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Slyman's Restaurant

3106 Saint Clair Avenue Northeast, Cleveland, OH - (216) 621-3760
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/5/2008 9:23:00 AM
New York may claim corned beef hegemony, but the Midwest is not to be slighted. Jake's in Milwaukee, Manny's in Chicago, and Shapiro's in Indianapolis are all worthy contenders for the nation's corned beef crown, and having just tackled what is billed as "the biggest and the best corned beef sandwich" in Cleveland, I need to add Slyman's to the short list of hot sandwich hot spots.

A vintage deli on the near East Side, it is open only for breakfast and lunch, the morning menu including such temptations as a corned beef omelet and a corned beef, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich; but of course, it is the heap of beef between slices of rye that is the star. It is indeed gigantic -- one of those steroidal deli sandwiches way too big to pick up and eat in any normal way. As is custom in so many urban heartland delis, the meat is very thinly sliced; and while it glistens, I wish it had been fattier and spicier. It is tender and savory, but lacks the lascivious lusciousness of well-striated corned beef. That is perhaps why Slyman's Rueben is so popular. The addition of melty cheese and sauerkraut, plus a crisp crust of griddled rye, add the wanton luxury that lean beef does not deliver.

Culturally, this is a strange place. It looks and sounds normal. There's a sandwich-prep area towards the front where the corned beef slicing machine seems never to stop, a short counter in back, and a small dining room to the right. Room tone is boisterous and happy. Waitresses are no-nonsense, and the guys behind the counter are full of joie de vivre. The menu is classic Jewish deli, but brochures at the cash register invite customers to get to know Allah better and the menu includes praise to Jesus in the form of a reference to John 3:16.

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4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
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Slyman's menu has a long list of lingo for ordering your corned beef sandwich. This one is 'natural,' meaning plain. Other options are 'mummy' (mayonnaise and mustard), 'smurf' (Swiss cheese and mustard), 'wack' (on whole wheat instead of rye), and 'grill brick' (griddle-sizzled bread only, hold the corned beef).
"Slyman's menu has a long list of lingo for ordering your corned beef sandwich. This one is 'natural,' meaning plain. Other options are 'mummy' (mayonnaise and mustard), 'smurf' (Swiss cheese and mustard), 'wack' (on whole wheat instead of rye), and 'grill brick' (griddle-sizzled bread only, hold the corned beef)."
Michael Stern





Like the corned beef, brisket is sliced thin. But any resulting dryness is compensated for by cascades of gravy.
"Like the corned beef, brisket is sliced thin. But any resulting dryness is compensated for by cascades of gravy."
Michael Stern


The hearty chicken noodle soup was the perfect tonic on a blustery January day.
"The hearty chicken noodle soup was the perfect tonic on a blustery January day."
Cliff Strutz


The corned beef Reuben is the best!  More than enough for two people, it has both the famous corned beef and the added flavor of a Reuben.
"The corned beef Reuben is the best! More than enough for two people, it has both the famous corned beef and the added flavor of a Reuben. "
Jonathan Maxwell


The corned beef is carved fresh in front of you.
"The corned beef is carved fresh in front of you. "
Jonathan Maxwell


Glass brick windows are big in Cleveland. This picture makes the dining room at Slyman's appear to be a meditative place. It is not. It is loud and happy.
"Glass brick windows are big in Cleveland. This picture makes the dining room at Slyman's appear to be a meditative place. It is not. It is loud and happy."
Michael Stern


An endangered species: the old-fashioned urban deli.
"An endangered species: the old-fashioned urban deli."
Michael Stern


Slyman's is located in an historic old building.  It's a shame I forgot to ask what it once was.
"Slyman's is located in an historic old building. It's a shame I forgot to ask what it once was. "
Jonathan Maxwell



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