Though it isn’t a matchmaking service, Grovewood Tavern is responsible for more than 150 successful relationships in the past decade, all of which were realized over dinner. The brick-enclosed restaurant specializes in the delicious puppy love between food and drink, hosting meals that pair fine wines, beers, and spirits with bites from a globally conscious kitchen. The courses encourage guests to savor combinations in the moment, but also nod to the history inside the glassware. Trivia and origin stories accompany the drinks, detailing their flavors and the favorable reviews they've received. Some dinners benefit from presentation by expert hosts, including vineyard aficionados and people who know how the ghosts are added to each bottle of spirits.
Outside of these showcases, visitors can still enjoy selections from the tavern's regular menu. Duck-burger sliders and spice-rubbed ahi-tuna sandwiches dispel any worries about stereotypical pub fare, and the entrees' emphasis on local and organic ingredients adds a refreshing ease of conscience to each bite. Grovewood’s catalog of savory meats ranges from Japanese-style barbecued chicken to the bison pot roast, which, according to a 2007 feature in the Plain Dealer, "falls gloriously apart, upon gentle forkage." Chefs accommodate vegetarians and vegans as well. A wealth of meat- and gluten-free options speckles the menu's pages, and the pairing dinners list substitutions for nonveggie helpings, replacing tea-smoked duck breast with grilled tofu and skirt steak with vegan beef.
Rather than limit themselves to serving creative, Cleveland-inspired cuisine or to hosting late-night bowlers sipping from frothy pint glasses, the founders of 4th Street Bar & Grill – The Corner Alley decided to do both. Inside spacious, sleek environs, servers at the bowling alley’s 4th Street Bar & Grill dole out pierogis—dumplings stuffed with potato and smoked cheddar cheese—and oven-baked pizzas, such as the Alley Pie, topped with cheese and fresh basil. Local draft brews from Buckeye Brewing, Brew Kettle, and Hoppin’ Frog or one of more than 20 locally-inspired cocktails and martinis accompany meals and pin-pulverizing sessions at one of 16 lanes. Satellite-selected sounds pump through speakers, and patrons can control tunes from a special app on their phone or speak directly to Meatloaf through the jukebox.
Whether they’re there to bowl, eat, drink, or finally understand gravity, up to 600 people can gather inside the ample quarters. Groups of 4–45 revelers can populate the Mezzanine, a private party room hoisted atop an elevated platform and replete with several flat-screen TVs. Millionaire’s Row plays host to 100 guests, who can bowl on four private lanes, sip martinis at the Back Alley bar, or lay quietly atop the billiards table. And inside the 2,000-square-foot Spare Room, up to 90 friends can dine on a customizable menu as well as play billiards, air hockey, foosball, darts, and skeeball.
Zócalo Mexican Grill & Tequilería pulls its recipes from four different regions in Mexico, each with its own distinctive flavors and flairs—from the smoked meats of the Yucatán to the rich, chocolaty mole of the Puebla to the tangy seafood of the Veracruz and the inventive salsas of the Baja. Skilled cooks place innovative spins on traditional regional dishes, layering quesadillas with goat cheese, seasoning carnitas tortas in chipotle-barbecue sauce, and folding beer-battered fish into tacos.
Out in the dining room, bartenders mix margaritas beneath shelves of dozens of glimmering tequila bottles. They pair shots of premium Agave Loco, Dos Lunas, and Espolón tequilas with lime and a serving of spicy, citrusy sangrita. Ornate copper lanterns hang from the ceiling, casting a muted, twilight-like glow on tabletops and booths. A spiraling staircase leads down to the lower dining area, bordered by ornate metal railings. Colorful towers of light illuminate the outdoor patio, ideal for people watching or pointing out constellations to your date in a loud and impressive voice so everyone else can hear.
Servers constantly scan Brasa Grill’s dining room for empty plates, approaching tables with skewers of chicken, lamb, or beef and carving tender pieces tableside. The selection includes 16 different types of savory, grilled meats and a salad bar with more than 40 side dishes, garnering Brasa Grill Cleveland Scene magazine’s award for Best All You Can Eat for Gourmets. The constant parade of hearty fare only relents when diners flip their color-coded token to red, allowing them to sit for a while and stretch their fourth stomachs. Alternatively, the menu also features a small selection of sushi for a lighter version of a high-protein meal.
A painted mural dominates one wall of Brasa Grill’s dining room and depicts a group of Brazilian gauchos as they sear rotisserie meats over open flames, a practice which would later inspire Brazilian-style, churrascaria eateries. The rest of the room embraces a more urban ambiance with its soft lighting, crisp white tablecloths, and stoplight chandeliers.
La Strada’s expansive space has “the ambiance of dining on an Italian piazza after sunset” according to Cleveland Magazine. Distressed paint covers the walls in muted colors, and unfinished wood trim balances the ornate framework around the bar. Eclectic sculptures stand in nooks or sneak out to watch wall projections of black-and-white movies like the Fellini film for which the La Strada was named.
Like the vagabonds followed by Fellini's camera, the restaurant's menu roams from place to place. The kitchen staff employs premium ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, whole grains, and artisan cheese in dishes inspired by the traditions of Italy and the Mediterranean. Flatbread pizzas get crowned with kalamata olives, feta, and hummus, and pastas are tossed with a variety of vegetables. Varied seating lets patrons huddle in pairs, dine out of doors, or pass the time playing telephone at family-sized tables that seat up to 12.
Over the years, Reddstone’s outdoor patio has earned it plenty of love. In 2011, CBS Cleveland named Reddstone among the best outdoor bars in the city, and Cleveland Scene magazine deemed it the top spot for patio drinking. Though the patio garners a lot of attention, especially during its weekly pig roasts over the summer, Reddstone slyly offers the Detroit Shoreway and Battery Park community a dining experience to match its patio’s growing legend. The chef keeps the kitchen open until midnight every night, whipping up signature burgers and small plates to accompany 20 craft beers on tap. Rather than playing the "Star Spangled Banner" on a squeaky chair, Reddstone’s management team keeps visitors thoroughly entertained by booking weekly live performances from acts that range from standup comedians to jazz musicians.