The Best of Cleveland
The event that showcases (literally) the best that the city has to offer.
By Annie Zaleski
Cleveland is chock full of hidden gems, from neighborhood restaurants tucked away in off-the-beaten-path locales to the musicians honing their craft in bars and clubs.
Appropriately, the goal of Cleveland Magazine's 11th annual Best of Cleveland party—which this year takes place on Saturday, October 15, from 7-11 p.m. at Public Hall—is to shine a light on the people, places and culture that make the city tick. Restaurants, shops, breweries and other local businesses are voted on and selected by the readers and editors of Cleveland Magazine as the best the city has to offer.
"We are able to identify some very cool artisans and restaurants, and dishes to eat," Mary Beth Lee, event planner for the gala, says about the night. "I like to think of some of these winners as the true treasures of Cleveland. They're the little diamonds in the rough, and we get to show those at the event."
More than half of the 130 winners ("right around 70," Lee says) will be in attendance at Public Hall. Of these, she estimates about half are food- and beverage-related. (Come hungry and thirsty, in other words!) In addition to tacos galore from winners including Barrio and Pacos Tacos, and appearances from beloved establishments Pier W and Angelo's Pizza, the offerings aim to highlight Cleveland's booming culinary scene. Unique dishes include braised octopus from new kid on the block Salt; tasty burgers from B Spot; Vita Urbana's beef-fat popped popcorn; and Italian nachos from Pizza (216).
Attendees can also expect plenty of sweet treats, courtesy of winners Jack Frost Donuts (Best Doughnut), Colossal Cupcakes (Best Gourmet Cupcakes) and Cathy's Creamery (honored for its delectable ice cream sandwiches), as well as some adult beverages with a twist: wine slushies from CLE Urban Winery, for example, and BrewBoat CLE, the floating party.
Better still, the event gives partygoers a chance to get up close and personal with the movers and shakers behind these innovations and delicacies, Lee says. "You'll be able to talk to the chefs and the owners and the people that are plowing through and really making these businesses work."
To work off all those calories, partygoers can boogie to music from indie rockers By Light We Loom, upbeat cover band the Sunrise Jones and traditional Irish folk act Marys Lane. Other entertainment includes a live DJ and the chance to re-live childhood in large, human-sized bubbles from Dr. U R Awesome.
The Best of Cleveland party's theme and artwork this year ties in with the Cavs' NBA championship and how it's buoyed the city. "Everyone just seems to be walking an inch taller this year," Lee says. "We've been on an upswing anyway. There's a rebirth going on, and it's contagious.
"In keeping with that theme, our winners are also the champions," she adds. "These are our trophies—this is what makes us so great."
As if all of these perks weren't enticing enough, the event also doubles as a fundraiser for the public charter schools Breakthrough Schools.
Celebrating Cleveland while raising money for a good cause and enjoying a fun, celebratory night out—it's no wonder Lee enjoys planning the Best of Cleveland party so much.
"I love this event," she says. "This event really sums up why this city is so awesome."
Best of Cleveland party tickets range from $40-$150 and are available in advance online.