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A Culinary Tour

Cleveland underwent a culinary awakening of epic proportions, becoming a foodie haven seemingly overnight. But, as the city’s two biggest celebrity chefs, Michael Symon and Jonathan Sawyer, will tell you, the transformation has been more than a decade in the making, starting with downtown’s East Fourth Street dining zone, where both chefs’ flagship restaurants are, and radiating to industrial-turned-artsy neighborhoods like Ohio City. Here’s what not to miss.

Day

1

MORNING
  • Coffee and Culture.

    In 2015, Heinen’s, a Cleveland-based, family-owned grocery chain since 1929, opened a new flagship store in the Cleveland Trust Building, a historic downtown landmark. The architectural masterpiece was built in 1908, and features an 85-foot-high, leaded-glass ceiling and 13 murals depicting the exploration and settlement of Ohio. Heinen’s hip espresso bar opens at 8 a.m. on weekends.

MIDDAY
  • Circle Walk.

    One of the jewels of Cleveland, scenic University Circle boasts the densest concentration of arts and culture in America. Get a feel for the area by following the interpretive signs along the Wade Oval, a large, grassy green space with winding paths linking the museums.

  • Lunch as Art.

    End your stroll at the Cleveland Museum of Art, one of America’s top museums and the site of Provenance, a sleek restaurant serving modern international cuisine under the direction of esteemed locavore Doug Katz. The menu is seasonal and will often parallel the culture of current exhibits.

AFTERNOON
  • Instagram It.

    No trip to Cleveland is complete without a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, home to rock’s greatest memorabilia. As of November 2016, when the museum installed 7-foot-high letters spelling out “Long Live Rock” in the entry plaza, it’s also become the hottest spot for Instagram photos.

  • Craft Beer Craving.

    Cleveland is a craft beer hotbed, and no neighborhood is as committed as Ohio City. Start with the grandfather, Great Lakes Brewing Company, which became the first craft brewer in the state in 1988. Hansa Brewery specializes in Eastern European beers, emphasizing Cleveland’s roots. Market Garden Brewery has 20 house beers on tap and offers tours of its new production facility. Nano Brew is an uber-cool, one-barrel brew house. Saucy Brew Works offers a dozen creative craft beers on tap like Save Room for Pie, a vanilla pumpkin porter.

EVENING
  • Best New Restaurant.

    The Plum was named Best New Restaurant of 2017 by Cleveland magazine. Here, Chef Brett Sawyer, recognized as a Rust Belt Rising Chef by StarChefs, dishes out creative small plates of contemporary American cuisine like Crispy Beef Belly, using Ohio-certified Angus beef. 

  • Music Scene.

    Cleveland has always had a happening music scene with the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra and several iconic venues, including the Beachland Ballroom and the Agora. You’re guaranteed to find live music any night of the week at the Grog Shop in the funky Coventry neighborhood.

  • Late-Night Drinks.

    Beneath the Grog Shop you’ll find La Cave du Vin. The cellarlike enclosure is quiet and atmospheric, with an extensive wine list from around the world.

Day

2

MORNING
  • Farm Fresh Brunch.

    Make your way to Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District, where you’ll find Spice Kitchen + Bar. The restaurant sources at least 80 percent of its ingredients from farms within a 150-mile radius, including its own 13-acre farm, Spice Acres, 20 miles outside of the city.

MIDDAY
  • Market Crawl.

    A gourmand paradise, West Side Market has been operating in its location since 1912. More than 180 food vendors occupy the sprawling indoor and outdoor space, selling everything from ethnic spices to whole suckling pigs. Expect to rub shoulders with a fun cross section of the local population, including celebrity chefs scoping out the freshest ingredients and grandmas in
    babushkas haggling over prices.

AFTERNOON
  • Shop the Arcades.

    Downtown hosts three elegant glass-topped malls, modeled after European shopping arcades like Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. Each is an ornate piece of history, stretching for a full block. One is now a hotel, but the other two, collectively known as the 5th Street Arcades, are part of Cleveland’s retail revival, with boutiques, eateries, jewelers and souvenir shops. And yes, the cupcakes at Colossal Cupcakes really are the size of softballs.

  • Hit the Beach.

    Just west of downtown at Edgewater Park is 6,000 feet of Lake Erie shoreline, two beaches, a playground and pavilions. It’s also the best view of the Cleveland skyline looking back from the pier.

EVENING
  • Dinner Goes Green.

    James Beard Award winner Chef Jonathon Sawyer now has four restaurants in the Cleveland area. His flagship is The Greenhouse Tavern, which is also the first LEED-certified restaurant in Ohio. Sawyer loves his meats but also does some really tasty vegetarian fare like his vegan take on barbecue, featuring pastrami shallots, BBQ pulled mushrooms, smoked carrots, Vidalia onion rings and green bean casserole.

  • One Last Toast.

    Cap off your day at Muse bar, where the music-inspired drinks are known as rocktails and the vibe is casual and festive. Enjoy a Champagne Supernova (Veuve Clicquot Rose, St. Germain and peach nectar), inspired by the hit song by the British rock band Oasis.