A masterclass in the art of sandwich
By Adam Sockel
On St. Clair Ave., you'll find a sandwich shop offering up classic corned beef Reubens stacked to impossible heights. Slyman's has been open since the 1964, and to call this "hole in the wall" diner a restaurant is selling it short. Slyman's is not just a place to get an incredible sandwich. It's an institution.
When the original owner, a proud Lebanese immigrant, was asked why he makes the sandwiches so big, his response was always the same: "To thank America for my freedom." This heartfelt response will feel even more special once you've tried their sandwiches and realize that it's us who should be thanking him for founding this Cleveland staple.
A crowd pleaser
As you enter Slyman's, you'll find a warm, welcoming atmosphere stuffed to the brim with factory workers, police officers and white collar business professionals alike sharing tables and enjoying hundreds of pounds of freshly made sandwiches each day.
The space is small but the staff do a great job of keeping people moving, making it perfect for grabbing a quick lunch. And it's not just us common folk who love Slyman's: They count among their clientele the former President George W. Bush, Food Network star Rachel Ray and, of course, LeBron James.
Slyman's has a full menu of options ranging from brisket, roast beef and burgers to turkey and even tuna fish. But the showstopper is the corned beef. Get it on a Rueben, grilled or plain, but no matter how you get it, be sure to bring your appetite.
How good is this sandwich? Well, Esquire and Thrillist, among others, have rated it as one of the best sandwiches in the country. They're not wrong.
The operations at this family-owned deli start early in the morning. Doors open at 6 a.m. for breakfast, but the day begins at 3 a.m. when the corned beef and brisket go through the cooking process.
The line out the door will last all day, peaking during the lunch rush. But at Slyman's, you won't find a pushy staff who hound you to get your food and get out. Rather, you'll get a true Cleveland experience. They'll welcome you with smiles and invite you into the warm atmosphere of the 50ish-year-old diner.
Don't wait too long to give them a try, though. Slyman's closes at 2 p.m., so be sure to stop by for lunch.