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Slyman’s Restaurant | Cleveland, OH

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Slyman’s Restaurant (Facebook / @SlymansClevBest)
3106 St. Clair Ave. (map it!)
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 621-3760
Open Mon-Fri, 6a-2:30p; Sat, 9a-1p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 10:30am

Following a stellar weekend trip to Cleveland last year, we’ve been itching for the opportunity to return. Through last year’s trip, we experienced a memorable round of bars, restaurants, breakfast spots, and markets, but like any good city visit we left with an even larger list of places still to try. At the top of that list: Slyman’s. So on a return trip this past weekend, we sought out this Cleveland favorite, and it took only a few minutes to see why so many people recommend it.

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Busy breakfast places are easily recognized by their noise. The moment you step into the neighborhood you can identify the hub of activity, from busy customers waiting inside and out, servers dashing to and fro, and the kitchen clattering. What’s surprising about Slyman’s is the silence outside. We pulled up and parked on the street out front, and from there you wouldn’t know what a busy place it was inside.

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Once we stepped in the doors, though, it was clear that Clevelanders breakfast here. We found a table quickly, but the restaurant was busy busy busy. Nearly every table was full, and while we certainly didn’t feel out of place, we were clearly tourists.

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There’s a familiar look to delis. Usually they have a big, long counter and an equally long menu hanging over it. I’ve seen it everywhere: Katz’s in New York, Katzinger’s in Columbus. It’s the signature deli look. Also, there’s a big tub of pickles.

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And then there’s the shaved meats. The delicious, delicious shaved meats. Slyman’s boasts the best corned beef in town. Obviously this takes center stage in their reubens, but they give it a chance to shine at breakfast, too.

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Not only does Slyman’s brag about the best corned beef, they brag about the BIGGEST corned beef sandwiches, too. And let’s face it: the portions are generous.

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Slyman’s breakfast menu is straightforward – no real surprises – but obviously the corned beef is prominently featured on eggs, in omelets, in sandwiches, or as a hash.

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Both of our boys were very hungry that morning (even more so than usual), so they absolutely devoured their breakfasts. First off: a plate of scrambled eggs and home fries. The eggs were well done with being dried out and the potatoes had a nice, crispy brown to them.

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They also demolished a hotcake and sausage. Beautifully done pancake, perfectly cooked.

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I’m a fan of corned beef hash but I tend to shy away from it. Too many canned versions that are mealy and taste like metal. But when I see big tubs of corned beef freshly brined, and I see the slicer working away, I know it’s a safe place for some real hash. So that’s how I ended up with a monster plate of corned beef hash. This is honestly some of the best corned beef hash I’ve ever had. The beef is finely chopped and mixed thoroughly with the potatoes, which are the right balance of soft with crispy edges. The whole thing is grilled with a fine crust, then topped with eggs of your choice. In retrospect I should have ordered the eggs over medium instead of scrambled, but it ultimately didn’t matter.

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As if that wasn’t enough, the egg and corned beef breakfast sandwich arrived stacked high on rye. The beef is nice and lean, ideal for a sandwich. Our server allowed  us to order the egg scrambled or over hard, so there’s no runny yolk. Between the hash and the sandwich, Slyman’s is a shrine to corned beef at breakfast.

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Slyman’s exudes an old school vibe. It’s clearly a restaurant that has earned its accolades and its regulars over the years. It’s not fancy, and while the servers don’t take time to chat, they’re still welcoming. So even as an outsider, it’s easy to feel included, and sitting there with a big plate of corned beef hash on a bustling Saturday morning, it’s easy to see why Slyman’s tops a lot of people’s lists for Cleveland breakfasts.

Slyman's on Urbanspoon

Milo’s Deli & Cafe | Columbus, OH

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[Update, February 2014: Milo's Deli is now closed and serves as their catering center. Consider visiting the Capitol Cafe By Milo's instead!]

Milo’s Deli & Cafe (Facebook / @MilosCatering)
980 W. Broad St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43222
(614) 224-0104
Open Mon-Fri, 7a-2p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 7 a.m.

I’m finally completing the trifecta of Pappas family-owned restaurants. I’ve breakfasted multiple times at the Franklinton institution Tommy’s Diner (easily one of Columbus’ more beloved diners). I’ve enjoyed Italian benedicts in the historical underground location of the Capitol Cafe by Milo’s. And now I’m completing my triathlon of breakfast awesomeness with simple sandwiches and coffee at Milo’s Deli & Cafe.

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Milo’s was the second edition to the family of restaurants after Tommy’s Diner. It’s actually named after Tommy and Kathy Pappas’ two boys, Michael and Louie: Mi + Lo. In addition to offering a small restaurant front, Milo’s plays host to the larger catering business. I haven’t been for lunch, but I get the sense that in-house breakfast isn’t their busiest of times. One of the employees actually seemed surprised to see people walking in the door at 7 a.m.

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The cafe is bigger than it looks from the outside, with rows of small tables extending along the front and to the back of the space.

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There’s clearly a bigger focus on lunch and catering, but breakfast isn’t completely neglected. True to the form of a deli, Milo’s offers plenty of options for hand-held breakfasts, like egg sandwiches, paninis, and wraps. Standard dishes are available, too, including omelets and plates of two eggs, bacon, and toast. There’s nothing fancy about the breakfast, but it’s simple and filling. It’s a bonus that – because you’re in a deli – you’ve got solid toast options like pumpernickel and rye.

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I felt like I needed to get something deli-ish, so I picked the wrap with eggs, corned beef, and cheese. I added the side of home fries: thin, thoroughly cooked slices of potatoes. They’re a little tougher than the chunkier and softer home fries I’m used to, but they were salted appropriately and I wolfed them down. Better to think of them like thick potato chips, perhaps.

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I liked the wrap, too. I’m a sucker for corned beef, so when you layer that with fried eggs and Swiss cheese, you’ve got a breakfast I can love. There isn’t much to the wrap beyond those simple components, but it was quickly prepared, a filling portion, and hit all the right notes for breakfast.

If you’re in Franklinton or just passing through, Milo’s is worth a stop. They’re only there weekdays, but they open the doors early enough that you can grab a panini or a wrap and a cup of coffee and be good to go for the day!

Milo's Deli & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Barney Greengrass | New York, NY

Barney Greengrass (Facebook / @Real_Barney_G)
541 Amsterdam Ave. (map it!)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 724-4704
Open Tues-Fri, 8:30a-4p; Sat & Sun, 8:30a-4p
Accepts cash only
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

Saturday morning. Our one big morning in New York City. There’s lots of pressure on what we choose for breakfast – we have to make it count. Fortunately, our reading and research let us to the New York gem Barney Greengrass. Nicknamed “The Sturgeon King,” Barney Greengrass is a 104-year-old Upper West Side deli, serving all of the true deli classics: smoked and cured fish, caviar, bagels, fresh roasted coffee – lots of prepared foods alongside fish and meats by the pound and other grocery items.

If you grew up in New York or are more experienced eaters than us, maybe you’re used to establishments like Barney Greengrass. I’ve experienced more simplified local delis or the imitation ones that dot America (excepting more unique finds like Katzinger’s in Columbus or Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor). But Barney Greengrass is the real deal. As suave as we think we are as travelers, we stood out like sore thumbs. We stepped right into the middle of a busy Saturday morning rush, and while we were warmly welcomed, we definitely felt that we should keep a low profile amongst all the regulars.

The space was crammed and busy, but we didn’t wait long before being given a seat close to the door. The busy crew at Barney’s seemed to know everyone, and there were a lot of families with kids. The design is delightfully outdated: small, old counters and shelves, lots of mirrored doors, display cases loaded with goods, tables and chairs positioned back-to-back. It the front window is a list of all the famous movie and television scenes filmed in the restaurant.

Mrs. Bfast w/Nick is a big fan of smoked salmon and lox. That, plus knowing that we were dining with the Sturgeon King, meant that we were both in mood for some fish. Our eyes were draw to the list of specialties, which features different salmon and sturgeon preparations. The platters below include more of those, plus whitefish and sable.

We started with coffee, served in small green and white cups. It was strong, hot, and delicious, and they kept it filled.

At the suggestion of our server (who was the best – more on that soon), we started with an order of latkas. We noticed, however, that he referred to them as “potato pancakes” to us. Again, despite our efforts to blend in, we were clearly outsiders.

Expectations were high on these, and they delivered. I’m by no means the latka king, but these easily top my list. They’re thick and chunky. Shredded potatoes inside are moist and well-seasoned, and wonderfully crisped on the outside. Served with the sides of sour cream and applesauce.

Like I said earlier, Mrs. Bfast w/Nick is a big fan of smoked and salted salmon, so she naturally ordered the lox platter. Her request, though, was met with a simple, “It’s too salty for you” from our server. Plain as that. When she tried requesting it again, he just repeated, “No, it’s too salty for you.” He wasn’t mean about it, just honest. I’m sure they’ve had so many tourists try the lox, find it too salty, and try sending it back.  I loved it. The server and the restaurant are so true to their DNA that they won’t let you order something they know you won’t like. After the server “lox-blocked” her (Mrs. Bfast w/Nick’s term), she asked for the gravlax salmon platter instead, which he let her order. Gravlax (spelled “gravlox” on their menu) is a preparation using dill and other spaces. She gave it rave reviews. Super fresh, delicate, and flavorful. Notice the small bite of salmon next to her coffee cup. She caught her server later and asked if she could just try a sample of the lox. He gave her a small slice. Turns out he was right: it was really salty. Amazing, but salty.

As we were in the land of the Sturgeon King, I ordered the sturgeon cooked with eggs and onions. It was a dense plate of protein, salty and a bit smokey. The eggs were cooked just right, the sturgeon flaked apart, the onions offered a nice little punch of flavor. I took each bite slowly, savoring the wonderful flavors.

Each meal came with their house-made bagels. I asked our server which bagel we should order, and he replied “the everything bagel” without hesitation. They were terrific. Big, mostly crispy, a bit chewy, very salty. Served with a tiny slab of cream cheese. It was simply delightful to pair with the fish and eggs.

My seat gave me a direct view of the bagel case. I heard that simple clicking sound of the plastic doors opening and closing pretty much constantly. If we hadn’t had a day of wandering Manhattan ahead of us, we would have taken a dozen home.

We loved our experience at Barney Greengrass, so much so that we kept geeking out about it throughout the day. I felt that we discovered a New York institution and got to join the crowd of regulars enjoying their Saturday breakfast. The food was delightful: authentic, house-made, packed with flavor. A little expensive, too: our meals were about $15-19 each, but a.) we were in New York, and b.) it was well worth it and speaks to their 100-year-old tradition of excellence.

Barney Greengrass on Urbanspoon

Danny’s Deli | Columbus, OH

Danny’s Deli (Facebook / @dannysdeli1)
37 W. Broad St. (entrance is on Front St.) (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 469-7040
Open Mon-Fri, 7a-3p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Wednesday, October 4, 2012 at 7:00 a.m.

Danny’s Deli is one of the many delis and other little grab-and-go breakfast/lunch spots around downtown Columbus. Many of them have been on my list for a long time, especially the delis, and especially any of them boasting of their corned beef. The reuben is one of my favorite sandwiches, and I think I need to better integrate the corned beef love into my breakfast life.

Thus it was that I sat with my son Will at 7 a.m., chowing down on pancakes, corned beef, and eggs in Danny’s little basement space off Front Street.

The restaurant is decked out in bright reds, blacks, and whites, from the signage to the tiled floor to tables and chairs. There’s something very enjoyable about the “hidden-ness” of the space. You have to head down a short flight of stairs, through some double-doors, and then you’ve found this humming little breakfast spot. Even the address can throw you off a bit: Danny’s address is technically W. Broad Street, but the entrance can be found on Front. Fortunately, they’ve emphasized the red in their awning: if you’re looking for it, you’ll find it.

Despite the small size, there’s a lot of seating. Two rows of tables and chairs extend far back into the space, which curves to the right and features a few more seats.

Given that you’re downtown, you can expect to meet with some of the working crowd. I’m guessing that Danny’s, like most of the restaurants downtown, does most of their business over weekday lunches. But on our visit we saw a pretty good mix of clientele.

Will started out with an orange juice, which was a standard bottled type, while I opted for coffee. I loved the tall circular plastic mugs. Super lightweight. The coffee was good diner coffee: hot, a little weak, and caffeinated.

Will’s a pancake man, so he chose the little stack of fluffy buttermilks. Side note: I rarely talk prices on the blog, in order to keep away from the whole $$$ or star rating thing, but I have to note Danny’s cheap prices. Will’s pancakes were only $3.75, while my plate was $5.75. It’s a stellar deal.

I was in corned beef mode, so I knew my order well before we arrived. I picked the Downtown Special: a generous pile of sliced corn beef, scrambled eggs, potatoes, and toast. It hit. the. spot. I just loved piling a single bite of eggs, corned beef, and potatoes on my fork. It’s all done well: eggs aren’t over-cooked, potatoes are crispy enough, toast was good.

If Danny’s is any indication, then exploring downtown’s breakfast scene is going to be fun. Our server was super sweet – she lightly poked fun of Will and how he was goofing off (it’s good she has such a sense of humor at 7 a.m.). But she was very accommodating and helpful, and she even introduced us to the owner, Joe. He, too, was very nice and welcoming. The deli’s breakfast options are pretty straightforward and are only served until 10:30am, but they’re inexpensive, they include corned beef, and the prices are very easy to like.

Danny's Deli and on Urbanspoon

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