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Feb 1, 2001 11:46 AM

Good Deli????

  • r

I am on a desprete search for a great deli in Chciago... In Cleveland there are places like Corkey's and Lenny's, Slymons, Jacks, Perkins Beverage and Deli... and in NY, Detroit, and Philly you can't walk a block without tripping over a great choice. Where are the great jewish style delis hiding and how can it be that in the meat packing capital of the world there is no good hot corned beef joints? I need your help.

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  1. Manny's is the place you're looking for. Down in the old Garment District, off Roosevelt, near the new Maxwell St Market. Hot corned beef sliced very thin (sometimes a little dry, but it has precious little competition), with latkes on the side, and a can of Dr. Brown Cel Ray Tonic. They have daily specials: short ribs, oxtail, kasha varnischkes etc. It's a little pricy (for a deli)...a big lunch could run up to 12 or 15 bucks. And they're only open for breakfast and luch during the week, so unless you have a very liberal lunch-break policy it can be difficult to schedule a time to get there. There are a couple of other lunch places down in that neighborhood that might fit the bill, but I haven't had a chance tosample them.

    Another option might be the polish / ukrainian delies in Ukrainian Village, just south of Wicker park. Not the same, not jewish, but Caesar's at least (at Iowa and Damen), has passable corned beef, and a lot of interesting side dishes--boiled new potatoes with bacon, other sourcream based cold salads. Plus good soups!

    It is somewhat of a mystery that there aren't more Jewish Delis...I'm sure there's a fascinating explanation, involving the large scale corporate malice of the Vienna Beef Company, and the devious rise to power of the hot dog stand as expression of meat packing heritage, displacing the haimish old Jewish Delis, as more and more immigrants moved to the suburbs, but if that explanation exists I have yet to hear it.

    I expect there may be delis in the Burbs, but my knowledge of the outlying provinces is scant since I don't have a car. Anyone out there with info?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Seth Zurer

      Seth is right on about Mannys (Jefferson and Roosevelt). It's great. A real meet and greet fest. You get aldermen next to salt-of-the-earth working class and the corned beef and pastrami are very nice. He's also correct about Caesars but it's very different than what I think you're craving.

      Other choices out there would, I think, include Fannys up on Touhy right next to NY Bagels and Bialys. They have fabulous smoked fish and nice salads (whitefish, etc.) Decent hard salami, but the counter men aren't surly. Sigh.

      Under no circumstances would I recommend the deli across from Treasure Isle on Broadway in Lakeview (Sams). I've had more than one friend poisoned there. One badly enough to warrant an emergency room visit.

      I also would not recommend the Bagel on Broadway. Back in the old days when it was on Devon it was great. But they've become overpriced and the last time I was there I had a chicken salad sandwich, that when I questioned its freshness was told "No one else has complained." ! Needless to say, I haven't been back.

      A drive around Skokie or Highland Park might find unearthed riches as well. Good luck.

      1. re: bryan
        Clifford Abrams

        Everyone's right about Jewish delis. Sorely lacking in Chicago. And i agree with all that's been said about Manny's, probably the best of the lot. I have located an excellent place for real, traditional home-smoked fish, though: Door County Smoked Fish. It's in an ordinary strip mall on Dundee road, on the south side of the street about 5 miles west of the Edens xpy. Sorry i can't be more specific about location or crossstreet. They have great variety, they're very friendly, they really do smoke everything and the things that i've sampled have been very tasty. Now if someone could locate places for homemade cured meats (remember Braverman's?), real pickles, etc., we could assemble a pretty good meal in pieces.

        1. re: Clifford Abrams

          Thanks for all of the feedback. I tried M & B in Oakbrooke this week... promising. The first deli I found with a "Hot Corned Beef" sign in the window.... although they do make them lean on purpose. I will defignitly try Manny's... Thanks again.


          1. re: rob

            New deli just opened on North Ave where old Arnies Bagels was. New York Deli? Across from the Best Buy and Whole Foods strip mall. This New York group gets fish and beef flown in from NYC and alters their water supply so their bagels resemble true NYC style. These guys are trying hard it is worth a try.

          2. re: Clifford Abrams

            yes thats fine but is mannys better than katzs on the lower east side??? however we need more delis that truly mean jewish..shalom

      2. I'd give The 5 Boroughs Delicatessen a try. Its at 738 N. Wells. 312.915.0188
        Seth's reco. is a great one, but its a trek.

        Erik M.

        1. I would suggest Max & Benny's in Northbrook(I think it's Northbrook). It's in the same mall that has a new Trader Joe's store. Max & Benny's would be a good place to stuff yourself so you don't go nuts at Trader Joe's. Of course they have such great stuff there that you could still go nuts even if you're shopping on a full stomach!

          1. When I used to work in the city, we would often get lunch at a place called Finkl's World Famous Deli. There are several of them around Chicago. The one we used to go to was at 752 N. Ogden. I think there is also a location on Wells. Everything I ever had from there was delicious including the corned beef.