I was having lunch with a writer, someone who knows this town better than 98.5 percent of us (and honestly, I don’t know anyone in the remaining 1.5 percent).
He had recently made a discovery: A friend had taken him to West Park Station, a restaurant and
bar in my corner of Cleveland. “Maybe you know the place,” he said. “It’s great.”
And it is. The very definition of a neighborhood joint, the Station pays tribute to Kamm’s Corners with a police and firefighter theme accompanied by Irish, American and Italian fare.
There are rows of high-back booths like oversize church pews and garage-door windows that roll open in the summer. A huge patio with a fireplace and outdoor bar is out back. And you can order an Irish boxty or a Hook and Ladder microbrew (part of the proceeds help firefighter burn victims).
Yeah, it’s that kind of place.
It reminds me that we have something special in this month’s issue. Our cover story (“The City List,” page 75) digs into some lesser-known neighborhoods and uncovers a host of great restaurants, shops, nightclubs, architecture and public spaces. It’s a bit of civic inspiration, a list that will have even the most knowledgeable
Clevelander finding something new to explore or an old favorite deserving of another visit.
Take one of my favorites, the local Kamm’s coffee shop Savor the Moment. Family-owned, with quirky furniture and throwback décor, it’s a Saturday hangout or weekday caffeine stop that has worked its way into the weave of people’s lives.
One weekend last summer, I stopped in for a quick coffee before my daughter’s T-ball game. There was a “gone fishin’ ” sign on the door warning everyone that the place would be closed the following week for vacation. I chuckled. It seemed so Andy-Griffith nostalgic.
By the next Saturday, I had forgotten about the sign. When I arrived, I noticed a small crowd sitting in camping chairs drinking coffee in the parking lot. It took me a moment to understand: Fishing trip or not, the regulars were devoted to their Saturday morning routine, so they brought their own.
I smiled and headed to the ballfields, but I bet I could have gotten a cup if I’d stopped. And that’s what’s great about this place and this city.
Since we polled several Clevelanders about their favorite underappreciated spots, we thought our staff should reveal some of their own.
Jennifer Bowen | The Doughnut Pantry in Lakewood makes maple icing-covered, cream-filled doughnuts that rival any I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve been taste-testing them for three decades). 14600 Madison Ave., Lakewood, (216) 228-5533
Andy Netzel | Gravy seems to come with everything but the tasty pies at East Park Restaurant. Pop a quarter into a furry creature named Harry at the door and he’ll play the piano for you. Dingy enough for truckers, but the coffee is strong enough to pull in the locals. 1363 E. Main St., Ravenna. (330) 296-4827
Beth Stallings | If I need a great pair of colorful earrings or a chunky necklace to jazz up an outfit, Ten Thousand Villages is my fail-safe spot — especially if I’m on a budget. Plus, it’s a fair-trade store, so I know my money is well-spent. 2254 Euclid Ave., (216) 575-1058
Kim Schneider | In the summer, Lakewood Park is the best. From the pool to the tennis courts, there’s always something to do. And if I just want to relax, I can hang out under a tree and watch the action on the lake. Belle and Lake avenues, Lakewood
Erick Trickey | La Cave du Vin, on Coventry, transports you to a more romantic place and time. If the drink selection overwhelms you, order a bottle of imported red for the table. But the coolers full of exotic beer are enticing. 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, (216) 932-6411
Jim Vickers | The Agora Theater gets all the attention with its 1,800 capacity, tables and tiered design. But its little brother — the often-overlooked Agora Ballroom — is a great, gritty little place to catch a show with a few hundred fellow fans. 5000 Euclid Ave., (216) 881-6911