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DZ Akins? [San Diego]

  • b
  • Becky Nov 19, 2003 06:29 PM

Ok. I've been reading about DZ Akins for quite some time. Went there once and left because I hadn't planned for the high price. But a few weeks ago I was armed and ready with my $10-$12 for a sandwich and headed down there with my husband.

I was sorely disappointed. Even had this been a reasonably priced $5 sandwich I wouldn't go back. Did we order badly or am I just a sandwich snob?

I had the pastrami sandwich with coleslaw on it (forget the name) Overall it was greasy, the meat was fatty, the coleslaw was mayo and cabbage and it had a half melted slice of cheese on it - which tasted ok, but either melt it or don't. My husband had the basic turkey, bacon and avocado on white/french bread. The turkey was on the dry side and while the bacon and avocado were fine - I will never ever again pay $10 for this sandwich with a side of ordinary diner fries.

I'm not even going to go into how disgusting the large jar of pickles on the table looked nor am I going to guess at how long those pickles had been there.

Why does everyone go on about this place? I am a sandwich lover and I would pay a pretty penny for a few of the sandwiches I've had in my life (if you are ever in Oahu, please go to Gee A Deli)but I will never go here again.

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  1. We all agree, I think, that there are certain boundaries to the definition of good food. It has to be reasonably fresh, prepared from reasonably good quality ingredients, and should be served in an atmosphere that lends itself to enjoyment. But your post, I think, illustrates how our own individual perceptions can affect our enjoyment, ensuring that one person’s gastronomic nirvana is another’s hellish rip-off.

    As you acknowledge (and as I’m sure you saw when you were there), DZ Akins is enormously popular, and the crowd is not made up of a lot of people for whom money is no object. Clearly the consensus is that there’s some value for the price. The quality of the ingredients is very good; the bread is their own product; and the portions are -- even for me -- large. That’s why a deluxe sandwich there can cost $10 instead of $6.50 (a $5 sandwich is what I get at the walk-up near my work). Forgive me, but if you had to leave on a previous visit because of the expense, I suspect you may have returned feeling, “This better be good!” I know *I* would.

    The pastrami (no cheese, please) at DZ’s is one of my favorite sandwiches. You thought it was fatty? In my opinion, the best pastrami *should* be fatty. Lean pastrami is something you buy from a health food store, not a Jewish deli.

    You thought the kosher dill pickles were disgusting? Sorry, but I think you may simply have a low “ewww threshold.” The pickles at DZ Akins are fresh on every table and are replenished several times a day -- and people who like pickles think they’re very good. In any event, I’m sorry your experience was a disappointment. Different strokes -- or maybe different delis for different bellies.
    . . jim strain in san diego.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Jim Strain

      Jim, I LIKE the pickles at DZ Akins, and their being in a jar on the table unrefrigerated doesn't bother me in the least. And I agree with you that there probably is some value related to the quantity of food they serve. But like Becky, I've never been particularly WOW-ed by the food there. It's good, not great, it's certainly not my first choice for someplace to go. If friends or my office mates want to go, I go. But then it's no secret that I'm not an over-stuft sandwich fan :-D

      1. re: Gayla

        Gayla:
        I agree completely! DZ Akins is a Deli -- and a good one -- with fast table service from nice waitresses, many of that certain age and background who will call you "honey" and make you feel good about it. It's seldom going to be my first choice for dinner (though as someone else mentioned recently, their fried chicken and mashed potatoes are the quintessential comfort food). I guess I just thought the OP came down a little hard on 'em.
        . . jim strain in san diego.

        1. re: Jim Strain

          Other than the pickle thing, I almost wrote to say that I agreed with the other poster. I decided not to since there are so many people on this Board that really do like the place alot, and I didn't want to make a bunch of people mad at me. Also, knowing that Deli food is pretty low on my preference list, I thought it best not to let my bias get the best of me ;-).

          But chicken.........comfort food..........sounds like it's about time for a vist to The Chicken Pie Shop!!

          1. re: Gayla

            I'll go so far as to agree with the original poster. The first time I went there I was glad to see the $10 price tag for the pastrami sandwich. My wife and I had just eaten at Katz in NYC and was in awe of what could be done with pastrami, so when we read about DZ Akins we went out with high hopes. The $10 price tag was comparable to Katz, but sadly that's the only thing comparable. Now when I feel like a good pastrami I actually order pastrami from Katz at $20/lb. Gotta do it right.

            1. re: Nathan Lee

              Nathan, you are right on! DZAkins may be Jewish, but it ain't no deli. Pastrami is a pale imitation of the Stage, Carnegie, Wolfie, or (closer to San Diego) Nate N Als and Canters.
              Want proof? Order a Bially and see if the nice Mexican Sweet Roll you get is anything like deli food.

            2. re: Gayla

              Chicken Pie Shop. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
              I swear that has to be one of the best deals in town. Not to mention comfort food at its best.
              Thanks for the reminder - I need to order rolls for Thanksgiving!

              1. re: phee

                Chicken Pie Shop... Comfort Food? The last (and I mean LAST) time I was there, I experienced one of the worst meals I have ever had. I think that I had a better Swanson's chicken pot pie when I was six years old. Sure, you can't beat the price, but honestly - I'd rather spend that money on a Salsbury Steak Hungry Man meal. The other diners were another story - shoving the food in as fast as they could, salting every bite... Ugh.
                Coconut Cream pie was the highlight.

                1. re: Obediah

                  This is not the place to go if you want gourmet. I grew up going to this place, thus one of the qualifiers for making it a "comfort food" for me. It's just good old-fashioned food like my Nana used to make. And I'll take your word on the Swanson's because I've never had one and probably never will.

                  1. re: phee

                    The Chicken Pie Shop exists for the pleasure and affordability it offers the elderly. No one expects "gourmet" cuisine here! The chicken pies need some veggies in them, but I go for the chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes, potato salad and pie for dessert. When I'm in the neighborhood, I stop for a cold turkey sandwich with potato salad to go. Great sandwich, though the best—and I do mean the best—turkey sandwich in SD County is at Tony's Jacal in Eden Gardens (Solana Beach). Wonder bread, mayo, lettuce and FRESH ROASTED white meat turkey (none of that turkey roll stuff) makes for turkey nirvana, better'n the one the day after Thanksgiving at gramma's. All it needs to become the perfect turkey sand is Ruffles potato chips, black olives and a dill pickle, and a Coke in the bottle (8 oz.). But it's a Mexican restaurant, so why quibble? I get one each time I go, along with turkey taco, crab quesadilla and guacamole...and their excellent refried beans. Mmmm. Now we's talkin' good eats! Back to CPS: Dinner for two, under $10. It's a great deal, satisfying and comforting. Can't do better in the neighborhood, or the county, I'll wager.

              2. re: Gayla
                b
                Brian Saunders

                I'm sort of in the same camp as Gayla. You second-guess yourself when people laud a place that you find quite...average. I'm guessing that DZ Akins fills a niche (whatever that niche may be) in the area that few competitors do, which explains a lot of the popularity.

                I've found that many New Yorkers (a significant number of which consider themselves the world's experts on delis, but I digress) don't think too much of DZ Akins.

        2. This place couldn't hold a candle to a Sabrett hot dog cart in NY....if you're from Oklahoma, you probably won't know the difference.