5801 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland Ohio 44102United States
Midwest Living Recommends
The Happy Dog on Cleveland's West Side satisfies your appetite for polka music and comfort food.
The name says it all. The Happy Dog is a jovial bar known for its franks. But there's more. Walk into the corner bar during the monthly Polka Happy Hour, and you'll see a guy wearing black suspenders, a feathered cap and a fake beard spinning vintage polka records plucked from a milk crate. Justin Gorski, aka DJ Kishka, dresses like an old man because he's playing records that once belonged to his grandparents. The popular event draws a mixed crowd, from young polka novices to older folks who recognize the tunes at first note. Polka music reflects Cleveland's Eastern European heritage. The late Frankie Yankovic, known as America's Polka King in the middle of the 20th century, hailed from the neighborhood of Collinwood. Gorski grabs his accordion and sings Yankovic's "You Are My Sunshine" as a bartender presents a sparkly birthday cake topped with a hot dog to a happy patron. Happy Dog, in the up-and-coming Gordon Square Arts District, serves quarter-pound wieners made exclusively for the bar by Blue Ribbon Meats and vegan Italian sausages. For five bucks customers can order one with as many house-made toppings, including vodka sauerkraut or warm pineapple-ginger-currant chutney, that'll fit on a poppy seed roll. A side of Tater Tots ($2.50) and a Polish Okocim beer rounds out the fun-time feast. (Or choose from nearly 75 other brews and a fun selection of root beers, cream sodas, and grape and orange sodas.)