At the Slovenian National Home, you’ll come for the fish, but you’ll stay for the atmosphere. During Lent, the cozy, dim-lit club comes to life with the constant thrum of wall-to-wall chit-chat and polka music. Finding a seat can be difficult, but sidling up beside a stranger provides an opportunity to make friends.
“People drive over an hour just to attend because they like the atmosphere and they like the music,” says Shelli Slapnik-March, a board member.
The energy within the club is no surprise, since the Slovenian National Home is well-known for not only tradition and community, but also as a source of entertainment. The famous hall, which is celebrating its 95th anniversary, is a hub for weddings, receptions and even boxing matches hosted by the Westside Boxing Club.
“The building itself is significant to the neighborhood,” says Slapnik-March.
The fish fry will give you a classic entree of either baked or fried pollock or cod ($12), as well as breaded shrimp and a choice of multiple sides. Opt for either a bundle of pierogies, a chunky clam chowder or some homemade Slovenian shredded coleslaw that’s prepared with a traditional oil and vinegar base.
There’s also a special treat reserved for first-timers — by paying a $2 entry fee, visitors get a one-year membership that allows access to any on-site events including live polka nights.
“It’s important because people grew up with this rich tradition,” says Slapnik-March. “When you’re there, you want to be there and you want to come back.” Every Friday March 8-April 12, 5-8:30 p.m. 6409 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland, 216-361-5115, slovenianhome.com