Where I'll Take You If you Visit Cleveland

Friday, June 18, 2021

In May, for the first time in more than a year, I had not one but two visitors: First came my NYC BFF, Rebecca, & then Brittany came up from Columbus for a weekend. In June, Sammi came to visit from Atlanta, & Christina came home from Tennessee. Thanks, vaccine companies!

It's been incredible to see my friends after so many months apart. And without even meaning to, I realized that I took them to a lot of the same places – places I love & hoped they would, too. As people start to travel & explore again, I thought I'd share my old standbys with you in case you're looking for places to check out or to take visitors, too.

At night...

Dinner at Bar Oni (Tremont)

There was a period of time when I had dinner here every weekend for a month – & for good reason. Formerly Ushabu, an upscale Japanese shabu-shabu restaurant, Bar Oni is now an izakaya, a more casual Japanese-style sports bar. It's still run by dynamic culinary duo of Matt Spinner & David Kocab, & everything I've tried from their menu is delicious

My recommendation: Split things! May I recommend the krab korokke croquettes with lemon mayo? And the shrimp shumei? And the smoked sausage skewers with miso mustard? To drink, try the turned-up green tea or go off-menu & ask for Tito's with strawberry soda. 

Drinks at Cloak & Dagger (Tremont)

This location has been home to a half-dozen different restaurants since I moved to the neighborhood, but this one seems like it's gonna stick: a Victorian-style craft cocktail lounge with a fully vegan menu. I thought this place would be more macabre than it is, but instead it feels like sipping on fancy drinks in your great-grandmother's beautifully decorated home.

My recommendation: They change their menu every so often, but from their spring/summer 2021 menu, I love the drink with the most emo name: Cure for Seemingly Incurable Sadness, made with Irish whiskey, coconut water, roasted almond bitters, & Demerara bitters. Also, it sounds suspect, but try the miso sauerkraut popcorn.

During the day...

Breakfast from Cleveland Bagel (Ohio City)

Every Clevelander already knows what a delight Cleveland Bagel is. I don't usually make it out to their brick-and-mortar because Cafe Social Latinoamericano, in my neighborhood, sells their bagels. I do love to take visitors to their Ohio City shop, though, for breakfast sandwiches & vibes. When Brittant visited, we grabbed bagel sandwiches & headed to Edgewater Park to eat them on the water. 

My recommendation: I don't usually even get a breakfast sandwich because I loooove their shmears. My go-to is either a sesame seed bagel or a rosemary sea salt bagel with either brie-honey-walnut or cheddar chive shmear, depending on my mood.

Shopping at Cleveland Curiosities (Lakewood)

Cleveland's only curiosities shop also happens to be one of the best & most well-respected in the country, full of incredible, obscure antiques & oddities, as well as modern-day tchotchkes that fit the overall vibe of the place. You can buy everything from a taxidermied fox & a shrunken human head to vintage Ouija boards & beetles preserved in resin. Everything is legal & ethically sourced. 

My recommendation: It's nearly impossible to make recommendations here because their offerings change all the time – literally every day – but take your time & chat up the owners, Clem & Hallie, if something catches your eye. They're super-friendly, & they can give backstories for nearly everything in the shop.

Outdoor time at Lake Erie (Lakewood)

If I really like you, & if we have the time, & if it doesn't seem like you're going to think this is the lamest hobby ever, I'll take you to Edgewater to look for beach glass. Even if you're not into looking for glass, Edgewater is a great spot for a stroll or to eat lunch outdoors or just to hang out at a picnic table & chat. 

My recommendation: I've actually never been swimming at Edgewater Beach, as I'm more of a wandering-around-near-the-water gal. I love Perkins Beach for that, with it's beautiful view of downtown, & the dog beach is great if you just wanna look at cute pups with a city view. Sitting on the Edgewater Fishing Pier is super relaxing, too... basically, the whole area is good. Just go to Lake Erie, man.

Ice cream at Tremont Scoops (Tremont)

There are multiple ice cream stores in the area, all of them beloved. The most popular is probably the Cleveland-based chain Mitchell's, which I love, but when visitors come to town, I like to take them to Tremont Scoops, the independently owned spot on my block. They're friendly & reliable & their ice cream is so freaking good.

My recommendation: My go-tos are their peanut butter & jelly ice cream (so purple!) & their cherry vanilla. And if you're vegan or dairy-free – & frankly even if you're not – you're going to love their vegan cookies & cream ice cream. 

Obviously there are plenty of other places I like to take visitors, depending on their interests, but these are my go-tos. I know plenty of people think there must not be anything to do in Cleveland, but I feel lucky to live in a place with so much to do & so many reliably delightful places to visit, time after time, alone or with friends. I love it here, & I aim to make sure others do, too.

If you're local to Cleveland, where do you take out-of-towners? If you don't live here, where in your city do you like to take visitors?

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