Corned beef, pastrami, matzoh ball soup, and chopped liver are just a few staples on any Jewish deli menu. While these menu items might appear on all menus in the Jewish deli food scene -- not all delis get it right.
Many quality Jewish delis throughout the United States are family-run and operated restaurants that have stood the test of time. Their meats are homemade, their matzoh ball soup draws crowds, and their overall attention to quality and detail make them standouts in the American food scene and often the most sought out places to grab a sandwich while traveling to a new city. Another defining factor of a great Jewish deli is a very large, very extensive menu with what seems like endless combinations and offerings.
While Meg Ryan's infamous scene in When Harry Met Sally might be a bit of an overstatement, the food at Katz's Delicatessen in New York City is something worth screaming about. The charm of this landmark deli, that's been the backdrop for many a movie scene, is the complimentary slice of corned beef or pastrami while you order, in case you're swayed either way due to their intense, yet different flavor profiles.
In Ann Arbor, Mich., crowds have been flocking to Zingerman's Deli, opened by Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig in a historic building near the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market in 1982. The delis widespread sandwich menu might seem overwhelming to new visitors, but also encourages guests to sample the products before purchasing -- it even allows a sampling of its $200 olive oil. All of its bread is homemade in its bakery, creating a freshness for its sandwiches that is hard to beat.
Shapiro's Kosher-style Deli in Indianapolis, Ind. has been open for 107 years and delights customers with its matzoh ball and chicken noodle soup as well as its smoked pickled tongue. Their corned beef comes from Vienna Beef in Chicago and the pastrami is shipped in from the Universe in Brooklyn, New York.
New Jersey's Harold's Delicatessen brings the traditional aspects of the Jewish deli to life and then super-sizes everything and anything. Meals and sandwiches are meant to be shared here and it is home to the world's largest pickle bar. It also has a stellar cold smoked fish menu including sandwiches and platters to share.
The Daily Meal compiled its list of America's Best Jewish Delis by taking into account the popularity and overall importance of how each restaurant impacts the food scene in their respective towns, as well as the quality of the homemade deli meats and specialties it serves to its loyal constituents.
#5) Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant — Los Angeles
Opened by Russian immigrants who relocated from New York to Los Angeles, Langer’s is a deli steeped in tradition. The deli is known best for its #19 sandwich made with hot pastrami, cole slaw, a slice of Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on hot rye bread. What makes the rye bread so special is the process of double-baking. The bread is received from the bakery, and then re-baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to give it a crispy crust. It also has its own take on matzoh ball soup which includes chicken, noodles, matzoh balls and vegetables served in a warm pot. Photo Credit: © Flickr / hermitsmoores Click Here to see More of The Best Jewish Delis in America
#4) Mile End — New York City
This delicatessen, located in the heart of New York City, pays homage to the Montreal Jewish delis made famous up north. Everything in Mile End is homemade and created from scratch, including the rye bread which is the vehicle for its delicious, slow-cooked cured meats like smoked brisket, all-beef hot dogs, salami, smoked turkey, and lamb bacon just to name a few. Also made in-house are a variety of baked goods such as challah bread, pumpernickel bread, and hand rolled bagels which are perfectly paired with its smoked mackerel or smoked whitefish salad. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Or Hiltch
#3) David’s Brisket House — Brooklyn
With multiple locations throughout Brooklyn, the Brisket House is famous for, well, brisket made three ways. One of the most popular menus items is the brisket with brown gravy on the side. This Jewish deli was originally opened in the 1970s and is now run by observant Yemeni Muslims who very much appreciate a good breakfast sandwich. A line can be seen stretching out the front door in the morning for their specialty items including a non-Kosher breakfast sandwich stuffed with eggs, pastrami, and American cheese. Photo Credit: © Flickr / lulun & kame Click Here to see More of The Best Jewish Delis in America
#2) Carnegie Deli — New York City
The family owned and operated Carnegie Deli has been a bonafide New York City landmark since 1937. All of their meat is smoked from its own factory based in Carlstadt, New Jersey. The deli is known for its double-sized corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, but is also unique as it makes its own cheesecake on premises and cures its own pickles. Other Jewish specialty dishes include matzoh ball soup and knishes. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Jim Bahn
#1) Katz’s Delicatessen — New York City
Iconic Katz’s Delicatessen is arguably one of the best-known and best-tasting Jewish delis in all of the U.S. It opened its doors in 1888, originally serving many of the immigrant families on the Lower East Side who landed in New York. What you must try when dining at Katz’s is either its corned beef or pastrami sandwiches or platters. The meat is cured using a slow cook method without injecting chemicals, water, or any other additives to speed up the process. While it may take up to 30 days to cure the meat, the final product is well worth it, making this deli a standout in the community. Click Here to see More of The Best Jewish Delis in AmericaPhoto Credit: © Flickr / Matthew Mendoza
- Kristen Oliveri, The Daily Meal
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