The Best Bars In Cleveland

Whether you’re in the mood for a chambong at a wine bar, or the Champagne of Beers at a classic Ohio dive.
The drinks at Good Night John in Cleveland.

photo credit: Kaitlin Walsh

Cleveland’s bar scene was once just loveable dives and breweries. But now, the Ohio city is home to newer spots bringing all different kinds of partying and drinks to the banks of Lake Erie. There’s a moody cocktail lounge we like to think is a little haunted, the neighborhood donut shop with IPAs on tap, and a ‘70s-themed nightclub where you can live out your dream of becoming the fifth ABBA member. And if you’re looking for a guide to the best restaurants in Cleveland, we've got that too.


photo credit: Kaitlin Walsh



$$$$Perfect For:Date NightVegansDrinking Good CocktailsUnique Dining Experience
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This moody bar serves the best cocktails in the city, in a space that looks like it could be haunted by Cleveland’s ghosts (James A. Garfield, is that you?). Your Ouija board-loving friend might snap way too many photos of the menu that’s designed like an ancient tome, but you can go straight for our favorite: the Rabbit’s Foot, a bright pink tequila cocktail with kicks of cayenne, pineapple, and frothy aquafaba. It’s one of those places that seems like it would take mixology a little too seriously, but the servers are always down to cheerfully explain how the red sangria ice cube is made without any judgment. Their spiced popcorn is a nice snack, and there’s vegan food like chickpea laarb and fries if you need something slightly more filling. It’s usually packed, so definitely make a reservation.

Great Lakes is a quintessential Cleveland brewery experience. The craft beer legend continues to thrive, with loads of people in Bernie Kosar jerseys and big-city transplants coming to drink pale ales while watching the home team get whupped. Their beer list has tried-and-true options including the Eliot Ness amber lager, smooth just like the legendary Prohibition enforcer, along with limited-run drafts that nod to Cleveland football, like the crisp Interstate Tailgate pilsner. They even use their beer in the food—wings slathered in a BBQ sauce get an added tang from the Edmund Fitzgerald porter, and a slightly sweet bratwurst is made slightly malty thanks to Dortmunder gold lager.

You’ll find the city’s strongest drink at this tiki bar in Tremont. Porco Lounge’s Zombie cocktail has homemade, tart falernum that (sort of) helps cover up its four-and-a-half shots of rum. It’s so high-proof that bartenders won’t let you order more than two, and if you try to cheat by having a friend order a third, you’ll get kicked out. Dry and biting, this is the sort of drink that’s still pretty good even though it’s meant to skyrocket brave souls into tipsy territory. If getting completely zoinked isn’t on the agenda, there are plenty of other fruity neon-colored drinks with a lower ABV, and some even come served on top of flashy dry ice. When it’s nice outside, grab some of the Filipino bar snacks like lumpia before heading out to the patio, and count how many of the plastic flamingos made it through winter.

Good Night John Boy is where you go when you want to boogie to ABBA’s greatest hits. This ‘70s-themed nightclub checks all the disco-era boxes: shag carpet in the lounge areas, a sparkling disco ball hanging over a light-up linoleum dance floor, and a 20-foot-tall poster of Farrah Fawcett. Their Mood Ring cocktail follows suit—it’s a pretty sweet drink that changes colors, thanks to a cotton candy glitter bomb reacting with alcohol. If that sounds too much like a science fair experiment, the Miller High Life dressed up with Tapatío, salt and pepper, and a squirt of lime is a reliable tangy mix without the dangers of a sugar crash.

Prosperity Social Club isn’t an exclusive Ohio organization, but a retro-style bar with checkered floors, vintage beer signs, and deep Polish roots much like its Tremont neighborhood. The current owners actually took over the space from the Dembrowski family who opened the original bar in 1938. It’s best experienced on Old-World Wednesdays, when an accordion player belts polka tunes as guests smash Okocim tallboys imported from Brzesko. Their kitchen is also open until midnight most days, cooking up platters of buttery cabbages and thick egg noodles.

Brewnuts is part-bar, part-bakery, and somewhere you can go after dinner for a cold beer and Willy Wonka-esque donut. They have 16 local brews on tap to accompany whatever sweet treat catches your eye: flavors rotate, but glazed, sprinkles, and some type of fry cake are always on the menu. And they’re often celebrating some themed holiday, real or imagined—for National Margarita Day, there was a prickly pear margarita donut and frozen marg combo, and on St. Patrick’s Day, they did a Bailey’s-infused, cheesecake-filled donut and a boozy shamrock shake. They’re open until 11pm on weekends, and on some nights, it’s a semi-chaotic mix of families grabbing dessert and bar-hoppers making a snacky pitstop.

Flight is a sort-of-party spot masquerading as a classy wine bar. They specialize in wine trios, but they group them into simple categories like “Them Red Blends Tho” instead of bombarding you with information about tannins. Things get a little rowdier when the chambongs finally get brought out, so bring your book club and spend the evening reliving your Midwestern tailgate days with a chambong-chugging contest. The menu has a couple of simple snacks, but Il Rione is just a short walk away if you need a real meal.

Harbor Inn describes itself as “the ultimate dive bar experience.” Established in 1895, this is the longest continuously operating bar in the city, with a gritty, old-school Cleveland vibe: it’s an enormous, windowless warehouse along the Cuyahoga River with sticky floors and well-worn dart boards. The move is the beer-and-a-shot special, and after you’ve downed your bottom-shelf liquor, pop open a High Life and start a game of pool with friendly strangers. Basically, this is the place to channel a Midwestern dad—come to think of it, yours probably played skeeball here after he saw The Rolling Stones at Lakefront Stadium in 1975.

Nobody knows exactly what LBM stands for, but our guess is for something along the lines of Loud, Belligerent, and Moody. Service industry professionals opened this bar because they were tired of working for other people, and they now do whatever they want, like playing Scandinavian heavy metal at all hours of the day. The bartenders here sling complicated cocktails, like the semi-sweet Star Stealer made with brown butter-washed brandy, sherry, balsamic fig, and walnut, and all the drinks are great for washing down the burger served on a focaccia bun. LBM gets too crowded on weekends for much conversation, but you’re not here to remember any details beyond the fake names you give the taxidermied deer heads on the wall.

Hit up the Fairmount when you’re planning a last-minute group hang or Happy Hour, because it’ll have something (and enough space) for everyone. Options range from low-brow beers to fancy wines, but their best drink is The Donnelly, a mezcal cocktail upgraded with bubbly, pear liqueur, and elderflower. The Fairmount’s menu is so big that it could take a year to work through it (though you’ll probably just get the parmesan truffle fries every time you come), and its many rooms serve as a gallery space for local artists. Things here are constantly changing, and that’s what’s great about it.

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