Ohio City

Cleveland, Ohio

Ohio City exists on the 'upscale' end of the spectrum, but thankfully beer is the great equalizer and sufficient dive bar drinking can be found.
Beck Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Interior
Ohio City has been branded with one of the worst words a neighborhood can be attached to: ‘trendy.’ Flanking the extremely worthwhile West Side Market, this stretch of near-downtown Cleveland just across the bridge from the city proper houses a diverse set of way-too-expensive restaurants, about 100 different breweries and a few neighborhood holdouts that pre-exist the perceived trendiness of the area.

While the recommendations here are centered around the main artery that runs through Ohio City, 25th Street, the reality is that the borders can sometimes blur on where Ohio City ends and other nearby areas like the Detroit Shoreway begin. The close proximity of those two neighborhoods in particular means that there can be some mixing and matching between this itinerary and our Detroit Shoreway set of recommendations, particular as it relates to excellent Cleveland dives like B And G Tavern.

Specific to this Ohio City itinerary, the set is dominated by the breweries that have steadily streamed into the area, from the most macro of Cleveland breweries, Great Lakes, to much more restricted offerings like Hansa’s German beer hall-style selections, the variety here is what makes Ohio City an attractive destination, in spite of polished and, gasp, ‘trendy’ locations that dot the area.

The Stops

1. North High Brewing Ohio City

2814 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113
Google Map
(216) 800-4900
Web Site Link

Founded down I-71 in Columbus, North High Brewing’s Ohio City expansion occupies an attractive space that shines on the off chance that that rare Cleveland combination of warmth and sunshine can be found. The move for this first few recommendations is to taste a few beers and move on, getting a sense for the available variety without getting fully seduced by any one brewery. North High’s Honey Wheat is a solid year-round recommendation.

2. Bookhouse Brewing

1526 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Google Map
(216) 862-4048
Web Site Link

The story here is the building itself, original home of the Jacob Baehr Brewery founded in 1883. Though it subsequently closed in 1901 with another brewery carrying the mantle until 1907, the fact that a brewing history of any kind can be traced back within the brick-exposed walls provides an extra shot of Cleveland authenticity to Bookhouse. A flight is the move here with the small size of the brewery offering a little more leeway in adventurous limited offerings.

3. ABC The Tavern

1872 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Google Map
(216) 861-3857
Web Site Link

ABC the Tavern feels like a bit of a miracle given its closest neighbors, a slew of ritzy restaurants lining the heart of Ohio City’s renovated core. Somehow, this is a bar with great food but few frills, a stark interior under a vintage sign that holds a shotgun style dive bar (and a second floor pool loft to boot). There are certainly cocktails to be had here, but this is no “cocktail bar” like some of the nearby options, instead offering some dive bar authenticity to a stretch of Ohio City that needs it.

4. Market Garden Brewery

1947 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Google Map
(216) 621-4000
Web Site Link

Market Garden Brewery and Great Lakes across the street serve as outposts for two of the more heavily distributed beer brands in the area. Market Garden is a little newer, this location opened in 2011, and the vibe inside reflects that with a little more polish, a little more of a party vibe that fits this stretch of Ohio City. Regardless, Prosperity Wheat is an excellent choice on any visit, with a full food menu available if somehow you haven’t eaten yet along this itinerary.

5. Great Lakes Brewing Company

2516 Market Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113
Google Map
(216) 771-4404
Web Site Link

Cleveland breweries don’t get more macro than Great Lakes, with the beer distributed widely, a staple especially in Cleveland for a very long time. Lake Erie Monster, if found, is highly recommended, packing an ABV punch dangerously masked by a deceptively smooth flavor. While the outside patio and first floor are both attractive, the real move here is the basement, where the vibe is a little more dive bar-like than the polished tavern atmosphere on the main floor.

6. Hansa Brewery

2717 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH 44113
Google Map
(216) 631-6585
Web Site Link

Hansa hits a little different to the other Ohio City brewery offerings, perhaps due to its history growing out of a specialty food shop that has been part of the neighborhood since the 1980s. The official label given to the vibe here is “European” but you’ll be forgiven for assuming that Hansa is a specifically-German beer hall as that’s the layout here. The food menu is deep, running through exactly the types of options you’re picturing (sausage platters and potato pancakes are in effect).

7. Forest City Brewery

2135 Columbus Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113
Google Map
(216) 228-9116
Web Site Link

Forest City Brewery can be hard to find, which is, of course, a good sign. With the benefit of a sign or two, a winding hallway leads back to a vast, warehouse space that serves as Forest City’s brewing operation and taproom. Again, the history of the area offerings the backdrop, with Forest City’s building stretching back to the early 1900s. The profoundly old school-looking refrigerator behind the bar and the decorations throughout accentuate the vibe. Bonus points to the visitor able to hunt down both the open secondary space and the back patio, all part of the labyrinth that is Forest City Brewery.

8. Hoopples

1930 Columbus Rd, Cleveland, OH 44113
Google Map
(216) 575-0483

Down the hill from Ohio City’s heavier-trafficked options, Hoopples (AKA Major Hoopples) serves as the perfect place to end a crawl because a) walking back up the hill after a day of drinking is a daunting task and b) the view of the Cuyahoga River under the Columbus Road Bridge provides a pleasant backdrop to a little beer drinking. A one-man kitchen is sometimes available, but the draw here is the neighborhood vibe and the show outside of the bar’s windows.

Related Bar Crawls To Explore

Detroit Shoreway

As old-school Cleveland as it gets.

Lincoln Park

Babe Ruth drank here.