Kevin Coughlin’s Cleveland

July 11th, 2012

Photo: Eric Mull, Eric Mull Photography

This weekend, state and provincial legislators from America’s Midwest and Canada will converge on Cleveland for the annual Midwestern Legislative Conference. With so many friends traveling to America’s north coast, I thought I’d jot down a few things any Cleveland visitor should try to squeeze in during their stay.

The West Side Market
I’ve been coming here to shop since I was little kid. Celebrating 100 years, this is America’s oldest operating public market. Stroll through for a flavor of ethnic Cleveland. Grab a brat or gyro then head up to the balcony and enjoy your food while looking out over the whole scene. Finish with a crepe.

Sokolowski’s University Inn
You want a taste of old world Cleveland? Get here. Everything is good. But load up on pierogies. No one – and I mean no one – does them better. Yes, I love the brats and the salisbury steaks the size of my head, but give me a plate of a dozen pierogies and I’m a happy happy man.

Cleveland Botanical Gardens
A relatively new addition to Cleveland, this was an unexpected hit with my family. Great indoor and outdoor gardens for adults and kids alike to enjoy.

Cleveland Museum of Art
Great art museum with new additions to display sculptures and impressionist paintings. And all free.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Lucky you. Sunday’s welcome event is at the Rock Hall. Take your time, watch the movies, drink it in. It’s really well done.

The Cleveland Orchestra
To say Cleveland is proud of its orchestra is an understatement. The Cleveland Orchestra ranks as one of the world’s finest. Newly restored Severance Hall is worth a duck-in. MLC attendees will have a chance to hear the orchestra Saturday evening at its summer home, Blossom Music Center.

Little Italy
Yep, we’ve got one of those and the restaurants are quite good and plentiful. Wherever you eat, save room for dessert and head into Presti’s Bakery for italian cookies and pastries.

East 4th Street
Two blocks from the conference hotel you’ll find a cluster of great dining and nightlife. My favorites include:
The Greenhouse Tavern, chef Jonathon Sawyer uses locally-sourced ingredients
Lola, Food TV chef Michael Symon’s signature restaurant
Noodlecat, Noodles, steamed buns, and sake, oh my.

The Warehouse District
Just a couple blocks in the other direction, this is home to plenty of dining and nightlife. A few favorites:
XO Prime Steaks, It’s just always good. Great and inventive steak and fish plates.
Mallorca, Spanish and Portuguese food served by flamboyant waiters. Great lunch specials of well prepared food for $14.
Blue Pointe Grille Classic seafood joint.

Slyman’s Deli
When presidents come to town, they stop the motorcade here for the best corned beef and pastrami in town. It’s that good.

Superior Pho
I’ve become addicted to this stuff. Pho is my new-found friend and this place does it right. Don’t be confused by their better-labeled competitor next door. This is the place.

Great Lakes Brewing Company
I’ll put their line of beers against Sam Adams any day. Ohio goes absolutely crazy every year for the seasonal Christmas Ale. You won’t find it now, so come back in December.

The Old Arcade
Right across from the entrance to East 4th Street, this is worth walking into for a few pictures and a look at what one of America’s first malls (1890) looked like. Absolutely beautiful.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Believe it or not, between Cleveland and my home twenty-fives miles to the south lies a national park. If you’re a runner or a bicycler this is your playground.

Velvet Tango Room
The king of cocktail joints in Cleveland, operated by a guy who could pass as the most interesting man in the world.

Enjoy Cleveland – we’ll see you here!

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