March straight past Johnny’s Downtown and don’t even think about trying to catch a glimpse of the restaurant’s upscale Italian cuisine. We’re headed somewhere much different tonight, and it’s going to be GREAT. Tucked down the alley is Johnny’s Little Bar, an unpretentious dive offering a solid selection of beer, liquor, the odd glass of wine, and one of the best burgers in town.
There are few things greater on this planet than booze-inspired karaoke, although it’s a shame when people with actual talent come and ruin it for the rest of us. Luckily, Tina’s sparse interior happily welcomes vocalists of any ability, for relaxed evenings filled with cheap beer, stiff drinks, and a whole lot of hugely entertaining “singing.”
Packed with a diverse crowd ranging from CSU students and staff, to PlayhouseSquare actors and city workers, this “Downtown neighborhood bar” is a welcoming watering hole that caters to most everyone. With a laid-back atmosphere, hearty late night food, TV sports, darts, and a jukebox, Becky’s has all the elements in place to be this area’s essential dive bar.
Sitting at the outskirts of Tremont’s much fancier inner streets, Hooples can be easy to miss. But with friendly, Cleveland-born-and-raised bartenders, a nice selection of shots and brews, and an expansive patio, it’s a shame if you do. Plus, the view of Cleveland’s skyline (it's called 'humble') from Hoopples is one of the best you’ll find anywhere in town.
Not only is this former speakeasy one of the best dive bars in Cleveland, it’s one of the best dive bars in America. Duck Island may look like an unassuming house from the outside, but step inside and find a small, intimate bar with a nice selection of booze, from basic beer to craft brews and thoughtful cocktails. A warm, welcoming staff makes anyone who walks through the door -- newbie or regular -- feel right at home.
As one of Cleveland's most beloved live music venues, there were more than a few broken hearts each time The Euclid Tavern closed its doors (which happened several times over in the 2000s). Luckily, the whizzes behind Gordon Square’s Happy Dog took over the space in 2013. Reopening one year later as The Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, this spot is looking a lot less divey these days, yet remains a solid location for cold beer, live music, and now hot dogs!
As the (arguable) cultural epicenter of Cleveland, University Circle isn’t looking too shabby these days either. Though after extensive renovations to the area it’s nice to see some of the best places remain the same, Barking Spider among them. With nightly concerts and a loyal crowd of regulars, this longstanding tavern proves that some things are better left unchanged.
Come 5pm, Downtown workers flock to this local pub for nothing more than cheap drinks served by a grizzled, friendly bartender. In the absence of contemporary pub mainstays such as food, games, and flat screen TVs, Moriarty’s does one thing, and does it well: quenching their customers’ thirst for very little money.
Nestled among a long line of crowded Ohio City hotspots, the dark, divey atmosphere inside ABC makes for a nice change when you simply want to kick back with a cool brew and some reliable pub grub. A second location in University Circle means both Eastsiders and Westsiders can find refuge from these neighborhoods’ vast weekend crowds.