A railroad-themed eatery in a refurbished train depot where canoes and stagecoaches hang from the ceiling, The Pufferbelly Ltd. serves hearty American fare such as smoked St. Louis–style ribs and reubens made of corned beef or sautéed grouper. For Sunday brunch, cooks build a sprawling buffet from housemade muffins, eggs benedict, and crispy, made-to-order waffles. As festive as a piñata stuffed with birthday cakes, friendly staffers throw seasonal parties galore, from breezy autumn clam bakes to vibrant Mardi Gras fetes.
The Kent Stage, which is housed in a building constructed in 1927 for the Flannigan and Steele Theater, is the only remaining vintage downtown theater in Portage County. The venue is operated by the Western Reserve Folk Arts Association, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to supporting traditional music and arts through education, concerts, festivals, outreach programs, and workshops. This staff of friendly music enthusiasts is committed to providing a place for music lovers to mingle, appreciate the auditory arts, and get funky.
Beach volleyball and bowling lanes seldom come in the same package—unless you happen to be at Kent Lanes. The indoor and outdoor facility pairs two regulation-size silica-sand beach-volleyball courts with an expansive arena of polished lanes, letting competitors hammer spikes and orchestrate strikes like 19th century railroad workers.
A full-service tiki bar stands beside the sandy courts, setting the tone with cold drinks and tropical tunes as spectators kick back at picnic tables and enjoy the live action of a game on a 50-inch flatscreen TV. Inside, guests can unwind at the 11th Frame, which serves pizza, traditional grill fare, and daily drink specials. Kent Lanes also hosts volleyball and bowling leagues for those looking for team camaraderie without having to endure a series of trust falls.
Crowned the Best Irish Pub of 2010 by CityVoters, Brubaker's serves up an extensive menu of pub edibles alongside a lively atmosphere and TVs sporting the latest in athletic endeavors. Quiet nagging hunger mufflers with appetizers such as barbecue-chicken potato skins ($5.75) and the super pretzel with mustard, salsa, or nacho cheese ($2), or tongue-dive into a specialty dish, such as the chicken cordon "bru" ($6.75), the buffalo-chicken wrap ($5.50), or the mega dog ($4). Brubaker's burritos wrap various fillings in the fresh-baked arms of nine-inch tortillas and come in varietals such as the Popeye ($5.50), a hulkifying combination of spinach-artichoke dip, tomatoes, onions, shredded cheddar, and ranch dressing. Brubaker's also offers a wide-ranging beer selection to indulge the fermented fantasies of Prohibition-era taste buds.
For four generations, the same family has tilled the soil beneath the grape vines that thrive at Barrel Run Crossing Winery and Vineyard. Originally used to grow grain, hay, soybeans, and wheat, the land saw its first vines in 2006, and grapes have been planted each subsequent year. Now totaling 10 acres, up to eight grape varietals flourish on the land. The result of these planting efforts is a host of handcrafted wines and ciders, including 2012 Ohio Wine Competition award winners Tipsy Conductor and Engine Number 5. All of Barrel Run Crossing’s wines are available for sampling in the spacious tasting room and for purchase by the thimble, glass, or bottle.