CLEVELAND, Ohio – Regardless your ancestry, everyone is a bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day – especially here in Northeast Ohio.
With nearly 10 percent of the city’s population claiming to be of Irish decent, and Cleveland being home to the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade (which is canceled again this year), even the coronavirus pandemic will have a tough time halting some traditions — like the wearin’ of the green and having a hearty corned beef sandwich.
With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, we conducted a taste test of corned beef sandwiches from seven Irish hot spot restaurants in Northeast Ohio. We called anonymously to order the famed corned beef sandwiches, then dug into them once home and ranked them based on several criteria.
Check out the rankings and reviews. Who finished No. 1?
Address: 14490 Cedar Road, University Heights
Our thoughts: When it comes to Northeast Ohio corned beef hot spots, Jack’s Deli may be one of the lesser known delis in town but many east siders swear by it. Sadly, we must have visited on an “off” day. While the meat was plentiful and stacked high, it was also fatty and bland. We could see the mustard on the bread, but were unable to detect it with our taste buds. And the rye was more “day old” than fresh. The pickle on the side was limp and very salty.
Rating: 2.5 stars
Address: 17119 Lorain Ave., Cleveland
Our thoughts: More pub food than deli sandwich/entree, this corned beef sandwich was tasty and tender, but not piled as high as the others and not as salty or spicy. The bread was only slightly grilled, and had only a mild rye flavor.
Rating: 3 stars
Address: 323 Prospect Ave., Cleveland
Our thoughts: Juicy and tender meat piled high on grilled rye, but there is no salty kick to this corned beef. Slightly on the fatty side, but not so much that it takes away from the experience. In their defense, Flannery’s had just opened back up from a two-month coronavirus hiatus on the day we visited.
Rating: 4 stars
Address: 27091 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere
Price: $16.95 king/$12.95 regular
Our thoughts: Modeled after those iconic New York City delis, Corky & Lenny’s has been serving up corned beef in the eastern suburbs since 1956. And there is a reason people keep making their way back there for this sandwich. The grilled rye bread was crispy and played the perfect host to meat piled so high it was difficult to get our mouths around it. The meat is lean and mildly spiced, with just the right amount of saltiness. The ground brown mustard provides a nice kick.
Rating: 4 stars
Address: 4408 Detroit Ave., Cleveland
Our thoughts: Possibly the “most Irish” of the lot, or maybe it was just the atmosphere. Piled high and served Rueben-style on slightly grilled fresh rye with melty Swiss cheese and a bit of sauerkraut, the corned beef still stands up to the toppings. Lean and tender, with just a hint of salt, it takes nicely to the brown mustard we had served on the side. You can also order the corned beef served on a Boxty (an Irish potato pancake).
Rating: 4.5 stars
Address: 1658 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland
Our thoughts: Situated in downtown Cleveland just down the street from Slyman’s original location, Danny’s Deli is giving the Cleveland icon a run for its reputation. Another mountainous sandwich, full of lean and richly flavored corned beef that is lightly spiced, with just the right amount of saltiness to make your taste buds pay attention. Grainy brown mustard adds just the right amount of kick. Note: Come prepared if you are not eating in. The juicy meat quickly soaks through the paper bag and can leave your sandwich on the sidewalk if you are not paying attention. Bring a ziplock or plastic bag if you are taking this one away.
Rating: 4.7 stars
3106 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland; 216-621-3706
4009 Orange Place, Orange; 216-292-9610
6901 Rockside Road, Independence; 216-642-0062
7601 Mentor Ave., Mentor; 440-497-5010
Price: $15.49 original/$11.49 lite
Our thoughts: One bite into this colossal sandwich and you no longer wonder why presidential candidates and movie stars find their way to St. Clair Avenue to sample this icon. Piled high – yes, so high it is nearly impossible to take a bite – with hand-sliced corned beef, the meat is juicy, tender, nicely pickled and very lean. The rich rye bread was the freshest we sampled. The mustard was sharp and the pickle crisp with just the right amount of salty/sour. Note: If you have a smaller appetite, order the lite sandwich. Half the meat but still a full meal.
Rating: 5 stars