The workdays are often long and tedious, making the prospect of a post 9-to-5 drink and nosh even more appealing. But for those who don’t have a regular hangout, the process of deciding which bar and/or restaurant to patronize can delay getting out of the office and ordering that first round. We offer the following suggestions to help you start a stress-free happy hour.
Wolfey’s Bistro & Pub
If the former-greenhouse location of this year-old bar and restaurant hasn’t lured you through the doors already, the selection of beer and burgers should. Wolfey’s stocks a whopping 90 brews, according to executive chef Heath Barnard. The establishment’s signature handle — one of eight beers on tap — is the Erie Brewing Co.’s Railbender, which Barnard describes as “a nice American ale with a rich brown color and slightly nutty taste.” But offerings run the gamut from familiar imports such as Amstel Light, Corona and Labatt to craft offerings such as Flying Dog Brewery’s In-Heat Wheat German-style Hefeweizen, Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.’s Twisted Kilt Scottish ale and Abita Brewing Co.’s Purple Haze raspberry wheat beer.
“We change it up every week,” Barnard says.
All that beer is used to wash down Wolfey’s extensive menu of gourmet hamburgers. It includes more unusual constructions such as a parmesan burger finished with pizza sauce, pepperoni and deep-fried mozzarella cheese and a south-of-the-border burger smothered in sour cream, salsa, peppered Monterey Jack and deep-fried jalapeno peppers. Order the morning glory burger — a pepper-crusted beef patty topped with bacon, Swiss cheese and a sunny-side-up egg — before the kitchen closes, and you won’t have to go out for breakfast after last call.1069 E. Broad St., Elyria, 440-365-9002, wolfeys.com
The atmosphere in this aptly named establishment — the little house-like structure only seats 24 patrons — is what has made it a favorite with everyone from Bay Village-bred actress Patricia Heaton to a slew of Cleveland Browns players. A fake alligator on top of the watering hole makes it hard to miss.
“We used to have a big wooden deer in front of the place that we would decorate over the holidays,” says Carole Schindler, who owns the bar with her husband, Harry. “But the weather took its toll.”
Inside, much of the eclectic decor has been furnished by customers: maps and bar coasters from around the world, T-shirts and license plates from remote states such as Montana, hats, plaques and bumper stickers. “[Former Cleveland Brown] Doug Dieken just brought us a plaque that says, “Service may vary according to my mood and your attitude,” Carole says. Occasionally, a female (or male) patron takes the coconut-shell bra off the wall and tries it on. And a couple of times every night, Harry turns off the lights, turns on the disco ball and plays Leon Redbone’s “Seduced” — a combination that invariably incites sing-alongs.31953 Lake Road, Avon Lake, 440-933-5217
Mulligan’s Pub & Grille
Looking to drink alfresco, particularly before a Lake Erie Crushers game? The home of the Frontier League team, All Pro Freight Stadium, is approximately a quarter-mile down the road. Though the season can be short, Mulligan’s patio is a popular place to unwind, before and after the boys of summer play ball.
The large wood-and-stone structure, open St. Patrick’s Day through November, is covered and heated. It also has garage-door-like covers that staffers lower to shut out blowing rain and gusty winds — eliminating the need to pick up your drink and run the minute the weather turns nasty. If you check out the place on a clear day you can angle for a seat around the fire pit, located on an adjoining patch of stone.
An alternate venue for enjoying an after-work conversation is Mulligan’s sunroom, an airy, climate-controlled space decorated in orange, yellow and green. Head there if someone in your group worries about makeup-melting heat, hair-frizzing humidity or the occasional fly — you’ll be able to drink in peace and still enjoy a view of the great outdoors through the windows.38244 Colorado Ave., Avon, 440-934-6666, mulligans-avon.com
Ziggy’s Bar & Grill
Few drinking establishments combine happy hour with Old World home cooking like Ziggy’s. On a Monday night, we caught general manager Paul Bkraniak making dough for pierogi, a labor-intensive regional favorite Ziggy’s serves up as a lunch and dinner special every Wednesday and Thursday. “I throw a little sour cream in,” Bkraniak divulges as he works. The kitchen manager takes over Wednesday mornings, when she routinely stuffs 250 to 300 pockets of that dough with a mixture of potatoes, cheddar cheese and onions, boils them, then sautes them in butter and onions.
“Everything we do, we do from scratch,” says Bkraniak.
The lineup covers other regular specials such as stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage and chicken paprikash — items made with recipes provided by owner Larry Niahart’s mother — as well as selections on the regular menu, which includes bar-fare staples such as chicken wings, burgers and pizza. “We usually redo our menu two to three times a year,” says Bkraniak. “In the summer, we try to throw some more salads and lighter fare in there.” But until the weather truly breaks, sit down in the dining room at a table in front of the sandstone fireplace — what Bkraniak says is a nod to Amherst’s sandstone-capital-of-the-world claim — and enjoy the comfort food when you’re not in the mood to go home and cook.193 Park Ave., Amherst, 440-985-3663, ziggyswebsite.com or ziggyspubandrestaurant.com