Cleveland, Ohio may be the most underrated city in America. It’s spent decades as the butt of jokes, despite its profound significance in the history of rock n’ roll. But it’s also clean, easy to navigate, and home to to very friendly people who love their town.
The major point of interest is the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Sure, it’s sterile and Establishment. Sure, everybody spends weeks each year arguing and analyzing who did and didn’t get a nomination for inclusion and why the choices suck. But, really, what else were we going to argue about?
Forget about All That, and just go.
And when you go, the Gateway neighborhood is a pretty good location for lodgings. It’s a short walk to a lot of local points of interest, and a medium walk to the waterfront. Most importantly, the baseball stadium and Quicken Loans Arena– where the concerts are– are right there. There are many great bars all around this area, but we made our base of operations at The Winking Lizard, because we enjoy reptiles.
The location in Gateway is one of fourteen Winking Lizards in and around the Cleveland area. I can’t comment on any of the others, but this one included everything I think a good bar should have. Big screen TVs showing all the games, check. Classic rock on the sound system, check– unless it’s a big game, then you get the sound from that, even in the bathrooms so you don’t miss a thing. Chicken wings in fifteen flavors, ranging from BBQ to Magma, check. And more than 300 varieties of beer.
The clientele include locals and tourists, and the place gets packed before a game or a show (we were there on both occasions). It’s the kind of place where you can engage in a conversation if you want to, but it’s also okay to just sip your drink and munch on some chicken parts.
There’s also a real live lizard. I like to think he’s named for Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham.
Coming Monday… a Heart of Rock interview with Steve Slaughter of Octane Mob, 25-year-old power bassist