Heaven is a Duck Taco

Finding gastropub food for affordable prices!

CLEkends ~ Celebrating the Solstice in Style

Affordable fun for the longest day of sunshine in 2011!


We're lame. So sue us.

Festivi for You and I

Yeah, it's a real thing...

A Very Tremont Friday

Kicking back after a long week of work with all that Tremont has to offer!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Heaven is a Duck Taco

As a young professionals who love to over indulge in the finest culinary delights, a gastropub is a dream come true. The first time YIC heard about Deagan's, we leapt for joy. Sadly, we were quickly brought back down to reality by the fact that it's just out of our normal price range, meaning it couldn't become a regular pig-out joint (splurge worthy for sure!). Still, just reading the menu and thinking about the microbrew and food combinations we were missing out on made our heads spin.

Sitting there realizing that sadly this was one culinary adventure that wouldn't make it into the annals of YIC was when it actually happened. The heavens parted and the almighty gastrointestinal gods (a banner ad that apparently worked!) showed YIC the way to the frugal digestion promise land: TACO TUESDAYS. Since this sign from the food deities appeared on Monday, it was a little last minute to organize a group excursion, but it had to happen for YIC. Plus, who can say no to tacos?

When the day finally arrived, YIC showed up and while waiting for a table thought it was only fitting to get mojo going for a taco eating frenzy with a Boulder Mojo IPA ($4). This was a fantastic choice, as the robust, hoppy flavor provided the needed juice to wind down from a day at work and wind up for some quality tacos.

Deagan's Taco Tuesday menu is quite simple: there are chicken, beef and tofu tacos all for $2, shrimp and tuna tacos for $3, and this week's special taco was a duck taco for $3.50. Since the adventurous spirit was all around, YIC decided to try a little bit of everything, with a order of one beef, one chicken, one shrimp, and one duck taco.

The chicken and shrimp tacos both had the same toppings and were incredibly bland. The only real flavor came from what anyone would call a disgusting amount of "micro" cilantro. The beef taco was solid: well marinated beef, with a nice sweet pico, cheese and some more cilantro. The beef was definitely the best of the $2 variety and worthy of the Taco Tuesday trip. I washed down all the tacos with another IPA ($4).

None of these $2 tacos held a candle to their big, bad, delicious bro: the duck taco. It was, to be brief, life changing. The shell was deep fried and crispy, and inside was marinated duck confit covered in probably the best Thai chili sauce I have ever tried. This was all topped off with some onions and slaw. From first bite to last this deep fried duck flavor boat was so good that everyone had to try them, so our friends ordered two more without hesitation.

YIC loves a good deal and Taco Tuesday anywhere is always a win, but if you want the best taco YIC has ever had on a Tuesday in Cleveland, Deagan's is your stop and the duck taco is your best bet!(Total 2 Beers and 4 tacos = $18.50)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CLEkends ~ Celebrating the Solstice in Style

This weekend, as many weekends in Cleveland's summer tend to be, was replete with festivals and community events. One such intriguing event was Larchmere's Porchfest. Larchmere is the area just north of Shaker Square, and it is a neighborhood in Cleveland with a great balance of historical locales and a quickly burgeoning retail industry. Porchfest 2011, the third incarnation of the event, consisted of 30 bands playing on the porches of 30 different homes across the neighborhood. This is a revolutionary idea for Cleveland; many of the city's neighborhood festivals highlight the main drags or squares of the communities, but few branch out to the actual residential sections. Porchfest was a way for Larchmere to show off the unique and beautiful homes throughout the neighborhood. (FREE!)

The weather on Saturday held up for the festival, but the music wasn't anything to write home about. The porches were certainly a great venue to hear bands, and one of the acts (Shivering Timbers) definitely stood out among the rest of the mediocre musical groups. Truly, the highlights of the day for Young In CLE were stepping into Loganberry Books and paging through an old printing of John Keats and then crossing the street to a previously unseen coffee shop, Flying Crane Café. This shop was more than just a caffeine dealer; they serve incredible food with the added bonus of a beautiful garden in the rear where customers can partake of their delicious goods. YIC was a little bummed that they didn't serve beer, because that garden would be perfect for a summer patio and a microbrew!

This weekend, the Cleveland Museum of Art truly took on the mantle of community gathering site. Saturday was the second annual Solstice event, celebrating the longest day of the year with food, drinks, international and eclectic music acts, and the finest collection of art in the region. And at $17 for tickets, it was definitely worth the admission price considering the food, music, and the scene as a whole.

Solstice lived up to every one of its numerous praises. When we drove past the museum at 9:50 p.m., we could already see the crowd straining to burst out of the temporary boundaries erected around the south entrance. ($17 for ticket) The excitement in the air was palpable; people were dressed up and looked as though they were all ready to enjoy a fabulous evening! There were bottles of Great Lakes beer going for $4, which is pretty comparable to bar prices and surprisingly affordable for a festival of this size. ($8 for 2 beers)

The museum created several scavenger hunts for the guests to take part in, which were mostly an excuse to walk through the galleries and see the sights. Half the fun was in the people watching, and we ran into several people we knew over the course of the evening. By midnight, we were out on the back lawn dancing along to the sounds of Sofrito Soundsystem and taking photos in the photo booths that CMA had booked. The evening was an awesome exercise in planning and execution, and YIC is really looking forward to going to this event next year! On the whole, an eventful and affordable CLEkend! (Weekend total - $25)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Cleveland is a sports town through and through; we live and die with our sports teams. But most young professionals hardly get to see our professional athletes perform because the prices generally, well, price us out. So when the chance to start off the weekend by catching a Tribe game for a reasonable amount of money presents itself, YIC jumps at it!

The game Friday night was the first in a three-game series with (and eventual sweep of!) the Pittsburgh Pirates. The group outing of about 20 people was organized by our friend and web designer extraordinaire, Nick, in celebration of his birthday. He managed to get us all sitting together for $10 a piece, which coupled with Dollar Dog Night to make the game incredibly affordable for us! Put that together with a brilliant performance by Josh Tomlin and Co., as well as a fantastically nostalgic 80's themed postgame fireworks show, and you have all the makings of that rare beast known as a successful night in Cleveland sports.

After the Indians game YIC followed our friend and fine web developer on his birthday mission to the always fantastic Eddy & Iggy's for some $10 buckets-O-beer. Eddy & Iggy's holds a special place in our hearts as graduates of St. Edward, but it also never fails to provide an enjoyable experience due to their wonderful staff and innovative and affordable drink specials. If you're on the west side of Lakewood, it’s a must try for a sports bar. Or, just stop by on Thursday nights for karaoke, where local legends are born.

Saturday, "B" started off the day by biking over to our friend’s house then walking down to the Clifton Arts Festival. A yearly must in the Cleveland festival scene, the festival blocks off part of Clifton Ave. and allows people to saunter around and stop by the numerous artist booths. This is one of the most low key festivals you can attend over the summer. Like most festivals, there is some music, from drummers to easy listening rock. Food is available from local restaurants, and the admission price is non-existent. However, nothing really stands out about the Clifton Arts Festival, and I only found two vendors truly interesting. One was selling laptop bags made out of olds suits and the other crafted sand sculptures. Normally I would be the first to admit that my opinion on matters of the visual arts is far from expert, but I was vindicated in that my compadrĂ©, who is an artist (and a good one - check out her Etsy site), agreed that none of the vendors were selling any must-haves. All and all, this was a nice way to spend an hour by walking along Clifton, and it was definitely family friendly because there was a clown. (FREE!)

After the arts festival we did what any good red-blooded Americans should on a beautiful summer Saturday: we grilled meat! Now, it wasn’t traditional suburban grilling (sorry, "suburban," is never how B rolls…), because we just don’t have that kind of money to spend on a gas grill. But a little charcoal grill on a porch on the west side does just fine, and rounding the night out were some fantastic friends and a 90’s power hour.

After the grilling, "A" headed back to that local hotspot mentioned earlier, Eddy & Iggy's, for a bit of live music by a local Cleveland singer/songwriter. Tom Evanchuck is a folk artist in the vein of Tom Petty (at least A thinks so!) and is fresh off his release of two albums (one electric, one acoustic) last month. Evanchuck played an acoustic set first, followed by an electric set with some friends of his (that sorely needed a bass player!), and concluded with a set featuring Tom and his cousin Anthony (on the drums). Overall, he put on a great show which was made better by the intimate nature of the venue, but was unfortunately not well attended. Note to you readers: get out and support Cleveland's music scene by checking out one of Tom's upcoming shows! (FREE!)

From start to finish, Young In CLE had a pretty great CLEkend, with more to come as the summer progresses!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Festivi for You and I

Regardless of the grammar problems that arise, the plural of Festivus (obviously!) lends itself to the summer happenings in the Forest City. During the brief respite we receive from the bitter elements, our community really knows how to live it up in style (and economic style at that!). The festivals range from typical music and arts shindigs to the outrageously insane, like in the case of the Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival.

The Shaker Heights Arts and Music Festival and the Clifton Arts and Music Festival are just two of the big ones occurring this weekend. Both offer FREE ADMISSION, so strolling around and taking in the sights on this hopefully beautiful Cleveland summer weekend won't cost you a dime! Some of the weekend's other frugal offerings:

Craftapalooza at Crafty Goodness - $5 all day will get you the chance to make some crafts of your very own while also getting a chance to check out this awesome local craft shop and purview some of the professional wares they sell!

Set a Guinness World Record - On Friday, Cleveland Heights aspiring record-breaker Keith Curry will be calling on all citizens to don video game character outfits and join him to break the record for the most people dressed like video game character in one place. The experience is FREE (minus the cost of your costume), and will net you not only a place in Guinness but a chance to see a bunch of weirdos (because you're only there for the EXPERIENCE) dressed up as Mario and Luigi (whose last names, oddly enough, are both Mario…)!

Frugal Fun for Fathers - Sunday is Father's Day, and Cleveland is teeming with great inexpensive ideas for what to do with your dad. Probably the most entertaining is a $5 ticket to see the original BAMF action hero, Steve McQueen, in action at the Capital Theater. Best of all, your ticket stub gets you discounts after the 10 AM screening at various restaurants around the theater itself.

Summer truly is an exciting season to be Young In CLE!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Very Tremont Friday

Sadly Young in CLE was a combination of out of town and working a charity dunk tank outside the Brad Paisley concert on Saturday, meaning we missed the fantastic events that are Discover Gordon Square Day and Parade the Circle. So unless you want a play-by-play of the USA v. Panama gold cup game this week, you’ll have to deal with only reading about a lovely evening in Tremont.

Tremont is probably my favorite neighborhood in Cleveland. The combination of top of the line restaurants, art galleries, historic homes, and fantastic bars make it one of Cleveland’s no-longer-hidden gems. Art walk nights are an excellent opportunity to visit this lively neighborhood, and I was especially excited to play tour guide for some of my transplanted law school chums.

Our night began, as a Friday night after a long week of work should, with happy hour at the Flying Monkey. As I’ve said before, I love the Flying Monkey both for its prices and the great atmosphere, and happy hour on the patio is the perfect combination of everything the Monkey has to offer. The only downside was that I tried a raspberry wheat beer from Shock Top, which was terrible and was a blatant reminder of why there is no such thing as a good wheat beer. Total cost of happy hour - $17.

After some happy hour fun we took a little stroll around Tremont. Art walk nights are excellent because they highlight how many fun options there are in Tremont, from viewing paintings, sculptures and even glassware in the many galleries to grabbing a slice of pizza at Edison’s or a scoop at Tremont Scoops. Tremont is fun for all ages and a great stop for young Clevelanders to get a coffee, grab a bite, or just take in the artwork and neighborhood on a pleasant stroll.

For dinner we headed over to The South Side, which is an embodiment of everything that is Cleveland’s burgeoning restaurant scene. The South Side steals your heart with a wide selection of great beer, fantastic aesthetics, (another patio to die for), great live music, and food that excites the tastebuds. This evening my table decided to share a cornucopia of small plates, all priced at around $10. Between us we tried the enchiladas, P.E.I mussels, spicy pan-fried calamari, chipotle BBQ duck pizza, and the chicken and waffles, each of which were both delicious and affordable! Personally, the duck pizza, which combines provolone mozzarella tomatoes and cilantro lime vinaigrette with the BBQ duck, was my favorite. I also had the always excellent and spicy bison and black bean chili, which is a must when stopping by The South Side. I washed it down with a Two Brothers Cane and Abel, a tasty Red Rye Ale that was slightly hoppy but a very smooth finish. The total cost of my meal with tip and drink was $24.

Our last stop was for one last drink at the Treehouse (another fantastic patio! Think there's a theme here?). The Treehouse is another must try bar featuring a decent draft selection and ok prices, but the real draw here is the atmosphere. The simple fact that it's nothing pretentious and not too loud (especially on the patio!) makes this a great summer bar. My compatriots treated me to an Honkers Ale from Goose Island Brewery, which is a favorite of mine. At this point in the night though my old bones were weary from the week. It was time to say goodnight to a lovely evening in Cleveland for only $41.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hot Hot Heat!

The Great American Rib Cook Off is all about heat, from the grills to the sauces, and this year YIC chose to attend on a particularly scorching day. The Great American Rib Cook Off has been a staple of Cleveland’s Summer since 1991, providing a combination of fun music, great food and a good time...so honestly I don’t know what the hell happened this year.

This year’s Rib Cook Off was much smaller than I remember years past being. There were only 10 purveyors of pork, and there wasn’t much of a stage (although it WAS Sunday) and thus no real musical acts. The combination of lame atmosphere, excruciating heat, and exorbitant prices drowned out the presence of even the most spectacular sauces and ribs.

The first hiccup with the Rib Cook Off from a YIC perspective is the cost: it was $10 to park and it usually costs $7 for an adult ticket ($5 with a coupon), except if you get there before 3 p.m. Being the princes of frugality that we are, we made it just in the nick of time, saving ourselves $10 collectively.

The lack of entry price was the only frugal part of the day as we were to soon discover. Since the goal was to try as many of the different sauces as possible, YIC decided to stick to the samples which were 4 or 5 tickets and water, which was much needed on this day, at 3 tickets (ticket = $1.25). All told we ended up buying about $60 in tickets. Throughout the day we tried samplers of ribs from 6 of the vendors and a pulled pork sandwich from one (Ed.: Brendan refused to leave without buying a pulled pork sandwich…).

I suppose I’ll write about the ribs in pure Rib Cook Off style, by naming the best instead of simply describing them all. So for "Best Ribs," the honor goes to Porky and Beans (same as the actual winner) with their ribs being full of rich flavor and falling right off the bone even before we dowsed the with their put-some-hair-on-your-chest hot sauce (description not actual name; although, Porky and Beans, think about it!). Following close behind for me was Texas Thunder, with perfectly cooked ribs that had a nice spice with the grilled on sauce, but not the same succulent dry rub that set Porky and Beans apart.

Now for the important part: "Best Sauce," because, I’m sorry folks, cooking meat is one thing but mixing up a batch of spicy, tasty, burn-the-hair-off-your-mustache-but-make-you-say-sweet-Jesus-that-is-good BBQ sauce is at the very least an art form but in reality more of a gift. This year Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ proved they have the gift with their Super Pyro BBQ sauce. This was the perfect combination of hot and tangy and nothing else came close to this at the cook off. This sauce was so good that it is not only the only real bright spot of the day but literally the only thing I will ever admit to liking that comes from New Jersey.

The other three rib gurus whose fare we ate were Johnson’s BBQ, Carolina Rib King, and Uncle Bub’s BBQ. None of the ribs we tried were bad, and we definitely left with full tummies, but it just felt like something was missing which could have made the event better. Also, how in the world Famous Dave’s BBQ won the Peoples' Choice Award two years in a row escapes me!

Overall, this is a pricey event, and although there were still some great ribs the overall atmosphere was seriously weak this year. So the Rib Cook Off has some upside in the chance at tasting some good food, but it comes at the cost of a real splurge. Spending money on something awesome is completely encouraged from time to time, but with the weak showing of vendors, lack of fun entertainment, and generally boring feel to the event, YIC would not recommend making this one of them. Total cost $80 (two people but only 2 hours of fun).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

If my wallet were as big as my stomach...

If my wallet was as big as my stomach, Cleveland restaurateurs would never go hungry. Unfortunately, like many young adults who choose to make Cleveland their home, I can't afford to do everything I desire. But my love of all things Cleveland is too strong a passion to ignore. The only solution I have come upon to resolve this quandary is to search out and find the amazing ways to live and love Cleveland economically.

So this is my attempt to live in blissful frugality. I am going to search out and find the many ways to eat, drink, and love the Forest City for those of us young and living with limited means.

My first stop on this "Tour de Thrifty" was the C-Town Chow Down. The Chow Down, for those of you who don’t know, is a conglomeration of the finest food trucks Cleveland has to offer. Located in Tremont's Lincoln Park (at least in May!) and accompanied by music, these boxcar foodies convene once a month to purvey their wears for the hungry masses.

The lineup of trucks!

I started off my trip with some early afternoon BBQ with a pulled pork sandwich from Jim Kuhn's Pig Lickin' Good BBQ. The pulled pork was cooked perfectly, not dry with some great flavors. I added some of Jim’s famous sauce to the mix and dove in. The sauce was tangy and sweet, which I enjoyed even though I am more partial to spicier BBQ.

Next I headed over to The Nosh Box, which was a new experience for me. I got a chicken flatbread sandwich. The flatbread was a nice idea with some grilled onions and peppers, black beans, rice, cheese and cucumber ranch dressing. It was good but had a few to many flavors happening all at once for my taste, seemed like it should have been trying to be more a sandwich and less of a burrito.

Jibaro was the last stop for our group where my friend got a burrito. Per usual, it did not fall to impress as I made sure to mooch some of the delicious burrito scraps!

The day was supposed to end with some vintage baseball at Thrush Park, but the inclement weather utterly devastated the field of play. So we decided instead to head to the Flying Monkey for Sunday Funday to catch the Tribe game. Flying Monkey is one of my favorite places to grab a drink in Tremont. If you stop by during the week or on Sunday it has a wonderful atmosphere, great prices, and friendly service. Friday and Saturday nights draw crowds, and personally I have to be in the mood for that, but this is a great place for a happy hour drink. On this Sunday it was a great decision as we sat down for with some $2 beers and watch the Reds get slapped around, putting a nice cap on a wonderful afternoon in Cleveland. All told, I spent $15 dollars for a whole afternoon of living and loving Cleveland and I couldn’t have been happier.