Pure. Neighborhood. Dive.
McNamara’s Pub is as “neighborhood pub” as a neighborhood pub can be, particularly given its location in a part of Cleveland that is more often on-the-way rather than destination. On the very tip of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood just west of downtown Cleveland, McNamara’s stands alone on a residential block, a largely nondescript brick building across the street from a vintage neighborhood convenience store.
Opened in 1998, it’s hard to argue that the longevity is there when there are 1936 classics (Hotz Café) among the Cleveland dive bar selections, but the presentation bears a classic vibe. No sign hanging over the door, the only indicator of the bar’s location is the script “McNamara’s Public House” on one glass window in an old-school font. Green trimmed windows give way to a neon Guinness sign, perhaps the most obvious marker that there’s beer somewhere within the building.
And it’s the neighborhood that provides a heavy dose of the bar’s character here, with this particular portion of the Detroit Shoreway area a handful of blocks away from more trafficked locations in the same part of town. The patio that emerges from McNamara’s back door feels like some kind of flat neighborhood porch, owing more to the vibe of the world around the bar than McNamara’s itself.
Inside, the space is wood, wood and then also wood. The bar and interior supports sport a very pleasant deep brown, wide grain look that fits the space well, indicating that while the bar may have been opened in 1998, the building well predates McNamara’s. Wooden bookshelves display all manner of liquor and a large chalkboard proclaims the available beers. A pair of dartboards live among a handful of hightop tables and that’s really the extent of the fixtures within the dive bar.
A projection screen is pulled down from the ceiling for noteworthy games and honestly, there isn’t much else to McNamara’s. This is a neighborhood bar with a great look and while the decades of history might not hang off the bar, they do feel like they belong to the building itself. And that combination makes for a quintessential Midwestern neighborhood pub experience.