Got a busy agenda? Downtown’s best bets for quick bites include ramen at Mr. Sawyer’s Noodlecat (234 Euclid Avenue); hearty sandwiches at Cleveland Pickle (850 Euclid Avenue); or meat-and-veggie bowls at Rebol, the sleek new al fresco restaurant in Public Square, a central plaza transformed into the city’s newest urban park after a just-completed $50 million renovation.
Got time to spare? Options abound in Ohio City: Gonzo pancakes (candied jalapeño, tiramisù) at Jack Flaps (3900 Lorain Avenue). Brunch at the modern bistro Flying Fig (2523 Market Avenue). Beef brisket taquitos (gluten free!) at the Mexican-inspired Momocho (1835 Fulton Road). Sandwiches and salads at the design-forward Plum Cafe & Kitchen (4133 Lorain Avenue). Ice cream in seasonal, classic and vegan flavors at Mitchell’s (1867 West 25th Street) or Mason’s Creamery (4401 Bridge Avenue).
Can’t find a restaurant downtown for dinner? Explore the Tremont neighborhood, also right outside the center core. There you’ll find sushi at Ginko (2247 Professor Avenue) or Parallax (2179 West 11th Street), fusion flavors like bacon guacamole at the Asian-inspired Bac (2661 West 14th Street), pizza and subs from Crust (1020 Kenilworth Avenue), or a late-night Polish breakfast of pierogi and kielbasa at Prosperity Social Club (1109 Starkweather Avenue). Cap it off with ice cream, dairy or vegan, at Tremont Scoops (2362 Professor Avenue).
WHERE TO PLAY
Sure, there’s the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Playhouse Square and other large cultural organizations that get all the buzz. But there are some ways to have fun like locals if you have daytime downtime.
If political differences could be played out as easily as a board game, the world might be a better place. In Ohio City, $5 gets you access to a library of almost 1,000 old-school games, including Trump: The Game, at the Table Top board game cafe (1810 West 25th Street). Good for groups of friends, the lively space lets you pair your game of Pictionary or Can’t Stop the Turtles with sandwiches and cocktails.
If Cleveland has a signature game, it’s bowling. (Sorry, LeBron.) The downtown Corner Alley, on trendy East Fourth Street, is booked. But cab it to the Uptown neighborhood and you’ll find Corner Alley’s two-story building (11409 Euclid Avenue) with 17 lanes for play. Across the street is the Museum of Contemporary Art (11400 Euclid Avenue), where the big summer show is devoted to the work of Mark Mothersbaugh, the co-founder of the New Wave band Devo. (The museum is offering two-for-one admissions during the convention week.) Cap the afternoon with pan-Asian street food at Ninja City (11311 Euclid Avenue).
If you really need to get away from downtown, it’s about a 15-minute drive to the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, where an afternoon can include dings and pings at the pinball emporium Superelectric (6500 Detroit Avenue); an indie film at the renovated vaudeville-era Capitol Theater (1390 West 65th Street); craft beer and poutine (classic and vegetarian) at Banter (7320 Detroit Avenue) and ice cream (with a separate vegan menu) at Sweet Moses (6800 Detroit Avenue).
“Beach” may not be the first thing you think of when you consider Cleveland, but that’s what awaits you at Edgewater Park on the shores of Lake Erie. Minutes away from downtown, the beach offers swimming and sun (fingers crossed), recreation (volleyball, fishing) and picnic spots with some of the best views of the city. A brand-new eight-foot-high, 16-foot-long sign that spells “Cleveland” in a hip-looking script has become a go-to site for selfies.
More than 400 bars in the greater Cleveland area have been approved to stay open until 4 a.m. during the convention, two hours after the usual closing time. Many are in the city’s newest entertainment district on the East Bank of the Flats, an industrial area undergoing a major reimagining. One place to decompress is Punch Bowl Social (1086 West 11th Street), an adult playground that offers karaoke, shuffleboard, vintage arcade games and many other diversions, along with food and local beers.
Cleveland’s craft beer scene has exploded in recent years. No matter what your taste, Ohio City is also a great neighborhood for adventurous drinkers. Bar hop to Platform Beer Company, Market Garden Brewery, Nano Brew, Bier Markt and the Great Lakes Brewing Company to sample what Cleveland’s beer geeks are up to.
There may be no better equalizer than a gay bar, where politics get pushed aside for a killer smile. There is no designated gay neighborhood in Cleveland, so it’s best to cab or Uber your way around to various neighborhoods. Check out Twist for flirting, Vibe for chilling, Bounce for dancing and drag queens, Aura for go-go boys, the Leather Stallion for bears and the Hawk for old-school cruising. Straight allies are welcome, too.
Don’t have time to sleep? Two downtown Starbucks locations, at 1400 Euclid Avenue in Playhouse Square and 1374 West Sixth in the Warehouse District, are staying open 24 hours during the convention.