Clevelanders love to eat and drink. You'll find honest, hearty food and a decent beer selection at many places around town. This post contains a list of places that I'd vouch for and is not meant to be objective or exhaustive. Please don't be discouraged from visiting a place that looks interesting just because it's not on my list! See my neighborhoods post for more about the neighborhoods in parentheses. If you do visit somewhere on the list, let me know how it is. Cheers! 🍻
Breweries & Brew Pubs
Cleveland has a vibrant craft brewing scene mainly concentrated around Ohio City.
Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Ohio City)
Great Lakes was brewing craft beer before it was cool. Founded in 1988, it's Ohio's oldest craft brewery. They have a solid selection of mainstays and seasonals and the brewpub has a fresh, locally-focused menu. They also have an airport location that you can visit on your way home located at CLE terminal C.
Platform Beer Co. (Ohio City)
Platform is a relatively new brewery but they're easily one of my favorites. Their brewpub doesn't have a kitchen but they usually have guest food vendors or trucks or you can bring your own food.
Market Garden Brewery (Ohio City)
Market Garden is located next door to The West Side Market and is worth a stop when you're in the neighborhood. I especially enjoy their brunch.
Nano Brew (Ohio City)
Nano is Market Garden's little sibling, located on the other end of the block. They have MG's beers on tap, their own small experimental batches, and other select craft beers. This is my go-to stop when I'm in this part of town.
Fat Heads (Westlake, OH)
A bit west of the city but worth the trip if you're trying to check out the beer scene. You may recognize the name from their second brewpub location in Portland, OR.
Masthead Brewing Co. (Downtown)
Masthead is another newer brewery doing solid work and located right downtown (about a 15 min walk from the convention center.)
Craft Beer Bars
Tremont Taphouse (Tremont)
When I think of a "Craft Beer Bar" I think of Tremont Taphouse. I can't say that I've ever had anything I didn't thoroughly enjoy here.
My neighborhood beer bar with plenty of great taps and a seasonal menu.
Winking Lizard (Downtown, Lakewood + other locations)
Winking Lizard has been serving craft beer from around the world since before "craft beer" was a term people used.
Velvet Tango Room (Tremont)
A proper classic cocktail lounge with spot-on ambiance and live jazz. It is pricy, especially for Cleveland. Reservations are required at least a day in advance if you want to get in the back room but you should be able to get a spot in the bar / lounge area at off-peak times.
Society Lounge (E 4th)
Society is a speakeasy with a large bar and ample lounge areas. Because E 4th is a popular entertainment district it can get too busy for my liking on weekend nights.
Porco (Ohio City)
An authentic tiki bar inside an unassuming red brick building. These drinks are strong. Don't overdo it!
There are plenty of great restaurants around town but these are the first that came to mind.
Salt+ is currently my favorite restaurant in the Cleveland area. Seasonal small plates perfect for sharing and cocktails that would have put it on my cocktail places list if the food wasn't so good.
Also included in my Essential CLE post, Sokolowski's serves Polish-American comfort food cafeteria-style.
Barocco (Lakewood, East Side)
Arepas (Columbian maize pockets with a variety of fillings), cocktails, beer, and live music on select days.
Greenhouse Tavern (E 4th)
Greenhouse is chef Jonathon Sawyer's flagship restaurant with a focus on local produce and meats.
Trentina (University Circle)
Modern Italian restaurant also by chef Jonathon Sawyer. If you go there, get the "Mike Pirnat", an Old Fashioned named after a Cleveland Pythonista.
Superior Phở (Downtown)
Phở, bánh mì, and other Vietnamese classics.
Tommy's (Coventry in Cleveland Hts.)
Tommy's is a cafe that caters to vegetarian, vegan, and meat-eaters alike. The food is good but the real reason to go is for the milkshakes and malts (vegan options available.)
Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream (Ohio City + other locations)
Local ice cream in a variety of flavors including one or two vegan options. The Ohio City location is also their factory so you can watch the ice cream being made through the windows in the seating areas.
Ice Cream Joy (Lakewood)
Unique ice creams including a variety of vegan flavors, plus coffee, daily food specials, and local (often geeky) art.
Sweet Moses (Gordon Square)
Old-fashioned soda fountain with ice creams and other treats.
These places aren't really focused on food, beer, or cocktails but do have one or more of those and are worth a stop for other reasons.
Happy Dog (Gordon Square)
Hot dogs and tots with any number of toppings—go as traditional or as bizzare as you'd like. Good beer list and cocktails. Frequent live music.
A bar + arcade. Arcade games are free to play when you purchase drinks. The menu includes 80's themed cocktails and a variety of beer. They don't serve food but you can bring your own or have something delivered from one of the neighborhood restaurants.
Side Quest (Lakewood)
Cleveland's geek bar with board games, trivia nights, theme nights, beer, meads, and themed cocktails.