Corned beef, Cleveland, famous, restaurant, Slyman's Deli
Slyman’s Deli has been serving up mile-high corned beef sandwiches since 1964.

Cleveland restaurants from a bygone era

When a restaurant has been in business for decades, you know it has to be good. On a recent trip to Cleveland, my husband and I found three vintage Cleveland favorites — from elegant to rustic — that you just have to try.

1. Cleveland restaurants: Slyman’s Deli

Up first is Slyman’s Deli, founded in 1964. That was the year the Beatles came to America, “The Addams Family” debuted, and mini skirts shocked the older generation. Oh, and the year I was born! What a great year!

Into this cultural upheaval came a foodie revolution — a mile-high corned beef sandwich on the perfect rye bread. Simple and delicious — and still served that way today. 

Slyman's Deli, downtown Cleveland, old-school, deli, corned beef sandwich
Slyman’s Deli in downtown Cleveland is one of the nation’s best delis, serving world-famous corned beef sandwiches.

When we visited, it was rainy and chilly, yet a line still formed to get into this downtown Cleveland gem. It’s small and out of the way, but it’s one of the best Cleveland restaurants.

Cleveland restaurant with a view

Pier W, Lake Erie, Cleveland, seafood
Restaurant with a view: Pier W in Lakewood is an award-winning seafood restaurant on Lake Erie.

2. Cleveland restaurants: Pier W

Pier W is an elegant restaurant with a magnificent view of Lake Erie. As you walk in, you feel like you’re walking into the hull of a ship.

 It was rainy when we visited, and the lake was choppy and gray — and still as beautiful as any restaurant view I’ve experienced.

Known for its seafood, Pier W is only a little younger than Slyman’s. Pier W was founded in 1965 as the city’s premier fine-dining establishment. It still lives up to that standard today.

Seafood, Pier W, Cleveland restaurant
The seafood is not only delicious at Pier W, it is elegantly presented.

Cleveland’s oldest restaurant

Cleveland, Little Italy, Guarino's Restaurant
Guarino’s Restaurant in Cleveland’s Little Italy is the city’s oldest restaurant.

3. Cleveland restaurants: Guarino’s

Cleveland’s Little Italy is a charming neighborhood full of amazing Italian restaurants, new and old, but Guarino’s is the granddaddy of them all. Vincenzo Guarino started the restaurant in the early part of the 20th century after he moved to Little Italy from Sicily. It’s been operating as a restaurant in the same building since at least 1918, and was a pool hall and tavern before then. 

Today, the restaurant still serves classic Italian meals in a vintage atmosphere reminiscent of the “Hello Dolly” musical, with red flocked wallpaper, lace tablecloths hanging from the ceiling and Victorian-style sconces.

Guarino's, Little Italy, Cleveland
Baco enjoys the ambience and food at Cleveland’s oldest restaurant, Guarino’s, in Little Italy.

Small-town travel ideas and restaurants

My husband and I love visiting small towns, staying in charming historic inns and finding the best local eats. Here are some more places we’ve visited:

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