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Issue Date: October 2006 Issue

Best of Cleveland

We drank in the city (responsibly, we promise) and found it intoxicating.
Brewed with 110 of the finest ingredients, our toast to Cleveland’s best raises a pint to kayaking at sunset, the purring of a Lounge Kitty, brown-bagging it at lunch, pimping your ride and much more — including 45 winners selected by our readers.

edited by Erick Trickey

Stories by Monica Arjev, Heide Aungst, Adria Barbour, Jennifer Bowen,
D.X. Ferris, Steve Gleydura, Tom Kondilas, Jacqueline Marino, Amber Matheson, Marissa Mikolak, Dave “Coondog” O’Karma, Myra Orenstein, Kim Schneider, Laura Taxel, Erick Trickey, Jim Vickers, Lori Valyko Weber and Tori Woods

Do-It-Yourself Brewery

Sure, there are plenty of places in Cleveland to go get a beer, but how many let you make your own? Strongsville’s Brew Kettle has been doing it since 1995. For about $150, you can make a 12.5-gallon batch of brew, chosen from the Kettle’s 70 recipes. The process takes two weeks from brewing to bottling. After brewing, you can order snacks and beer from the Kettle’s menu. 8377 Pearl Road, Strongsville, (440) 239-8788,

Dry Rub Wings

Not feeling saucy? Flyers in Parma has a different take on chicken wings. Instead of a water- or tomato-based sauce, Flyers applies a flavorful dry rub, a mix of powdered spices, to its wings. The menu features 14 varieties, from mild to 1822 (two times 911). They’re 25 cents each on Thursdays. The wings match the building’s distinctive shape — from an aerial view, it’s shaped like a heart, a gift to the original owner’s girlfriend. 6298 Pearl Road, Parma, (440) 842-1964

Alternative Date Spot

The adrenaline pumping through your veins and the endorphins from exercise all make rock climbing much more exciting than the average date. Kendall Cliffs has more than 60 different climbing routes, making it a great place for even those who have never climbed before. Though the actual risks are slim, climbers have to trust in their partners, making it great for couples. 60 Kendall Park Road, Peninsula, (330) 655-5489,

Bait Shop
Every seasoned seadog — er, lakedog — has his favorite bait shop, and he won’t be sharing the information. We know that the caviar of the bait world is available at The Pine Lake Trout Club, a members-only fishing compound with ponds for bait fishing and streams for fly-fishing. The public is welcome to catch rods, nets and fashionable fishing wear at The Fly Club, where they also stock the finest munchies to whet a fish’s appetite. Dry flies, nymphs, worms, eggs and streamers — trust us, they’re tantalizing fare for fish. 17021 Chillicothe Road, Chagrin Falls, (440) 543-8322,

New Bar

In a town like Cleveland, the best bars take you back to another era of drinking, with just enough modernity (such as good microbrews) to keep you comfortable. So it is with the Prosperity Social Club, which opened in the former Dempsey’s Oasis and hung onto the space’s old-school cool much more than the average Tremont bar. Perhaps it’s the rotating, glowing blue Schlitz globe by the door, or the ’50s-era ad for the Zombie Club at West Third and St. Clair, or the old bill of fare on the wall (beef stew, sardines and salmon, all 15 cents). Or maybe it’s the surprising mix in the crowd, where the old neighborhood residents and the new, laid-back Tremont hipsters mingle with dressed-down couples and friends in from the ’burbs. Prosperity fits a great niche in Tremont’s nightlife: cool yet unpretentious. 1109 Starkweather Ave., Cleveland, (216) 937-1938

Imports From Bali

If you’re looking for a shiny dress from Indonesia, Asian stonework for a rock garden, an exotically beautiful dark-wood table and chairs, dragon-decorated lamps in every color of the rainbow, inexpensive beaded rings, incense, a hammock or the biggest selection of Buddha statues in town, step across the Pacific to Bali at City Buddha. Local guy Larry Collins and his Indonesian wife, Rai, just opened a second store in Coventry to complement their 10-year-old location in Ohio City, with even more room for clothing and high-end furniture. 1863 W. 25th St., Cleveland, (216) 241-6416 and 1807 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, (216) 397-5862,

Sports Promotion

Almost all of the 20,000-plus Cavaliers fans at the Feb. 21 home game donned Anderson Varejao wigs. During a timeout, the fans placed their frizzy, curly wigs atop their heads to honor the Cavs forward. The free promotional giveaway was an attempt to break the Guinness world record for “most people wearing wigs in a single venue.” (The record is officially held by 6,638 Detroit Pistons fans, since the Cavaliers never submitted the record to Guinness due to the “extremely tedious” process.) To honor the “Wild Thing” and his Brazilian roots, halftime also included festivities similar to Brazil’s Mardi Gras, featuring samba dancers and drummers. No word yet on whether the promotion will be repeated this season, but if it is, we want tickets.

Lounge Act

Her beehive wig makes her the tallest person in the room, and it shakes when she sings a tremolo. She dances like the Church Lady from “Saturday Night Live,” but she’s way hotter than that, in her little black dress, feather boa and ultraterrifying high-heel boots. As a keyboard player and a bongo and cymbal player back her up on a repertoire ranging from “The Girl From Ipanema” to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” to “Proud Mary” — the Tina Turner version, of course — she slips between the tables, flirting and vamping with the guys in the crowd, doing a Marilyn-serenading-JFK crossed with a svelte Bette Midler. She’s Lounge Kitty, and she purrs, hisses and roars at the Prosperity Social Club on the second Friday of every month, the night of the Tremont Art Walk, and at other, less regular gigs around town. If you leave during her set, you’d better bid her a polite goodbye on your way past, or she’ll get catty, talking about you once you’re out the door. But if you stay for the inevitable climax of “I Will Survive,” you’ll witness the best over-the-top kitschy lounge act in town. (216) 288-6560,

Environmental Statement

You might be blown away by the Great Lakes Science Center’s 150-foot tall wind turbine. We’re not exactly California, where you can see rows of these things from the highways, but the stately turbine is an eye-catching addition to our already fabulous view from the Shoreway. The wind turbine is expected to take care of 7 percent of the GLSC’s electrical needs. And, with soaring gas prices, one is all you need to stimulate discussion about renewable energy sources. 601 Erieside Ave., Cleveland, (216) 694-2000,

Authentic Italian Pasta

Like his grandmother, who opened Carrie Cerino’s Ristorante in 1962, chef and owner Dominic Cerino takes no shortcuts and uses only the finest ingredients. His version of spaghetti alla carbonara is a clean-your-plate classic, featuring house-made pasta, local farm-fresh organic eggs from free-range chickens and guanciale — like bacon, only better — that he cures using heirloom-breed Berkshire pork. An astonishing bargain at $15. 8922 Ridge Road, North Royalton, (440) 237-3434,

German Brats

There aren’t too many butcher shops left like The Sausage Shoppe in Old Brooklyn. Meat is ground, seasoned, mixed, stuffed into natural casings and smoked right on the premises. Using the same Old World techniques his ex-boss did back in 1938, Norm Heinle, who’s been in charge for the past 40 years, makes a dozen different kinds of bratwurst. Lean, juicy and delicious, they contain no fillers, nitrates or other preservatives. 4501 Memphis Ave., Cleveland, (216) 351-5213,

New Blues Troubadour

Now that The Black Keys are world renowned, Northern Ohio needs a new blues-rock best-kept secret, and Keys front man Dan Auerbach helped create his band’s heir apparent by producing “C’mon, C’mere,” the hot-and-bothered third album from Massillon’s Patrick Sweany (above, at right, with his band). Highly regarded Delta revivalist Jimbo Mathus also pitched in for the disc, which is turning ears from Boston to Tennessee. Fans of classic roots rock will hear echoes of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty in Sweany’s troubled voice. And whether he’s delivering a creaking tune for a slow dance or an irresistible shack shaker, when Sweany sings the blues, you’ll only feel better. Catch Sweany and company at Akron’s Lime Spider or Kent’s Zephyr pub.

Tropical Cocktail

Made with cachaa (a clear, barrel-aged, sugar-cane liquor) and fresh limes, a caipirinha is like Carnivale in glass. The potent beverage used to be mixed only in Brazil, where it is considered the national libation. But lately, the nearly unpronounceable caipirinha (it’s something like “kai-pee-reen-yah,” slightly slurred with a musical lilt) has become the beverage of choice for stylish sippers worldwide. Bartenders at Saravi on Shaker Square mix a tasty version for $7.25. General manager Anthony Folisy says they sell 200 to 300 a night. Saravi, 13225 Shaker Square, Cleveland, (216) 295-1200,


You may not have heard of it, since it’s only a year old. But an observation deck off the Overlook Trail in Summit County’s Cascade Valley Metro Park offers one of Greater Cleveland’s most beautiful vistas. A half-mile hike from the parking lot leads to the Oxbow Overlook Deck, a long, thin, wooden platform hanging over a breathtaking 150-foot drop. A background of dense, fluffy trees and sky wraps the Cuyahoga River off to the east. An eroded wall of layered, veiny sandstone towers to the west, home to many burrowing swallows. Below the deck flows one of the many crooks in our crooked river, a hard turn like a check mark. Rushing south, the river makes a looping bend, then a sharp move west, disappearing back into the forest of Cascade Valley, where it cuts and turns like an elusive running back before heading north to Cleveland. Thanks to the change of seasons, the view is different with every visit. Below the observation deck, Cascade Valley includes some of the best hiking and biking trails in Northeast Ohio. 354 Sackett Ave., Akron, (330) 867-5511,

Vegetarian Restaurant Off the Eaten Path

Parma Heights is not known for its unusual dining options, but those who make it a policy not to fork up anything that ever walked, flew or swam won’t find a better suburb to head for at mealtime. It’s home to Udupi Cafe. The famed south Indian cuisine served here is animal-free, so everything on the multipage menu is an option. Even vegans won’t go home hungry. 6339 Olde York Road, Parma Heights, (440) 743-7154

Way to Spend Your Lunch Hour
Instead of eating at their desks, nine-to-fivers can take in a midday musical performance at the historic Trinity Cathedral. Brown Bag Concerts start at 12:10 p.m. on Wednesdays in the fall and spring and last just 45 minutes. Eating during the show is not just allowed, it’s encouraged. Bring your own PB&J or buy a box lunch for $4. The music is free. Wednesdays, Oct. 4 - Dec. 20 and March 8 - May 25, Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, (216) 579-9745,

Product Name

Necessity is a mother, and Adam Muth came up with the invention. Tired of cleaning his custom chopper with screwdrivers wrapped in rags, Muth devised a clever set of Zen-like motorcycle-maintenance tools. His Pimpstixxx are sold internationally, but some parts are made in Elyria. These little tools get into the twists and turns of any motorcycle or car to polish and clean, and are safe to use on expensive finishes. The name was developed to attract the rough-and-tumble biker crowd; the same kit is available under the name Slick Stixxx to appeal to car folks. P.O. Box 85, Avon Lake, 1-866-221-8661,


Hot potato! These guys might be the two most in-demand fries around. The sports fan-club duo Charlie’s Fryes don french fry container costumes to show support for Cleveland Browns quarterback Charlie Frye. Whether tailgating at the Muny Lot before every game (as early as 5:30 a.m.) or cheering in the Dawg Pound at home games (section 122, row A, seats 5 and 6 — just in case you couldn’t see them jumping around with their signs), the Frye Guys bleed orange and brown. Mike Randall and his cousin, Dan Randall, sport Dawg Pound tattoos, have murals of Browns Stadium painted on their walls and named rooms in their homes the Frye Room.


Near Case Western Reserve University’s campus in Little Italy is a one-of-a-kind destination for those who appreciate the benefits of a steaming cup of Darjeeling or a mellowing mug of chamomile. Algebra Tea House boasts a wide selection of blends and world flavors, plus an atmosphere that’s an antidote to the cookie-cutter corporate cool we’ve come to associate with cafe culture. The furnishings are a mix of the creative, the handmade and the well used. Work by local artists adorns the walls, and people are more likely to actually be talking to each other or playing board games than working on laptops. Also on the menu are unique coffee drinks — think latte with honey and rosewater — shakes and Middle Eastern-inspired eats. 2136 Murray Hill Road, Cleveland, (216) 421-9007

Sipping Beverage

It became the “soft” drink of choice in Taiwan in the ’80s. But who could have predicted that bubble tea, an Asian smoothie with “seeds” made of tapioca, would become all the rage in this country? The nonalcoholic, noncarbonated beverage is distinguished by a liberal infusion of chewy, gelatinous tapioca pearls that sippers suck up through extra-wide straws. Weird at first slurp, yet quickly addictive, bubble tea has been steadily gaining fans here as it migrates from the West Coast to the heartland. Served hot or cold, in flavors from lychee and passion fruit to avocado or taro. Koko Bakery, 3710 Payne Ave., Cleveland, (216) 881-7600; Mint Cafe, 1791 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, (216) 320-9915; Earth Garden, 5158 Wilson Mills Road, Richmond Heights, (440) 684-1888

Place to Pimp Your Ride

It’s not where you might expect, tucked away in an industrial complex near a riding stable. But when you scope the collection of Escalades, Range Rovers and Audis, their custom paint twinkling in the sun, you know you’ve found it. They don’t advertise, but word of mouth has made Jim Shields and his Esoteric Sound and Performance the go-to garage for any Cleveland Brown who wants to ride in style. Dennis Northcutt (below right), Andra Davis (left), Terrelle Smith, Kellen Winslow, Alvin McKinley and NFL’ers from around the league trust their rides to Shields. Bumper to bumper, he does it all: custom leather and suede interiors, plasma screens, bumping stereo components, audiovisual equipment, super-charged engines, Batman-style doors. If you can dream it, Shields can do it. Consider the newest rims and grills from Strut, the “it” car jewelry. These days, no self-respecting Bentley goes without them. 300 Karl St., Berea, (440) 891-4111,

Public Space

Need a Zen moment in your day? The Cleveland Public Library’s Eastman Reading Garden is a refuge from the city’s more concrete sections. Ohio native Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed the garden with her brother, Tan Lin. The bronze fencing, designed by Tom Otterness of New York City, looks like a checkerboard with letters that form words if viewers look closely. The garden includes trees and a fountain, and it’s dotted with little bronze statues reading books and snatching letters from the wall. 325 Superior Ave., Cleveland, (216) 623-2800,

Ice Cream for a Cause

We never knew a guilty pleasure could be so rewarding. But with Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream’s Pink Ribbon Peppermint Chip, we’re happy to indulge. That’s because the local scoop joint donates 50 cents from each $3.95 pint it sells to The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Northeast Ohio Race for the Cure. Even better, this is dessert with sass. The cool peppermint base is rich with ample chunks of tantalizing chocolate. Various locations,

Record Store

Located fewer than 100 paces from the Beachland Ballroom’s front door, Music Saves is a beacon for indie-rock fans who like to buy music the old-fashioned, predownload way: as an object wrapped in cellophane. A cozy space packed with CDs (and some vinyl), the store trades big inventory for a precise catalog of college radio titles. Our test — locating the 2006 debut from Jose Gonzalez and the final release from the now-defunct Seattle band Carissa’s Wierd — met with success on both counts. 15801 Waterloo Road, Cleveland, (216) 481-1875,

Celebrity Candy Bar
He definitely hit a grand slam with this one. The Pronk Bar from Malley’s combines velvety smooth milk chocolate and ample rice crisps in honor of Indians powerhouse Travis Hafner. “I’m being dead serious: Of all the candy bars I’ve ever had, this is probably the best one,” Pronk himself has declared. We agree (though Harry London’s Chief Wahoo bar is at least a stand-up double off Jacobs Field’s 19-foot wall and it helps benefit Cleveland Indians Charities). Sure, we’re attracted to Hafner’s batting stance and autograph on the wrapper, but we love the way the premium chocolate melts within seconds of touching your tongue.

Place to Sin and Atone

A bartender’s job includes listening to customers’ tales of woe and transgression. At The Town Fryer, owner Susie Porter keeps a portable antique confessional booth on hand for these occasions. Whenever someone has a need to share, Porter’s happy to step inside and lend an ear. “Nobody really bares their soul,” she admits, “and I think half of what they say is made up. Usually the stories are funny, or about something bad they did when they were kids. People reveal a lot more unintentionally after a few too many beers.” As a voluntary act of contrition, customers can put money in the donation box. Or they can just follow Porter’s admonition to drink no more (at least for the rest of night). Of course, she hopes you’ll order some of her fried chicken instead. 3859 Superior Ave., Cleveland, (216) 426-9235,

Momentary Celebrity

This spring, Lakewood resident Judson Laipply danced his way across tens of millions of computer screens with his one-man act “The Evolution of Dance.” The six-minute interpretive dance, which has Laipply dancing along to a soundtrack of song snippets from the Twist to the Macarena, was the finale to his motivational-speaking routine (yes, that’s his day job). One day, someone uploaded footage of Laipply, performing in an Orange Crush T-shirt, to YouTube (, and a star was born — at least, until someone uploaded a clip of what happens when Mentos are added to a bottle of Diet Coke.

Doughnut Comeback

Add Becker’s Donuts and Bakery’s crullers to the list of things that never change. Using recipes passed down from his German-Hungarian relatives, Tom Becker whips up the same light, egg-based batter that his father made in the same Lorain Avenue storefront shop from 1957 to 1988. The shiny retro decor, with two small tables for eat-in customers, evokes that era, as do the family photos of men in white standing over mixing bowls. Since Becker reopened the shop in January of this year, he’s enjoyed watching how his doughnuts bridge the generation gap. “We have people who come in here with the grandparents who brought them,” he says. “Or they bring their kids because they came here as kids.” Get to the shop early — it opens at 5:30 a.m. — if you want to get a chocolate-sprinkle cake doughnut. Other favorites include bear claws, cinnamon rolls and snuggles (a nut twist with cinnamon and glaze on the top). At $5.99, a dozen doughnuts is more expensive these days, but you still get the “baker’s” variety, 13 instead of 12. 22088 Lorain Road, Fairview Park, (440) 734-9856


Who needs Niagara? Northeast Ohio has Brandywine Falls, located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Take the short trek from the parking lot into the woods to view the autumn colors. Brandywine Creek cascades 60 feet over layers of yellow-brown Berea sandstone and red Bedford shale, formed between 300 million and 400 million years ago. Follow the boardwalk down to view interesting rock layers, or travel up the path and you’ll reach a point where you’re literally on top of the falls looking down. Brandywine and Stanford roads, Sagamore Hills (take Route 8 to Twinsburg Road, head west, turn right on Brandywine Road), (216) 524-1497,

Girls’ Night Out

Sure, it’s fun to leave the guys behind and go play with your gal pals. But imagine how great it would be to do that and return home with a week’s worth of homemade, ready-to-heat meals? If that seems too good to be true, you haven’t heard about Simply Done Dinners. Michele Gaw, formerly executive chef at the Watermark Restaurant, and her staff do all the planning, prepping and cleanup. Just show up at her professional kitchens in Parma, North Olmsted, Medina or Twinsburg. Various locations, (216) 901-0215,

Bar Decoration

High above the beer-drinking, sports-watching groups of guys at Gillespie’s Map Room hangs a real plane. Two months after Gillespie’s 2005 opening, a friend of the bar’s owner flew the Smith Mini red and white aircraft from Kansas to Burke Lakefront before it was delivered by truck to the Warehouse District watering hole, where it was installed as the ultimate conversation piece. 1281 W. Ninth St., Cleveland, (216) 621-7747

Scenic Courthouse

Getting summoned to court in Geauga County might not be so bad — if you’re a Western Reserve history buff. Built in 1869, the Geauga County Courthouse on Chardon Square is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its original second-floor courtroom is still in use, presided over by Judge Forrest Burt. “It’s one of the most, if not the most, important buildings in Geauga,” says county archivist Bari Oyler Stith. “Its architecture and styling make people stop and appreciate it.” Prominent Cleveland architect Joseph Ireland designed the building in High Victorian Italianate style, with red brick, elegant stonework, high window arches, cluster trefoils and a landmark clock tower with its original bell still in place. 100 Short Court St., Chardon, (440) 285-2222,

iPod Case

LeBron James not only rocks the court with his hoops skills, but he can also guard your iPod. The LeBron James iPod Nano case, manufactured by Florida-based Xtreme Mac, is the coolest Cleveland-themed iPod protection around. The semihard rubber case covers an iPod Nano while allowing use of the click wheel. With a picture of the Cavaliers star on front, it is clear on back to show off any name engravings, and leaves open the hold switch and all connection ports on the bottom. But hustle if you want the limited-edition case, which was created during the playoffs. $24.95, 1-866-392-9800,

Arcade Game

Pac-Man simplicity just doesn’t cut it anymore. So we swept through Dave & Buster’s in Westlake in search of the ultimate, cutting-edge arcade game. Wielding a plastic machine gun as you sweep a terrorist hideout (“Ghost Squad”) is fun, but it’s not suited for the little ones. Likewise, sitting behind the trash-can-lid-sized wheel of a virtual rig (“Eighteen Wheeler: American Pro Trucker”) is fun, but it wears thin fast. MOCAP Boxing, though, splits the difference between ultraviolent and ultraboring. Players don “boxing gloves” and launch punches at their onscreen opponent, while bobbing and weaving to avoid getting hit (cameras determine whether you’ve moved far and fast enough). The game keeps a cumulative total of how many calories you’ve burned while floating like a butterfly. Dave & Buster’s, 25735 First St., Westlake, (440) 892-1415,

Underrated Neighborhood

Great food, great art: Cleveland’s Chinatown neighborhood, just east of downtown, is waking up like Tremont and Ohio City did a decade or two ago. Maybe the turning point came when artists took over the old warehouses and the city welcomed them by making their live-work spaces legal. Now, art-hops include open houses out east at spots such as Convivium 33 on East 33rd Street, a deconsecrated church turned gallery. Meanwhile, Superior Avenue at East 31st Street has become a Little Saigon, with the trendy restaurant #1 Pho facing off against Superior Pho (formerly Pho Hoa), its friendly competition in the Golden Plaza next door. Older favorites such as the huge, open-late Chinese restaurant Li Wah at East 30th and Payne and Siam Cafe at East 45th and St. Clair still offer some of Greater Cleveland’s best, most adventurous Asian food. Korea is represented too, by the out-of-the-way Seoul Hot Pot on Payne and Korea House on Superior. The neighborhood’s art project this summer — cleverly painted ceramic dogs standing near landmark businesses, celebrating China’s Year of the Dog — is only the latest sign that creativity is remaking Chinatown. St. Clair, Superior and Payne avenues between E. 30th and E. 45th streets

Children’s Theater

For more than 50 years, children ages 5 to 18 have performed in the Heights Youth Theatre, which some believe is the oldest theater company in the United States that puts on productions performed exclusively by children. More than 200 kids participate each year — and successful alums include Michelle Federer of Shaker Heights, who originated the role of Nessarose in “Wicked” on Broadway. This season, after the retirement of Laura Gee, the theater’s director of 20 years, HYT is staging its three productions with three different directors, two of them HYT alums. The first, “Annie,” directed by Kris Comer, runs Nov. 3 through 19.

Comic Book Store

Prepare to be overwhelmed, superfan. Whether you like big-name books or small-press titles, you’ll find a lot of both at Carol and John’s Comic Shop. Thumb through the deep stock of past issues to fill holes in your collection. Or, if like us, you’ve been living outside the comic universe for a while, ask for recommendations. We were pointed to Marvel Comics’ engaging “Civil War” series, which splits your favorite superheroes into two opposing forces, and the first installment of Image Comics’ zombie-rific “The Walking Dead.” 3742 Rocky River Drive, Cleveland, (216) 252-0606

Source for Local Books

The warm lighting and the lustrous dark wood make stepping into the Crooked River Reading Club like stepping into the bookstores of yesteryear. This independent bookstore in the Galleria, a year old, has already been well received by locals and tourists alike. The kind folks at Crooked River love chatting with customers, making recommendations and tracking down hard-to-find tomes. They have a remarkable inventory of Cleveland writers, from self-published poets to Ohio historians with multibook deals. The Galleria at Erieview, 1301 E. Ninth St., Cleveland, (216) 830-2665,

Comedy Group

Groups of guys always think they’re funny. Go to the bar. Go to a frat party. Turn on MTV. From Panini’s to Peabody’s — and all the tailgating parties in between — Cleveland is ripe with young dudes who think they’ve got comedy by the crotch. It’s refreshing, then, to witness Last Call Cleveland in the flesh. These guys are bust-a-gut. The all-male comedy troupe straddles the fine line between funny and crass. If we went into too much detail about their last skit, we’d need to hire more interns to handle all the letters. Suffice it to say there are father-and-son duets, men in painfully awkward situations and pure genius footage from a day spent with Mark Norton of Norton Furniture. We just wish their moms weren’t in the audience. It’s weird.

History Lesson

The History of Contraception Exhibit — reportedly the largest in the world — offers a peek into the medicine cabinets of history. Located at Case Western Reserve University’s Dittrick Medical History Center, the exhibit features more than 650 artifacts from all over the globe. One visit and you’ll be filled with fascinating cocktail-party fodder (provided it’s that kind of cocktail party). Did you know there’s a reference to the withdrawal method in the Book of Genesis? Or that European women in the Middle Ages thought wearing amulets containing ear wax from mules would keep them from conceiving? There’s even a display of contraceptive devices of the future, including an ear ovulation sensor and a contraceptive nasal spray. Third Floor, Allen Memorial Medical Library, Case Western Reserve University, 11000 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, (216) 368-6391,

Obscure High School Sport
Those who thought dueling met its demise along with chivalry, aristocrats and floppy hats haven’t visited Shaker Heights High School lately. Its fencing club, in existence for 15 years, teaches 25 students the development of spirit, mind and body, says fencing instructor William Reith. The boys’ and girls’ teams both won the state championships held in Columbus this March. En garde!

Kayak Tour

Sit frog-legged in your sea kayak just off the shores of Whiskey Island, and you feel small but powerful. So little separates you from our Great Lake that you could be part of it. And with a little guidance from Mark Pecot and Jason Bristol of 41 Degrees North Coastal Kayak Adventures, you’ll experience Lake Erie and the city like never before. Perfect for first-timers and more experienced paddlers alike, the Cleveland Rocks! Sunset Tour departs from the green, open space of Whiskey Island’s Wendy Park. Push off into calm waters inside the breakwall and, with easy strokes and a relaxed grip on the paddle, head toward the abandoned Coast Guard station. By the time you reach the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, even beginners get over their initial instability and can appreciate the peaceful serenity of the natural surroundings — and some unexpected close-ups with blue herons, cormorants and ducks. The waves pick up as you pass Cleveland Browns Stadium and the port docks into the glass-perfect waters of North Coast Harbor. The hulking steamship William G. Mather towers above you on the right, while the Rock Hall’s cool geometry calls like a siren’s song before you. Listen and you’ll be rewarded with a trip under the Rock Hall via a small waterway that runs behind the 162-foot main tower. Still, the best is yet to come as you head to the breakwall and lighthouses. As we paddled out, a monstrous ore boat worked into the river and the sky melted from deep blue to a sherbet of reds, purples and oranges. Pack your camera — in a plastic Ziploc baggie (which kept ours dry even after we capsized) — for some incredible pictures and reminders that you’ll want to do this again. 1500 Scenic Park Drive, Lakewood, 1-866-KAYAK-41,

Belgian Import

If you think a good beer deserves the same dissection as a good wine — “yeasty, fruity, hints of citrus and caramel with a smooth balance” — Ohio City has the bar for you. McNulty’s Bier Markt has more than 20 beers on its specially imported draught system, most in the Belgian style, as well as 80 bottled brews. From the powerful Delirium Tremens to a Lindemann’s Framboise, the Zen-gothic atmosphere of the bar makes everything taste that much better. 1948 W. 25th St., Cleveland, (216) 344-9944,

Post Office

Would you believe there’s a post office that stays open until midnight, even on weekends? It’s the airport post office, hidden on the grounds of Hopkins Airport. It’s so little known, the lines aren’t even very long. Last time we mailed stuff there, we babbled to the postal worker about its convenience, excited to find it. “Now you have to forget all about it,” she said mysteriously. 5801 Postal Road, Cleveland (take state Route 237 south past the airport exit to the Eastland Road exit, turn right, then make a quick left and go around the curve), (216) 433-4039

Small Theater

It looks like an abandoned building on a less-traveled Tremont street. “Liminis,” the fade says cryptically. Inside, a few dozen chairs face a stage, so close you feel a part of the play. Here, convergence-continuum puts on consistently strong independent theater: adventurous, mischievous, yet accessible. The company definitely puts on theater for adults; some of its productions have been cheerfully bawdy, but others, such as this summer’s “Icarus,” have been poignant and sublime. 2438 Scranton Road, Cleveland, (216) 687-0074,

Kids’ Bikes

Chuck Fridrich doesn’t sell toys at Fridrich Bicycles. He sells machines. Classic red tricycles. Radio Flyer roadsters. Shiny pedal cars that look like police cruisers from the ’50s. The folks at Fridrich know good kids’ bikes because they’ve been selling them for so long — and they used to make them. “Fridrich’s Cadillac,” a two-wheeler from the 1950s, still hangs from the ceiling. Chuck Fridrich’s family, which has been selling bicycles since 1883, oversaw its design and welding and had it dipped in snazzy blue paint right there in Ohio City. Many of the other kids’ bikes look old-timey, but they’re brand new, ranging in price from $29 to $89. All are good for a ride down memory lane. 3800 Lorain Ave., (216) 651-3800


When the weather becomes too brisk for golf, Mayfield Country Club members pack up their clubs and break out their curling brooms and stones. The Mayfield Curling Club features a separate clubhouse with three 60-foot-by-160-foot ice areas and space for post-game socializing. Enroll in a six-week training session in late October, and you’re ready to take to the ice by December. And the competition is pretty slick. In 2004, two of the Mayfield Curling Club’s women’s teams placed first and second in the US. Women’s Curling Association national event. 1545 Sheridan Road, Cleveland,

Lazy Bird Watching

Forget the bug spray and binoculars. At the Rocky River Nature Center, you don’t even have to go outside to see goldfinches, nuthatches, chickadees, hummingbirds, grackles and Ohio woodpeckers. Drawn to the suet feeders, the downy and the red-headed are just two woodpecker varieties you’re likely to spot from the rocking chairs facing the windows. More unusual visitors include rose-breasted grosbeaks, orioles and red-tailed hawks, which come for the critters that scamper across the ground, not what’s in the feeders. If the place seems deserted, there’s a good chance a hawk is nearby. For bird-watching programs at the nature center, visit the Web site of the Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society, Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation, 24000 Valley Parkway, North Olmsted, (440) 734-6660,

Scooter Shop

The walls of Pride of Cleveland Scooters are lined with tires, an oversize Pride of Cleveland beer bottle and T-shirts and sweatshirts declaring, “It’s not a damn moped.” Pride of Cleveland’s inventory — usually about 65 bikes — is a fleet of jaunty scooters, ranging from dainty, Audrey Hepburn-worthy pink rides to sleek, tricked-out motor scooters that go as fast as motorcycles. Shop owner Phil Waters radiates infectious enthusiasm about scooters and there are no hard sells here. Waters and his staff know you’ll be sold as soon as you take that first test drive anyway. Just don’t call it a moped. 2078 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 44113, (216) 737-0700,

Tiffany Glass

Famous for his gorgeously iridescent and innovative stained-glass creations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Louis Comfort Tiffany was commissioned to design the Art Nouveau-style interior of the Lake View Cemetery’s Wade Chapel. The centerpiece is a large and luminous circular window that seems to glow from within. The furnishings and ornamentation represent one of the finest examples of the work of the Tiffany Studios on public view anywhere in the country. Few people know more about the subject than Bob DeVille, a Lakeview docent for 15 years, who is “in residence” at Wade Chapel Mondays through Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wade Chapel, Lake View Cemetery, 12316 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, (216) 421-2665,


July might seem far away. But for anyone who has experienced the taste of a sweet, plump blueberry picked fresh from Ford’s Rock Bottom Farms in Middlefield, it’s well worth the wait. Each July, it opens its 13 acres of blueberry bushes to the public for picking and stays open until early- to mid-August, depending upon the crop. The bountiful blueberry bushes make it easy picking, even for kids. You’ll get an added feast for the eyes if you pick in mid-July when the farm’s 900 varieties of day lilies are in bloom. Call before you go to make sure the berries are ripe and ready. 7767 Parkman-Mesopotamia Road (off state Route 87, between state Route 528 and state Route 534), Middlefield, (440) 693-4126

Women’s Sports Club

The wind whips through the sails. The waves splash against the hull. The captain leads a crew of all women as they glide through the water on a voyage organized by the North Coast Women’s Sailing Association. Starting each June, this band of adventure seekers gathers at Edgewater Yacht Club and ventures onto the high seas of Lake Erie, where they learn to operate and race sailboats. They gather dockside after each outing to toast their success and mingle with friends. Meetings at Edgewater Yacht Club, 6700 Memorial Shoreway NW, Cleveland, (216) 281-6470,


A Southern-style buffet served with a side of Gospel music makes House of Blues’ Sunday Gospel Brunch a Sunday go-to-eatin’ experience like no other. The spread alone is worth the trip — a carving station, made-to-order omelets and a buffet groaning under the weight of hearty vittles such as crawfish cheesecake, fried chicken and cheddar-cheese grits … y’all hungry yet? Then, Ms. Tina Farmer, the weekly singer and MC, ascends the stage, effortlessly invoking Billie Holiday and belting out sweetly crooned gospel standards. (Tickets required) 308 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, (216) 523-BLUE,

Pumpkin Patch

For the perfect jack-o’-lantern, you need a large, sturdy pumpkin ripe for carving. That’s where Fitch’s Farm Market comes in. Each Saturday and Sunday in October, guests can hop aboard for a hayride out to the acre of pumpkins waiting in a row and search until they find the right one. Aside from picking your own pumpkin, you can also pick your own peas, strawberries, beans, tomatoes and peppers when they’re in season. 4413 Center Road, Avon, (440) 934-6125

Secret Bar

When FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat, needed to leak a Watergate tip to Bob Woodward right away, he told Woodward to meet him at an obscure bar where no one they knew would ever turn up. If you’ve got a tip for us, we know a bar like that: Lou’s Tavern in Little Italy. It’s on a one-way residential street; you have to go up East 120th Street, then back down Coltman Road — or walk over from Mayfield Road — to find it. It’s a neighborhood bar, little changed in at least 70 years, with a few regulars (mostly wait staff from Mayfield’s restaurants) and a friendly (but not nosy) bartender. Just the place to whisper secrets. Then again, we’re letting the cat out of the bag. 1931 Coltman Road, Cleveland


Bake sales and walk-a-thons sound so blase compared to skydiving. So on Oct. 21, 21 members of the Maple Heights community, including the mayor, the school board president and several firemen, City Hall workers and teachers, will jump out of a plane and fall 11,000 feet for Operation Mapleleap. Mapleleap raises money for a scholarship for the Maple Heights high schooler who made the biggest leap in grade-point average between his freshman and senior years. Each jumper is asked to raise at least $250; some have raised $650 or more. “Everybody’s behind us 100 percent,” says Tom Griffin, a Maple Heights teacher and the program’s co-founder. “It’s building a sense of community.” Maple Heights High School, 5500 Clement Drive, Maple Heights, (216) 587-3200,

RTA Stop

If your travels take you through RTA’s W. 65th/Lorain/EcoVillage rail stop, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the $4 million environmentally friendly station and its 1,200-square-foot climate-controlled passenger waiting area. Last March, nonprofit organization Good Jobs Today named the station one of the nation’s 25 top transit-oriented development projects benefitting working families. West 65th Street and Lorain Avenue, Cleveland,

Vinyl Refuge

If CDs are becoming an endangered species, where does that leave venerable vinyl? Don’t worry. My Mind’s Eye Records is helping to hold off the format’s extinction. We pulled a $3 copy of U2’s “The Unforgettable Fire” from the store’s used rack. The small shop also has an impressive selection of new vinyl from the likes of Radiohead, Beck, The Flaming Lips and other modern rock acts who understand you and your turntable aren’t yet ready to part ways. 13727 Madison Ave., Lakewood, (216) 521-0660,

Cigar Shop

From the posh leather couches to the sweet cigar aroma to employees who wait on you with a stogie hanging out of their mouth, Greater Cleveland’s Cousin’s Cigars chain keeps Clevelanders puffing away with up to 265 brands of cigars, including Arturo Fuente (their most popular) and Gray Cliffe (their most expensive at $459 a box). 1828 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, (216) 781-9390; 28400 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere, (216) 464-9396; 36050 Detroit Road, Avon, (440) 934-9909; 17112 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, (216) 671-3663; 7850 Mentor Ave., Great Lakes Mall, Mentor, (440) 946-9700.


Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wisel visited the The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood last spring and called it one of best museums in the world focusing on Jewish culture. This month, the Maltz Museum celebrates its first anniversary and provides visitors a last chance to check out the extraordinary visiting exhibit The Cradle of Christianity: Treasures from the Holy Land, which runs through Oct. 22. 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood, (216) 593-0575,

New Band

The Morning After is more like a raucous night before. Clad in a dark blazer, front man Ryan Rini belts out aggressive lyrics like a swing singer who’s tossed back one too many shaken martinis. Hulking lead guitarist Justin Smith plays buzz-saw blues guitar at rock ’n’ roll speed, making music you must dance to. You can hear three of their most powerful pop songs on their MySpace site or catch them at Lakewood’s Phantasy and Symposium night clubs — but bring protective eyewear, because Smith makes sparks fly.

Celebrity Martini

You know you’ve hit Cleveland’s big time when you can sip a libation named just for you at The Ritz-Carlton’s The Lobby Lounge. Everyone else can brush elbows with fame by ordering a drink from the Martini Hall of Fame ($8-$19). Most popular of the 23 flavors are the Terrytini, a Skyy vodka and Apple Pucker mix named for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Terry Stewart, and the Richardtini, a vanilla vodka, espresso and Godiva blend for Kaleidoscope Magazine president Richard Johnson. 1515 W. Third St., Cleveland, (216) 623-1300,

Work Environment

Why take the stairs from the second to the first floor when you could take a grown-up-size twisty red slide or quicker silver-bullet slide? You can at Hyland Software, the Westlake firm that has made a stern commitment to serious fun and convenience for its more than 400 employees. It’s all about work-life balance at Hyland, says Sarah Coakley, the company’s minister of culture. Her job description (and title) is indicative of Hyland’s corporate philosophy: Keep employees happy. During the weekly companywide meeting, the “player of the week” spins a wheel to win gift certificates and cash prizes. Hyland also offers on-site quality dining, free coffee and soda, a Montessori-based child-enrichment center, a hair salon, masseuse, dry-cleaning pickup and drop-off and car detailing and maintenance. Did we mention the free professional sports tickets? 28500 Clemens Road, Westlake 44145, (440) 788-5000,


Move aside, measly french fry, and hunker down, home fries, because there’s a better potato in town: the jojo. Clevelanders seem to be less aware of the jojo phenomenon than their neighbors in Akron. As the mile-marker numbers decrease on I-77, these gigantic batter-fried wedges become a big deal in every pizza stand, corner deli and convenience store. Yet the ultimate jojo is in our own back yard, at Great Lakes Brewing Co. While other jojos are too limp, too small or just not breaded enough, at GLBC you get a crunchy, double-deep-fried, flour-battered coating hiding a puffy featherbed of potato inside. Order the grilled flat iron steak and they’ll come as a side — they don’t show up anywhere else on the menu. But insiders know you can order them alone, six for $3. 2516 Market Ave., Cleveland, (216) 771-4404,

The BEST Reader's Picks
We let our readers have the final say in 45 different "Best Of" categories.
The winners are:


Place for an Internet First Date:
Various locations

Pick-up Bar:
Velvet Dog
1280 W. Sixth St.,
Cleveland, (216) 664-1116

Little Italy Hotspot:
Mama Santa’s
12301-05 Mayfield Road, Cleveland, (216) 231-9567

Tremont Hotspot:
The Treehouse
820 College Ave.,
Cleveland, (216) 696-2505

Ohio City Hotspot:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.2516 Market Ave.,
Cleveland, (216) 771-4404

Downtown Hotspot:
Pickwick & Frolic
2035 E. Fourth St., Cleveland, (216) 241-7425

Suburban Hotspot:
Crocker Park
25 Main St., Westlake,
(440) 871-6880

Happy Hour:
Various locations

Cheap Date:
Aladdin’s EateryVarious locations


Corned Beef:
3106 St. Clair Ave.,
Cleveland, (216) 621-3760

820 Center Road, Avon,
(440) 937-7859

Buffalo Wild Wings (BW3)
Various locations

All-You-Can-Eat Buffet:
Golden Corral
Various locations

Natural Food Store:
Trader Joe’s
Various locations

Business Lunch:
Hyde Park Steakhouse
Various locations

Ethnic Restaurant:
Aladdin’s EateryVarious locations

Cooking Classes:
The Viking Store
Legacy Village,
24703 Cedar Road,
Lyndhurst, (216) 381-2100,

Sushi Rock1276 W. Sixth St.,
Cleveland, (216) 623-1212
2101 Richmond Road,
Beachwood, (216) 378-9595

650 Dover Center Road,
Bay Village,
(440) 871-6340
7523 Pearl Road,
Cleveland, (440) 234-1434
28625 Lorain Road,
North Olmsted,
(440) 779-6050


Cavaliers Player:

Indians Player:
Grady Sizemore

Browns Player:
Charlie Frye

Sports Announcer:

Local Weatherperson:
Dick Goddard

Local Anchor (Male):
Tim White

Local Anchor (Female):
Romona Robinson

Team Mascot:

Local Celebrity Dinner Companion:
Drew Carey

Local Politician:
Dennis Kucinich 


High School Band:
Lakewood High School
14100 Franklin Blvd.,
Lakewood, (216) 529-4028

Local Festival:
The Feast of the Assumption

Miniature Golf:
8501 Stearns Road
Olmsted Township,
(440) 235-4420

Public Golf Course:
Big Met Golf Course
4811 Valley Parkway,
Fairview Park,
(440) 331-1070

Community Theater:
Beck Center for the Arts
17801 Detroit Ave.,
Lakewood, (216) 521-2540

Antique Shop:
Suite Lorain
7105 Lorain Ave.,
Cleveland, (216) 281-1959

The Cutting Garden
25022 Center Ridge Road, Westlake, (440) 899-9178

Place to See Art:
Cleveland Museum of Art11150 East Blvd.,
Cleveland, (216) 421-7350

Best Bargain Shopping:
TJ Maxx
Various locations

Culture Fix:
Little Italy

Pet Store:
Various locations

Honest Mechanic:
Various locations  

Beauty Day Spa:
Charles Scott Salons & Spas
19025 Old Lake Road,
Rocky River,
(440) 333-7994
30239 Detroit Road,
Westlake, (440) 899-1957

Hair Salon:
Dante Lucci
19365 Detroit Road,
Rocky River,
(440) 331-7222

Place for a Massage:
Charles Scott Salons & Spas
19025 Old Lake Road,
Rocky River,
(440) 333-7994
30239 Detroit Road,
Westlake, (440) 899-1957

Makeup Counter:
Head Quarters Salon and Spa
Crocker Park,
189 Main St., Westlake,
(440) 385-4144
6071 Middle Ridge Road, Lorain, (440) 233-8508

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