Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hot In Cleveland - A Route 6 City


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Cleveland, OH

Lobby of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Cleveland, OH

Let's get this out of the way.  First and foremost - THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME!! It just a few blocks off of Route 6, but I've been yearning to visit since it was built in 1989.   I spent over 2 hours at the lakefront glass building and could have spent another 3 hours immersed in the music of my youth.  There were guys (and women) with white pony tails, and kids towed by enthusiastic parents.  Even the teens and young adults were mesmerized.  Music blares as you make your way around exhibits.  How many yellow rhinestone-studded male-peacock outfits can one take??  Plenty.  Early radio, "architects of Rock and Roll" - like Dylan, Morrison (both Van and Jim); they're all here.  Downstairs, videos flicker, interviews roll endlessly.  It's a feast for the senses, and I was eating it up.  But what really captivated me was the movie looping in the Hall of Fame Induction theater; a montage of inductees from each year since 1989, I couldn't get over how YOUNG everyone looked (and how stoned, of course).  I sat there for over an hour and had tears in my eyes at times.  OK - with Zippo and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame out of the way, I'm not going to indulge my own passions here, but will hew as close to Route 6 as I can the rest of the way!

Cleveland, Ohio is a real Route 6 city.  Route 6 is actually a main street – cutting right through the city center as Superior Ave and leaving the city as Detroit then Clifton Ave.

Good Morning, Cleveland!
Cleveland was founded in 1776 by Western Reserve surveyor, Moses Cleaveland.  One hundred years later, in the midst of establishing a local newspaper, typesetters realized that they could not fit all of Cleaveland’s name on the masthead.  So they lopped off an A – forever changing history. 

East 4th St.
Cleveland, OH
Except for the blighted East side, Cleveland is a city on the cusp of resurgence – much like Baltimore or Providence, RI in the late 1990’s.  A number of burgeoning areas; the pedestrian-only E. 4th St., The Warehouse District and the Brewery District among others cater to young adults in their 20’s and 30’s, with great restaurants, nightclubs and affordable housing. Even the “Flats” which went through a boom then bust since the 1980’s is an area reemerging as a hot-spot. 

For sports fans, Cleveland’s stadiums stand right downtown – no need to head miles away and worry about loose-your-car parking lots.  Lexi Hotchkiss, my guide from Positively Cleveland pointed out the “Q” (Quicken Arena).  “That’s where LeBron James played, then left us in the dust.”

Cleveland sits on Lake Erie and if you find yourself facing the Lake, you are looking North. Browns Stadium, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a great Science Center are all “on the lake” (but just a few blocks from downtown).

Frank Gehry Design
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH
West Side Market: 100 years old, this large mulit-vendor food market is open only on Mon, Wed. Fri and Sat. when ice was delivered to town and stored there.  It’s in the Ohio City/Brewery District.

Cleveland is richly endowed with the arts, thanks to hometown boy, John D. Rockefeller.   University Circle is considered to be the most highly concentrated and wealthiest square mile of cultural institutions in the United States.  Park your car once, and you can visit the world-class Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Western Reserve Historical Society.  There is so much here, you'd need at least a week to explore it all.

If you only have a small amount of time, I’d choose a casual walk through the marble-cool and beautifully -curated Museum of Art, (FREE!) which runs the gamut of the greats from Midlevel tapestries and knight’s armor to Renoir, Monet and Picasso to O’Keefe, Warhol and Calder.  There’s something for everyone here.

If you have time, stop into the Glass Houses at the Botanical Gardens – the only desert and rainforest enclosed habitats of their kind.


Clifton Road is a Route 6 alternate, and just east of Lakewood, there are a couple of one-of-a-kind shops:

Big Fun, Cleveland

Big Fun, Cleveland
Big Fun Cleveland: Buys and sells both new and vintage toys.  If this place doesn’t have it, it doesn’t exists.  Conjur up any plaything from your past, and you’re sure to find it here.

Flower Child
Cleveland, OH

Flower Child: It’s Ebay with a storefront.  Twelve vendors rent space to sell eclectic items from the 1930’s – 1970’s, but most, as the name suggests, were sourced from  the groovy ‘60’s.  A large collection of vinyl records, plexiglass furniture, far out clothing, will keep you hunting for hours.


Little Italy
Cleveland, OH

Presti’s; Mayfield Rd. in Little Italy. Crowds stand in line for coffee and pastry at this popular baker/deli.  Try the carmel/chocolate/nut “Turtle” cookies and a java.  A perfect pick-you-up.

Cleveland, OH
Lola; E. 4th St. Owned by Iron Chef Michael Symon, first champion of Cleveland’s now thriving culinary scene, Lola is THE high-end place to dine and be seen.  Funky linear crystal chandeliers lend some candlepower to the dark, atmospheric room where a dressed up mid-age crowd (read: those who can afford this kind of fine dining) talk low over comfort dishes with a twist.  Beef Cheek Pirogues are not like your Polish Grandma used to make, but are tasty in their crème-fresh way.  The bone-in, crispy skin-on chicken breast sits on a mound of white beans and sausage, juicy and perfectly seasoned.  Worth the splurge.Lola on Urbanspoon
Goat Cheese Pizza
Luxe Lounge
Cleveland, OH

Luxe Kitchen and Lounge: owned by local celeb chef, Marlin Kaplan, Luxe is a funky, fun, happy place.  Used painters tarps serve as balloon curtains in the front window, a sparkly chandelier twinkles inside, and on weekend, a DJ spins records on the patio out back.  Menu items are interesting.  I tried the “veal-stuffed Deep Fried Italian Olives”($9) – which tasted like salty stuffed mushrooms, and a goat cheese balsamic pizza ($16), which was fine. (I’ll admit to being an East Coast pizza snob here; nothing can beat the crispy/chewy pies in my home state.  The bar is set very high for me).  But I’d definitely return for the Watermelon Salad ($8.50) ; chunks of this sweet summertime fruit, salty prosciutto, pine nuts, baby spinach and mint vinaigrette.  Wonderful.Luxe Kitchen and Lounge on Urbanspoon

Pho noodles
#1 Pho
Cleveland, OH
#1 Pho: Superior St. (Route 6) in Asiatown.  Iron Chef Michael Symon claims that Cleveland has the best pho in the country. Pho is a toothsome Vietnamese noodle soup and one of the best places to get it is at #1 Pho.  Try the Vermicelli Korean Meatball bowl, too, for another signature dish (if you can call it that in this very low-key place). The meatball is actually closer to a Turkish ground kebab – cigar shaped and wonderfully spiced.  Each overflowing bowl can feed at least 3 – 4 people, making the $8 per dish a very affordable and tasty lunch.  I’m a big fan of bubble-tea and so glad to see that # Pho features several varieties here.  Eat well on a budget!

Chocolate Bar
Cleveland, OH
The Chocolate Bar: In the Arcade/Hyatt Regency.  Good thing this place was within steps of the elevator up to my room.  The Chocolate Mint Martini and S’more’s Dessert nearly did me in for the night.  But it would have been a blissful way to go.  The Chocolate Bar is a big favorite of Girlfriend Birthdays and Bachelorette parties, as evidenced by the number of wedding tiaras and blinking 3-oh’s I witnessed within a few minutes.  This is a perfect dessert or final drinking spot. Sinful.

Sweet Moses: Sweet Moses, that’s a decadent ice-cream sundae!  SW makes its own hot fudge and thick creamy caramel sauce, and when those toppings meld with ice-cream and nuts, magic happens.  That’s all I’m saying.  If this place moves to my hometown, I’m done for.


Hyatt Arcade Atrium
Cleveland, OH
Hyatt Arcade;  If you like your plush accommodations with a lot of history, this is the place to stay in Cleveland.  Built in 1890, the gilded, wrought-iron Arcade was the first indoor shopping mall in the U.S.  Hyatt purchased the whole thing in 2001, and turned it into one of their flagship hotels.  The hotel commands the

spacious three-level shopping center – and it was so great to feel part of this city’s history – just by staying overnight here.  Rooms are contemporary – earth tones, smushy, down-filled duvets, and granite counter bathrooms, and some overlook the new “place to eat and party” – East 4th St.  I loved listening to the crowds outside (after being in the country for the last few nights).  It was the sound of Cleveland reinventing itself.

Indoor Pool
Cleveland Renaissance Hotel
Cleveland, OH
King Room
Cleveland Renaissance Hotel
Cleveland, OH

Cleveland Renaissance Hotel; your classic, antique-filled, marble bath, brocade bedded luxury hotel.  Nothing mod or deeply styled; it’s understated elegance.  Down duvets, TV armoires, and mild yellow and sea green color palette, it’s where many celebs stay when they come into down. One downside – there is no wifi in the rooms.  You’ll have to bring your laptop to the lobby. On the plus side, the Renaissance is connected to Terminal Tower – Cleveland’s transportation hub (and tallest building East of the Mississippi until the Empire State Building was constructed) .  If you want to visit the museums on University Circle, just walk next door to a direct eco-friendly battery-driven bus that will get you there in 20 minutes for just $2.25.


  1. I just found your blog, Malerie, and I'm hopping all over it, devouring it!
    I, too, love the two-lane roads, but Rt.6 has been out of my reach of Mexico and the South and Southwest. I'm sitting at my home in the Yucatan taking a vicarious summer trip with you! Thanks! :)

  2. HI and thanks for your fun site. I have always wanted to visit Cleveland, you'll see why in a minute. I see I have been missing a lot especially The Rock & Roll Museum and Elvis. The last I heard of the City was that it was ridden with crime (politicians and some others.) But it looks like it has risen from it's ashes. Thanks for showing me the City as it is today.
    From the First Town on Route 6- East, Provincetown, MA, www.WeddingCapecod.org Dave Cleveland

  3. Hi David - yes, with a name like that you have to visit Cleveland! It's one of my new favorite American cities - lots happening there. I also love your hometown - an achingly beautiful (and FUN) place! Thanks for reading and commenting.
    You, too Lopo!

  4. I'm a Midwest snob when it comes to pizza. A proper crust thick enough to hold the toppings beats those cracker crusts on the East Coast. Midwest pizza is better than East Coast HANDS DOWN! I go to Cape Cod every summer. The only advantage CC pizzas have on Cleveland pizzas is you can't get linguica here.


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