Un-Clubbed: Music Hotspots
CLE Bars with Great Music Scenes
By Lexi Hotchkiss
What is it about music and booze? It's like peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter or bacon and eggs. So, it should come as no big surprise that some of CLE's best music isn't always pumping out from inside a music venue - it's often coming from inside a bar or tavern.
GET YOUR FREAK ON
If the kind of music that gets you to bust a move is your forte, Cleveland's got venues for rug-cutting aplenty.
On various Fridays throughout the year, head over to the Happy Dog in the Detroit Shoreway to hear DJ Kishka spin polka music. If it sounds weird, you'd be right. Polka Happy Hours are a big hit with everyone from hipster twentysomethings to Polish grannies. Better yet, Kishka wears a crazy beard and gets the whole crowd dancing.
Pencil in another date on your dance card at the recently opened Hofbräuhaus Cleveland. The massive German eatery and beer hall embodies the complete experience one might encounter during Munich's Oktoberfest - except every day of the year. While there's a polka house band that plays throughout the day, you'll be able to pair your liter of beer with some more modern bands as the evening progresses.
VENUES WITH A STORY
Behind every great music bar is a great story.
Such is the case with Stone Mad Pub, which really came into its own about seven years ago. However, the location itself is a historic landmark.
It is the site of Leisy Brewing Company, which opened in 1912. The brewery was a hit among the working-class residents of the Detroit Shoreway Neighborhood, but - believe it or not - gained even more popularity as a famous speakeasy during Prohibition.
Today, it's a beloved Irish pub with a gorgeous outdoor patio and live music throughout the week.
Irish is certainly the theme when we're talking about bars with a story. The Harp located on the fringe between the Detroit Shoreway Neighborhood and Ohio City neighborhood is a landmark location in Cleveland. But, it's not its long history that's the talk of the town.
The business is owned by first generation Irish-American Karen O'Malley who hails from Cleveland. After years of cooking in restaurants across the U.S., she decided to open her own place in Cleveland during the 1990s. But, she wasn't interested in repurposed revitalization. Karen wanted her very own authentic Irish pub.
So, after securing some land overlooking Lake Erie, she commissioned an Irish architect to ensure she got the most authentic of designs. Then, her father, who owns a contracting business, created the space.
Today, Cleveland is home to The Harp, a legit Irish pub that offers live music ranging from (of course) Irish bands to bluesy rockers and everything in between.
WITH A CLASSIC COCKTAIL
There's no reason why music and merriment shouldn't be anything but civilized and debonair. Isn't that right, Jeeves? The good news is that if you're looking for some live tunes mingled with some finely mixed cocktails, you've got options.
Make way for Speakeasy in Ohio City. Having a little trouble finding it? Ahem...well, that's sort of the purpose of a speakeasy, right? This one's located underneath McNulty's Bier Markt along West 25th Street. Head to this basement oasis for some high-end cocktails (try the Lady in Red) and live music on the weekends.
Or, get to the new Metropolitan at the 9 located on the corner of Prospect Avenue and East Ninth Street. This Marcel Breuer building was once home to the Ameritrust Banking Company. It's been completely rejuvenated as an upscale hotel and luxury apartments. In the basement, however, you'll find Speak Easy at the Vaults. Yep, it's an upscale craft cocktail joint located in the bank vaults where legendary Clevelanders once kept their fortunes.
Looing for more? Check out this list of music-inspired eateries in CLE. Or, visit one of these fine establishments:
- The Barking Spider - University Circle
- Edison's Pub - Tremont
- Flannery's - East Fourth Street, Downtown
- McCarthy's Ale House - West Bank of the Flats
- Shooters on the Water - West Bank of the Flats
- Society Lounge - East Fourth Street, Downtown
- Treehouse - Tremont
- WXYZ Lounge at the Aloft - East Bank of the Flats
Ok, Clevelanders. Where's your favorite unclubbed hotspot?