As the CEO of The City Club of Cleveland and co-founder of Civic Commons, Dan Moulthrop knows how to spark discussion and connect people by sharing ideas and information. He has kindly shared with us his knowledge and love of Cleveland while highlighting some of his favorite spots for food and fun in the city.
Caroline Dillabaugh: What do you love most about Cleveland?
Dan Moulthrop: Almost everything. This is the greatest place to raise a family and we have such strong communities filled with people who really appreciate one another and understand the value of a great neighborhood. On top of that, the food is great, we’ve got beautiful parks, access to amazing arts and performance institutions, and great professional sports teams. What’s not to like?
CD: What’s the best place to start the day?
DM: I’ve got a few favorite spots. Luna at Cedar Fairmont is perfect for the coffee and a treat kind of morning. If I’m in a hurry, Dewey’s Coffee is right on my way downtown. If I’m really hungry, though, I’m heading to Katz’s Diner on Lee Road.
CD: What is your favorite neighborhood and what makes it special?
DM: As an East sider who married into an Italian family, I’ve become a big fan of Little Italy. I mean, when you’re going out, most of the time you want to eat, right? Good food, good wine, dining al fresco in the summer? Little Italy’s got all that. And in recent years, there are some great shops that have opened in the old school house. Being there reminds me of Europe, you can sit there, in front of Presti’s for hours, stirring an espresso, eating a little cookie and watching the world. It’s lovely.
CD: Where do you love to have lunch?
DM: I work downtown, and I’ve been hitting Pura Vida pretty hard this summer. Brandt’s fish tacos are amazing, as is just about everything else on the menu. And what’s great about that place is that it might be the only restaurant of its caliber that caters to vegetarians and vegans—as an omnivore who enjoys the occasional meat detox, I appreciate the options.
CD: If you had four hours to do anything in the city on a lazy Saturday afternoon, how would you spend your time?
DM: Gallery wandering at the CMA or MOCA, followed by a beer outside somewhere, and a trip to Tremont for sushi at Ginko. A bike ride in Cuyahoga Valley National Park followed by burgers at Swenson’s and a nap is another wonderful afternoon as well.
CD: Tell us about your favorite picnic spot, farmers market and best place to dine outside.
DM: Picnic: Horseshoe Lake Park—lots of room and lots of places for the kids to monkey around.
Farmers Market: Shaker Square—I love watching my kids snack on green beans.
Dining al fresco: I mentioned Little Italy before, but L’Albatros has one of the best patios in town.
CD: Do you have a local farm or garden in Cleveland that you love?
DM: My good friend Jay Szabo has a small farm at Dunham Tavern, which is the only land in production inside the city of Cleveland that has never been built on. He’s my favorite farmer with my favorite farm.
CD: What unique artisan foods and gifts do you love that you can only find in our city?
DM: Lilly Chocolates is pretty remarkable. Their attention to their craft is pretty remarkable. So, too, Rising Star Coffee Roasters (see Edible Cleveland, Vol. 1, No. 1). I love that place. Nobody else is doing coffee quite as close to perfection.
CD: What seasonal events in Cleveland do you never miss?
DM: Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy for the food; the Cleveland International Film Festival for the movies, the sense of community and the escape from winter; and CMA’s summer Solstice party for the music and because it’s the best party of the year.
CD: What is your favorite spot for a cocktail?
DM: Katz Club on Lee Road. Doug turned that old diner car into the coolest little speakeasy. It’s perfect.
CD: How would you spend a romantic night out?
DM: Probably back in Little Italy, eating a slow meal, with a nice bottle of wine, followed by a walk.
CD: What places or events present the best food and art combinations?
DM: While it’s not the traditional answer, we have such great caterers in our city—Spice of Life, Marigold and others—who put food together that is really like art and it’s just beautiful. The CMA and the Provenance restaurant is a nice pairing as well for a more traditional combination.
CD: If someone were coming to visit for an extended stay, where would you recommend they rest their weary head?
DM: Right now, the Tudor Arms is really one of the best new hotels. That aside, there are some quiet, charming B&Bs that ought to be recommended, and everything I’ve heard about the Glidden House in University Circle recommends that place very highly.
CD: What do you miss most about Cleveland when you are away?
DM: The people—my neighbors, friends and colleagues. We have a great community here; it’s the friendliest place I’ve ever lived.