The List: Top 10 things we love about Cleveland

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From the March 6, 2014 edition

So Cleveland rocks, right? Yes it does. And since there’s a look at Cleveland Whiskey in the Distilled column this week, Alive (with northeast native Andy Downing chipping in some local knowledge) decided to show our neighbor some love.

10. Michael Symon

Yeah, the whole celebrity chef thing can be a drag (we’re looking at you Guy Ferry, er, Fieri), but Cleveland native Michael Symon does it right by keeping the focus on the food. His signature joint Lolita is among Cleveland’s best, and the eats at his growing burger chain B Spot, which has long been rumored for Columbus, could even tempt cattle to turn cannibal.

9. “The Christmas Story” House & Museum

Some kind and intelligent soul bought the house Ralphie grew up in and restored it to its “movie splendor.” It’s now open year-round for tours.

8. Velvet Tango Room

Stepping into the Velvet Tango Room, which Esquire included on its list of The Best Bars in America in 2012, is like stepping back in time. The lighting in the speakeasy is low, and the cocktail menu is heavy on the classics. In other words, don’t come here expecting flash. This place is all about the drinks and the conversation.

7. Jim Brown

OK, he’s not a Cleveland native, but this dude is on a very short list for greatest football player ever. He was also pretty awesome in that “Mars Attacks” movie.

6. Jerry Siegel

You probably didn’t know the co-creator of Superman was from Cleveland, huh?

5. Happy Dog

The co-owner of the beloved West Side hot dog bar/music space died unexpectedly in February, but his spirit lives on in the venue’s diverse bookings (punk-leaning Counter Intuits to soul throwback the Admirables) and its cheap and delicious eats.

4. “Major League”

One of the greatest sports movies of all-time, starring a (less coked-out) Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes and Corbin Bernsen, is about the perpetually down-and-out Cleveland Indians. Spoiler alert: Against all odds, the Indians win the pennant, which the real team did only a few years after the movie was released. Can we get a spin-off with the Cleveland Browns?

3. The burgeoning film industry

Everyone knows about Hollywood, but Cleveland’s mix of affordability, tax incentives and Rust Belt architecture has attracted big-budget pictures like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Spider-Man 3” and “The Avengers” to film in town.

2. Harvey Pekar

The late comic book writer, often referred to as “the poet laureate of Cleveland,” transformed his blue-collar lifestyle into compelling art with his long running “American Splendor” series. The 2003 film, with Paul Giamatti portraying Pekar as a loveable crank, is pretty great, too.

1. Cleveland fans

You guys are the best, period. No matter how your teams make you angry, depressed or despondent — c’mon, Brownies! — Cleveland fans wear their support with the utmost pride. The Dawg Pound alone is one of the most beloved aspects of sports fandom.