There's a lot to love about Cleveland, though I'll admit I was a little shocked that there could be at first. I mean, it's Cleveland, right? LeBron is gone, Drew Carrey doesn't hang out there anymore, and the Indians haven't been relevant since before Manny Ramirez's third steroid suspension.
I spent a week in the Mistake by the Lake, and have to say that I was enthralled by it. People are chill Midwestern types, the food comes large and in charge (thank you Melt Bar & Grilled!), and the downtown core is being gentrified nicely. To top it off, Cleveland is home to The West Side Market, one of America's greatest wholesalers of awesome. Here I am ordering a Salmon Crepe from Crepe de Lux inside the market proper - not something you could have got your hands on 50 years ago, but this isn't your grandfather's West Side Market anymore (seriously, my grandfather has been coming here since it opened, and he says it's not the same). The market is also home to sensational wieners, hot sauce vendors, meat merchants, seafood hawkers, and a 101 different Oho artifacts to spend your money on.
The Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland is a brilliant part of town to photograph; nearly every street and or alley is loaded with cultural artifacts from a culture other than our own Western one. The market sits at the heart of the 'hood, and should be at the top of your Cleveland itinerary.
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A Historic Cleveland Landmark
The West Side Market, just outside of downtown Cleveland, has deep emotional ties to my childhood. I used to shop there weekly with my Dad, every Saturday morning. We'd stroll the aisles hand-in-hand, my eager five year old self at eye level with homemade pierogi, stacks of New York strips and piles of fresh produce.
Luckily, West Side Market has been preserved as it was all those years ago. A step through the front door feels like a step back in time. Both indoor and outdoor vendors sell everything from flowers to meat to, yes, pierogi, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Before you start shopping, grab a Cleveland Plain Dealer, pop into the West Side Market Cafe and enjoy a hearty breakfast.
A photo highlight posted by another AFAR member inspired me to pull up my photos of Cleveland... yes Cleveland.... a business trip took me there for a weekend and besides the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame (completely and utterly wonderful place to spend numerous hours) we spent a morning in the West Side Market. The ethnic make up of Cleveland creates fabulous opportunities for sausage and chicken feet (for the brave of heart or stomach) purchases along with your eggs and produce. Consider a road trip, you may not really know Cleveland at all.