Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Aug 19, 2008 06:01 AM

Good Jewish Deli in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown?

On someone's recommendation we tried Woodside Deli this past weekend and were dissapointed to find out that they serve kosher style meats (according to our waitress), not kosher meats. They also don't have staples like kasha varnishkas (sp.) and stuffed derma. Don't get me wrong the food was good, but I'd love some recommendations on other authentic jewish deli's in the area.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Do a search, as we've covered this many times before.

    The unfortunate answer: there isn't a great Jewish deli in the area.

    Brooklyn's in Gaithersburg has great rye bread, but only good corned beef and pastrami, and the rest of the menu is eh. Celebrity in Potomac is sometimes good, sometimes not (right now, not). The best NY-style Jewish deli in MoCo is probably Parkway in Silver Spring. They'll have kasha, stuffed derma, matzo ball soup, etc. Woodside is not very good. BJ Pumpernickels in Olney has all of the old standbys you expect, but none of it is usually better than mediocre.

    The best corned beef and pastrami in the area is Deli City on Bladensburg Rd in NE DC. But they're only open M-F 7-3, and the bread is store-packaged, and they are just a carryout, so nothing else Jewish-deli-like.

    The nearest GREAT NY-style Jewish deli is probably in Philly!

    36 Replies
    1. re: DanielK

      Minor quibble: There are a few tables at Deli City; it's not merely a take-out place. (It's also my place to go when I want to celebrate a successful cholesterol test.)

      1. re: Gonzocook

        Deli City is "deli-style," not kosher. That said, their corned beef is better than any kosher deli I've ever eaten at. And, of course, they make the best reuben sandwich in DC.

        1. re: monkeyrotica

          Their corned beef itself is outstanding, but the sandwich (or reuben) fails because they use *terrible* store-bought rye bread.

          1. re: DanielK

            You seem to be on a campaign about rye bread that I don't understand. The rye bread is no better at Katz's in NY, or if it is I can't tell the difference because the corned beef is better at Deli City. I had a sandwich at Deli City last week (my usual combo corned beef/ pastrami) and it was great as usual. Who makes better rye bread?

            If the sandwich fails you, I think it is yet a question of who is at fault.

            1. re: Steve

              Corned beef that good deserves fresh baked rye bread. If not in house, at least from some local baker. Deli City seems to buy whatever Sysco will sell them for the least money. Even Giant and Safeway make better rye bread.

              Brooklyn Deli in Gaithersburg makes what I think is the best in the area right now, but IMO all of the named delis here (Parkway, Chutzpah, Celebrity, etc.) have better bread than Deli City, though their corned beef and pastrami are not nearly as good.

              1. re: DanielK

                That's like saying good bbq deserves fresh baked rolls, which would be mostly unheard of throughout the South or at any roadside stand I've ever been to. It might be a plus, yes, but packaged rye bread does not fail a corned beef sandwich.

                I don't see much of a difference, for example, between the rye bread at Attman's in Baltimore and the bread at Deli City.

                1. re: Steve

                  I disagree with the analogy, but we can agree to disagree.

                  The crust on a good rye bread should be chewy and a little crispy.

                  @Gigi - that's exactly what I do.

                  1. re: Steve

                    Excellent analogy: in a barbecue, or even a fish sandwich, the bland white bread is merely a neutral "delivery vector" for what's inside. I can understand how some would want a strong tasting rye to compliment the meat, but I'm more about the quality/flavor of the meat itself. The bread is just there to keep the meat from falling off the floor.

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      See, to me that's like saying that bad crust on a pizza is ok as long as you're delivering great sauce and cheese.

                      To me, the rye bread is an integral part of the corned beef sandwich, and it's a waste of good CB to use crappy bread.

                      If it really doesn't matter, would you eat a CB sand on white bread?

                        1. re: DanielK

                          It's a matter of degrees, I guess. I've lost track of all the lousy pizzas I've had, but I can remember almost every lousy corned beef sandwich. And they were all lousy because of the corned beef, not the bread.

                          If they ran out of rye bread and all they had was Wonder Bread, would you refuse some great corned beef?

                          1. re: monkeyrotica


                            I never eat corned beef plain except as corned beef and cabbage which is another matter altogether (and truth be told, what makes for a good corned beef and cabbage would not necessarily make for a good sandwich as I prefer allspice and clove to sominate my CB&C.

                            But deli sliced corned beef, cold or hot, without rye bread i something I only eat as a curiosity. I take one bite of the corned beef plain, after I have eaten my first bite or two to get the Gestalt of the sandwich. If any corned beef falls out as I am eating, I will pick that up and eat it with my fingers at the end.

                            As far as Katz's vd Deli City, at Katz it is hand sliced and stays in slices on the sandwich. At Deli City, the slices are thinner and are more bits and pieces than whole slices. The chew is just not there. Add to that the "not Jewish style" rye which turns gummy from any juices and especially when chewing and Deli City loses marks on mouthfeel.

                            It is a fine corned beef sandwich, on the New York or LA scale, it would match my second tier places. But II personally would rather take a sandwich at Katz, Brents, Nate n Als {if it is still there!} over Deli City. I would put it in the same class as Arts, Junior's, Canter's.

                            Of course if we are talking Pastrami, there just is no comparison for me, Katz is my standard. I will admit I ahve not been to Montreal and had the smoked meats there and will do so one day as this could easily change my view according to many.

                            1. re: deangold

                              Dean, very helpful insights re: both the corned beef and rye bread at Deli City and Katz's. But again as I've said before, I'm not a believer that Katz's is the creme de la creme or in a league by itself. Any number of delis I've been to in South Florida have as good if not better corned beef and pastrami (served on fresh, delicious rye bread), and I happen to think that Carnegie and 2nd Avenue delis in NYC for lean corned beef is as good, if not better than Katz's as well. Regarding Montreal pastrami, I've had it and it's very good although I don't necessarily think that it is better than pastrami at the NYC or South Florida delis mentioned. Now if we were talking Montreal bagels, those are pretty damn good. My two cents, FWIW.

                              1. re: Gigi007

                                I have not been to South Beach so I cannot possibly comment.

                                We are of different religions: "Lean" and "Corned Beef" do not belong in a sentence together any more than Obama and Palin belong on a presidential ticket together.

                                You and I are never going to agree because what you think makes Carnegie equal to or superior to Katz is its downfall in my opinion. And at Katz, I have never gone in and personally ordered a corned beef sandwich. Always pastrami. But if there are two of us, we order a corned beef and a pastrami and go halvsies. If its with my wife, its more like I eat 2/3 and she eats 1/3. And my last Katz experience is over 2 years old so things may have changed.

                                This is the down fall of any rating system (Parker's & Wine Spectator's 100 point scales come to mind). Your 100 point product may not fit what I am looking for in the same product and that is fine. In fact, at Katz I ask for fatty. What I like best about a Katz CB however, is the hand slicing which I feel adds a mouthfeel that rotary slicing just cannot match. Just as vertically sliced prosciutto is different than that sliced on a hi speed gravity feed rotary slicer or even hand sliced (which produces an altogether different product as you either get smaller pieces of thin or larger pieces in thin and thick in a slice).

                                Today's brisket is far less internally fatty (yet fattier with more cover fat) than that of old. Because of feed lot production methods, there is less connective tissue in brisket and so the meat is less succulent. Folk want the fatty deckle trimmed off of their brisket rather than see fat on their plates.

                                If you want to reduce fat in your diet, I recommend eating fewer corned beef sandwiches and eating them as they used to be, full of succulent fat. This is how I eat, mostly I do not go for fatty foods, but when I do eat meats, I want fatty cuts full of flavor. And my cholesterol is well controlled (total under 150 and LDL under 40 for the past 5 years with salami, prosciutto, duck fat and pork fat all in my diet on a regular but never daily basis. Of course I eat almost no commercially processed foods, something I could not say in my pre heart attack days when process foods from Whole Foods and the conventional food supply network contributed mightily to my health problems}

                                Somehow a large market such as the restaurant scene in NYC will offer a range. In DC the extent of the market is far less and the limits of specialization, especially in the deli field, are far more limited. Judge Bork, not a fellow I usually quote in polite society, wrote a fascinating article on this subject in some antitrust journal many a year ago in my former life as an economist.

                                But to recap, in DC we have Deli City, a place far superior to the best of Chicago when I lived there in the early 80's, anything I know of available in San Francisco even today, and bettter than 95%+ of what is available in NYC at least. It is in my top 10 on my all time favorite list. I drive 20 mmiuntes out of my way when the CB jones hits me. Not too shabby for a dilapidated joint in the middle of nowhere!

                                Finally, to me, food is a journey of discovery. If I find better, weather in Montreal, South Beach (if I ever get to such places), Montalcino Italy (a place sadly lacking in Jewish Deli's or, better yet, Washington DC my life will be made richer.

                                1. re: deangold

                                  Thanks for sharing your insights, Dean. A few things clarifications seem to be in order.

                                  The delis I've been to in South Florida are not in South Beach (that would be Miami, and I've never seen any New York style Jewish delis there). I'm talking about Del Ray Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach--all farther north of there with apparently large transplanted New York Jewish populations.

                                  You have a point about preferences regarding fatty and lean corned beef. I understand what you mean about the slicing method too, especially as it pertains to proscuitto. Have not noticed it with respect to corned beef, but I will now pay attention. And I'm not actively looking to reduce fat in my diet with respect to corned beef; like some people, I just happen to prefer the lean variety. Different strokes for different folks. I'll admit that although I like my corned beef on the lean side, I actually enjoy a fattier pastrami.

                                  I also believe that I and a lot of others here are aware of the limitations of the DC market compared to NYC with respect to delis and other food options as well, so that's not exactly news. From my point of view and to recap this conversation, like anything else, people have different preferences (e.g., for some eating corned beef on good, fresh rye bread is important while for others it isn't; and while some people like corned beef on the leaner side, others prefer fatty). LIve and let live. As I told Steve earlier, I wouldn't mind trying Deli City, but if it's not around the corner from me and if I happen to be near a deli I've had good experiences at (be it in NYC or South Florida or even 10 minutes from my house-Wagshal's), that's just what works best for me.

                                  P.S. I would agree that food is a journey of discovery, but that isn't the issue we've been discussing concerning corned beef here (Katz's and others). As I said earlier, IMHO, it has to do with different tastes, preferences, and just where I happen (and need to be) due to life and work circumstances.

                                  1. re: Gigi007

                                    Although I generally prefer fat on my corned beef (like Dean says), I have to admit that the best corned beef or pastrami I've ever had has been in South Florida, served very lean and very thickly sliced. Both times from a private country club, once at Woodmont in Tamarac and the other at Boca Pointe in Boca Raton. It surprised the heck out of me.

                                    And for anyone who lives ten minutes away from Wagshal's, Deli City is not going to be a regular treat. But if you ever make it your business to have business on that side of DC, I recommend stopping in and getting a taste. It probably won't make it back home.

                                    1. re: Steve

                                      Folks, we have removed a number of posts that do not discuss deli in the DC area, please remember that the focus of this board is finding great food and drink in the DC/Baltimore area. Recommendations for deli in other areas of the country are out of scope for this board.


                    2. re: DanielK

                      I agree that good corned beef needs to be served on fresh baked rye bread. The bread can definitely turn me off to a sandwich. Related to this discussion, somewhere on the NYC board, there's a thread about the bagels at Russ & Daughters and lox sandwiches. Even if the meat or fish is very good, stale or tasteless bread will make me not want to eat it. I've never eaten at Deli City, but if the bread isn't good, I'm certainly in no hurry to try it no matter how great the corned beef is. If I did go, I might order the corned beef by the pound, take it home, and make a sandwich w/ fresh bread myself.

                      1. re: Gigi007

                        "I agree that good corned beef needs to be served on fresh baked rye bread."

                        Quite frankly, this is such a rarity that you will find it almost nowhere. And what is wrong with eating great corned beef or pastrami by itself? Do not avoid going to Deli City for that reason, you will be missing out on something special.

                        As far as Katz's is concerned, I realize that it is the favorite of a lot of people. I thought it tasted like below average Montreal smoked meat, but that was only one time about a year ago.

                        Certainly the bread is not fresh baked!

                        1. re: Steve

                          Steve, I'm not sure why you think that finding a good corned beef on fresh rye bread is such a rarity. That might be the case in a lot of places in DC, but in my experience, that isn't the situation in New York City or a lot of delis I've frequented in South Florida. Actually, even in DC, I've found it relatively easy to get a decent (actually good) corned beef sandwich on fresh rye bread at Wagshall's--less than 10 minutes from where I live. I wouldn't avoid going to Deli City, but as it's not around the corner from me and quite frankly if the food isn't outstanding or unique in some way, I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there. I get to NYC and S. Florida enough to get my fix of really amazing corned beef (and pastrami). I can also easily go to Wagshall's or the Rockville suburbs on occasion for an OK corned beef sandwich.

                          As for Katz's, which I didn't comment on, I've been underwhelmed by it for years. Most of the time, when I'm in NYC, I usually get corned beef (and pastrami) sandwiches at the Carnegie Deli or Second Avenue deli. Sometimes at Zabar's and Russ & Daughters too.

                          1. re: Gigi007

                            I agree with you except for the fact that, for me, it is hard to go back to Wagshal's (which is a very good place) after eating at Deli City.

                            1. re: Steve

                              Wagshal's is like a back-up solution for me. I go there every couple of months. For excellent corned beef and pastrami, I go to NYC or Florida. And come to think of it, although I absolutely love the corned beef sandwiches I usually get in NYC, IMHO a couple of delis I've found in South Florida are actually better all the way around (not only for the corned beef, but also the knishes, potato pancakes, 7-layer cake, etc.). My parents have it good!

                              Will certainly keep Deli City's corned beef in mind based on your recommendation.

                            2. re: Gigi007

                              I htink that George Mitchell has a better chance of bringing agreement tot he Middle East than there is of people agreeing on Carnegie. Second Avenue or Katz.

                              1. re: deangold

                                LOL, Dean. I know what you mean...But don't get me wrong, Katz's corned beef is still good. I just don't think it's the only game in town as delis go. Also, as you probably know, when visiting NYC for a couple of days, logistics come into play too (I usually stay within walking distance of the Carnegie deli.) And as I said before, I seriously think that some of the delis I've been to in South Florida (that cater to transplanted New Yorkers) are just as good, if not better, than Katz's, Carnegie, et al.

                            3. re: Steve

                              There is a wold of difference between a good commercial Jewish Deli Rye and and the 4-S or Otterman's or whatever bakery Deli City uses. I personally don't know of nay of my favorie CB's that are served on Fresh Baked bread, but it is rye with a crackle crust, hard seeds on the crust and enough toothiness to stay intact for the entire sandwich.

                        2. re: Steve

                          The corned beef is better at CIty Deli than at Katz's? Not in my experience.

                          As far as the rye at Katz. it is a little flimsy but at least it has a nicely soured and has rye tste. The stuff at City Deli is like cotton. Now there is no doubt that the corned beef sandwich at city is bar far the best in DC, but as the old joke goes...

                          A goy in New York is Jewish while a Jew in Des Moines is a Goy. With all dure respect to Des Moines (I have had some incredible foods in Iowa including a truck stop not far from Des Moines where I still remember the mac n cheese) but DC is far closer t Des Moines in the Jewish Deli scale than to NYC or even LA.

                            1. re: Mister Big

                              Hofbergs on Randolf in Rockville?
                              I'd forgotten about that place.

                              1. re: mdfoodlover

                                You must be a youngster. I'm referring to Hofberg's on Eastern Ave. in NW DC.

                            2. re: deangold

                              I was just at Katz's last month. The corned beef is better at Deli City and it won't run you $15. Now, the fatty pastrami at Katz's is better than Deli City's.

                              If Deli City were to bake its own rye, I'm sure that cost would be passed on to the consumer. But since I almost always get the reuben, and since they grill the bread anyway, the rye isn't really an issue with me.

                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                As an ex-New Yorker and deli aficionado I have been following this dialog with great interest. I have tried all the places discussed and generally agree with the comments. It appears that the common thread is most places have lousy bread and that ruins the sandwich experience. I come out of the engineering world and when we have a knotty problem like this we stand back and search for a work around. Last night I thought of such a work around: Bring your own rye bread and ask that the restaurant use your bread. I bet all will comply. There are numerous places in the area that have good rye bread - one that comes to mind is Upper Crust in the north end of Silver Spring. I am now looking forward to my next Deli City trip where I will bring my own bread.

                                  1. re: rcooperman

                                    That's just crazy enough to work. Still, it's a slippery slope. First you start bringing your own rye bread. Next, you start bringing your own Wustofs to carve the meat just the way you like it. Before you know it, you're wearing a monocle, top hat, and spats and you're bringing your own mother of pearl caviar spoons and ranting about how, "This place is pure Baltic Avenue! Oh, dear! I'm late for the Short Line Railroad!"

                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                      As mentioned somewhere earlier, I'd just get the corned beef to go and make sandwiches at home with fresh rye bread (or other--I also like corned beef on bagels--but finding a decent bagel around here is a whole other story!) of my choosing topped with my strange, but preferred type of mustard--hot honey mustard.

                      2. re: DanielK

                        I would definitely second Brooklyns for wonderful corned beef.I live in the hinterlands of WV-try finding anything resembling corned beef there-and frequently go down the road to G'burg to get my CB fix.They do their own corning and occasionally I'm lucky enough to get there just as the CB is stillhot from the cooker.Every couple months we head up to Baltimore to either Mary Mervis in Lexington Market or Attmans which for a country girl is like visiting another planet. Sort of scary but eminently entertaining!!!

                        1. re: DanielK

                          You've got to be kidding! Edmart is the best deli in the area. There is no contest. We ordered our Mother's Day brunch from them, and it could not have been better. The lox and bagles were out of this world. They also have the best brisket and corned beef in the area. I think it's better than anything we had on a recent on a recent trip to Florida, and a lot of the people I meet in the store are New York transplants.

                        2. Max's in Silver Spring/Wheaton is definitely kosher and their falafel is great but I don't know about their deli selection.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Super Salad

                            Max's has the best falafel and schwarma in the area, by a long, long mile, but nothing else on the menu is worth ordering.

                            1. re: DanielK

                              actually they have stuff cabbage which is great, the chicken matzah ball soup is good and they also have believe it or not a good chicken bbq sandwich

                          2. I think you're out of luck. It's shocking to me that there's no good Jewish Deli in this area considering the large Jewish population.

                            1. If you mean a Kosher deli, there isn't any nearer than Baltimore (at least I think there are some on Reisterstown Rd. in Baltimore) except for, in DC, Eli's, just off Dupont Circle, which has decent corned beef and pastrami, and in Silver Spring, there's Max's. On the other hand, if you mean Jewish-style, there are options like Celebrity Deli in Potomac and Falls Church, and B.J. Pumpernickels in Olney (probably others too).

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: skipper

                                Celebrity Deli is no longer under original ownership. It's been sold and now has an Oriental food section on the menu. IMO, Celebrity went downhill ever since they moved from their original location off of Randolph/Montrose Road.

                                1. re: MarcDC

                                  I use to go to Krupin's. I know it's not kosher, is it still there? I've been to Eli's but I like Krupin's chopped liver better. I don't think I like Eli's at all.

                                  1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                    Krupin's has changed hands several times, and is now so awful that I'd consider a corned beef sandwich from Subway first.

                                    1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                      best chopped liver in that area is BY FAR at Grosvenor Market off of Tuckerman

                                      1. re: MarcDC

                                        If you're willing to head up to NW Baltimore, the Park Heights Orthodox community up here support a number of Kosher delis on and near Reisterstown Road. Search this board and the Kosher board as well.

                                        1. re: bordeauxfan

                                          I just moved to this area from B'more, and I used to go to Atman's, but this area just doesn't seem to have anything like that.

                                          1. re: jrl2929

                                            You're right - Attman's is far and away better than anything we have here. Though I will again plug Deli City in NE DC - their corned beef and pastrami (though not the bread) are the equals of Attman's and the better places in NYC.

                                          2. re: bordeauxfan

                                            other than Lenny's what other deli's do you recommend off of Reisterstown Rd?

                                            1. re: MarcDC

                                              EdMart on Reisterstown inside the beltway is a classic "appetizing" store (as we used to call it in NY), with a table or 2 in the back. Very good cb, pastrami, whitefish, etc. Some folks also like Suburban House for certain things, including breakfasts. Bit hit or miss, Old Pikesville retreat. If you lived there, you'd know lots of families.

                                    2. You're right about Woodside Deli, very disappointing in the taste of its food. Max's in Wheaton is excellent for falafel and especially schawarma, had a half page review about its schawarma in the Gazette papers not too long ago. Its corn beef, tuna salad, burgers and fried chicken are excellent. Its french fries are excellent and rarely soggy. Its soups are so-so. Parkway Deli is first rate on its matzo ball soup (a cup size can be a full meal, together with perhaps a bagel). Its corned beef is excellent, also its potato pancakes. I like their deli twin order (a small seeded roll with corned beef and another one with pastrami). Their omelets are very good too. Let me recommend a new place in the area, Chutzpah's in both Tyson's Corner and Fairfax. They have a web site with a full menu, especially for breakfasts, listed. Its reviews from customers seem to be better than Celebrity Deli in VA. We enjoyed an excellent breakfast there with quick service too. Sorry to hear about the location in Cabin John/Potomac going downhill. B. J. Pumpernickel's in Olney can be disappointing although they have a wide range of food choices. Also, I've enjoyed Krupin's, if that's its current name or is it Mel's, and reader reviews seem to rate it unevenly.

                                      And yes, Herschel's East Side Deli in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market or the Famous 4th Street Deli are both excellent. What a corned beef sandwich I recently had a Herschel's--- the person making the sandwich seemed to be cutting and cutting, in putting meat on the sandwich. An excellent taste.

                                      Hope some of these places sound worthwhile.

                                      Milt Goldsamt in Silver Spring

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Milton R. Goldsamt

                                        Chutzpah can oput out some very good food, although the patrami is much better than the corned beef. I highly enjoy some of the ir 'concoction' sandwiched, like the over-the-top fuhgeddaboudit sandwich.

                                        Still, you must, must, must get over to Deli City on Bladensburg Rd., NE for a combo corned beef/ pastrami sandwich. The best in the area, and it competes well with the best most anywhere else.