When I typically suggest to friends that they should visit Northeast Ohio, I typically receive the response below:
But after the Steelers were eliminated from the NFL playoffs, I thought that I had a shot to convince The Drunk Yinzer (TDY) to visit, since TDY wouldn’t have any sports to look forward to (before the NHL resolved the lockout). I was generally concerned that they would travel to Birmingham Bridge and plunge into the depths of Monongahela.
Who else can sympathize with TDY and their recent depression regarding Pittsburgh sports? A non-Pittsburgher! More specifically, a Cleveland sport fan.
Cleveland embraces mediocrity and celebrates .500 seasons. The Browns have never made it to the Super Bowl. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948 (second longest drought behind the Cubs). And the Cavs? I’d rather not discuss the Cavs right now. To top it off, the last time the Browns were in the playoffs, the Browns lost three times to the same team in the same season (I think a first in NFL history).
How do Cleveland fans deal with mediocrity and depression? Beer. Lots of it.
Thankfully, Cleveland is a drinking town with a football problem and without the Browns in the playoffs, Cleveland refocuses on the drinking.
I decided to share my wisdom with TDY and take the risk to invite them for a weekend in Northeast Ohio. To encourage TDY to leave the safety of western Pennsylvania, I shared that one of the best places for tacos in Cleveland was having their weekly taco special on Friday that weekend. In addition, I informed them that another area of Cleveland, Ohio City, was ranked one of the best bar-hopping areas in the world (yes, WORLD) by USA Today. On top of that, the Ohio City area is relatively safe and TDY wouldn’t have to worry about being run over by an inebriated Steeler player speeding down Carson Street. If all the above wasn’t enough for them, our mutual friend Hurricane Spurious (HS) was in Northeast Ohio for the holidays and our other mutual friend, who was our Goalie in intramural Futbol (GF), lives in Northeast Ohio.
Needless to say, TDY made the trip west to glorious northeast Ohio.
On Friday night, we headed to my favorite taco place, Sachsenheim Hall. Sachsenheim is located on the border of Cleveland and Parma and is a German beer hall that serves quality beers at reasonable prices with phenomenal tacos. Yes, it is a German beer hall AND it serves phenomenal tacos. It isn’t any different than ordering a salad in Pittsburgh and receiving French fries and steak on it.
At Sachsenheim, you can choose beef, ancho chicken sausage, habanera bacon, blackbean & corn, saxon sausage, chipotle chicken and bacon, Italian carnival, chorizo, and/or venison tacos. The tacos may include lettuce, tomato and/or sour cream. On a sidenote, Sachsenseim is the last stop in the annual Taco thon in Cleveland. For more information, search “taco thon” on facebook.
To start, TDY and HS each ordered a 1 liter stein to accompany their tacos. It was the first of many orders of beer and tacos for TDY and HS.
I ordered a ½ liter Hofbrau Dunkel to accompany my order of chorizo and venison tacos. The chorizo tacos had a nice kick to them and ended up being my favorite taco. The venison tacos were unique and included hearty pieces of venison. The venison tacos were my second favorite at Sachsenheim out of all the tacos I ordered.
On top of great beer and phenomenal tacos is the reasonable price. TDY, HS, and I all paid around $20 each for multiple tacos and beers.
After a successful night at Sachsenheim, HS, TDY and I geared up for Ohio City on Saturday night. Before experiencing what USA Today considers one of the best bar hopping areas in the world, we had lunch/dinner at B-Spot.
B-Spot is a burger restaurant owned by Iron Chef (and Cleveland native) Michael Symon. While being predominantly known for their burgers, B-Spot has delicious Lola fries (fries with rosemary) and a decent beer selection. Of course the group started drinking. I had a GL Christmas Ale to accompany my Fat Doug (burger with coleslaw, pastrami, swiss cheese and mustard) and Lola fries. HS ordered a few beers to accompany his specialty burger that included pepperjack cheese and hot peppers. As I learned in college, HS has an iron stomach.
After departing B-Spot, the group headed over to GF’s house to watch some football and drink beer. The group enjoyed various beer (Schlitz, Killians, Miller Lite, etc.) at GF’s house that was leftover from GF’s holiday family party.
After leaving GF’s place, the group had at least two bars in mind for the night – Great Lakes Brewery and Market Garden Brewery. Great Lakes is, arguably, Cleveland’s most famous brewery. TDY’s goal was to locate and purchase Blackout Stout ice cream. Unfortunately, Great Lakes was out of the ice cream but still had plenty of beer was ordered. The group enjoyed Cleveland Brown Ale (picture shown below), Commodore Perry IPA, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, the Great Lakes milk stout, and Eliot Ness.
After having our fill of GL brews, we headed to Market Garden Brewery located near the famous Westside Market (similar to the Strip District in Pittsburgh) and founded by (among others) a former brewmaster from Dogfish Head. Market Garden has a large upstairs area and an even bigger downstairs area which includes the brewery. The group headed downstairs and sipped on Festivus Ale, Old School American Lager, Boss Amber Lager, and the Trouble IPA while discussing the fermentation tanks and the corresponding lines (#nerds4life).
The last stop of the night was Nano Brew (coincidentally owned by the same owners as Market Garden). Nano Brew is a bar/bicycle repair shop with a decent selection of various microbrews (I’ve heard it has great food too). It is smaller than Market Garden and, accordingly, less crowded. I cannot recall what was ordered but I remember drinking some 9-10% alcohol beer (perhaps Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout? North Coast Old Rasputin?). So the next time you are riding on the near west side and need to fix your bicycle, stop at Nano Brew for a beer and the appropriate tools.
Overall, I think TDY enjoyed their trip to the North Coast and appreciated the various microbrews in Ohio City. I suggested a return trip to visit Sterle’s (a Hungarian style restaurant), Happy Dog ($5 hot dogs with innumerable topping choices and polka happy hour) and/or Sokolowski’s (a Polish cafeteria-style restaurant) with trips to Willoughby Brewing, Rocky River Brewing, and Hopping Frog, among others.