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Best Cleveland Nightlife

AOL PICK from our Editors

Cleveland’s best nightlife is diverse and vibrant, particularly if you are willing to head out into various neighborhoods for entertainment. Designer drinks, award-winning microbrews and pints of Guinness are nightcap options at places that range from quiet, upscale eateries to night clubs with roof patios. No matter the venue, a non-fussy, casual attitude tends to accompany the scene.

The Velvet Dog

Neighborhood: Warehouse District

This three-level night club pulsing with DJ-spun Top 40s remix music, R&B, hip hop and pop pulls Cleveland’s youngish professional crowd to the dance floor. Each level of the Velvet Dog offers music for a different mood. In summer, the rooftop patio buzzes with energy and conversations hum. Known for having the best rooftop view of the city at night, Velvet Dog maximizes its reputation with its Paint the Town Memorial Day event. Street performers add to the party scene that kicks off the short-lived patio season. Remember, this is Cleveland. No one wants to be up on a patio roof when frigid winds blast over Lake Erie—except on New Year’s Eve, when the patio is heated and enclosed with a tent. 

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The Velvet Dog  

Cambridge Room at House of Blues

Neighborhood: Downtown

In a city with a museum dedicated to the Who’s Who in music and rock and roll, the 2004 addition of a House of Blues seemed fitting. The concerts, a mix of well-known established performers and newcomers, satisfy Cleveland’s eclectic tastes. Besides, House of Blues turned the vacant and cavernous 61,000-square-foot Woolworth Building into a hopping downtown hotspot. Ironwork details give a nod to Cleveland’s manufacturing history, and Cleveland artist Peter Wood’s artwork are prominent features of the design and décor. An establishment that helps breathe life into Cleveland’s downtown deserves a nod. Like other House of Blues locations, dining is part of the venue, featuring Creole-inspired dishes and American classics.

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Flannery's Pub

Neighborhood: Downtown

Flannery’s obsession with pouring perfect 20-ounce pints of Guinness (or any other tap beer), the friendliness and the location across from Quickens Loans Arena draw in crowds after a Cavs or an Indians game—either for a mood boost after losing or elation after a win. It’s also the number-one hotspot on St. Patrick’s Day, when everyone in Cleveland turns Irish. Flannery’s Irish-pub approach to food and drink, its rich wood and stained-glass details and ample space for elbow room make this a well-established crowd-pleaser for folks who like beer and company. Fifteen imported beers are on tap, along with several whisky and malt liquor choices for the discerning. The served-until-midnight pub grub includes Irish favorites, like a corned beef on fresh-baked-rye sandwich. On weekends, the live music is a major draw.  If you’re lucky, you’ll catch The New Barleycorn. These two Irish guys are longtime performers, whose Celtic music puts them in high demand.

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Luxe Kitchen and Lounge

Neighborhood: Gordon Square Arts District

Luxe, in the Gordon Square Arts District at the edge of Ohio City, is the latest venture of Marlin Kaplin, one of Cleveland’s longtime top chefs. Kaplin transformed this former bank into an upscale Mediterranean-style restaurant and bar. Although the restaurant side has earned kudos for its charcuterie plates and small-plate options, the connected lounge draws in the after-theater crowd for its specialty drinks and desserts. The 1930s reclaimed bar and glass chandeliers say dress up, but the vibe is casual. This is a mixed-age scene of T-shirts and cocktail dresses. Pair lemon and mint sorbet with a drink called Blossom—a gorgeous concoction of lavender, blueberry, handmade lemonade and citrus vodka—for a perfect evening nightcap.

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Luxe Kitchen and Lounge  

Barking Spider Tavern

Neighborhood: University District

Here’s where Cleveland’s local music talent performs seven nights a week. At the Barking Spider Tavern, you'll hear rock, blues, folk, pop, bluegrass, country, even a jug band. A cozy, comfy, laid-back venue, the Barking Spider Tavern serves up live music with a patio in summer and a fireplace in winter. You’ll be sure to find Case Western Reserve students here, but this isn’t just a college-crowd place. Those whose college days have long passed will enjoy the ambiance and not feel like interlopers. 

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